Local News Archives for 2018-01

Madras Splash Park Plans Move Ahead

MADRAS, OR -- The City of Madras is raising money to build a splash fun zone at Sahalee Park, near downtown. Public Works Coordinator Michele Quinn says a splash pad was planned when the park was built, but funding was far from available for the feature. She tells KBND News, "When they did the Parks Master Plan back in 2004, part of that is they actually go out into the public and ask 'What would you like?' and that was one of the things: something for the community, just to give the kids something to do during the summer. Parents don't have to worry about what it costs; they can take them and they can play, and get some exercise, and get outside."


According to Quinn, the project started to move forward again recently, with a large donation from Keith Manufacturing and the Madras-based nonprofit The Bean Foundation, "The spray park is one of the last goals. It has been in the works for a long time. I know they looked at it several years ago and the funding wasn't there, and we didn't have the backing; and the Bean Foundation said, 'Hey, if we put up some money, could you guys help us and we get it built?' and that started us back into thinking that maybe we could get it built."


Central Oregon Community College is also working on a plan to help with the fundraising effort as a learning opportunity for students. The city of Madras Facebook Page also includes a link to a GoFundMe page, for private donations. And, Quinn hopes the rest of the $250,000 needed will come from a state grant.
The splash park could be completed by Summer 2019. 

UPDATE 02/01/08 -- As part of a course taught by Assistant Professor of Speech Communication, Mike Artus, COCC students must do a service learning project during the term out in the local community. They choose the group they want to work with and then, based on the needs of that organization, they work as a small group. This current group of students has chosen to partner up with the City of Madras and support their efforts in raising funds and awareness for the Sahalee Splash Park.


United Way Desch. Co. Receives Largest Grant Ever

BEND, OR -- The United Way of Deschutes County recently received its largest grant ever. The $2 million dollar award is from the Central Oregon Health Council as part of its regional health improvement plan.


United Way of Deschutes County Executive Director Ken Wilhelm says the money will be spread over three years to benefit the TRACES initiative. "It stands for Trauma, Resilience and Adverse Childhood Experiences. Right now, the grant will be about the ‘building resilience’ part of it, in response to mitigating or preventing trauma and adverse childhood experiences."


United Way of Deschutes County shifted its focus, in the past year, to address conditions – like poverty and addiction – that can lead to childhood trauma. "What we’re trying to do is get further upstream and deal with some of the conditions that seem to keep these issues going so long," Wilhelm tells KBND News. "So, is there a way that we can get preventative or changed how the system operates? So, we can get some long term change." He says the issue deeply impacts the entire community, "The consequences for unresolved trauma show up down the road in a number of ways; in particular, health and learning outcomes. So, particularly with young kids, they enter school maybe delayed in their physical development and certainly in their educational development and that can have profound effects down the road, in 10 or 20 years."
Wilhelm says TRACES involves partnerships with a number of other local agencies and organizations, as well as the United Way of Deschutes County. The initiative includes an effort to help adults identify children impacted by traumatic events. Click HERE to learn more and get involved. 
To hear our full conversation with Ken Wilhelm, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE.

Local School Board Member To Run For State House

BEND, OR -- A local business owner and school board member is running for Oregon House District 54. Cheri Helt announced Tuesday on Facebook that she plans to seek the Republican nomination for the seat currently held by Bend State Representative and Gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler.


Helt has served on the Bend-La Pine School Board since 2010. She says she's worked with underfunded budgets, and believes schools will perform better with a change in state leadership and full funding. "I campaigned for Measure 98 and it passed with over 60% vote of the people of the state of Oregon. That was funded at 50%. I don't believe that's what the people wanted; it should've been fully funded, and career and technical education matters to kids. That's one of the things that we can use to move the needle on our graduation rates as a state. But, we can't do it if we're only going to invest half of what the people ask us to invest."
She tells KBND News she also wants to focus on helping Bend meet the challenges of its growth, "Bend is a very unique community, and it requires a unique voice, and I believe, after representing it for eight years as a school board member, that I understand our community well, and that I would represent its unique voice well."
Helt expects to formally launch her campaign at the end of February. She and her husband own Zydeco Kitchen & Cocktails and Bistro 28 in Bend. 

Tips For Safely Enjoying Local Food Trucks

BEND, OR -- New food trucks and food cart parking lots seem to be popping up all over Central Oregon, but some consumers are skeptical of their safety.


Jerry Kathan is a registered Environmental Health Specialist for Crook County. He says rules for these temporary food service stands are no different than those for brick and mortar restaurants. "There's different categories of food licenses. A food truck, basically, has the most rules that it has to obey, because they usually handle things like raw meats, potentially hazardous foods; they can store raw foods there, and they can cook them, and they can serve them. So, they pretty much have to be self-contained and they have to have commercial equipment."


New Taphouse & Food Truck Lot Slated For NE Bend


He's inspected many food trucks and understands why some people might be nervous. But, Kathan says there are a few clues that will help determine whether or not you should eat what's being offered. "It's kind of hard to see what's going on, because you can't really walk in and see what it really looks like inside," He tells KBND News, "But, I think to watch the food handlers, see what they do with their hands. If they touch their face, or wipe their hands on their shirt or an apron or something like that, they're supposed to wash their hands. If somebody's sneezing or coughing in there, I would walk away." 


Kathan says most food truck operators he inspects are conscientious business people who work to meet the federal requirements for food service. Food trucks are randomly inspected at least twice each year and all food service inspection records are available on-line through each county's website.

Rdm Gas Station Robbery Suspect Turns Self In

REDMOND, OR -- The man suspected of robbing the gas station at the Redmond Fred Meyer contacted law enforcement, Monday night. Redmond Police say 38-year-old Justin Lee Johnson called Deschutes County Dispatch at about 9 p.m. and indicated a desire to turn himself in. Officers contacted him on a piece of undeveloped, privately owned land just east of Redmond, off E. Antler Ave. 


Johnson is charged with Robbery and Theft, in connection with the January 26 Fred Meyer robbery. At the time of his arrest, Johnson told officers all of the money had been given to other people. 


Redmond Police continue to investigate the January 20 robbery at Moe's Food Mart. No arrests have been made in that case. 

Bend Fire Worried About Drivers Not Moving Over

BEND, OR -- Local first responders have noticed a disturbing trend; a growing number of drivers failing to move to the right when they see overhead lights flashing. Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe says emergency vehicles are subject to the same driving rules as everyone else. But, when their lights flash, other drivers are required by law to give them the right of way. "We basically just ask people to pay attention, be heads up for any kind of emergency vehicle. You never know, our call volume is going up about 5% per year, and so we're at almost 11,000 calls per year, so that's a lot of fire engines and a lot of ambulances going through town."


He believes the majority of Central Oregon Drivers remember to pull over when they see lights flashing in their rearview mirror. However, he asks that everyone keep in mind a driver's main job: "To get that vehicle to where you're going without hurting yourself, or anybody else. And anything that takes away from that job, whether it's eating a burrito, or changing channels, or texting your friend, takes away from that one job." Howe tells KBND News, "Along with that one job means not getting in the way of emergency vehicles. The main thing is to pay attention to what's going on. Don't be distracted by anything else in the car, keep your eyes on the road, keep your eyes on the mirrors, keep your eyes on the job."

Tax Season Underway In Oregon

SALEM, OR -- Tax season is officially underway; the Oregon Department of Revenue started Processing Returns Monday. But, if you have a refund coming, you won't get it until after February 15. Joy Krawczyk, with the Department of Revenue, says that's because they run a test to prevent fraud, "So, that way we can check the information employers are providing about income and wages against what folks are reporting on returns to try and further prevent, sort of, refund fraud." The IRS does the same thing, but only for taxpayers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the additional Child Tax Credit. 


Oregonians who made money from last summer's eclipse need to report that income on their taxes, including renting a room or space on your property or selling t-shirts and other items, "Any sort of income off of activities related to the eclipse or anything that they do on kind of a self-employed basis, and they wouldn’t receive a W2 or 1099 for, they have to remember to claim that on their returns," says Krawczyk. "That's generally only if the total amount they rented their property or room in their home was for 30 days or more." 


And, if you want access to your Oregon kicker refund, you must file a state tax return. Krawczyk says everyone should "Make sure that they file this year, even if they wouldn't generally meet the requirements to have to file." Kicker checks won't be printed, it'll be issued as a tax credit. 


The deadline to file, this year, is April 17, because the 15th is Sunday and April 16 is Emancipation Day, a Washington, DC holiday. 


Local Jeopardy! Champ Proud Of Her Streak

BEND, OR -- The Jeopardy! streak for a Bend woman came to an end Friday night; after five wins, 26-year-old Rachel Lindgren lost her sixth game. "I’d say it went pretty well. You know, not a lot of people get to the five-game mark," She tells KBND News, "So I guess you could say I’m proud of it." Click HERE to watch a montage of her appearance.


Lindgren started thinking about trying to get on the game show in college, but her Jeopardy journey wouldn’t start in earnest, until July. "After a successful try on the online test, I got called in for an in-person interview. This time it was in Seattle, and you do another written test and then a mock game to gauge how you’ll be on camera." After she was chosen, she says she didn’t study too much before taping the shows, "There’s a little website that has a bunch of quizzes about everything under the sun, so I did a lot of those. I made a point of studying all my world capitals, because they always ask about those, and they came up in my very first game, so that was a good idea. But, we took a big road trip down there, so I didn’t really study all that much in the months leading up to it."
According to Lindgren, last week’s shows were all taped in one day, back in November, "There’s only about 15-20 minutes between each game, so it’s enough time to hustle you off-stage, change your clothes, go to the bathroom and touch up your makeup, and then go right back out and do it all over again. It was pretty exhausting; I was pretty tired by that last game."


Despite her exhaustion, she walked away with just under $76,000, "Besides all the boring obligatory – I’m going to pay off all my bills – I’m probably going to try to get a pilot license or, at least, travel around a bit, now that I can." Lindgren is a Colorado native who moved to Bend in 2016. She currently works at Mt. Bachelor and says she has no plans to quit. 

Eight Congressional Hopefuls Take Part In Forum

SUNRIVER, OR -- Eight people all hoping to take on Congressman Greg Walden in the fall, met in a public forum, Saturday, in Sunriver. The six Democrats, one Libertarian and an Independent took turns sharing their platforms at the event hosted by the Staying Connected Sunriver Action Group.


The Candidates have their differences, but they all agree that U.S. House District Two needs a change, and they believe Representative Greg Walden is vulnerable. Jim Crary, a veteran and avid hunter from the Ashland area who unsuccessfully ran against Walden in 2016, thinks the end of Walden's congressional career is finally imminent, "I think he thinks, 'I'm invulnerable; I can do whatever I want and I'm not going to suffer the consequences.' The difference between the other times he ran and now is people are paying attention."


Hood River resident Eric Burnette wants to re-unionize the work force. He says people are disappointed in Walden, "He ceased to represent the people of his district. You hear this from really progressive people, the whole 'where's Walden?' thing. When I go out and talk to people who are in business, and on the ag side, they kind of quietly say the same thing, 'We don't see much of Greg anymore'."
Michael Byrne is a cowboy and former Mt. Hood Rescue volunteer from The Dalles. He tells KBND News he doesn't appreciate how Walden mistreats Health Care. "There's the Children's health care program that was just ridiculously tossed around like a political football, that [ticks] me off. He says he's the hero; that was his big deal: He's the champion. Greg Walden is a liar, I'm gonna tell you that."
Dr. Jenni Neahring (pictured above), a palliative care physician, says the healthcare issue is what got her into the race, and she thinks things can change, "It's time for us to look around and see how much engagement there is, and how much desire there is to fix these problems, and know that there is hope for a much better future." Tim White, retired from Fiat-Chrysler, says there's too much poverty in Oregon and Greg Walden perpetuates a separation of the classes by not giving ranchers, farmers, and small business owners the support they need, "'Your way of life is to be poor' and do you think that's fair? Do You think that's what the people of the Second District want? Do You think you want to just accept having to struggle every day for a living? Greg seems to think that's okay with them."
Libertarian banker and businessman Decker Cleveland says he's concerned most about the debt. "We're currently paying 300 billion in interest alone, and it'll soon be 600 hundred billion, and soon, it'll be a trillion." Republican-turned-Independent Mark Roberts says there's no reason we shouldn't have it all, here in Oregon, "Prosperity: That's what we have here in Oregon. We have resources, they need to be utilized."
Jamie McLeod-Skinner, of Terrebonne, says big changes need to come from the top. "The Federal Government needs to develop good partnerships with the state and local governments to be successful in getting the job done."


Tumalo Businessman Runs For Co. Commissioner

BEND, OR -- Bend businessman and former private detective Ed Barbeau has announced his intention to run for Deschutes County Commissioner against incumbent Tony DeBone.


Barbeau believes the Board of County Commissioners is distracted by things like the marijuana industry, instead of bringing skilled, high paying jobs to the area for kids pursuing careers, "I have a couple of granddaughters. In the next coming years, they're going to have to look for jobs. And the truth of the matter is, we don't have enough high-tech jobs, that pay well, in Bend. I don't really want them to have to go out of town to find a great job. So, I'd like to see us be a little more dynamic about attracting high tech and aviation businesses, and give these kids a chance to have a job here in Bend." He tells KBND News, "Oregon kids, Oregon Schools, Oregon jobs; that's what I'm going to be all about in the coming decade. That's what I'd like to do for the residents here in Central Oregon, is give them a great, dynamic place to live."


Barbeau is the long-time owner of Pisano's pizza in Tumalo, He ran for Deschutes County Commissioner in 2010, but was defeated by Tammy Baney. Barbeau swore off politics several years ago, but says the current Board's focus on marijuana instead of jobs caused him to change his mind. He also wants to work on housing and infrastructure, although he believes growth needs to come with careful planning, "I've experienced growth in different counties, different places I've been, and I've seen what growth without careful consideration can do to places, and I certainly don't want that for Central Oregon. However, we can be better than we are now."


Stolen Granite Recovered in Bend Raid

BEND, OR -- Bend Police recovered several granite countertops, over the weekend, which were reported stolen back in December. The stolen products were taken from Hard Rock Granite on Hunnell Road and are valued at over $500.

On Saturday, investigators executed a search warrant at a home on Manzanita Lane in Bend. They found the granite, and arrested 44-year-old Joshua Robichaud, 35-year-old Nicholas Butler and 62-year-old Sharon Peterson in connection with the theft; Butler and Peterson also face drug possession charges. 
Three others were also taken into custody on unrelated drug charges; 52-year-old Sheri Price, 31-year-old Michael Wyman and 36-year-old Justin Montoya are all accused of drug possession. Wyman and Montoya also had outstanding warrants for their arrest. 

La Pine Shop Destroyed In Fire

LA PINE, OR -- A La Pine-area shop was destroyed by fire, Sunday. The 40x20' wood building was nearly fully involved by the time fire crews arrived.


Firefighters were able to protect a nearby home and other structures; those buildings suffered only minor heat damage. There were no injuries, although the shop and everything inside was a total loss.


The cause of the blaze is under investigation.


Prineville Man Drowned In Ochoco Res.

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A 36-year-old Prineville man is presumed drowned, after the canoe he was in overturned at Ochoco Reservoir, Sunday. Christopher Callahan and 35-year-old Nathannael Robedeau were in the canoe when it capsized about 250 yards from shore.


They reportedly weren't wearing life jackets while in the boat, but put them on after falling into the water. Both men swam toward shore, but Callahan appeared disoriented and took off his life jacket. Crook County deputies were dispatched just after 4 p.m.. When they arrived, they were told by witnesses that Callahan had gone under water and he didn't resurface. 


Despite an extensive search by law enforcement and private citizens, he wasn't found before nightfall. The scene remains closed and the search for his body will resume Monday morning, when more resources can be brought into the area. 
Robedeau was taken to the hospital for treatment of hypothermia.   
MONDAY UPDATE: Members of the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue dive team, Crook County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue and State Police recovered the body of Christopher Callahan at 10 a.m. Monday. He was discovered not far from where he was last seen, in about 40' of water. 
Stock Photo

Redmond PD Identifies Robbery Suspect

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are searching for a man suspected of robbing the Fred Meyer gas station, Friday afternoon. The robbery was reported at about 1:30 p.m., after a man took money from the register and ran off; nearby security cameras caught him running south through the nearby Lowe's parking lot.


Investigators say tips from the public helped them to identify the suspect as 38-year-old Justin Lee Johnson, of Redmond. Those tips led them to SE 11th and Antler, where they believed Johnson might be hiding, but he was not found during an extensive area search on Saturday.
Anyone with information on Johnson’s whereabouts is asked to contact Redmond PD through non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911. 

Intoxicated Man Found Outside Sunriver Home

SUNRIVER, OR -- Sunriver Police and Deschutes County Search and Rescue helped track down an intoxicated man from Eugene, who ran from a Sunriver home in only shorts and a t-shirt, early Sunday.


The 32-year-old had been in a hot tub and wasn’t wearing shoes when he took off around 2 a.m. After a four-hour search, Nate Johnson was found outside another house calling for help and suffering from exposure.


He was treated and released by medics to the custody of his friends.

COCC Talks Labels And Stereotypes At Free Event

BEND, OR -- The Season of Nonviolence is underway at Central Oregon Community College. COCC’s Director of Multicultural Activities Karen Roth says the first big event called “What’s In a Label” will be facilitated by Ann Su (pictured), "She’s a public interest lawyer and a community activist and her conversation is going to explore how the words that we choose can influence understanding of diversity or stereotypes."


Roth says it’s important to be aware of our own misconceptions, "This whole notion of labeling and stereotyping is actually something that we all do around all kinds of things." But, she says, that doesn’t make it Okay, "There’s something in our brain that wants us to categorize things; it makes it easier to navigate our day to day lives. But, when we take those labels and we apply them to everyone who’s a member of that group, that’s when it’s dangerous." She tells KBND News, "Sure; do we have the right to say most word that we want to say? But, if we want to have a respectful interaction with each other, choosing words that are more respectful to describe our communities is going to allow us to have a better interaction with each other."
The “What’s In a Label” discussion starts at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, at Wille Hall on COCC’s Bend campus. It's free and open to the public, although reservations are suggested. Click HERE for details. 
COCC's Season of Nonviolence is now in its tenth year. It started as a way for the college to honor Martin Luther King Junior, and has since expanded to include the human rights work of others, including Gandhi and Cesar Chavez. Click HERE for a list of other events in this year's series. 

Sisters Artist Invites Public To View Massive Carving

SISTERS, OR -- The public is invited to view the latest work by local woodcarver, J. Chester 'Skip' Armstrong, called "Conquest Conquistador Thunder." It was created for a client in Belize who has Spanish blood. Armstrong carved the piece from a huge slab of Oregon Alder. The 16' wide by 9' tall sculpture depicts the Spanish conquest of Mezzo-America, and features horses, cannons, and armament. 


Armstrong's well-known works include "Dance For Life" - the maple girl in the St. Charles Bend main waiting room, Broken Top's clubhouse doors, and the running horses at Bend's employment office. 
Before he ships his latest work off to Central America, Armstrong will share it with Central Oregonians from 2 to 6 p.m. on Sunday at his Sisters-area studio, which is near the intersection of Edgington and Peterson Burn roads.

Deschutes Co. Jail Close To Full Staffing

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Jail has been understaffed for more than a year. At one point in 2017, there were 20 vacancies in the Corrections Department. But Sheriff Shane Nelson says the agency is getting close to full staffing. "We’ve had some turnover; we’ve had some retirements." And, in some cases internal investigations that led to firings. "We’ve also had three additional FTEs [Full Time Equivalent employee], so that creates those openings," Sheriff Nelson tells KBND News, "And, it takes a long time to train a troop and get them up to speed where they can be a good resource at the jail." 


He says the prolonged staffing shortage at the jail is a strain on current employees, "They have been working hard, making sure that we’re running our operation smoothly. But, we want to get our troops more help; we have six openings, right now." 

Sheriff Nelson adds, "We have three brand new Corrections Deputies that we just swore in this week; and I was in training with them on Monday. So, we’re doing what we can to fill those positions and make us up to full staff." Although, he admits "full" staffing may not be a realistic goal, "I don’t know that an organization ever gets to 100% staffing, just because you’ll always have attrition. But, I hope we get closer and I hope we’ll be there in about six months."


Deputies Katie Fowlds, Christopher Ely and Leah Moore were sworn in January 22, 2018 by Sheriff Shane Nelson (right). 

Bend-La Pine Schools Pleased With Grad Rate

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools continue to outpace the state graduation rate. In the past six years, the district’s rate rose from just over 68%, for the class of 2011, to nearly 79% for the class of 2017. The 79% rate is the district's highest on record, and is 2% higher than the statewide average


Bend High Graduation coach Matt Kitchen says there has been a push in recent years to help at-risk students long before their senior year, "We find that the ninth grade year is essential for keeping kids on track. If a student can finish their ninth grade year with two or less ‘F’s, they are exponentially at a greater probability of graduating." 
Determining which kids are at-risk is key to the district's approach. "So," he tells KBND News, "We focus hard on those incoming freshman. We identify those kids in middle school as having certain risk factors: attendance issues, behavior issues, low test scores, grades, a multitude of things. So, we try to intervene early with kids that we think are at a greater risk of not being able to finish in that four-year timespan without extra support and help." Kitchen says those students are then put in programs like Freshman Academy, "We place them into smaller classes, sheltered classes, where they receive extra support and time. It’s not a watered down education, it’s not less, it’s not anything like that; it just is more support. We’ve found that to be successful. In fact, this is the fourth year that it has been in its operation, and so we are tracking our graduation rates, seeing the impact." Kids from that first Freshman Academy class are now seniors and Kitchen hopes it will lead to even higher grad rates, for the class of 2018.
To hear our full conversation with Bend High Graduation Coach Matt Kitchen, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE

Oregon High School Grad Rates Improve

SALEM, OR -- Oregon's high school graduation rate, which has been among the worst in the country, improved two percentage points last year; 77% of students graduated within four years. "This is actually the largest rise we've seen since calculating these rates," says Jon Wiens, with the Oregon Department of Education.


He says the state and school districts are using several programs to increase the number of graduates, "We’re trying to look at early indicators and early interventions for students, to help them on the way to graduation." He says the rate has shown a lot of improvement over the last three years, "The graduation rate for this state as a whole has increased by 4.7% over that time. But, we’ve seen Hispanic/Latino grad rates go up more than 7%, the same for African American students."


And, for the first time, the report includes the graduation rate for homeless students: 50%. Wiens says those students face a variety of challenges, "this is a significant barrier to a lot of kids that schools and districts and parents need to work really hard to overcome." 

ODOT Hosts Roundabout Meeting in Prineville

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Oregon's Department of Transportation and the city of Prineville are working together on several infrastructure projects in 2018, including the city's first roundabout. ODOT's Peter Murphy says construction should begin within the next week on the roundabout at Tom McCall Road and Highway 126.


While some residents remain skeptical of the project and question why it's needed on the busy highway, Murphy says ODOT has worked on the project for a while. "We've thoroughly vetted, we've gone through all the rigor of testing, and we feel that, for a number of reasons, roundabouts do the right thing." He tells KBND News studies show wait times are half as long at a roundabout, compared to a traffic signal, and there is an 87% reduction in fatal accidents. "Our data says that, from a safety standpoint, and from timing people, how long they're delayed to get into it, we still believe and have proven that it's safer and more effective to have a roundabout." He adds, "In some cases, the roundabout is the same as some other options, in some cases, it's better than other options, and the expense is roughly the same, so why not do the thing that suggests safety is the best way to go? And that's the plan."


Murphy says designers took into account the kind of traffic that use the road, especially large trucks. During the planning phase, ODOT set up a life-like study to see how trucks navigate a roundabout. "It was set up to mimic what would happen at Tom McCall. and we invited the big trucks, the little trucks, everybody, to come out and be a part of it, and it worked out well. Sure, with the really huge loads, they go up and over the apron, that's the way it's designed, so it all worked according to plan."
ODOT will host an informational open house, Thursday afternoon, to discuss the roundabout and other Prineville projects. It starts at 4 p.m. at the Crook County Library.

More Public Feedback Needed On SE Bend Park

BEND, OR -- Alpenglow Community Park, slated for southeast Bend, is currently in the design phase. Project Manager Ian Isaacson says public input is still needed before construction can begin. "We take these suggestions and comments seriously, especially for a park this size and scale, it really does matter what the public has to say. That's a major, major factor in what drives the direction of the park project."


He tells KBND News the Bend Parks and Recreation District has received a lot of feedback, which led to development of two Master Plans; but now they need input on those options. Bend Parks and Rec will host a public forum Thursday evening. "The meeting is the next step in the process, engaging additional feedback on what we're proposing, what people like, what they don't like, and just garnering additional comments and suggestions from people," says Isaacson. "There's always things that come up that ends up being a great idea and we'll actually sometimes change plans because it's a new idea that we hadn't thought about before."


Thursday's public meeting is from 6 - 8 p.m. at the bend Senior Center on Reed Market Road. Isaacson says the best way to get involved is to study the master plans posted at Bend Park and Rec's website and come prepared with interesting ideas. For those who can't make the meeting, Isaacson says there's an online form for those who'd like to submit ideas electronically.

Hospital Association Pleased With M101 Passage

PORTLAND, OR -- Oregon’s largest hospital association is celebrating passage of Measure 101, which includes a charge to large hospitals for the state’s Medicaid expansion. The “large hospitals” provision applies to St. Charles Bend (pictured), but not hospitals in Redmond, Madras or Prineville; nor does it impact urgent care or doctor’s offices. 
"Hospitals have had an assessment to help pay for Medicaid going on 15 years now; this isn’t a new budget item for hospitals in our state, and it’s not a new concept for those hospitals, "Philip Schmidt, with the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, tells KBND News, "This is something that they can account for, and find ways to manage, without raising the cost of care significantly to the patient who comes through the doors." He doesn't believe hospital managers are worried, says hospital managers aren’t concerned, "To the contrary; I think that most folks are feeling a sense of relief that they and the vulnerable patients that they serve are going to be able to count on the state funding and the federal funding, frankly, that comes from Measure 101."
While Measure 101 also imposes a 1.5% tax on health insurance premiums, which is expected to be passed along to consumers, Schmidt doesn't think the hospital assessment will effect patient billing. "I doubt that any patient in Oregon is going to see any sort of impact on their hospital bill. Because, the taxes and the assessments that Measure 101 places on hospitals in the state are offset by the savings that having people with insurance and keeping people out of the emergency room provides to those very same hospitals."
The OAHHS represents all of the state's 62 community hospitals, including St. Charles in Bend, Redmond, Prineville and Madras. Click HERE to read a full statement issued by the organization immediately after the January 23 Special Election. Representatives from St. Charles Health System were unavailable for comment. 

Suspect Arrested For Violent NE Bend Assault

BEND, OR -- A Bend man is accused of violently attacking an acquaintance with a knife while he slept. Police were called to a home on DeHaviland Street in Northeast Bend, just before 10 p.m. Tuesday, for a report of a fight in progress. The first officers on scene say they discovered the front door had been forced open and a 48-year-old victim was found inside. He was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.


Investigators later identified 45-year-old Christopher Grant as a suspect and the Central Oregon Emergency Response Team (CERT) was deployed to his Bear Creek home, due to the severity of the assault. The Negotiation Team convinced Grant to come out on his own and he was arrested without incident.


During a search of his house, Bend Police Detectives found evidence linking Grant to the incident. He's charged with Assault II, Kidnapping I, Burglary I, Menacing and Unlawful Use of a Weapon. 


Anyone who may have witnessed the assault is asked to call Bend Police at 541-693-6911. 

Local Jobless Rates Hold Steady, Remain Low

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon’s jobless rate remains at near record-low levels; although, Regional Employment Economist Damon Runberg says the latest numbers are subject to change. "December figures are always a funny one for us, because we’re actively in the process of revising these estimates with payroll tax records," he tells KBND News, "Which means, we actually go back with the estimated numbers and try to get those as close as we can to what happened in reality using tax records."


Runberg doesn't think the numbers can go much lower, "We didn’t see the unemployment rates change across Central Oregon, really at all. But, we’re at very low levels for us, so at this point it’s really difficult to see the unemployment rate go down. We’re tracking really closely with the state, in Deschutes County, so we’re sitting right around 4.1%." This time last year, Deschutes County was at 4.4%. 
Crook and Jefferson counties aren't as low, but Runberg says their numbers remain strong, "The natural rate of unemployment in our rural communities just tends to be higher; that’s not a bad thing, it’s just the nature of those localized economies. Compared to historical norms, what we’d see in those communities, it is very, very low for them – their level of unemployment. And, you’re also seeing some of the similar narratives from our rural businesses who are saying they’re having challenges finding workers, or maybe the right worker." Jefferson County remained at 5.3% in December; a year ago, it was 6%. And, in Crook County, the jobless rate dropped a tenth of a point from November to 6.2%; In December 2017, it was 6.4%. 
But, the rates themselves are not what Runberg is focused on. "The job numbers are the things that would catch your eye. We typically see job losses in December from November, but those losses were significantly fewer than we would typically expect. To put it another way, on a seasonally adjusted basis, we actually saw some pretty sizable job gains across Central Oregon, including our rural communities." He says the mild winter may contribute somewhat. However, he says that typically would lead to fewer losses in Construction offset by more lay-offs in Tourism & Hospitality. In December, the strongest growth for Deschutes County was in Professional and Business Services, as well as Construction, Health Care and Manufacturing. There were losses in Leisure & Hospitality, but Accommodation & Food Services saw strong growth from a year ago, which he says means hotels and restaurants are doing well. 

New Redmond Bus Station Takes Shape

REDMOND, OR -- Cascades East Transit is making progress on its new Redmond Transit Hub. Senior Transit Planner Jackson Lester says there were delays that pushed some of the work into winter, but mild weather has allowed construction to continue, a few months behind schedule. "Initially we were intending to complete the project in 2017. Thankfully, we were able to get extensions on our timeline with our grants to be able to bring it into the spring of 2018. We anticipate there will be a 'soft opening' of the site sometime in March."

The new facility is being built near the Redmond Grange and Lowe's, just off Highway 97, which Lester says is more convenient than the current station. Right now, transfers are made at the Redmond Library, downtown, "That means that if you’re going from Madras to Bend, or Prineville to Bend, or Prineville to Madras, you’re connecting buses through Redmond and so, on both ends of that trip you’re having to do that inefficient little detour." Lester tells KBND News the new hub will be more convenient for everyone, "That will give us more flexibility on both ends of all of our community connector routes." There is no fixed-route bus system in Redmond. 
CET designed the new transit center with amenities said to be more user-friendly, especially for those with disabilities. Lester says even how the buses park will change, thanks to a "saw-tooth" feature, "There are jogs in and out of the curbs so the buses can come and go independently. Whereas, if you have a flat curb, like at the library, the buses have to stage in the order that they arrive." He says that will make it easier for visually impaired riders to find their bus, because it will park in the same spot every time.

The entire project is expected to cost nearly $1.6 million, the majority of which is covered by grants. Lester expects buses will shift to the new hub in late March, with all amenities installed in time for an April Grand Opening celebration. 
Riders board a CET bus at the Redmond Library, January 23, 2018.

Lost Snowshoers Rescued After Phones Die

BEND, OR -- Three snowshoers were rescued from Big Meadow trail, near the Dutchman Loop trail, Tuesday night. Deschutes County Search and Rescue volunteers responded to the area after a 31-year-old Bend woman and two others from Portland became lost; one had a broken snowshoe.


The group reportedly started from Dutchman at noon and got lost at about 4 p.m. After calling 911 for help, they continued on to keep warm, but by 5:20 p.m. it was too dark for them to see the trail. They had no lights aside from one cell phone, which was quickly losing battery life. Their map was a picture on a cell phone which later died, a third phone also ran out of battery during the trek. The Sheriff's Office says the women didn't have water nor a backpack with extra supplies.


SAR volunteers saw the dim phone light and located the group about ¾ of a mile from the Dutchman parking lot. They were cold and tired but otherwise Okay. 



Google Earth Image provided by the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office. 

Drug Detectives Track Alleged Meth Supplier

BEND, OR -- The Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) team arrested a man they believe is responsible for supplying methamphetamine for distribution in Bend.


CODE investigators executed a search warrant at a home on NW Hartford Avenue, Thursday, and took 54-year-old Michael Jewett into custody. They seized meth, Heroin and Fentanyl, as well as various pills and powders, a digital scale, packaging material and cash. 


Two others were also contacted during the search. The District Attorney's Office is now looking into whether 53-year-old Timothy Jewett and 53-year-old Danielle Hartford are involved in the criminal case. 


Jewett faces several charges, including possession, delivery and manufacturing meth. 

Arrest In Downtown Madras Disturbance

MADRAS, OR -- A Jefferson County man was arrested this week, in connection with a December 30th altercation at a downtown Madras parking lot. Madras Police say it started with an argument inside a tavern that spilled into the lot near Fourth and D Street. 


They believe 28-year-old Daniel Frank Gilbert got a gun from a car; during the fight, it was knocked out of his hand, dislodging the magazine. Officers arrived before he could reload and he allegedly tossed the weapon and walked across the street. Gilbert was found sitting behind a car with a knife wound to his chest, which was later determined to be self-inflicted. 
Investigators later learned the gun Gilbert used was stolen from a car involved in a crash in Warm Springs. On Monday, Warm Springs Police arrested Gilbert; he was booked at the Jefferson County Jail on a number of charges, including theft, attempted assault, unlawful use of a weapon and menacing. Madras PD says they expect a charge of initiating a false report will be added. 

Bend-La Pine Schools Discusses Start Times

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools administrators are considering shifting school start times. Deputy Superintendent Jay Mathisen says research shows teens and pre-teens perform better and miss less school, if they start at 8:30 or later. "A lot of it comes down to circadian rhythms or sleep patterns, basically, for adolescents as they move from those middle school to high school years. Kids are just wired in a way to stay up later and get up later. Research points to better success in school, both academically and attendance-wise. Those are some things that we pay attention to."


A School Start Time Advisory Committee has been looking into the research and whether any changes are possible, "We start most of our secondary schools at 7:45. So, we’re looking at is there a way to start secondary schools – middle and high schools – later," Mathisen tells KBND News. "And, it’s a complex challenging problem to try and solve."


Mathisen says the issue is complicated because the district must address the needs of all students, kindergarten through 12th grade, "Transportation concerns are part of that. So, when we think about, ‘how do you bus thousands of students to school each day, and what are the logistical challenges in doing that?’ We use the same buses and the same drivers to get our secondary students to school for 7:45 start times. Those same buses and drivers then turn around and go get our elementary students to pick them up and get them to school for a 9:00 start." He adds, "If we flipped and started elementary at 7:45, then we know that our earliest bus-rider elementary kiddos would be waiting for those buses an hour or more before that. So, think about how dark and cold it is at 6:30 in the morning – do we want five-year-olds waiting out at our bus stops?"


The district will host a community feedback meeting Tuesday evening. Mathisen is scheduled to present more data and options; he encourages the entire community to get involved, "We have folks asking us, ‘what are you thinking, what are you doing?’ And, this is a chance for us to literally do that – engage in person, and share some of the thinking that’s gone on; not necessarily to solve it." He says it’s too early to know whether start times would change by next fall.
Tuesday's meeting takes place at Pilot Butte Middle School, 5:30 - 7 p.m. Click HERE for more information. 

Annual Point In Time Homeless Count Begins

BEND, OR -- The Homeless Leadership Coalition begins its annual point-in-time homeless count Wednesday. Coalition co-chair Molly Taroli says it’s important they get an accurate look at the local picture. "This is how we are able to get funding into our communities to help with ending homelessness; you know, putting people back into homes. We need to show the need; we need to show that our homelessness is not, in fact, getting better. In fact, it may be getting worse. And, what are those reasons why."


In 2017, the count identified 778 homeless Central Oregonians, based on the Department of Housing and Urban Development's standards, "Per HUD, we have a different criteria – it’s people who are literally homeless; which means in a place that’s not meant for human habitation; without running water or heat, basically. However," Taroli tells KBND News, "When we do our Point in Time count, we also capture folks who are ‘doubled up,’ which is maybe couch surfing or they’re staying in a hotel/motel with a voucher paid by NeighborImpact, for example."


Taroli expects this year's number to be higher, "Last year, when we did our point in time, we had about 4’ of snow on the ground. This year, it’ll be a little easier to get to folks and we’re hoping people will also able to get into the community and get to the food bank or get propane or items that they need. Versus last year, there were folks stranded within their camps." She says volunteers are available at some survey locations, to help connect people with necessary resources. 


A list of locations conducting the count, and dates and times, is available on the Homeless Leadership Coalition’s website. Or click below for each day's events:


Photo: A volunteer surveys the homeless in Bend, January 26, 2017

Deschutes Co. D.A. Reacts To Lara Sentence

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel is grateful that Judge Michael Adler sentenced Edwin Lara to life in prison for the 2016 death of Kaylee Sawyer. The D.A. held a press conference immediately following Monday's hearing, telling reporters, "He was innocent until today. But now that Judge Adler has declared him guilty, there are no restrictions on what I can say about the criminal case."


With the gag order lifted, Hummel was able to release details of Sawyer's murder, committed by the former Central Oregon Community College security officer. "At 5 a.m. on July 24, Lara was in his COCC 'cage car' and he saw Kaylee walking on campus. He stopped his car, and forced her into the back seat. Nobody who cared for Kaylee would see or speak to her ever again."


In his 22 years as an attorney in Central Oregon, Hummel says he's never seen a crime like this one. "It's the worst case I've seen. We [did] a proportionality analysis of every previous aggravated murder case since Deschutes County was founded; and in that review, it's not even a close call. This is the most aggravated, heinous crime that we've ever seen."
Lara agreed to change his plea to guilty in exchange for life in prison instead of the death penalty. Hummel said Monday it's not the end of the tragedy, "Today, we don't celebrate the end of this tragedy because it's not over for Kaylee's family. Today is the 548th day we mourn Kaylee's Death. Tomorrow will be day 549." Hummel says the sentence doesn't bring justice to Kaylee's family, but he's thankful the community is now safe from a killer.

Lara Pleads Guilty To Aggravated Murder

BEND, OR -- The man accused of killing Kaylee Sawyer near the COCC campus a year and a half ago, now admits he committed murder. Edwin Lara plead guilty to Robbery and Aggravated murder, Monday morning, in Deschutes County Court, after reaching a deal with prosecutors. 


Judge Michael Adler asked Lara, "'Is it true that on July 24, 2016, in Deschutes County, Oregon, that you took Kaylee Sawyer’s purse without her consent and with the threat of deadly force?' Lara responded, simply, 'Yes'." Judge Adler then asked, "'And, in the furtherance of the crime of Robbery in the First Degree, and in the course of committing Robbery in the First Degree, did you use a dangerous weapon and personally and intentionally cause the death of Kaylee Ann Sawyer'?" to which Lara also answered, "'Yes'."


He admitted to trying to strangle the 23-year-old woman as she fought back, although her cause of death was ruled blunt force trauma. The Deschutes County District Attorney had planned to seek the death penalty, if the case went to trial. The plea agreement means Lara avoids death and will serve life in prison with no possibility of parole.
During Monday's sentencing, Sawyer's friends and family expressed how her murder has impacted their lives. Juli VanCleave said from now on, she will always be the mother of a murdered child, and it's important her daughter is not forgotten. "Kaylee Ann Sawyer is my firstborn. The moment I held her, I understood what love at first sight meant, and that it is real. She will continue to live on in all the memories that are shared."
Jim Walden says his granddaughter had so much more to offer the world than Edwin Lara ever will. "The piece of human garbage sitting over there the court refers to as 'the defendant,' by his own admission, he wanted to silence my granddaughter forever." One family friend asked for Lara to be released into his personal custody, "We'll take him out in the desert; we'll let the eagles, and the hawks, and the coyotes, and the maggots eat that piece of sh** alive, and then when the buzzards are done, I'm gonna fill his carcass full of lead. Pow!" 
Lara showed little emotion during the hours long hearing, but he did express remorse, saying he knows Kaylee's family isn't ready to listen to him. "God Almighty who art in Heaven, please! Heal the hearts, all the broken hearts of this community, I ask You. Please! Heal the hearts of this family. And let Kaylee Sawyer rest in peace."

Plastic Clamshells Can Now Be Recycled in C.O.

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon doesn't have a local way to recycle plastic clamshells, but the Environmental Center and Whole Foods Market have partnered together to find an alternate to just throwing them away.


Whole Foods' Becca Burda says plastic clamshells are an attractive way to display food for purchase, but having no easy way to recycle them didn't fit with the Market's green mission. She says the solution is a quarterly event at Whole Foods where everyone can bring their clean clamshells for recycling. "What we do, is we get enough to put in giant bales, and then we will send them back to Portland with our distributor. We have distribution trucks that come over five days a week, and then they go back over the mountain empty. And so, we've found this great way to send bales of clamshells back to Portland, and then they're recycled properly."
The Environmental Center is working to educate customers about how #1 plastic clamshells contaminate landfills, and encourage ways to utilize reusable containers.
Burda hopes the quarterly events will be popular. "People can bring in two clamshells, they can bring in bags. All they do, it doesn't cost a thing, they just have to stop by the store, mark their calendars for January 27th, and we will get them properly recycled in Portland."
The first clamshell recycle event will be the 27th from 10 to 4, and everyone can bring their clean clamshells for transport to Portland's EFI Recycling Plant.


Amphitheater's Summer Sundays Series Canceled

BEND, OR -- The free “Summer Sundays” concert series at the Les Schwab Amphitheater will take a hiatus, this year. Amphitheater Director Marney Smith tells KBND News, "We’ve had a really great time having the series over the last 16 years, with the amazing bands. There is no shortage of events on the calendar throughout the summer in Bend, and we thought it was time to take a step back and make sure what we’re doing is relevant and it’s what the community wants, and see if there are other areas that we could be putting our effort that might make more of an impact."


Over its 16-year run, the series featured more than 300 musical acts. Smith says it cost money and energy each year, but the financial burden wasn’t a factor in the decision to take a break. "The series is near and dear to our hearts. But, it is something that we wanted to take a step back and look at what the need in the community was. And, if we have all of the time that we spent on Summer Sundays focused on some new ideas, could we bring something new and different to the community?" She adds, "We have a ton of ideas that we’re working on for other free events. Whether or not those get implemented this year, we’ll have to see. But, there is no shortage of really great free events throughout the town and, when the series started in 2002, Bend was a much different place as far as the music scene goes. And, we have a robust music scene, right now."


Smith says it’s possible that after looking at trends, her team could decide Summer Sundays should return. The Les Schwab Amphitheater kicks off the summer season with the Pole Pedal Paddle on May 19. It's Bend Summer Concert Series begins Memorial Day weekend. 

DCSO Searches For Driver Involved In Chase

BEND, OR -- A Bend man is wanted in connection with a Saturday evening police chase in southwest Bend. A Deschutes County Sheriff's Deputy tried to pull over a car for running the stop sign at Baker and Brookswood Blvd, just before 6 p.m. The car took off, leading the deputy on a short pursuit.


The driver stopped the vehicle near Cultus Drive and Ponderosa and ran. Despite a search involving Oregon State Police, Bend Police and a K9 unit, he wasn’t found. The passenger, 47-year-old Chase Swafford, stayed with the car and was arrested for an outstanding warrant.


The suspect was later identified as 34-year-old Daniel James Wallace (pictured). He's expected to face charges including Attempt to Elude and Reckless Driving. 


Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 541-693-6911. 

Redmond Armed Robbery Suspect Sought

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are searching for the man who robbed Moe’s Food Mart on SW Fifth, Saturday morning. Officers responded to the downtown mini mart within a minute of getting the call, just before 6 a.m. But, despite a broad effort involving multiple law enforcement agencies, they were not able to find a suspect. 


A female employee says the man had a gun and demanded money. He’s described as 6' 2" with a thin build, wearing blue jeans, a black hoodie, gloves and tennis shoes. A black bandana partially covered his face. 
The employee was not hurt. Anyone with information is asked to call Redmond Police at 541-693-6911. 

Semi Driver Arrested For DUII After Crash

REDMOND, OR -- The driver of a semi was arrested on several charges, Friday morning, after a downtown Redmond crash that left the driver of a passenger car with minor injuries.


Investigators say 26-year-old Arturo Lopez exhibited signs of impairment consistent with recent marijuana use, following the crash near SW 5th and Deschutes Ave. They also found a small amount of pot in his possession. The Arizona man faces charges of Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangering and DUII.


Redmond Police impounded the truck and trailer because his passenger also appeared to be under the influence of marijuana. 

Fri. Gas Leak Leads to Neighborhood Evacuation

REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond neighborhood was evacuated Friday afternoon, after a broken service line sent gas and flames shooting up from the ground. According to Redmond Fire, the resident of a home on NW 9th Street struck the line while digging. The leak occurred between the backyard and Canyon Drive. 


Arriving crews stretched a hose line and protected a nearby fence and pine tree. Cascade Natural Gas crews pinched off the line and stopped the leak, which extinguished the fire. 

Women's Defense Class Aims To Prevent Trafficking

BEND, OR -- The Guardian Group, a Bend-based anti-human trafficking tech company, is helping girls build self-esteem through self-defense. COO Jeff Tiegs says a predator doesn't have to live near his victim in order to lure her into the life. He believes the best way to protect her is to teach her how to protect herself. "The biggie is this confidence and self esteem. A girl that's confident in herself - and she has high self esteem - she's not looking for what these traffickers offer, or pretend to offer. So, the more we can build a girl's inner confidence and inner self esteem, the less she's going to be a risk."


Guardian Group developed a software program to help lodging companies identify traffickers and their victims. Tiegs says it's a local and national problem.


Through a partnership with a local martial arts studio, the company offers a two-day seminar to help young women learn not to be a vulnerable victim. "What we talk about, at the self defense seminars, is we start from 'how do you protect yourself online?'; 'How do you protect yourself as they're beginning to shift from who you thought they were, maybe a boyfriend, into, actually, a controlling predator?'; and then we finish all the way to the point where 'everything has gone wrong, you are now hands-on, face-to-face with a predator, and how is it that you can defend yourself?'." 


The two-day women only seminar begins Friday night at Clark's University of Martial Arts in Northeast Bend, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. It continues Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. Click HERE to register. January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. 


More Public Meetings For Redmond Fee Proposal

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond City Councilors continue to discuss how to fund the hiring of more police officers; attention has focused on a controversial public safety fee, which could increase utility bills by $6 a month. 


Mayor George Endicott believes there are still unanswered questions, "One is, is there a need? And, two: how do you pay for it? Now; there are several ways to pay for it. So, one way is a public safety fee. Another is a temporary or permanent operating levy, which would go to the voters; another way is a property tax increase, which Redmond could do – we’re not at our ‘cap,’ if you will, under Measure 5." He adds, "We could try and take it out of our budget, which would impact other programs; or we could do nothing. I think one of the misnomers that’s out there right now: people are convinced that we’ve made up our mind. We have not." Click HERE to access the city's Frequently Asked Questions regarding the proposed fee. 
A levy or property tax increase would require voter approval, whereas a utility fee could be imposed with a majority of City Council approval. However, Endicott tells KBND News, "My personal opinion, if we were to do that, I would want a referendum to get a sense of the folks in town, how they feel."
He says there is still time for the community to provide feedback, "We have not decided; there’s another public meeting Monday night at City Hall. And then, Tuesday night, it’s not on the agenda, but of course public comment, we can always take." Monday's meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. 
Listen to our full conversation with Redmond Mayor George Endicott at our Podcast Page, or click HERE

Police Radio Struggles To Function After Upgrade

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County's new $3 million police radio system has not worked properly since it was upgraded in July and some say it's putting officers' lives at risk. Deschutes County 911 Director Steve Reinke says there were initially a few glitches that the system's manufacturer failed to fix, and the radio's performance got progressively worse over time. "It's really become absolutely our top priority ever since we realized that the system's performing poorly. Missed transmissions, garbled transmissions, the audio level variations are causing a lot of problems for folks in the field. We finally had to get to the point where the police unions, and rightfully so, said, 'we got to get this going'." 


The unions filed a complaint, which Reinke says prompted manufacturer Harris to send a team to troubleshoot the issues, "That team started to look at all our settings and they realized that some of the settings programed into our system were not correct," says Reinke. "The system wasn't configured properly for the way it was supposed to function. And so, we have been working for the last month or so, especially the last three weeks, to audit the entire system to see what settings are supposed to be in the system, and to start making those changes." He tells KBND News there's a 25-item punch list the team is working through. "We can't emphasize enough that there's no higher priority for us than being able to communicate with field folks, and for them to have confidence in the radio system. We are optimistic that they're going to make the system better, and we're hoping that that's going to be accomplished within the next two weeks."


Stock Photo

Voters To Decide Bend Charter Changes

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors have agreed to ask voters whether the city’s charter should be revised. After more than a year of community discussions and various proposals, the Council plans to finalize the language for two ballot measures in early February; those would appear on the May ballot.


"The first is: Is Bend ready for a directly elected Mayor? So, the citizens would get to choose the Mayor instead of the current state, which, the Council chooses a Mayor every two years amongst itself," Bend City Manager Eric King tells KBND News. If the measure passes in May, numerous candidates could campaign for the seat in November. "Some cities – some larger cities – do sort of primaries for Mayor or Council positions. We’re not there yet," says King. "But, that could be something that’s in the future, where there’s a runoff, so to speak, where you have a slate of candidates; and then those top two vote-getters might have a faceoff for an election." 


Allowing voters to decide who becomes Mayor wouldn't change how the city is run. King says, "The Mayor’s primary job is to run the Council meetings. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s more power; they don’t have veto power, they’re vote doesn’t matter any more than any other Councilor. But, it provides some sense of whose leading that elected body."


The other revision would remove from the charter the amount Councilors and the Mayor are paid. Currently, the rate is included in the charter, which means it can only be revised by ballot measure. King says that makes it difficult to make adjustments for inflation. Councilors are paid $200 - an amount set back in 1995. This week, City Council asked that a compensation committee come up with some proposals prior to the charter revision vote in May. "They would form that independent committee so voters know what the compensation recommendation would be." He adds, "Councils can’t vote themselves raises. It would not be until an intervening election takes place that that would come into effect."
Bend City Council is expected to vote February 7 on how those proposals will look on the May ballot. 
Click HERE to listen to our full conversation with Bend City Manager Eric King, or visit our Podcast Page


Bend Man Faces Federal Child Porn Charges

BEND, OR -- A 22-year-old Bend man was arrested by federal agents Thursday, for possessing and distributing child pornography. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and FBI executed a search warrant at Pierce Morrow’s home and determined they had enough probable cause to take him into custody. 


Morrow is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin in Eugene, Friday afternoon. 

DUII Driver Blamed For Wrong Way Crash

BEND, OR --A wrong-way driver is blamed for a head-on collision on the Bend Parkway, Thursday night. Several witnesses reported seeing a pickup speeding north in the southbound lanes, near Hawthorne, just before midnight. 

Just as Bend officers were dispatched, a Deschutes County Sergeant reported being hit head-on, near Empire. Officers arrested 59-year-old Robert Hughes for Reckless Driving and Driving under the Influence, among other charges. He was not hurt, but the Sheriff's Sergeant was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. 
The Parkway was closed for about two hours overnight for that investigation.  
UPDATE: Bend Police have released the name of the DCSO Sergeant involved in the crash, at the request of the Sheriff's Office. Sgt. Grant Johnstone has been released from the hospital where he received treatment for his injuries. 

Missing Redmond Man Found Safe

REDMOND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help to locate a 60-year-old Redmond man, missing for more than a week. Investigators say John Stanton Douglas left home to get lunch at the Redmond Sonic around noon January tenth. He hasn’t been seen since and could be in need of medical attention. 


Douglas drives a white Ford F250 (similar to above) with Oregon plates 788-KCU. He’s 6' 2", about 220 pounds with black hair and brown eyes, and was last seen wearing a green Carhart jacket and blue jeans. Douglas is known to frequent the Three Creeks Road area of Sisters.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 541-693-6911.
FRIDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: John Douglas was located in Washington State in good condition and has been cleared as a missing person. His family has also been notified.

Svc District To Again Discuss Sunriver Chief's Future

SUNRIVER, OR -- The Sunriver Service District has yet to determine the future employment status of Sunriver Police Chief Marc Mills. The managing board meets Thursday to discuss the situation further; but SSD Chair Jim Fister says, at this point, not all steps have been completed. "We've made no decision right now. Any decision will be based off of: we're going to get all the information, we're going to weigh it, and give Chief Mills an opportunity to respond to anything that comes up."


The chief was put on administrative leave last month, following an incident at the police department when he allegedly struck another officer while both were on duty. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel has said he's charging Mills with Misdemeanor Harassment.  


At Thursday's meeting, Fister says they'll discuss the district's ongoing investigation and Mills' future employment, "My understanding of the process, as we're guided by our legal team, is we will continue the investigation. At the end, we would engage in a name-clearing session that would give Chief Mills one last opportunity to respond."


Fister says they've requested an interview with Chief Mills to discuss the alleged incident in December, but that has yet to take place. 

Effort Stalls For Prineville Indoor Pool

PRINEVILLE, OR -- There have been various efforts over the past decade to develop an indoor pool complex in Prineville;  and the latest plan has stalled, as well. The current outdoor pool is over 60-years-old. 


Crook County Parks and Rec Executive Director Duane Garner says an advisory committee conducted a feasibility study and considered a number of design options. "The cost of all of those options are pretty significant and it’s basically been determined that the Parks and Recreation District, as an individual entity, it’s probably beyond our reasonable capacity to even consider going out for a bond." He tells KBND News the least expensive, simplest indoor pool design would cost $17 to $18 million.


Garner says they’re now talking with the city and county about a possible joint venture. "As a multi-governmental structure, can we afford to build this pool? So, that’s basically what question is on the table: ‘could the county potentially be the entity to go out for a bond?’ And, it’d be the entire county and not just the Parks and Recreation boundaries, which are a little larger than the city limits, basically." But first, he says they need to gauge community support. "The city volunteered to put $5,000 and the county as well, and the Parks and Rec district, and then there’s been some money raised by this committee, to do a formal, scientifically valid survey of the entire county just to see where people are at. Is there enough desire on the people’s part to do this that they’re willing to pay for it? And if so, then how much?" That community survey will take place over the next month, after which time the Pool Advisory Committee and Parks District will consider their options. 


Garner says the advisory committee would also like to expand, to get more people involved in the process. Those interested in joining the committee are encouraged to contact the Crook County Parks and Recreation office and request an application. 

Arrest In Luring Case Involving Two Minors

BEND, OR -- A Bend transient is accused of communicating with two underage girls online for illicit purposes. In December, Prineville Police turned over information to Bend Police, regarding alleged attemps by 42-year-old Benjamin Finnestad to contact minors through various social media platforms.


Investigators in Bend examined digital evidence and conducted interviews they say substantiated the accusations that he unlawfully communicated with minor females. Finnestad was arrested Wednesday on two counts of Luring A Minor for Sexual Conduct and Failing to Register As A Sex Offender. 


Bend Police say the investigation is ongoing, and officers remind parents to be mindful of how kids use social media. 

Gov. Brown Visits Bend High CTE Students

BEND, OR -- Oregon Governor Kate Brown visited Bend Senior High Wednesday, speaking with students involved in hands-on learning courses and touring classrooms. She says Oregon's current prosperity isn't equitable, which means the only way to get and stay out of poverty is to be educated, "We know that in a lot of parts of Oregon, the economy is booming, yet too many people need to work more than one job, just to get by. Oregon's rising economic tide should be lifting all boats, yet many hard working families are still underwater."


Brown told students, "The challenge that we face in Oregon is that our high school graduation rate is abysmally low. one out of four high school students doesn't graduate. we have a graduation rate of 75%. In my mind, that's absolutely unacceptable." But, she says CTE programs can help, "We know that students across the state of Oregon, if they have access to hands-on learning, we see the graduation rate improve to 86%. That's extraordinary."


Brown believes recent actions will start improving graduation rates, "This last Legislative session, I worked with the Legislature; we invested over $170 million into Career and Technical Education."
Bend State Representative and Republican candidate for Governor Knute Buehler has criticized Brown for failing to improve graduation rates. He says More than 20,000 kids have dropped out of Oregon schools since Brown became Governor. 

Redmond Hosts Livability Workshop

REDMOND, OR -- The city of Redmond is hoping residents will help direct where future bike and pedestrian work should occur.


Last year, city officials launched a series of workshops, and Mayor George Endicott says residents have been instrumental in identifying where improvements are needed. "We got some money from the state, called the TGM [Transportation and Growth Management] Grant. What it’s looking at is, ‘How do we improve livability in existing neighborhoods in Redmond?’ You know, sidewalks, bike trails, bike paths, all those kinds of things; just to preserve livability." He tells KBND News, "The big two so far are improving bikes and walkways of various kinds. So, we want to hear more, have a final meeting and that’s all state funded. It’s a great project to just improve Redmond livability."


The final public workshop is Thursday at City Hall, beginning at 6 p.m. Click HERE for details. Mayor Endicott says the data will then be used to help the City Council determine which projects should move forward. 

Driver Leads Deputies On NW Redmond Pursuit

REDMOND, OR -- A transient was arrested earlier this week after leading Deschutes County Deputies on a pursuit through northwest Redmond. According to the Sheriff’s Office, a deputy tried to pull over 51-year-old Lane Eugene Johnson for a traffic violation, at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, but he allegedly took off. The suspect drove down Yucca Way, then on to NW 21st Street before turning around and heading back to Yucca and onto NW Pershall at speeds of around 60 MPH. 


The Sheriff's Office says Johnson lost control in the “S” turns where NW Pershall Way turns into NW Coyner. The vehicle left the road, crashed into a large rock and through a fence. He then continued through a field and back to Pershall. After two tires went flat, he reportedly drove on rims across Highway 97 and onto O'Neil Highway at very low speeds. He eventually came to a stop near Yucca Avenue and NE 17th Street, where he was arrested.


Johnson is charged with Attempt to Elude, Reckless Driving, Criminal Mischief, Failure to Perform the duties of a Driver and Felon in Possession of a Restricted Weapon. He was also cited for Driving While Suspended and Driving Uninsured.  

Terrebonne Man Dies In Sunriver Crash

SUNRIVER, OR -- An 84-year-old Terrebonne man died in a crash near Sunriver, Wednesday morning. Investigators believe Gary Lawrence may have suffered a medical problem, causing him to run off the road.


Witnesses say his pickup suddenly accelerated on South Century Drive, missed a curve and went down an embankment into a group of trees. The pickup rolled onto its top and, when emergency crews arrived, Lawrence was found deceased.


The Sheriff’s Office says weather and road conditions did not appear to be factors. 

Plans Advance For County Sober Center

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson is working to rally support from neighboring communities, for a Crisis Stabilization and Sobering Center. Sheriff Nelson says the final design is taking shape and they've now ruled out modular buildings, as initially planned, "Based on the needs of the center and building design, we decided to go from a temporary structure to a permanent structure. The main reason was to be cost effective for the taxpayers. The temporary structure was going to be a significant investment, and what we decided to do was make that investment in a permanent structure." He tells KBND News, "We found that if we invested money in these temporary buildings, some of the changes that we would’ve had to make to them would have mandated that we keep those buildings."


He says they are narrowing down a location for the facility, "We have a generalized location on the Public Safety campus, which is where the Sheriff’s Office is located. No exact location; we’re still working through that process, as well as the permitting process."


Because Sheriff Nelson believes all law enforcement agencies in the county will use the center, he's hoping police departments in Bend and Redmond will help foot the bill, "Based on that ask, we wanted to go present to the City Councils to garner support for the project. The figures that we’re asking for now, are in proportion to the population base. And, we are going to ask $135,000 of Redmond, approximately; and, we’re looking at around $400,000 from the city of Bend." Those amounts would be paid annually, as part of an estimated $4 million operating budget. Nelson estimates construction and start-up costs will run a little over $2 million. He presented to Redmond’s City Council Tuesday night and plans to give Bend City Councilors an update soon.

"The center’s services are going to offer crisis respite and sobering," says Sheriff Nelson, "We are still working on that financial component to the sobering center piece of this facility, but I think we can get there." He says if design and funding go well, construction could begin in a year. 

Alleged DUI Driver Arraigned For Fatal Crash

BEND, OR -- The 41-year-old Alfalfa woman accused killing a Bend cyclist was arraigned Tuesday. Shantel Witt faces Manslaughter and Driving Under the Influence charges, in connection with last month's deadly crash. "Judge Adler did order that she be on house arrest and that she wear an alcohol ankle bracelet to detect whether she's drinking during her release," Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said after the hearing. He says the additional restrictions are due to the severity of the charges, "It's not that uncommon in serious cases such as this, for the court to order a person to wear the alcohol detector bracelet."


Marika Stone, a competitive cyclist and dentist in Bend, died December 30 after she was struck by Witt's pickup on Dodds Road. Hummel says he'll soon go to the Grand jury, and then Witt will enter a plea.


Accused DUI Driver Released On Bail


The D.A. tells KBND News the tragic incident has created a learning opportunity. "This case has brought to the fore something that we've seen in this community, bubbling up, as more people ride bikes, there' s more conflict with cars, and we need to come together as a community, and realize that the roads need to be shared by everyone." To achieve that goal, Hummel plans to meet with Bend City Councilor Sally Russell, "We hope to have a community dialogue about how we can make our streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and people in cars." 


Private Jet Slides Off Bend Runway

BEND, OR -- A private plane slid off the runway at the Bend Airport, Tuesday morning. The EmBraer Phenom 300 sustained only minor damage and Airport Spokesman Gary Judd says none of the six people aboard was hurt.


The pilot was attempting to land the $9 million jet at about 7:50 a.m., when it slid on the north end of the airport and got stuck in the mud. 


Icy roads were reported in the area, and the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating whether the weather contributed to the incident. 


Hood To Coast High Desert Coming This Fall

PORTLAND, OR -- Organizers of the Hood To Coast Relay have set their sights on Central Oregon, for the newest addition to its growing race series. "The Mother of All Relays, the original Hood To Coast, is extremely difficult [to get into] and sells out on opening day; and then on that same day, we put another 40,000 people on the waiting list. So, clearly there’s not enough supply and a ton of demand," Hood To Coast COO Dan Floyd tells KBND News. He says they’ve discovered one-day relays are a lot easier for participants to plan for. Last year, they expanded to Washington with a one-day event, to try and meet demand; Floyd says it quickly sold out. 


This year, they’ll add one in Pacific City, Oregon, in May, and the High Desert Relay takes place October sixth. "We went and toured the course. As you can imagine, the course – in our opinion – was amazing. And, we felt like it was our best course that we’ve created, to date." It's also the organization's first looped course (pictured below), "Every inch of the course just has to be unique and we don’t want people to see the same thing twice," says Floyd. "With this loop, with Brasada Ranch being such a cool opportunity for people to see, I think the start and finish being located there is going to create a much more lively atmosphere. And, the final leg – Leg 12 – being actually on that property and a trail run, it’s going to be awesome."
Runners compete in six-person teams starting at Brasada Ranch. They'll travel through Powell Butte, Prineville and Alfalfa before returning to Brasada. Floyd says, "There’s an amazing panoramic view of the mountains that you can see from every single inch of that course. You’re going to see the mountains, the reservoir, the rivers and the High Desert. And, it showcases everything that we would want to showcase about Central Oregon in just 70 miles." Registration for the inaugural Hood To Coast High Desert opened at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. Floyd expects it will also sell out.
The original Hood To Coast relay spans two days in late August, as 12-person teams travel about 200 miles from Timberline Lodge (pictured above), on Mount Hood, to the beach at Seaside. It's sold out for the last 26 years. 

Oven Fire Forces Bend High Evacuation

BEND, OR -- Bend High was evacuated Tuesday afternoon, after a fire started in a culinary class oven. Investigators say a fiberglass cafeteria tray was "mistakenly used" to roast a pepper in the oven, rather than a metal baking sheet. The oven brought the tray to its ignition temperature and, since the oven door was propped open, black smoke and flames were seen coming from the appliance. 

As the teacher was directing students out, an State Trooper - who was visiting another class - grabbed an extinguisher and put out the blaze. Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe said the call was upgraded to a structure fire because the blaze was initially tough to extinguish. "When we got here, it was pretty much out, but there was a bit of smoke, so we were just taking care of that." The oven is no longer usable, but no other damage was reported in the building. Fans were placed in hallways to rid the area of smoke. 
Around 30 students were in the class at the time, but the entire school was evacuated. At the scene, Howe told KBND News, "All the kids were out here. They evacuated the whole thing, as per what they're supposed to do; so they did a good job. They went by the book, and if it had been a more serious situation, everybody would've been fine."

Garbage Truck Hits Power Line, Causes Fire

BEND, OR -- A Cascade Disposal garbage truck hooked a power line near the St. Vincent DePaul Food Bank on SE Third Street in Bend. Fire crews responded just before 10 a.m. Tuesday, and say the truck pulled the weatherhead away from the building and causing the electrical line to arc. Smoke was seen on the outside of the building.


Firefighters used a dry chemical to prevent the fire from burning wires and igniting the structure. A thermal imaging camera recorded the temperature of the line conduit at well over 400 degrees. 


Prineville Plans Major Infrastructure Projects in 2018

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The City of Prineville has big plans for infrastructure improvements in 2018, all thanks to a partnership with ODOT, and $3 million from the State through the Transportation Grant.


Phil Stenbeck, Planning Director for the City of Prineville, says growth is one of the main reasons for the work. "We have a roundabout going in on the Highway, at the intersection of Tom McCall Road and Highway 126. That particular roundabout is going in, and is particularly designed to, help the traffic in the area. So, that is the area where we have data center growth going on, it is the industrial area of our community, there's needed improvements there to handle the flow of traffic."
Stenbeck says a lot of the work involves improvements to Prineville's main drag. "Our 3rd Street plan is a look at our Downtown area, and ODOT is putting fiber in the ground to run the street lights, as part of that, they'll be doing some ADA ramp work. And our Downtown strategic plan committee wants new sidewalks the length of 3rd Street, new street lights, flowers hanging in baskets off of them, they'll have a drip system into them, we'll have the ability to have baskets on one side and banners on the other, giving the Downtown a cohesive look, that's a little bit upgraded."
Stenbeck says the money is coming from a partnership with ODOT, as well as funds from the State through the Transportation Bond. "ODOT had budgeted for about $1.8 million in improvements. And Representative McLane did a good job representing our community, finding some dollars, and so we ended up with about $3 million from the State and the Legislature to help us. That was our vision, to make Prineville look a little bit nicer, and make some improvements."

Stenbeck's hope is that the work can be completed in such a way that Prineville ends up looking like an improved version of her historic self.

New Small High Schools Prepare For Recruitment

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools is pushing forward with plans to open two small high schools in the fall. Realms High School and Skyline both have principals and a building. 


Roger White is currently the principal at Realms Middle School; he’ll expand its “Expeditionary Learning” model as principal of Realms High School. He tells KBND News there will be "Lots and lots of opportunities for hands-on learning, both in the classroom and in the field." He says, "Students at Realms Middle School, and this will be true for students at Realms High School, as well, will have an opportunity to pursue lots of field work; hands-on activities where they’re taking content from their classroom studies and applying it in the real world."


Deputy Superintendent Jay Mathisen says Skyline will feature flexible schedules for students looking for something beyond the traditional 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. day, "Lots of opportunities for, in particular, older students to have internships for large chunks of their school week, where they’re earning high school credit; perhaps taking numbers of courses at our local college campuses while being high school students. So, we’re interested in flexibility, harnessing some blended learning or some online learning, mixing it with face-to-face."
Realms and Skyline will open together inside a facility on Northeast Brinson Boulevard. They’ll start with a combined enrollment of 200 ninth and 10th graders. While the programs will be in the same building, White says students will be separated, for the most part. "There will be an opportunity, especially early in the two schools’ development as they’re both really small schools, to pursue some shared, building-wide culture pieces that help students between the two programs understand each other and get to know each other; and also potentially some shared staffing for some of those specialty positions."
Bend-La Pine Schools will host an informational session for families interested in one or both schools. It begins Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the district's admin. building in downtown Bend.
To hear our full conversation with Realms Principal Roger White and Dep. Superintendent Jay Mathisen, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.

New Taphouse & Food Truck Lot Slated For NE Bend

BEND, OR -- Food truck lots have popped up in nearly every Central Oregon city over the past few years; the latest is slated to open this spring on the east side of Bend.


Eric Kramer and his wife are leasing a vacant lot on NE Cushing, near 27th and Medical Center Drive. He says the area needs a family-friendly gathering place. "We’re going to have six food trucks. We do have an acre, so we’re going to have lawn games and plenty of green grass and places for kids to hang out- dogs to hang out. And, we’re just one of the newer places on the east side to hang out – a place that’s lacking in cool hangout spots." He adds, "The east side, in general, is underserved. But, especially at this location, you have the hospital there, you have all the other medical buildings, Phagans Beauty School, it’s all right there. And, it’s just a bunch of employees with really nowhere for them to go have lunch- or very few places for them to go have lunch, and maybe walk over and have a beer after work."
Kramer tells KBND News construction is under way on the On Tap taphouse, which will anchor the property. "We’re hoping to be open the beginning to middle of April. We’re building right now, and with this very mild winter, everything’s kind of cruising along pretty nicely." He says the one-acre lot will provide lots of room to grow in the future. 

St Charles, COPA Create Pediatric Partnership

BEND, OR -- St. Charles Health System and Central Oregon Pediatric Associates are joining forces in Bend and Redmond. Beginning in mid-February, COPA will lease space inside the St. Charles Family Care Bend South clinic (pictured) near Badger Road.


In Redmond, The sole pediatric provider for St. Charles has taken a new role and COPA plans to offer patients the option of choosing a provider at its Larch Avenue clinic. And, St. Charles is expanding a program that provides behavior health consultants to work alongside COPA providers at its pediatric clinics.
Leaders from both organizations call it a unique partnership that will improve the overall quality of health for children in the region.  

Reward Increases Again In Swan Shooting Case

SUNRIVER, OR -- The reward in the Sunriver swan killing case has increased again. According to the Sunriver Nature Center, an anonymous donor is providing an additional $500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for shooting the well-known bird on Thanksgiving. The total reward is now $3,000. Anyone with information is asked to call Sunriver Police at 541-593-1014. 


"Chuck," the trumpeter swan, and his mate "Gracie" were placed in lake Aspen in an attempt to reintroduce the species to the area after it was hunted nearly to extinction. Investigators believe the shooting was intentional. 

Prineville Shelter Welcomes Homeless Men

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville’s new emergency shelter is finally open. Regeneration House is managed by Redemption Ministries. It was supposed to open several months ago, but Executive Director Greg Sanders says there were delays after last fall's ribbon cutting celebration, "Part of the issue at that point was getting all of the finished permits completed before we were able to get moved in. The thing that took the longest was getting power hooked up to the building itself. Once we were able to get that accomplished, we were ready to go."


The previous men’s shelter was torn down to make room for the Crook County Jail; Sanders says they served 47 people, last year, before it closed. Regeneration House hosted its first 10 residents Thursday night. "We expect them to come in in a way that they’re able to receive our services – which means not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and not to bring anything like that into the shelter itself," Sanders tells KBND News. "When they come in, they get a meal for the evening, they get showers, can do laundry, they get a bed for the evening. And then also, they get breakfast and then they have to leave in the morning." He says they can currently house 13 men, but there are plans to soon bring in more beds, which will raise the capacity to 16.


Sanders says the new facility wouldn’t have been possible without a generous donation. "There was a lady who left a beneficiary gift when she passed on. Through her generous gift, that’s why we were able to purchase the land and get the building and get this up and going. We’re just thankful for her and then all our volunteers – there are a lot of people who really kind of gave their heart." Redemption Ministries also manages a 22-bed shelter for women and children in Crook County.

Walden Tours Deschutes Brewery, Touts Tax Reform

BEND, OR -- Congressman Greg Walden was in Central Oregon Friday, promoting the success of the GOP tax reform bill. "You’re seeing over a million Americans now that are getting bonuses and that are getting starting-wage increases, whether you’re at Walmart or whether you’re at – some of the banks, some of the airlines are putting out bonuses, and all," the Oregon Republican told reporters, "We are stimulating the economy, we’re putting money back in the pockets of working Americans, and then we’re growing jobs.

He toured Deschutes Brewery and talked with the company's founder about how reforms will benefit the state’s craft brew industry. Walden says he worked for several years to reduce the excise tax on beer, "We cut it in half in this bill. That’s substantial savings – whether you’re Free Bridge in The Dalles, Oregon or you’re Deschutes Brewery, here – that will be reinvested in new equipment and growth. We also said to companies, small businesses, you can write-off in the first year whatever you invest, in terms of new plant and equipment." He added, "I worked directly with Kevin Brady (R-TX), who Chairs the Ways and Means Committee, where all this was happening. This was one of my priorities because I knew it was important for Oregon, I knew it was important for our craft brewers, and I knew the importance they have on our local economy. And we succeeded."


And, the Congressman says the average family will see about a $1,900 reduction in federal taxes. "That’s not crumbs; that’s real money to working people in this state and in this district. And again, to this industry – the craft brewing industry – cutting that excise tax in half makes a real difference, as well, and allows for money to be reinvested going forward, in new plant and equipment."


Walden also denounced alleged vulgar remarks recently made by President Trump, during his stop in Bend. While in Central Oregon, Walden met with members of the Crook County Farm Bureau Saturday, to talk about how agriculture will be positively impacted by tax reform. 

Convicted Thief Accused Of Redmond Burglaries

REDMOND, OR -- A convicted thief was arrested Saturday, suspected in a number of new burglaries. Investigators say 49-year-old Dennis Madden matches the description of a man seen breaking into cars near NW 10th and Birch. Witnesses saw a man leave the area in a red Ford Explorer. 


When officers stopped that suspect vehicle, Saturday, they contacted Madden and found a window punch, ski mask, gloves and other burglar tools in his possession, as well as a woman’s purse reported stolen the night before. 


During a search of his southwest Redmond home, officers found property believed to be stolen from several residential and vehicle break-ins in Bend and Redmond. Madden has an extensive criminal history and, at the time of his arrest over the weekend, he was on supervised release following a 60-month prison sentence for burglary and theft relating to a 2010 Redmond PD investigation. 
Investigators credit the detailed observations by victims for leading to Madden's arrest. Police remind everyone to remove valuables from vehicles and encourage the itemization of property, including a record of serial numbers and detailed descriptions. RPD is partnering with LeadsOnline to assist in the task. Click HERE to create an online account where you can document necessary information. In the event of a theft of loss, the owner can retrieve the data and provide it to law enforcement. 

New Sign Discourages Distracted Driving

BEND, OR -- Bend city crews installed a “Don’t Text and Drive” sign on Reed Market Road, Friday, to honor the memory of a 16-year-old hit by a driver who was texting. In 2011, Forrest Cepeda was killed while riding his bike on Reed Market, near Pettigrew. 


Police hope the sign will help discourage distracted driving. Bend PD Sgt. Eric Hagan says the agency averages more than 500 cell phone-related tickets and warnings a year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 3,500 people were killed by distracted driving in 2015, nationwide, and 391,000 were injured. 
Bend’s City Manager granted an exemption to the city’s rules for road-side memorials to allow the sign.

Walden Denounces Alleged Derogatory Remark

BEND, OR -- Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) was in Bend Friday, touring Deschutes Brewery and discussing how the Republican tax reform bill will benefit the craft brew industry. During the visit, Walden was asked about recent remarks reportedly made by the President during an immigration meeting, when he allegedly used a derogatory term to refer to African countries. The Oregon Republican was quick to denounce the term used by President Trump as “Offensive and Unnecessary.” 

He told reporters, "I think we all have to be careful about the words we choose. I know Nancy Pelosi got in trouble the other day for saying it was, ’just four white guys sitting around talking about immigration reform.’  And Steny Hoyer, the Democratic Whip of the House, was very offended by that." Walden added, "I think we all have to be careful about the words we choose. I know Nancy Pelosi got in trouble the other day for saying it was, ’just four white guys sitting around talking about immigration reform.’  And Steny Hoyer, the Democratic Whip of the House, was very offended by that."
While several lawmakers in Thursday’s immigration meeting confirmed President Trump used the derogatory term, he has denied it.
Photo: Congressman Greg Walden tours Deschutes Brewery's tasting room with founder Gary Fish.

Local Utility Protects Bird Populations

BEND, OR -- Central Electric Cooperative has been building and installing custom platforms on power poles all over their 5,300 square mile territory, all for the benefit of local bird populations.


CEC has over 2,200 miles of overhead distribution lines, many near water, and Jeff Beaman, the Member Services Director, says protecting birds has always been a high priority. "Birds are an issue the utility industry has been dealing with, and aware of, and addressing, for decades. It goes back to the very early days in the 1940's when we first started. And, there are places and locations on every utility line where we needed to incorporate certain protective measures in order to reduce any kind of threat to the bird populations."
Beaman says the vast majority of concerns the utility company addresses are for osprey, as they tend to nest near water, but issues can arise with geese or other birds that have a wingspan of greater than three feet.
Beaman says the utility company has several practices for protecting local birds from power lines. "Sometimes, there are roosts put atop what are called cross-arms on power poles so a bird will land on and actually roost above a power line, and in other places, we will put a platform above the cross-arms to set their nest in place so it's not on top of the power lines."
According to Beaman, the best way to learn how to protect the birds is to follow their lead. "Many of the problem spots have been remedied in the past, and what we have to address now are when new locations present themselves. Essentially, the birds tell us where protections need to be installed. When we learn from the birds, or observers in the area, that we have an area where a platform nest would be helpful, then we go out and install in that place."
In addition to nesting platforms placed above cross-arms on the lines, CEC also installs perches, and configures cross-arm placement to increase the distance between electrical phases, which keeps the birds from being able to contact two lines at the same time. 


Art Contest Decides Future Voters' Guide Covers

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County students will compete for a chance to have their artwork featured on two upcoming voters guides. County Clerk Nancy Blankenship says her office is now accepting submissions from fifth through eighth graders. "For the fifth and sixth grade winner, their art piece is going to be on the Deschutes County Primary Voters’ Pamphlet. And, for the seventh and eighth graders, their art will be on the cover of the November General Election Deschutes County Voters’ Pamphlet." 


Entries must be original works of art and should reflect year’s theme of “Voting Shapes the Future," which is intended to get kids thinking about how the simple act of voting impacts the world. Blankenship tells KBND News, "We’re hoping that kids will send that in, either submit it electronically, in person or through the mail; the deadline is Friday, February second.  And, I’d like to give a shoutout to the League of Women Voters, they’re going to be doing the judging for us." 
For more information, visit the Deschutes County Clerk website
Photo: Student art was featured on Deschutes County's section of the November Voters' Guide in 2016

Bend High Honored By Special Olympics Oregon

BEND, OR -- Bend Senior High was honored Thursday for its commitment to helping students of all ability levels feel included, in the classroom and in athletics.


Jean Hansen, with Special Olympics Oregon, helped present a banner recognizing the school as a Unified Champion School at a school-wide assembly. "Bend High was one of our first schools, 10 years ago, to start a Unified Champion School program. And so, Bend is one of 83 to receive national recognition and one of four here in the state of Oregon; so we’re very proud of what they’re doing here." The other Oregon high schools are in Forest Grove, Sutherlin and West Linn.


Hansen tells KBND News, "Bend High School has a Unified soccer team, a basketball team and a softball team. That ‘unified’ means you have students both with and without intellectual disabilities competing on the same teams; and then, they compete against other high schools who have unified teams. Last year, they were one of four schools to participate in the first ever OSAA Unified Championship. Bend is totally leading the charge and that’s why we’re here celebrating them." 


Athletes from those unified teams crashed through a Lava Bears banner to raucous applause from the student body, to kick off Thursday's pep rally. The Special Olympics Unified Champion School banner was unveiled during the event, which was co-hosted by ESPN soccer analyst Kasey Keller and featured a special video appearance by Portland Trailblazer Damian Lillard (pictured below). He told students, "Congratulations Bend High School, on creating a school climate of inclusion, of being an example and a model for schools across the country."


To earn Unified Champion School status, Hansen says, "There’s 10 standards that the school had to complete: Youth advocacy, inclusion – in both the school community and in the classroom, and in the sports field, had to do with leadership, respect – showing respect for all. And so, Bend High School exceeded all of those 10 parameters." She says the attitude of respect extends beyond the school into the community as a whole. And, she adds, what Bend High has been doing for a decade is now being duplicated at other schools in the district and across Oregon. 


Prineville Sex Offender Sentenced

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A 38-year-old Prineville man will spend nearly the rest of his life in prison for sexually abusing three children between 2008 and 2013. A Crook County jury convicted Robert Clark on 15 counts, following a one-week trial last fall; he was sentenced Thursday. 


District Attorney Wade Whiting says the investigation began in 2015, when an 11-year-old came forward. "She had a trusted friend that she confided in that ongoing sex abuse was taking place. Her friend appropriately encouraged her to go to her mother. As soon as the mother had received this report, she immediately contacted law enforcement. Once he was in custody, two more children ended up coming forward, once they felt safe."


Whiting tells KBND News, "This type of case is considered a Jessica’s Law case; and by that, when sex offenses are of such a serious nature, involving children under the age of 12, mandatory minimum sentencing laws apply." He adds, "In this instance, the mandatory minimum, once he was convicted of sodomy in the first degree involving a child under the age of 12, is 25 years in prison, without the ability of any form of early release. Due to the fact that there were three separate child victims involving six separate criminal episodes, the judge ordered that he serve over 54 years." He's not eligible for early release, would be required to register as a sex offender and will be on lifetime post-prison supervision.
Additional charges against Clark are pending in Wheeler County. 

Cat Dies In La Pine House Fire

LA PINE, OR -- A cat died in a fire that heavily damaged a La Pine home, Thursday morning. Crews responded to the 4th Street house just before 8:30 a.m. and found smoke coming from the eves and kitchen window, which had broken from the fire. 


They extinguished the blaze and found the deceased pet. The homeowner was able to get out before firefighters arrived, but was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. The cause of the fire is under investigation. 

Local Pot Shops Tested By Young Decoys, Pass

SALEM, OR -- A number of Marijuana retailers across the state failed a recent spot check by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission; Central Oregon is the only region to achieve 100% compliance.


Over the holidays, inspectors sent teen decoys into dozens of pot shops in the Willamette Valley, southern Oregon and the High Desert. Portland stores had the worst compliance rate, with four out of seven stores failing to check the ID of a minor volunteer. Five shops were checked in Central Oregon, and the OLCC says all correctly verified IDs. 


OLCC decoys tested 66 pot shops statewide, and 16 were found out of compliance by either letting minors into the stores or selling them marijuana. "[It's] Not the result we were expecting. The industry didn’t perform up to the expectations that we have of it," says Mark Pettinger, with the OLCC. He says they will strictly monitor retailers to stop this from happening. The agency plans to test every store in the state this year, "Our expectation is that they are going to be pretty quickly improving upon these low compliance rates," says Pettinger. 


Under the law, retailers can't sell recreational marijuana to anyone under the age of 21; it's also illegal to allow anyone younger than 21 into the stores. Violators can face fines and license suspensions. 

Accused Killer May Strike Plea Deal

BEND, OR -- A plea deal may be in the works for Edwin Lara, accused of killing Kaylee Sawyer in July 2016 when he was working as a security guard at Central Oregon Community College. According to a Facebook post from Sawyer’s mother, Lara has agreed to plead guilty to aggravated murder in exchange for a “true life” sentence, without the possibility of parole. 

Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel had planned to seek the death penalty. He was unavailable for comment, Wednesday, and lawyers connected to the case are under a gag order imposed by the judge
Court records indicate Lara will appear for a Change of Plea hearing, January 22. His murder trial had been scheduled to begin in October.

Alleged Driver Arrested After NW Bend Robbery

BEND, OR -- Bend Police say they’ve arrested the man who drove two teens to the Northwest Regency apartment where they allegedly stole marijuana and shot a 16-year-old during the robbery, Saturday evening. The victim is reportedly recovering from life-threatening injuries. Authorities say 18-year-old Jesus Salvador Diego was taken into custody at his Bend home Wednesday afternoon. He faces Robbery and Conspiracy charges.


Israel Garcia and Brandon Rodas, both 15-years-old, are charged with Attempted Murder in the case. They were arraigned earlier this month. Salvador Diego is due in court Thursday. 


Investigators do not anticipate any further arrests in this case. 

Jefferson County Foster Homes Needed

MADRAS, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Human Services has a significant shortage of foster parents in Jefferson County. "Right now, we only have four foster families that we consider to be ‘general applicants,’ and that means they can take pretty much any child in their home that we feel is appropriate for them," says Cherie Ferguson, with the Department of Human Services (DHS).


There is a statewide shortage of foster homes, but the problem is compounded in and around Madras. Ferguson says, "Because it’s a smaller rural community, we’ve had less folks calling in and saying, ‘hey, I’m interested in becoming a foster parent.’ So, we’ve really been pushing in Jefferson County because we have just so very few homes and we don’t want to place kids in another county if we don’t have to." She tells KBND News there are nearly 50 Jefferson County kids currently in state custody, but only about 20 are placed inside the county, "If you can imagine a kiddo that’s coming into care being placed with a non-relative, and all of a sudden they have to be placed in Deschutes County and they can’t go to their own school, they lose contact with their friends at school, they lose contact with their teachers and their natural support group. And, that’s just an added trauma to that child that we really don’t want to see happen. We really would like to keep kids in their home communities."


Ferguson is a recruitment specialist with DHS and says the agency is actively searching for prospective foster parents, "I think much of the problem is that the community simply isn’t aware that we need homes. And, it may be that people rule themselves out unknowingly, thinking they have to be married or they have to own their own home." She says the basic requirements are pretty simple, "You can be single or married; you don’t have to own your own home, you can rent an apartment or a house; and you have to have some form of income, it doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be a job. And, you have to be able to pass a background check and a child welfare history check." She adds, "We’ve been struggling with how to get the information out into the community and we’ve been putting out – we call them yard signs. Historically, the best way to get the word out is word of mouth; that’s what we’re hearing in terms of people coming through the door – they knew a foster parent, or they were a former foster parent, or they knew a former foster child or someone in their school that they would like to help."


She acknowledges not everyone can become a foster parent, but there are other ways to get involved. DHS also needs “office buddies” who sit with kids while the agency works to find an appropriate placement, and respite providers, who give foster parents an occasional break. 


A Foster Parent Introduction class will be held January 22 at the Madras DHS office, for those interested in learning more. Click HERE to register. 

Suspects Tied To Two Recent Hotel Robberies

BEND, OR -- Bend Police now say two of the three men suspected of robbing the Super 8 motel early Monday morning are connected to the armed robbery at the Days Inn Hotel & Suites that occurred Sunday morning. 


Investigators arrested 36-year-old Jason House near his southeast Bend home Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday, 33-year-old Ryan Simpson (right) was arrested in the parking lot of Motel West, where he was staying. The first suspect – 32-year-old Scott Sullivan (left) – was arrested Monday night.


Based on information detectives uncovered during the three-day investigation and from the arrest of Simpson, they obtained a search warrant for a southeast Bend home. During the execution of that warrant, they say they found evidence tying Sullivan and Simpson to the two robberies that occurred within 24 hours of each other. 

Second Super 8 Robbery Suspect Arrested

BEND, OR -- Bend Police have arrested a second person believed to be involved in the Monday morning armed robbery at the Super 8 motel. Investigators say they learned 36-year-old Jason Lee House (inset: bottom) was involved in the incident and attempted to locate him, Tuesday.


House was arrested near his southeast Bend home Tuesday afternoon, without incident. He faces Robbery I and Felony Criminal Conspiracy charges. 


Officers arrested 32-year-old Scott Sullivan (inset: top) Monday night in connection with the same robbery. Bend PD officials say they are actively seeking other persons of interest as the investigation continues. They have not yet said whether either suspect is connected to an armed robbery early Sunday morning at the Days Inn


A Federal Judge Rules in City of Sisters' Favor

SISTERS, OR -- Federal Judge Ann Aiken has upheld a previous ruling in favor of the City of Sisters, in a discrimination suit filed by a local food cart owner.


The court found there was no merit to the lawsuit brought by Ky Karnecki in 2012, and said the case should be dismissed. 
Karnecki owned the Wild Mountain Food Stand in Sisters ... he sued the City, accusing several officials of discriminatory treatment in enforcing City requirements for a Temporary Use Permit.
The Judge ruled in favor of the City of Sisters based on, among other things, the fact that the Plaintiff filed his paperwork three weeks past the court-appointed deadline.
Aiken upheld the ruling of Judge Thomas Coffin who had earlier ruled that Karnecki had a full hearing at trial in State Court and further concluded that his Federal claims should be dismissed.

Expert Panel Talks State of Area Schools

BEND, OR -- Three local experts spoke about the state of Central Oregon schools and education at an event last night.


Dr. Becky Johnson, of OSU-Cascades. says Bend-La Pine and Redmond School Districts are extremely fast growing, but as she fundraises for the University, she's run into a lack of understanding about the area's demographics. "So, our next step is we need another academic building to be able to expand to capacity for these 200,000 people that we have in Central Oregon. A lot of times, when we talk to legislators in the valley, they're all like, 'Why do you need a University? All you have over there are old people ...' So, we show them the statistics about what's really happening in our schools."
COCC's Dr. Shirley Metcalf discussed how the College is working to create greater diversity ... in both the student body and faculty, and Bend-La Pine Schools Assistant Superintendent Jay Mathisen shared statistics on how his district's students score higher on standardized tests, than the state average. 
COCC's Dr. Shirley Metcalf focused on the need for diversity, not just among students ... but also the faculty. "As you know, our district is changing and we have been reaching out to our Latino and Latina population, and one in nine of our credit students is Latina or Latino. At COCC, we have the Latino Coordinator, as well as the Native American Coordinator."
Jay Mathisen, Assistant Superintendent for Bend-La Pine Schools, says students take part in diverse areas of study, which leads to greater success. "Our students' average is significantly higher than the State of Oregon average for the SAT exam. One thing that we like to talk about a little bit is that we actually pay for and provide the ACT college entrance exam for all the 11th graders in the District, and we tracked that last year was our highest scores in each of the individual subject areas on the ACT ever, and we're pleased with that."
Last night's "State of our Schools" panel discussion was part of the Bend Chamber's 'What's Brewing?' series. 


Overdue Hiker Found at Smith Rock

TERREBONNE, OR -- A 20-year-old man was rescued from Smith Rock State Park, after he was reported missing, Tuesday evening. Family reported Jared Irick overdue at about 7:30 p.m., after finding his van at the park. He was reportedly wearing jeans and a t-shirt, with no additional safety equipment.


Two Deschutes County Deputies responded to the park, along with 18 Search and Rescue volunteers. An AirLink helicopter was also dispatched to aid in the search effort.


Friends also responded to the park and began searching. One heard what they believed to be a call for help coming from the northeast end of the park. Irick was found on the Wolf Tree Trail near the Burma Road Trail, around 10:30 p.m. He was wet and cold but able to hike out on his own, with his friend and SAR volunteers.


DCSO says Irick became lost after dark and at one point entered the river in an attempt to cross to the other side. They say he "rightfully determined the river crossing was too dangerous and turned back." He eventually saw the headlamps of searchers and called out for help. 


The Sheriff's Office reminds recreators to always plan for the unexpected. They say even short hikes can get extended for unforeseen reasons. 



Pacific Power Installs Smart Meters

PORTLAND, OR -- Pacific Power is starting the process of converting all of its 590,000 meters at homes and businesses to Smart Meters. Tom Gaunt, with the utility, says it's an easy process, "They remove the old meter, put in the new one, they do a quick test to make sure it's working. And, if for some reason you're not home, they leave a door-hanger saying, 'if you notice your clocks are off, this is why'."


There's no cost to customers for the switch, and Gaunt says it allows people to track their own power usage daily or hourly, "A person could say, 'hmm; I did laundry that day.' You could really see the impact on your own account of what the laundry was." And, that could help you determine if an appliance is using too much power and whether a more efficient appliance would save money.


Smart Meters also allows Pacific Power to check it remotely without Meter Readers. And, Gaunt says it allows the company to respond faster to emergencies, "To determine whether there's an outage quicker, rather than relying on people reporting it."

More than 70-million Smart Meters are already in use across the country. 

Oregon Snowpack Off To Slow Start

SALEM, OR -- Concern is growing about Oregon's snowpack. Cool temperatures in October and November brought early snow to the mountains. But, Julie Koeberle, with the Natural Resource Conservation Service, says that changed last month, "December being dry and a little bit warm at the end, we washed a lot of our snowpack away."


Snowpack is important because the mountains are like a bank for the summer water supply. Farmers rely on the runoff for irrigation and fish need it to keep rivers cool during the hot summer months. Koeberle says it isn't looking good. "At the moment, it’s the lowest snowpack we’ve seen since 2015." She adds, "Most of our snowpack throughout the state is half of normal or less." That's slightly lower than just a week ago


But, she says Oregon's mountains typically get their biggest snowfall in January and February, "We will say that January is early season, so we can have really a wide variety of outcomes. So, it’s a little too soon to worry." 


Suspect Arrested For Bend Hotel Robbery

BEND, OR -- Police have a suspect in custody, in connection with one of two recent armed robberies at Bend hotels. After the Super 8 motel was robbed at gunpoint early Monday morning, Investigators from multiple law enforcement agencies worked to identify 32-year-old Scott Sullivan from surveillance footage. A second suspect seen on the tape has not yet been identified and is only described as a person in their 30s wearing dark clothing. Sullivan was arrested Monday night.


The investigation led detectives to the Bend Shilo Inn, where they executed a search warrant and found evidence related to the robbery. Bend Police have not yet connected the Super 8 case to a similar armed robbery that occurred at the Days Inn, just 24 hours earlier. "Our detectives are working on it now. We actually brought in extra officers on overtime; we’ve formed a mini task force and, right now, they’re going after all the leads they have," Bend Police Chief Jim Porter tells KBND News. 


While it's uncommon to have two similar armed robberies so close together in both time and geographic location, Chief Porter says, "It’s not unusual to have robberies at hotels late in the evening. After a certain hour, they are very low traffic area - as opposed to, like, a 7-eleven that stays busy all night. The last thing you want to do, as a robber, is to have someone walk in in the middle of your robbery. So, it’s really not that uncommon to have hotel robberies."


Chief Porter says there's no indication the two hotel robberies are connected to an armed robbery Saturday at an apartment near Central Oregon Community College. Two teens are charged with Attempted Murder in that case, which sent a 16-year-old victim to the hospital with gunshot wounds. 

Fugitive Shooting Suspect Re-Arrested

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The man suspected in a New Year's shooting at a Prineville bar was re-arrested yesterday in Jefferson County, 15 minutes before he would have been charged with Failure-To-Appear in Court. Crook County District Attorney Wade Whiting says Omar Araim jumped bail early Friday. "As they were attempting to locate him, we had filed a motion with the court to revoke his security release agreement and issue a warrant for his arrest. So, as of Friday, statewide, law enforcement agencies were actively looking for him." Then, Whiting got a call from the suspect's attorney, Monday, "We were able to negotiate the terms of his surrender. He did surrender himself just outside the Jefferson County Jail."

Prineville Police Chief Dale Cummins says at the first arraignment, the judge was very clear about bail provisions. "The judge that ordered him, on the day that she set bail at $710,000, that he was to turn over his passport and that he could not leave Crook County. And then he clearly violated it. Just the fact that he turned himself in in Jefferson County tells you he wasn't in Crook."
Araim was arraigned Tuesday, and Chief Cummins says he won't be granted bail a second time. Cummins understands why some people think Araim shouldn't have been offered bail the first time, but that's not how the system works. "There's only like three times you can set 'no-bail' in Oregon. But, the Attempted Murder charge, and the Assault I charge, and the others, the lesser charges, none of them fit[s] the 'no-bail'."
Araim is accused of shooting Bend resident Nicholas Ricks several times at Crossroads Bar in Prineville, early New Year's Day. Chief Cummins says they have not yet determined a motive, though the New Year's incident was caught by surveillance cameras. "It appears from the video that he intended to shoot his victim. I just don't know why. Since the subject chose not to give a statement, which is his Constitutional right, we don't have the answer to 'why?'." Whiting tells KBND News, "The Grand Jury returned a true bill indictment on Attempted Murder, Assault I, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, and 8 counts of Endangering for the other patrons that were at the bar that evening."
Araim has dual citizenship with the US and the UK. 
Photos: Top - Araim's booking photo, Jan. 8, 2018
Above - Booking photo, Jan. 1, 2018


Chimney Maintenance Is a Must, Even in the Cold

BEND, OR -- It doesn't take much to start a house fire, and when it's cold outside, maintenance can be more difficult, but Battalion Chief for Bend Fire, Dave Howe, says it's a must. "When it's really cold, people use their heating systems a lot more, and that can stress the heating system, like a furnace or whatever. And, when you use a wood stove, when you use a lot of wood, you can have flue fires, because the creosote builds up in the chimney, and then it can ignite."


He says house fires can be prevented by following some easy steps, "The wood should be really dry. It should not be wet. If you use wet wood, then it creates more creosote in the chimney, makes it much more easy to ignite. Also, it's much smokier, and it's more polluting. So, if you burn wood, don't burn too much and get too hot of a fire. Burn a nice, even fire and use dry wood. That's really important." Also, he says, "Don't dry out your wood on top of your wood stove. Bad idea." He adds, "If you do use wood for fuel, get the chimney inspected at least once a year, I'd say twice a year is even better. Make sure, not only, that the creosote is cleaned out, but also that the chimney walls, in the inside, are intact. A flue fire can actually make the metal wall, inner wall, separate. Fire in the flue, can actually spread into the attic, and then you'll have an attic fire. Once you've got an attic fire, you're going to have a house fire."


High Desert Museum Acquires Gray Fox

BEND, OR -- The newest resident of the High Desert Museum is a young gray fox. He was brought to a Grants Pass rehabilitation facility in September because he was ill and exhibited some neurological problems. While being nursed back to health, rehab staff discovered the fox was not fearful of humans, preventing him from being released into the wild.


He was acquired by the High Desert Museum, south of Bend, to serve as an educational ambassador. If all goes well with training, the fox will appear in the daily Desert Dwellers program starting in the spring. “We are excited to add this new species to the Museum’s wildlife collection,” Executive Director Dana Whitelaw, Ph.D. said in a statement. “Gray foxes are secretive and mostly nocturnal in nature, so this is a great opportunity to introduce a unique wildlife species to our members and guests.” 


Gray foxes have silver-gray fur on the back and face; reddish fur behind the ears, chest and legs and patches of white on the throat and belly. The black-tipped tail is approximately 1/3 the fox’s body length. A member of the dog family, gray foxes have strong, hooked claws that enable them to climb trees to hunt birds and small mammals or take shelter in tree cavities or abandoned bird nests. Though the gray fox is rarely found in the High Desert portion of Oregon, the species is widely distributed from southern Canada, across most of the US and into portions of South America.


“Our wildlife staff will work with the fox and use him to educate visitors about carnivore conservation in our region, and efforts by various nonprofits and governmental agencies to study the distribution, abundance and ecological significance of carnivores, including rare species such as the Sierra Nevada red fox in Central Oregon,” said Jon Nelson, the Museum’s curator of wildlife. 


Photo taken by George Lepp, courtesy of the High Desert Museum. 

Bethlehem Inn Continues Expansion Project

BEND, OR -- Bend’s largest homeless shelter is in the midst of a major reconstruction project that will increase its size in 2018.


In preparation for that expansion, the Bethlehem Inn is growing two programs and bringing in new managers. Executive Director Gwenn Wysling says “Families First” program will double in size, once construction of the family units is complete. And, the “Next Steps” program works with individuals to create goals to elevate them out of homelessness. "These programs, for the population we serve, are certainly in higher demand," Wysling tells KBND News, "And, with the new building that we’ll be moving into, we have an expanded service hub, a commercial kitchen, dining room; and, we’ll be able to serve twice as many families as we currently serve."  Eventually, a second phase of the project will include more single units. 

Wysling says ongoing construction is worth the inconvenience, "We have not had to reduce any of our housing; so, we’re still able to have the same amount of beds for singles and our families but it is very tight. We run into some parking situations with the amount of construction that goes on there." And, as things start to take shape, residents are getting excited, "They see the excitement of a new shelter coming on line, and what an improvement it will be. Because, being in an old motel without a kitchen and without just the space, gives us all something really wonderful to look forward to."
At least one resident is already benefiting from the project, "We have a gentleman, who is living at the shelter, who was hired and is working on the job site. So, there’s plenty of jobs out there and we have plenty of folks out there working."

Sunriver Police Chief Future Status Unknown

SUNRIVER, OR -- The future status of Sunriver Police Chief Marc Mills remains unknown. The Sunriver Service District launched an administrative investigation into accusations that he struck a Sergeant while both were on duty in early December. The Deschutes County District Attorney has charged Mills with harassment, following a criminal investigation.


The Service District met Monday and agreed to interview Mills as part of the administrative investigation, then negotiate with him and legal counsel, regarding his employment status. That stage isn't yet scheduled, but Board Administrator Debbie Baker tells KBND News the District hopes to have the issues resolved as soon as possible.


Chief Mills remains on administrative leave.

La Pine Schools In Lockout Monday

LA PINE, OR -- La Pine High School was placed on “lockout” Monday, after the Safe Oregon school safety tip line received an anonymous tip from a student of a possible threat. Because the high school shares a campus with La Pine Middle and Elementary, those schools were also put on lockout as a precaution.


Law enforcement officials say they contacted the student and determined there was no credible threat, and after just under two hours, the lockout was lifted at about 12:30 p.m.  


The Safe Oregon tip line is one of several "Tip and Talk" resources included in the First Step app now available on all iPads issued to sixth through 12th grade students in Bend-La Pine Schools in December. Click HERE to learn more. 

Two Teens Arrested For Attempted Murder

BEND, OR --  (1/8/2018) Two 15-year-old suspects face attempted murder charges, following a shooting at an apartment near Central Oregon Community College. A 16-year-old visiting the apartment on NW Regency was taken to the hospital with a life threatening gunshot wound, Saturday evening. The regional Major Crime Team was activated to help investigate. 


Authorities say the suspects stole marijuana and shot the victim before leaving in a vehicle. Investigators believe this was an isolated incident and the teens all knew each other. Police later arrested both suspects and say they recovered a firearm and additional stolen items.
The boys are now in the custody of the Deschutes County Juvenile Department on charges of Attempted Murder, Assault in the First Degree, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Burglary and Robbery. Anyone with additional information in this case is asked to call Deschutes County Dispatch at 541-693-6911.
UPDATE: Two 15-year-old boys accused of shooting another teen during an alleged robbery were arraigned on attempted murder charges, Monday. Bend Police took the unusual step of releasing the names of minor suspects, due to the severity of the crime. They say Israel Antunez Garcia and Brandon Rodas stole marijuana from an apartment near COCC, Saturday night, and shooting a 16-year-old before leaving in a vehicle. The victim was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. 

Deschutes Sheriff's Office is Looking for Volunteers

BEND, OR -- a Deschutes County Sheriff's Office's program called 'Central Oregon Partnerships for Youth,' or 'COPY,' is looking for volunteers to become mentors for children with incarcerated parents.


Saturday is the first opportunity to get involved; a six hour training will cover the issues these kids are facing, and what is required of a volunteer in order to be part of the COPY program.
Bob Moore, the project coordinator, says it only takes a few hours a week to make a huge difference to a child. "Incarceration really kind of destabilizes families in a lot of different ways. That's part of what we talk about in our training classes, is that it's pretty common to see families that are struggling with some financial difficulties that resulted from what happened, a bad decision that an adult made, big issues that come along with parental incarceration, and that's really what our volunteers are designed to do, is provide some stability around some of these conditions that these kids are dealing with."
Please pre-register for the class to the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office website or facebook page, or by emailing copy@deschutes.org.
Moore says kids with incarcerated parents just need support and opportunity. "Really, what we like to do, is have volunteers and kids commit to spending a few hours together each week for one year. Generally, what we do, is Spring and Fall and Summer make it a little bit easier to be outside, but in the winter we really require a lot of community partnerships for our kids and volunteers to get out and do positive things."
The best way to get involved is to contact Moore at either the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office website or Facebook page.


Redmond Patriots Weigh In On Measure 101

REDMOND, OR -- The January 23rd Special Election is only weeks away, and there's a lot of conversation about it's lone petition, Measure 101, which would approve temporary assessments to fund health care for low-income individuals and stabilize health insurance premiums.


The Redmond Patriots are hosting a panel tonight to discuss the issue at Highland Baptist Church in Redmond.
Patriots Chair, Bob Perry, says Measure 101 should earn a no-vote because it's unfair to small businesses. "The feeling is, this is a tax that should be rejected because of the way it was structured. It was really designed to penalize the people who don't have a lobbyist in Salem, which is a real shame."
As it is now, Perry says, if Measure 101 passes, large Oregon corporations like Nike and Intel would not be subject to the tax assessments, only individuals and businesses that employ fewer than 50 people.
As one of the presenters, Perry says he will suggest voting 'No' because the way the Measure is written makes it an unfair tax - one small businesses and individuals would pay, while corporations would get a free pass. "It's very unfair, the way it's structured right now. It doesn't apply to big companies, but it applies to small businesses, any business under 50 people are going to have to pay this tax, but the big companies like Nike and Intel, are not going to be taxed."
Perry calls it an unfair tax because, he says, the people who'll have to pay for it are the least able to do so. "Public schools are going to have to take about $25 million out of classrooms to pay this tax, to be able to fund this program, as far as the healthcare, for their employees. Local governments are going to have to pay the tax. 12,000 college students who are already drowning in debt are going to have to pay the tax. But, the unions aren't going to pay the tax, the big companies aren't going to pay the tax. Basically, it's a matter of fairness."
Tonight's Redmond Patriots meeting begins at 6:30 at Highland Baptist Church ... it's open to the public. 


Super 8 Motel Robbed At Gunpoint

BEND, OR -- Bend Police are looking for at least two people who displayed a handgun during a robbery at the Super 8 Motel on SE Third Street, early Monday morning. It's the second armed robbery at a Bend hotel in as many days


Monday's robbery occurred at about 4:30 a.m., when a man in his 30s wearing dark clothing brandished the gun. A second suspect is also believed to be in their 30s and wore dark clothing and a bandana, although that person's gender is unknown. They got away with an undisclosed amount of cash. Despite an area search by multiple officers, including a K-9 unit, the suspects weren't found. 


Bend Police say the suspects were captured on surveillance cameras and ask the public to help identify them. Anyone with information is asked to call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911. 



Young Driver Seriously Hurt In Crook Co. Crash

LONE PINE, OR -- A teen driver was flown to the hospital with possible head injuries, Saturday, following a crash on NW Lone Pine Road, about 20 miles northwest of Prineville. Redmond firefighters used the "jaws of life" to pull the victim out of a Honda sedan.


According to the Crook County Sheriff's Office, the teen was southbound on Lone Pine Road when the car veered into the shoulder during a curve, at about 1:45 p.m. The driver over-corrected, causing the car to swerve left, rotate and cross into the oncoming lane. The back of the Honda then collided with the front of a northbound pickup, which was unable to avoid the crash. The pickup driver was not hurt. 


Investigators say the road was covered in loose cinders, which may have contributed to the driver losing control. The Sheriff's Office says this is a reminder for drivers to be cautious and slow down, as winter weather conditions can vary. Roads can remain icy in shady areas, while other areas are covered with loose cinder rocks after ice melts. 

Central OR Flu Season Could Be Severe

BEND, OR -- St. Charles has seen an uptick in patients with flu-like symptoms in emergency departments in Bend, Redmond, Prineville and Madras. "Just this past week in Bend, 38% of the tests for Influenza were positive for the flu; so that shows a big uptick in our activity," says Dr. Rebecca Sherer, Infectious Disease Specialist based at the Bend hospital. She tells KBND News Australia’s flu season – which ended in October – is usually a predictor of how ours will go. "They had a particularly difficult flu season, with a lot of diagnosed cases, high numbers of cases and also high numbers of deaths from the flu."


Heather Kaisner, with Deschutes County Public Health, says it’s too early to know whether this year will be worse than normal, but it’s possible. "Unfortunately, we kind of forget that January hits and flu tends to hit; and it tends to peak here around mid-January to early February, so we’re definitely seeing an earlier increase, this year." She says it seems like a bad year because of the timing, "A lot of people were sick over the holidays, when flu – on average – tends to peak here more the end of January, so we’re definitely seeing an earlier trend, this year. But, I can’t say for sure if we’ve peaked."
Both Kaisner and Dr. Sherer say cases could increase now that all students are back at school. "Really, our biggest message is if you can, please stay home if you’re sick. What we really people to do is, [stay home] at least 24 hours after your fever subsides, because you still can be contagious," Kaisner tells KBND News, "And, that’s how the flu is spread." And, consider getting vaccinated, "It can take up to two weeks to become effective in your body, so the sooner you get it the better. But, it’s definitely not too late to get a flu shot."
If you do visit the hospital with flu symptoms, Dr. Sherer says, "We’re asking patients who have respiratory symptoms – so, fever, cough, headaches, sore throat – to let us know as soon as you arrive, so we can put a mask on you and keep you from spreading influenza in our waiting room." She adds, "They’ll see kiosks stationed at our doors. If they come into the hospital to seek care and they’re ill, we ask that they use the alcohol sanitizer for their hands and put a mask on." She says children, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions are at highest risk of complications from the flu. 

Bend Hotel Robbery Suspect Sought

BEND, OR -- Bend Police continue to look for a suspect who reportedly displayed a handgun during a robbery at the Days Inn, near Third and Greenwood, early Sunday morning. The man got away with an undisclosed amount of cash, at about 5:25 a.m.


Officers from multiple agencies took part in the initial search, including K-9 units from Bend and Redmond, but they could not locate a suspect. He's described as a white male in his 20s or 30s, 5'6" to 5'7" tall with a stocky build. He was wearing dark pants and a dark hoody at the time. 


Anyone with information in the case is asked to call Bend PD at 541-693-6911. 

Woman Allegedly Eludes Police, Later Arrested

REDMOND, OR -- A Bend woman is accused of running from police Friday night, after a Deschutes County Deputy pulled her over for driving while suspended. He contacted 46-year-old Christa Curtis in the Redmond Safeway parking lot, where she agreed to a search of her vehicle. 


After the deputy found what appeared to be meth, an assisting Redmond officer contacted her probation officer. When Curtis learned she had violated her probation and would be subject to a "detainer," she took off, driving over landscaping in the parking lot and south on Highway 97. The pursuit was called off at the south end of Redmond due to slick road conditions. 
Curtis was found asleep in her vehicle east of Bend, at about 2 a.m. Saturday. She was arrested without incident and faces a number of charges. 

Cougar Spotted In Bend Neighborhood

BEND, OR -- A neighbor near NE 8th and Hawthorne interrupted a cougar attacking a deer, Sunday. The person reported seeing the cougar at about 9 a.m. and said they scared the big cat away. The deer survived and the cougar took off into Pilot Butte Cemetery. 


Bend Police only received one report but say people should be cautious in the area, especially with kids returning to school Monday. They ask that you call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911 if you see a cougar in your neighborhood. 

Rep Bentz Appointed to Finish District 30 Term

ONTARIO, OR -- Representative Cliff Bentz (center,) who has served in the Oregon House since 2008, has been appointed to fill the remainder of former District 30 Senator Ted Ferrioli's term in office.


Commissioners from Baker, Deschutes, Jefferson, Lake and Wasco Counties, and representatives from the Grant, Harney, Malheur, and Wheeler County Courts, voted yesterday for Bentz to fill the position.
The other candidates being considered were Susan Jones, rancher and Chair of the Republican Party of Baker County (right) and physican, businessman, and radio host, Dr. Eric Wattenburg (left) of Sisters.
Ferrioli resigned after being appointed to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council by Governor Kate Brown.

New Program To Help Local At-Risk Kids

BEND, OR -- A mentorship program new to Central Oregon has hired its first group of mentors and will soon begin selecting which kindergartners will participate in the long-term program.


Friends of the Children started 25 years ago in Portland, and recently received a large grant to expand to the High Desert and a number of other communities across the country. Kim Hatfield, Executive Director of Friends of the Children Central Oregon says the mentors, who Hatfield calls "Friends," recently completed a rigorous hiring process, "They go through an intensive training period. They all just started; we hired three friends and they all started on Tuesday, and they are in for a month-long training."


She says the program is unique because mentors are paid professionals with expertise working with at-risk kids, "We stay with the children for 12.5 years. We employ paid, professional mentors; it’s their full-time job – 40 hours a week – to be with these children in the schools, in the community, in our clubhouse." She says the goal is to insure students graduate and become contributing members of the community - whether that's in the workforce or higher education. 
Each "friend" will soon be matched with eight kindergartners from across the tri-county region, "It’s a six-week selection process where our Friends and our Program Director go into our schools and start a wide lens observation," Hatfield tells KBND News, "Halfway through the observations, they then get referrals from the teachers, principals, counselors in the school, because we want to make sure we find those children who will need us the most – those children that are really lacking resilience."
To hear our full conversation with Kim Hatfield, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE

Redmond Home Heavily Damaged By Fire

REDMOND, OR -- The Red Cross is helping a family of five, after a fire damaged their Redmond home, Thursday. A passerby noticed smoke coming from the house on Northwest Maple Rim Court just after noon, and called 911. Arriving crews found smoke coming from several windows. They were able to quickly extinguish the blaze.


The fire was contained to the living room; however, smoke and heat caused significant damage throughout the structure. Damage is estimated at $200,000. No one was home at the time and the cause is under investigation. 

The Truth Behind Oregon's Self-Serve Gas Law

BEND, OR -- Internet trolls are out in full force, claiming drivers across the state are confused and angry over the new self-serve gas law that took effect Monday. But, Rich Hoover, with the State Fire Marshal's Office, says the truth behind the new self-serve law isn’t quite as entertaining. "Pretty much our regulations haven’t changed at all. HB 2482, which went into effect at the first of January, the intent of it is merely to allow more access to fuel in low population eastern Oregon counties." Oregon's Fire Marshal's Office oversees compliance of safety rules for dispensing flammable liquids, like gasoline.


Hoover tells KBND News, "It allows those counties – and these are counties with 40,000 people or less – it allows retail gas stations to have self-service gasoline; 24-hours a day, seven days a week, they can allow self-serve." A law passed by the 2016 Legislature that took effect a year ago allowed low-population counties to offer self-serve gas only during the overnight hours, between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. "There are three designated eastern Oregon counties that are excluded from this because of the population counts: that is Deschutes County, Klamath County and Umatilla County," says Hoover. As of 2015, Deschutes County's population was estimated at over 175,000. 


The new law also allows card-lock gas stations to expand to retail sales, but owners must notify the Fire Marshal's Office 90-days in advance. Hoover says gas stations were sent notices of the new rules after the bill was signed by the Governor, last summer; when in doubt, ask. "Really, the retail fuel operators should know what the rules are, and it could be as simple as the customer asking them, ‘can I or can’t I pump my own gas?’." He admits much of the uproar stems from the internet, "I think the rest of the country has a lot of fun poking fun of Oregon and their gas dispensing rules."

Sunriver PD Chief Charged With Harassment

SUNRIVER, OR -- Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel announced Thursday he’s charging Sunriver Police Chief Marc Mills with misdemeanor harassment, stemming from a December first incident. Mills is accused of striking a Sunriver Sergeant at the police department, while both were on duty. Hummel says Another Sunriver officer witnessed the event and reported it to the Sheriff’s Office. 


Mills was placed on administrative leave December fifth and is due in court January 25. Bend Police Captain Cory Darling is now serving as Interim Chief of Sunriver Police. 

Snapchat Video Leads To Shooting Suspect

BEND, OR -- An 18-year-old is under arrest for allegedly firing a gun from a moving car, just after midnight on New Year’s, near SE 9th and Glenwood. Lt. Clint Burleigh says police received an anonymous tip about a video posted to Snapchat, "You could see him driving down the road and he shot his firearm out the window of the car into the air." 


Detectives later identified 18-year-old Victor Chavez; he was taken into custody Wednesday. But, Lt. Burleigh says the New Year’s shooting was only the beginning. "The detectives were able to go with him back to his residence where they found the firearm and two additional firearms; we found some cocaine and some packaging material and other drug paraphernalia in his room. The residence is within a thousand feet of Jewell Elementary School, so that does enhance the charges a little bit. The gun that was used in the Snapchat Video was stolen." That gun was reported stolen from Bend in 2016; a second gun was reported stolen from Sunriver in 2017, and detectives are trying to determine who owns the third.


Burleigh says the case highlights two important safety issues: "We have these New Year’s or Fourth of July people just fire guns into the air; the reality is, that bullet going up is going to come down somewhere and hopefully it’s not going to come down and hurt somebody. The other thing is, these guns were stolen out of a residence but I don’t believe they were locked up. Just because a gun is secured in a house doesn’t mean it’s totally secured." He urges gun owners to lock up firearms, even at home.
"We’re fortunate that no one was hurt," Burleigh tells KBND News, "The carelessness of the act itself is concerning. I worked New Year’s Eve and in that area, there were a couple of large gatherings in the industrial area." Chavez is charged with Unlawful Use of a Weapon, two counts of Theft by Receiving, and Manufacture, Delivery and Possession of Cocaine within 1000' of a School. He's due in court January 11. 

Bend Science Station Being Built at OSU Cascades

BEND, OR -- Construction has begun on the Bend Science Station Building on the OSU Cascades Campus in Southwest Bend.


OSU Cascades' Christine Coffin says the University doesn't want to keep to itself, but instead wants to collaborate with other teaching partners in the community. "By having the Bend Science Station on campus here, it's just a wonderful public / private partnership with the University where our faculty and researchers and students may well play a role in the Bend Science Station's activities."
The Bend Science Station's Executive Director, David 'Bermie' Bermudez, says the partnership will help kids think about their futures. "We just feel really strongly that having every kid from Deschutes County have an outstanding science instructional experience in the lab, and then also be able to do that on a college campus, we feel that opens huge doors."
'Bermie' says being located on a college campus is a new way of educating younger students. "The synergies that result from being co-located with OSU Cascades on their new campus are huge and they move in both directions, because having a K-12 continuum science education in one location is sort of novel."
Coffin echoes that perspective, saying the University understands that being part of the community is the best way to augment the educational experience of their students, too. "We see the borders as being seamless and where community members come on the campus and students go off the campus, so there's much more of a partnership and an inter-relation between the University campus and the surrounding community."
The New Bend Science Station has been designed as a net zero building and 98% of the funding has already been raised to complete construction.


2018 Housing Voucher Waiting List Opens

REDMOND, OR -- Housing Works will start accepting applications next week, for the 2018 Housing Choice Voucher waiting list - formerly known as HUD’s Section 8 Program. Housing Services Director Patty Holmes says low-income residents in Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson Counties apply online. "It’s a very simple process: You go to our website and there’s a link that just says ‘Register,’ then ‘I do not have a registration code.’ And then, pretty much their name and address, and if they have their income information, their phone number, their Social Security Number also always helps. And then, the click a box and hit ‘Submit.’ It’s a really easy process."


Holmes tells KBND News Housing Works doesn't know yet how many vouchers will be made available this year, "We help about 1,200 families – we have 1,203 Housing Choice Vouchers that serve the entire tri-county area. We haven’t had any new funding in this program in almost 14 years, other than some funding for homeless veterans. So, all we’re doing is filling the slots that vacate."


Low-income residents who qualify for the program can apply online anytime between 8 a.m. Monday and 5 p.m. Friday, January 12. "The time that they apply during the week does not matter," says Holmes. "After the list closes, we hit a button and it will randomize everybody, and then we lock down those positions and those are their positions. They can log back into their account and they can actually see what number they are on the waiting list." Those left on the 2017 waiting list must re-apply next week if they want to be on this year’s list.


South County RV Destroyed By Fire

LA PINE, OR -- A Motor home was destroyed by fire, Wednesday, south of Sunriver. La Pine firefighters responded to the Three Rivers area just before noon and found the unoccupied RV totally engulfed in flames.


The cause of the blaze is under investigation. But, officials say the vehicle was being stored and kept warm with a portable electric infrared heater that had just been put inside the RV that morning. 

Commissioners To Decide Fate Of Smith Rock B&B

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners heard more testimony from the Mazamas Foundation Wednesday, in the group’s effort to get approval for a bed and breakfast and campground just north of Smith Rock State Park.


Neighbors testified during a December public hearing that the proposed development could increase traffic and noise in an already popular area, and approval would set a dangerous precedent for future, larger resorts. Project Manager Theresa Bright told Commissioners the foundation held several meetings with neighbors last year, and made changes to the plan to address concerns. "Most of these, with the exception of I think four, were a part of our original plan but now are conditions of approval, so are now code enforceable; or, they were things we proposed along the way to mitigate the concerns as they came up. For example, those that the hearings officer imposed were the 24-hour hotline, the entrance gate being closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., elimination of the compost toilet and no harassing livestock."
Bright testified during the rebuttal period that the facility could actually reduce the number of cars in the area because visitors can stay so close to the state park, "They’re not coming to our property to visit our property; they’re coming there to visit the park and we’re giving them a place to stay. And, in fact, they can actually park their car there and walk across the street; as opposed to driving back and forth to their accommodations every day." She added, "All of these operational policies are code enforceable. And, in addition to the code enforcement situation, there’s also a second layer of remediation that both the counties and the residents have with the 24-hour hotline. So, we’re asking you to let us prove ourselves."
Commissioners must make a final decision next month; they’ll accept written public comment until January tenth. 

Crook County Revises Mass Gathering Rules

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County has changed their Mass Gathering Rules, a process prompted by some issues that arose during last summer's eclipse.


Community Development Director Ann Beier says the process took several months, but she thinks it will make the process better in the future. "The County Court put a moratorium on accepting applications to give us time to really revise those provisions and I know there were some who were disappointed that we didn't get that process completed in a shorter time frame, and that was to protect the counties, but also to make the process clearer for applicants." That moratorium was pupt in place in September and the Court hopes to begin receiving event submissions again soon.
Beier says the 2017 eclipse brought to light some issues never before encountered, and instances of unsafe over-attendance created a need for stricter rules. "We changed our penalty provision, so if there are more people in attendance than are permitted for, there's a fairly substantial fine for those additional participants. We just want to keep track of who is on the property a little bit better." She tells KBND News, "I think probably the biggest change is providing some flexibility for smaller organizations or smaller events in terms of the amount of deposit that's required, but also allowing the County to have a higher deposit for larger events, and then I think the penalty provisions, if you violate any of the terms of your permit, there'll be significant financial penalties."

The County Court made the final decision following input from the Sheriff's Office, Community Development, County Health, merchant managers, and the public.

Accused DUII Driver Released On Bail

BEND, OR -- The Alfalfa woman accused of driving under the influence and killing a cyclist on Dodds Road, Saturday, has been charged with DUII before. Shantel Witt faces Manslaughter and other charges after allegedly crashing her pickup into 38-year-old Marika Stone, a local dentist, competitive cyclist and mother of two. 


Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says the previous DUII isn't technically on her record, "She was arrested for DUII and charged with DUII in 2014 here in Deschutes County. Under Oregon law, everyone who is charged with DUII for the first time is eligible for what's called a Diversion Program. She completed it successfully. And then here she is today, second time charged with the crime; but she wasn't convicted last time."
Hummel says if a person charged with DUII in Oregon completes an alcohol treatment program and doesn't get another traffic citation within a year, the previous charges are dropped. He's confident that won't happen this time. "I think she's guilty and she's not eligible for the diversion program; that's not something that's available a second time for DUII, and it's not something that's available for manslaughter," Hummel tells KBND News, "I believe she drove impaired and she caused the death of Marika Stone, so we will be prosecuting her and moving forward seeking a conviction."
Witt was arrested and booked into the Deschutes County jail after Saturday's crash, and bail was set at $270,000. The 41-year-old posted the required 10% of that bail amount and was released over the weekend. Hummel expects to present the case to a Grand Jury this week. Witt is scheduled to be arraigned January 16. 

Conflicts Arise Between Forest Hikers, Shooters

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes National Forest is receiving more calls from outdoor enthusiasts concerned about target shooting on public lands. Jean Nelson Dean, with the Forest Service, says it’s likely due to the rise in the number of visitors, "We’ve had these increases of recreational use over the past three years, like 15-20% growth. They’re going into some areas where traditionally there was a lot of target shooting and they’re hearing that, and they’re not quite aware that that’s a legal activity on public lands." She adds, "Primarily where we’re seeing some of this conflict the most is around Horse Butte and Coyote Butte here, close to Bend, and then some areas around Sisters where you’re seeing a lot more trail use."


Target shooting is allowed in the National Forest, but Nelson Dean says there are established safety guidelines that must be followed. "They need to know the caliber of their gun, they need to understand how far it’s going to travel, they need to make sure they have a solid backstop, they need to shoot at targets, not appliances and those kinds of things; and people need to also be aware it’s illegal to shoot at natural objects like trees." It's also not safe to shoot at rocks because of the ricochet danger. She tells KBND News, "We’re just trying to remind folks to do it safely, to pick up after yourself and watch out for other people recreating on public lands."
For our full conversation with Jean Nelson Dean, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE

Bend Car Prowl Suspect Sought

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office is asking for help identifying a man suspected of breaking into a vehicle in the Bend area in late November. Investigators say a credit card taken from that vehicle has been used on more than one occassion, including recently at a Bend ATM where the suspect was caught by a surveillance camera.


Anyone with information in the case, including possibly identifying the suspect, is asked to call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911 and reference case #17-363644. 

Overnight RV Fire Kills Dog

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Fire is investigating an overnight blaze that destroyed a motor home. The body of a dog was found inside the charred shell of the RV.


Crews responded to Arid Avenue, between Bend and Redmond, just before 1 a.m., Wednesday, and found the 30' motor home fully involved in flames. The fire was contained to the vehicle. Its cause has not yet been determined. 

Last Day to Register For Jan. Special Election

BEND, OR -- Voters pamphlets have been mailed, and ballots will soon arrive for the January 23 Special Election. Tuesday is the last day a prospective voter can register if they plan to vote on January 23rd.

In order to register in this state, you must be a US Citizen and have a valid Oregon State issued ID. To register online, visit Oregonvotes.org, or go into your local county Elections Office, any Library branch, DMV, Post Office, or City Hall.
Voter registration paperwork must be postmarked by the second of January in order to allow the registrant to vote in the January Special Election. Measure 101 is the only issue on the ballot.

SCMC Layoffs Could Impact Regional Jobless Rate

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County’s jobless rate has held relatively steady for the past five months, with the the county avoiding major layoff events through most of 2017. But, that could change as St. Charles Health System follows through on plans to lay off workers in an effort to close a $25- to $35-million budget gap.


Regional employment economist Damon Runberg says it’s hard to know just how it will impact the numbers. "I think we’ll notice it; definitely. I mean, St. Charles is a really major employer in Central Oregon, obviously. I think it’ll be noticeable. We haven’t seen it hit the numbers yet, though. I think maybe the December, January numbers, we’ll start to see more of an impact there."
However, Runberg tells KBND News it shouldn’t have a drastic impact on the region's overall unemployment rate because healthcare has been a growing industry in Central Oregon, "I don’t believe it’s going to turn it from being an industry that’s been gaining jobs to an industry that will be losing jobs, though, going forward. If anything, we’ll just see the industry sort of level-off or plateau, I’d imagine, with those layoffs." He says healthcare is an industry everyone needs and is driven by non-discretionary spending, "What drives non-discretionary expenses tends to be population - the more people; the more people need to use health services - As well as the demographics of a community; so, the how old a community is. The older it is, the more people use health services. So, we are both growing rapidly and we are aging simultaneously. And so, those two things together, I don’t think we’re going to see too much of a negative impact on healthcare in the long run." And, Runberg thinks those laid off from St. Charles will find new work quickly, "In different settings, obviously. We only have one hospital system here in Central Oregon, but we do have lots of healthcare outside the hospital setting." 


To listen to our full conversation with Damon Runberg, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE

Suspect Arrested After New Year's Shooting

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Bend man was shot multiple times during a New Year’s altercation at a Prineville bar. Police responded to a report of shots fired at the bar inside Crossroads restaurant, at about 1:15 a.m. Inside, they found 38-year-old Nicholas Ricks with multiple gunshot wounds; he was taken to St. Charles Bend in critical condition. 


After a search of the area, officers arrested 26-year-old Omar Araim for attempted murder and a number of other charges. The case remains under investigation by the Central Oregon Major Crimes Team, and anyone with additional information is asked to call Prineville Police Sgt. James Peterson at 541-447-8336. 

Bend Dentist Killed In Crash

BEND, OR -- A Bend woman was killed while biking on Dodds Road, east of Bend, Saturday afternoon. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, 41-year-old Shantel Witt was driving a pickup eastbound when she failed to negotiate a slight curve, crossed the road. She struck a cyclist riding on the westbound shoulder, before leaving the roadway.

Marika Stone (pictured above) was the third in a line of three bicyclists riding westbound; she died at the scene. The 38-year-old Stone was a local dentist, avid cyclist and mother of two. 
Witt (right) was arrested for first degree Manslaughter, Driving Under the Influence and Reckless Driving. She has since been released from the Deschutes County Jail. 



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