Local News Archives for 2018-02

RHS Trains Students On Suicide Prevention

REDMOND, OR -- Students at Redmond High School took part in a special suicide prevention training Tuesday. Two public sessions of “Question, Persuade, Refer” were also offered to get more people equipped to help kids in crisis.


An RHS student took his own life in December, but Principal Paul Nolan says that tragedy was only part of the reason for the event. "Our students share with us that they’re hearing things; parents share with us that they’re hearing things. It’s almost a daily occurrence. And, if we can train people on how to have those conversations, we can make our communities a lot safer." He says students' lives continue outside school walls, and everyone needs to be watching for signs someone needs help. "We have had several instances where someone will let us know the next day that they saw something the evening before - Social media, texting, something said something at an event about harming themselves. And, we really can’t wait." Nolan tells KBND News, the “if you see something, say something” rule applies to all school safety concerns, including suicide, "If you don’t know what to do, contact law enforcement. They can help."


For many kids considering suicide, Nolan says realizing people will listen and help makes a big difference. "For someone to get to the point where they are considering hurting themselves or killing themselves, there’s a lot going on and that’s a very painful place to be. So, we want to provide support ongoing, whatever that looks like, to help that person get through that. And they do. We have a lot of people in our community and at our school that have been in that place. And, because someone cared and took those steps, they’re in a much better place now."


Nolan plans to organize more sessions of Question, Persuade, Refer: A Training in Suicide Prevention in the future, "We’re not the organization that’s offering these types of trainings, it’s just, we know that it’s important to give as many opportunities as possible." To hear our full conversation with Principal Paul Nolan click HERE or visit our Podcast Page

Schools Seek Community Involvement

MADRAS, OR -- Jefferson County 509-J Schools Superintendent Ken Parshall invites feedback and questions, and hopes new community engagement events will get people thinking about local education. The first of two meetings takes place Wednesday.

"This is an attempt to engage families from kindergarten through 12th grade. To say, 'family members, come on in and give us your feedback. Help us do this work better'," Parshall tells KBND News. "We are all in this work together to ensure that students are successful, and involving family members and community members in developing our plan to improve student outcomes, is a very important part of the process."


Parshall hopes residents will take part and learn more about achievement and programs, and offer insights, even if they don't have kids in school, "Show up as a teammate. Be willing to look at how our kids are doing, and what the district has already implemented, what we're beginning and continuing to implement, and then ask questions about it, make suggestions." He says not every idea can be implemented immediately, but having the chance to hear what the community has to say is invaluable.


Wednesday's event at Warm Springs K8 Academy starts at 5:30 with a light meal; the actual meeting begins at 6 p.m. A second community engagement event is scheduled for next Tuesday at Madras High SchoolLearn more about achievement and participation data prior to attending a meeting, HERE


Camper Rescued After Cold Night East of Bend

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Search and Rescue helped a Pennsylvania man camping east of Bend, Tuesday morning, after he became unable to walk due to the cold. Jesse Bupp called 911 just after 7 a.m. from Tumulus Trail, to report his feet and lower legs were completely numb and possibly frostbit. 


A SAR team and a horse responded and hiked about 5.5 miles to Bupp’s campsite. The 25-year-old was helped onto the horse and his campsite packed up. He rode on horseback to the trailhead where medics were waiting; they then transported him to St. Charles Bend for further evaluation.
The Sheriff's office says Bupp was dressed appropriately and had necessary gear for winter camping, including food and water, although his water froze overnight. But, he did not have a sleeping pad to act as a barrier between the ground and his sleeping bag, which officials say likely sped up the process of him becoming cold. 

Desch. Republicans Chair Runs For Co. Office

SISTERS, OR -- The head of the Deschutes County Republican Party has filed to run against County Commissioner Tammy Baney. Patti Adair is an accountant who served as President Trump’s Eastern Oregon Political Director in 2016. 


Adair says her campaign will focus on greater fiscal restraint in the county. Tammy Baney has served three terms as a County Commissioner and Adair says she has not used county tax dollars wisely. 
Both women are running as Republicans and will face each other in the May primary. No Democrats have yet filed; the deadline is March 6. 
We'll hear more from Patti Adair, Thursday on the KBND Morning News.

S Canal Blvd in Redmond to Receive Facelift

REDMOND, OR -- Drivers will soon deal with construction and detours, as South Canal Blvd. in Redmond undergoes a major upgrade. Redmond City Manager Keith Witcosky says the $6.9 million project will take about 13 months to complete. "It's a fairly primitive street when you start thinking about things like curbs, and sidewalks, and street trees. We want to put in new pavement, we want to put in a shared bike and ped path, add landscaping, put in some dedicated left-turn lanes at different intersections, and basically make the street safer and more functional for everyone that uses it." Work will stretch from the roundabout at Yew Ave. and SW 27th to Obsidian Ave. 


"We want to make sure that people are going to be more comfortable walking, and cycling, and even driving along Canal," Witcosky tells KBND. "Ideally, we'd create a nice commercial boulevard feel." He adds, "When it's done, the community should be looking at it and seeing a difference, and say, 'Wow, this was improvement, and made a big difference,' versus 'well, they spent $7 million, and I don't know what they did'."

City Councilors approved the contract with Knife River at Tuesday night's meeting, including creating open lines of communication with the community, "The project's going to run from March 2018 to April 2019, so we want to make sure we have a contractor that's going to communicate with all the affected businesses and property owners to make sure it doesn't become a nightmare that's remembered for generations to come; but it's remembered as a really efficiently run project."
There will be detours during various phases of the project, but Witcosky says it won't be closed the entire time.


Local Healthcare Providers Form New ACO

BEND, OR -- St. Charles Medical Group has partnered with the Central Oregon Independent Practice Association and six other local family care providers in a new Accountable Care Organization (ACO). The groups were created as part of the Affordable Care Act, and are designed to help patients by rewarding providers for delivering high quality care.


The goal of this new local ACO is said to ensure that Medicare patients, especially those with chronic illnesses, get the right care at the right time, without duplication of services and with fewer medical errors. St. Charles Senior VP Dr. Jim Guyn says the health care system is currently set up to reward providers based on how many services they provided, "That's the thing about 'fee for service' versus 'fee for value.' 'Fee for service,' the way it works in America is, you're paid for a specific service: you go in, and they do something, and they get paid for it. It doesn't matter what happens to you. And what we're all moving towards is 'fee for value.' So, you get paid, partially at least, based upon the outcome: did it turn out well?"


Dr. Guyn is also a family practitioner, and says ACOs will take away the need for patients to 'shop' their health care, looking for the lowest price. "There's a huge amount of variability in our system. They individually negotiate contracts, and the contracts are all different. But, one of the ways that we look at things internally is, 'Where's our variability? How can we be more efficient at managing this?' So, there's a lot of opportunity that we see in our ability to deliver care differently." He tells KBND News, "We have to figure out a better way of doing this, and Medicare is being very helpful by saying, 'Let's pay for care differently, so you can do different care.' Because the problem is, you get what you pay for. Let's try to figure out a better way of delivering healthcare so it's a higher quality, lower cost and much more satisfactory for the patient."
The organizations involved in the new local ACO have agreed to a three-year commitment, taking it through 2020. 

Redmond Airport Master Plan Under Review

REDMOND, OR -- Repaving work on the Redmond Airport’s secondary runway has been delayed by a week, partly due to our recent blast of winter weather. Runway 11-29 will now be closed to fixed-wing aircraft from March 5 to October 18. Click HERE to read more about the project. 

Officials are also updating the airport’s Master Plan. Mayor George Endicott says it will accommodate anticipated growth over the next decade. "The last few years, we’ve been growing at around 15%; I don’t know if that’ll keep up, but we’re looking at the high single digits – so 6, 7, 8% continued growth over time – which would necessitate expanding the terminal." Mayor Endicott tells KBND News, "The last 20-year plan called for building a new terminal; this time we’re looking at expanding the current one, for example, [and] extending the main runway so we can handle larger aircraft. So, there are some changes in the plan from the last 20-year plan that we put in place a decade ago."

The Federal Aviation Administration requires periodic updates to these 20-year plans. A March 14 open house at City Hall will provide the public one final look at the current Master Plan and proposed changes; it will then be sent to both the Redmond City Council and FAA for final approval. 

Sen. Tim Knopp Addresses School Threats

SALEM, OR -- A local State Senator announced late Monday a proposal to increase the penalty for people who make threats against schools. Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) says the incidents are becoming too common, "In the last nine days, there have been four threats against schools in my particular district." One of the threats was very credible, according to police, but the suspect could only be charged with a Misdemeanor. "The only charge that they could come up with, because they couldn’t prove that there was a specific plan or intent, was Disorderly Conduct," says Knopp. 
The Bend Republican wants it to become at least a Class A Misdemeanor or a felony, which Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Shay Mikalson is calling for. Knopp's amendment would define 'Terroristic Threat' as, "A person expresses an intent to carry out a threat, and that a reasonable person would be placed in fear or terror by that threat and believe that the threat is likely to be carried out." And, he says it would bring steeper penalties, "[It] Creates a crime that fits what is happening, because I don’t believe that disorderly conduct is an appropriate charge for a violent threat against a school."
Knopp recognizes it is late in the session and asked that if the amendment can't be considered this  year, that it be considered in the 2019 Legislative session. 

BLS Superintendent Asks Legislators For New Law

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Shay Mikalson is calling on state lawmakers to increase penalties for people who threaten violence against schools. The district and local law enforcement have investigated four school threats in the past two weeks; one was deemed credible and a student was arrested.


Mikalson sent a letter Monday to three Central Oregon State Representatives and two State Senators, asking them to take action during this short session. He wants a new felony crime of “Terroristic Threat,” funding provided for threat assessment teams and extended detention periods for kids who make threats or use weapons – to allow more time to develop a safety plan prior to their release. Read his full letter HERE
Late Monday, Bend State Senator Tim Knopp proposed an amendment to define "Terroristic Threat."
He also emailed parents asking that families secure weapons and pills. Mikalson said in the letter, "During these tough times, it may be best to give your weapons or pills to a friend for safekeeping. Temporarily holding pills, a gun, knife or other weapon for a loved one or friend can help that person get through stressful periods safely. It is a temporary step until things get better." He encouraged families to take advantage of free cable locks offered by Bend Police.

Raymond Crutchley To Replace Retiring Judge Brady

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Deputy District Attorney Raymond Crutchley has been appointed by Governor Kate Brown to fill the vacancy created in the Deschutes County Circuit Court by the retirement of Judge Alta Brady. He is the first African American to serve as an Oregon judge east of the Cascades.


Born and raised in Jamaica, Crutchley moved to New York at age 11. He joined the Military, serving in the US Marine Corp and then graduating with a Bachelor's from Queens College and with his Law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School.
Crutchley clerked with Clackamas County Circuit Court Judge Raymond Bagley, Jr., practiced law in the Portland area, representing underserved clients in criminal defense and civil matters, and has been a Deputy District Attorney in Deschutes County since 2015.
Judge Crutchley's appointment is effective immediately.

Local Democrats Vie for Dist. 53 House Seat

BEND, OR -- Two locals are vying for the Democrat nomination for retiring Representative Gene Whisnant's House District 53 seat.


Retired scientist and Vietnam veteran, Dr. Bill Trumble has been following the short session and is interested in several issues, especially those involving health care. "The most important one to me is health care as a right. I believe in health care for all and I think that that's an issue we can now talk about because its time has come." Sunriver businesswoman and veteran Eileen Kiely says she's heartened by the passing of the 'boyfriend' loophole bill, as she believes there should be reasonable gun control regulations in place. "I know there is an awful lot of rhetoric around gun safety. It is up to the government to take reasonable public safety controls, and that's something that I felt is better handled by State government."
Trumble says he thinks Whisnant wasn't as available to the people of District 53 as he should've been. If elected, he has a plan to change that. "Every other week, or at least every month, I would have a meeting, convenient for the citizens of the District to talk to me, and to find out what their issues are. To listen." Kiely says, with her background in finance and negotiations, she believes she'd be effective in a bipartisan fashion. "I have a lot of experience of sitting across the table from people who do not agree with me. When we're negotiating for the people of Oregon, I'm looking for long-term solutions."
Both Trumble and Kiely want to change what they perceive as a lack of importance placed on Central Oregon's issues by Salem. Trumble says he has a lot of experience in academia, medicine and research, the military, and business, and he believes that experience qualifies as its own kind of diversity. "Gee, is there anything worse than another old, white guy running for office? And I would say to that, 'Yes, there is. It's a young, white person who doesn't have the experience to do the job well'." Kiely believes, with her skills, she can have an effect on the current climate. "Because of this polarization that's very popular in our politics right now, we've been more willing to take sides according to our party, than stay at the table and get the best possible solutions."
Two Republicans have filed to run for the seat, as well: Ben Schimmoller and Jack Zika. The primary election is May 15.


Downtown Bend Assoc. Loses Leader

BEND, OR -- Rod Porsche is stepping down, after less than three years as Executive Director of the Downtown Bend Business Association (DBBA). Porsche took over in August 2015, after several years in Albany, Oregon. He's leaving Bend to return to The Valley, this week, as the Executive Director of the Albany Area Habitat For Humanity. 


Mindy Aisling (right) has been promoted as DBBA's new Executive Director, effective March first. In a statement issued Friday, DBBA Board President Rick Wright said, "Mindy brings leadership and creativity to the downtown's programs and a deep sense of commitment to our City's business and building owners. She has already served our organization by developing new programs and events, fundraising and developing community relationships. She has a breadth of perspective and experience. We are looking forward to her executive leadership."


Aisling joined DBBA as a volunteer in 2015. She created the role of Community Relations Coordinator and stepped into that position in 2016.


Porsche says, "It was an honor to serve as executive director for Downtown Bend. Family and opportunity has us returning [to] the Willamette Valley where we are originally from, but we will look back on our three years in Central Oregon with great memories."




DCSO SAR Helps Tired, Lost Snowshoers

SUNRIVER, OR -- Deschutes County Search and Rescue teams helped a couple who got lost while snowshoeing near Edison Butte, Friday afternoon. David and Judith Russell, of Mt. Hood, called 911 just before 5 p.m. to report they’d been going in circles for hours and were exhausted, with little food and water left.


SAR volunteers responded to the Edison Sno-Park, then took two track quads the 2.8 miles to the AC/DC shelter. The team had to snowshoe the final quarter mile from the AC/DC shelter to reach the 75 and 74-year-old at about 8:15 p.m.


The volunteers took the Russells to the Edison Sno-Park Trailhead, arriving just before 10:30 p.m. Authorities say the couple started their trek at 11 a.m. and had no map of the area, nor did they have a working light or way to start a fire.

Snowmobilers Rescued From Deep Snow

SUNRIVER, OR -- Two men were rescued from Sheridan Mountain, after their snowmobiles got stuck in deep snow, Sunday. Tony Daniels, 27 and from Sunriver, and 26-year-old Jack Duffy, of Bend, called for help at about 4:30 p.m. and were able to hike about a quarter of a mile to the Sheridan Sno-Shelter. They had means to start a fire and water, but no food.


Daniels told authorities they were on their way down the mountain when they got stuck while riding off trail. Deschutes County Search and Rescue responded with a tracked Ranger (pictured). During the 9.5 mile drive to the shelter, snow came up to the bottom of the doors. Crews then met up with other snowmobilers who helped by making tracks in the trail to make travel easier in the deeper snow as the trail climbs toward the shelter. 


They finally made contact with Daniels and Duffy just after 9:15 p.m., nearly five hours after their initial call. They were helped down the mountain without their snowmobiles.


Sisters Home Destroyed By Fire

SISTERS, OR -- A Sisters family lost their home to fire, late Sunday night, in the Panoramic View Estates subdivision. The homeowners discovered smoke and flames in their children’s bedroom at about 11 p.m., and were able to pull the kids to safety before trying to put the fire out with a fire extinguisher. After those attempts failed, they evacuated, wearing only their pajamas. 


When fire crews arrived, the home was fully involved. A Sheriff’s Deputy found one of the family’s cats in the neighborhood, but another has not been found and may have been trapped inside. The house and its contents are considered a total los, valued at $110,000. 
Deputies collected children’s clothing from their families in Sisters, handmade quilts from the Central Oregon Spinners and Weavers Guild, and stuffed animals for the kids. The Red Cross also responded to the scene to provide additional resources.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation but is believed to be accidental. 

Deschutes County Ranks In Top 10 For Pot Sales

PORTLAND, OR -- Deschutes County ranks among the top 10 for per capita legal marijuana sales in the state. The Portland Business Journal compiled the rankings based on 2017 data from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, for the 25 Oregon counties where retail outlets are allowed. 


Statewide, recreational sales topped $520 million, last year; about a third of that occurred in Multnomah County. However, if you break down the numbers per resident, the state's most populated county comes in fourth.
Deschutes County is in seventh place with over $32 million in sales - about $175 per resident. Jefferson County came in 13th. Its nearly $2.5 million in sales equals $104 per person. Crook County didn't make the list, since retail outlets are banned in that county. Click HERE to view stats for each county in the state. 
The highest ranking was Baker County at $16 million in sales; that's a whopping $960 per person living there. The rural eastern Oregon county is along the Idaho border, which is the only neighboring state where recreational pot is not legal. 

Redmond Police Help Deliver Baby

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police made an unexpected delivery, Thursday morning. "A mother called to report that she was in labor and she felt as if the child was coming at any moment," Redmond Lt. Curtis Chambers tells KBND News. "Police arrived before medics did, and arrived in time to see that there was going to be no stopping this little bundle of joy."


When Alba Cerda called 911 at about 10 a.m., she told the dispatcher contractions were two minutes apart. She probably assumed medics would rush her to the hospital to deliver her first baby. Lt. Chambers says, instead, the baby came at 10:08. "She gave birth to a baby boy named Joshua, at 5 pounds 6 ounces, and 19” long." He says officers "guided the child out into the world." They tied off the umbilical cord, wrapped him in a towel and handed him off to his "very happy" mother. "Soon thereafter Redmond Fire & Rescue medics arrived and took the mother and child to the hospital." Lt. Chambers says medics were delayed due to snow and icy road conditions. 
Officers Joe Casper and Michael Maloney later visited Alba and her new son at St. Charles Redmond for a photo op and a gift, "We delivered a nice baby blue Redmond Police Department baby blanket."


Bend PD Arrest Teen For School Threats

BEND, OR -- Police believe they've prevented a local school shooting, this week. A 16-year-old Bend High student is in custody, after investigators say he made threats against his school on social media.


Bend Police were notified Wednesday afternoon that Zachariah Johnson posted threats to shoot several unspecified students. They contacted him at his southeast Bend home that night and say he had means to follow through on the threat, although those means were not accessible to him. Johnson underwent a mental evaluation at St. Charles before he was taken to juvenile jail.


Investigators ask anyone with information on this specific case to come forward as they continue to look into the matter. Bend Police say they've investigated four school threats over the last nine days and this is the first deemed credible. They say this incident does not appear related to a threat involving Bend High investigated earlier in the week


Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Shay Mikalson issued a statement Thursday night expressing gratitude to police for their quick action, and reminding students and parents of how the district promotes safety. His statement, in part:

My heart has been heavy over the last week, as I have reflected on the latest school tragedy and all those that have come before. My thoughts have been with our students, our staff, our families, and our community as we work to ensure the safety and well-being of Bend-La Pine Schools' students and staff.


With that said, I must inform you that the Bend Police Department has just released publicly information about an investigation we have been working on together throughout the night. We can now report that a youth is in custody for making a credible threat against our schools. The police say that a 16-year-old male was planning a shooting at Bend Senior High School. This is the fourth threat we, in partnership with Bend Police, have investigated against our schools in the past nine days, but the only report deemed credible.


This threat was reported to Bend Police late last night, who investigated and lodged the youth in juvenile jail before sunrise today. We are told he will remain there at least until arraignment on March 1. To say that I am concerned and deeply troubled by this youth’s alleged behavior would be an incredible understatement. However, I am incredibly grateful for the efforts of Bend-La Pine Schools’ staff, our proactive safety measures, Bend Police, and most for our culture of safety that emphasizes to all, “When you see something, say something.”


I believe that all students and staff in our nation’s schools deserve to stay safe while learning and teaching.


Bend-La Pine Schools addresses school safety through a comprehensive approach focusing on planning, prevention, intervention, and response. We have systems and programs to help ensure caring learning communities where students and staff feel safe and supported. The district also understands the importance of training and practicing emergency protocols with students and staff, using drills to prepare them to respond safely in a variety of emergency situations.


Students Tour Local Manufacturing Sites

REDMOND, OR -- A group of Redmond 8th graders visited three manufacturing sites, this week, as part of a joint effort between High Desert ESD and Redmond Economic Development (REDI).


Redmond Mayor George Endicott spoke to the students at the start of the “Learn it. Make it” tour. He tells KBND News he hopes it leads to a bigger interest in the manufacturing sector and how local products are made. "For a few years now, we’ve had the industrial tour for adults. And, for the first time, we’re doing 8th graders from Redmond schools. The kids will be able to understand the manufacturing world and what’s involved. As they go into high school, they could potentially go into the CTE program." He adds, "You can’t expect someone of that age to make the decision tomorrow. But, you know, they’ve never had an appreciation for it, as far as I know, unless they’re parents are involved. So, it gives them a chance to understand what’s going on."


The 28 students from Elton Gregory and Redmond Proficiency Academy middle schools stopped at RDD Enterprises, Composite Approach (pictured) and Fuel Safe Systems.

Bethlehem Inn Hosts Lunchbox Talks Today

BEND, OR -- The Bethlehem Inn hosts a new series of talks, starting Friday, to provide education and information to the community about the local homeless crisis. Courtney Gallant, with the shelter, says many Central Oregonians experience homelessness and crisis, and it's made worse during cold weather.


She tells KBND News, "With everything that we have going on with our capital campaign and construction of our new facility, and then, just the need that's been expressed in the community, we wanted to open up an opportunity for our neighbors to get more informed about the work that we are doing."  She adds, "We have such a generous and supportive community already, and Bethlehem Inn receives so much support from Central Oregon residents that we'd like to engage more and be able to offer a fun and interesting lunchtime event so they know more about the issues of homelessness in Central Oregon and what Bethlehem Inn, and what they can do to help." In 2017, the Bethlehem Inn provided shelter, food and support to over 1,100 adults and children, and served 81,000 meals to people in crisis.


Gallant says lunch isn't provided, but guests are welcome to bring their own. Friday's free event takes place at the downtown Bend branch of the Deschutes Public Library, in the Brooks Room, from noon until 1 p.m. Pre-registration is requested. Click HERE to learn more. Lunchbox Talks are expected to take place each quarter. 

Bend City Council Approves Limits On Event Permits

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors have agreed to limit the number of temporary permits a business can request, to host events that take capacity beyond what’s normally allowed in their building. The resolution caps them at three per year, per venue.


At Wednesday night's public hearing, Mayor Casey Roats tried to put rumors to rest. He told the large crowd gathered for the meeting, "I just want to make sure we state emphatically, this is not an assault on culture or music. This is a fairly technical issue around building codes and safety."
Councilor Bruce Abernethy voted in favor. He says it’s not about the future of the city’s outdoor music scene, but growth and a shortage of venues large enough to safely host big events. "This is a safety issue, not necessarily a noise issue. And, I think there’s a lot of hype that’s been talked about. At least from my perspective, I don’t see the Council harming, or seeking to harm, the direction we’re going as a cultural vibrant community."
More than 20 people spoke during the hearing; most, like Jacob Woodmansee, were opposed to new limits, "If safety is such a large issue, then why do we even allow it at all? Why three times a year it’s ok to be unsafe? That means you’re saying, three times a year, you can put us all at risk. No. I say, if these people can handle their events, let them handle their events."
The resolution passed in a four to three vote, with Councilors Russell, Boddie and Campbell opposed. 
Photo: Bend's Century Center hosts a number of large music events. The venue is likely to be one of the most impacted by the new resolution. 

Thinning Project Underway Near Sisters

SISTERS, OR -- Crews with the Sisters Ranger District are conducting a thinning operation in an effort to lower the risk of wildfire, "They’ll be cutting down trees, thinning out the area to more of a natural condition; so, reducing the fuel loads adjacent to the community," says Jean Nelson Dean, with the Deschutes National Forest. The work is occurring near the Crossroads subdivision, an area Nelson Dean says at high risk of wildfire. But, she says reducing the amount of hazardous fuel has been proven to help, "Crossroads has had these kind of close calls, during Black Crater and Milli, and this project is part of a project that we’ve shown has created that fire resiliency adjacent to the community."


Those living in the area will see changes to the landscape as work progresses, "Certainly opening up areas. Thinning obviously will reduce the amount of vegetation in the area, in terms of trees; then they’ll probably be going through and doing some mowing and brushing." And, it could eventually lead to some prescribed burning in the area. Nelson Dean says the work is done strategically, "What they’ll first see is just thinning out of the trees and an opening up of the canopy. They’re going to see patches and clumps, as well as open areas. We try to create a mosaic pattern so it looks natural."

The project area is north and west of Forest Service Road 15, and south of Highway 242; some work will be done adjacent to private property. 

Commissioners Get Update On Police Radio Trouble

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners got an update from the Deputy Director of 911, Wednesday, on the troubled law enforcement radio system. The countywide system was upgraded last summer and has been plagued with problems, including reports of garbled and lost transmissions, forcing officers to use cell phones to contact dispatchers, in some cases.


Commissioner Tony DeBone is optimistic that ongoing efforts to fix problems are on the right track. He tells KBND News, "The system is working, it’s functioning 24 hours a day, hundreds and thousands of calls are going through it. There’s a subset of these voice communications that aren’t acceptable." He adds, "We’re optimizing the system; working with the engineer on this. And, it’s at a point where it does need to be fixed. Deschutes County Commissioners are the governing body for 911, we have strong management and also our engineering support from Harris, but this has been going on a little too long and we need to get this clarified and fixed."
County Commissioners are scheduled to meet with representatives from Harris, the system’s manufacturer. "We’re going to talk about it again on Monday in preparation. So, really, what are the questions? What are the expected response to our priority of getting this fixed? And, what can we do to make sure we’re prepared for it. Then, next Wednesday at our work session is when we’re meeting with the Harris company - they’re corporate representatives, the suppliers of the system - to really get down to it." 
Engineers are still evaluating possible locations for another transmission tower, and they’re looking at adding capacity at existing sites to improve signal strength. DeBone says it’s important to note the problems are only with police radios, "When you call 911, that is not the problem. The phone lines and all the systems, the dispatchers, the communications to that point, everything is working fine."

Social Media School Threat Deemed Hoax

BEND, OR -- Bend Police and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office received multiple calls Wednesday night from people reporting a threatening social media post from someone named “Ray Andres.” It indicated there would be a school shooting "tomorrow at SHS.” Authorities say this is a nationwide hoax that's gone viral and is not, in any way, connected to Bend’s Summit High School.


The Sheriff's Office says the post has caused concern for people connected to schools across the country with the "SHS" initials. It appears to have originated in Ohio and authorities there tracked it to Kentucky, where a person of interest is being interviewed. 

Police Search For Missing Bend Woman

BEND, OR -- Police are asking for the public’s help in locating a missing Bend woman. A concerned friend reported 24-year-old Sara Gomez missing on Tuesday, after she didn't return home for a few days.


Anyone with any information, or who know where Gomez is, is asked to contact Bend Police through non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911, or through a direct message on social media.


THURSDAY 11 A.M. UPDATE (02/22/18): Bend Police arrested Gomez's former boyfriend on multiple charges and say he is a "person of interest" in her disappearance. Detectives executed a search warrant at 31-year-old Bryan Penner's apartment in the 1800 block of NE Purcell, Wednesday night, and found evidence believed to be linked to her disappearance. Penner was taken into custody on charges of Kidnap II, Theft II and Restraining Order Violation; Gomez had an active RO against Penner. 


The investigation is ongoing and they say further searches are planned. Bend PD continues to ask for the public's help in finding Sara Gomez. 


SUNDAY UPDATE (02/25/18): Friends and family spent the weekend distributing flyers and searching remote areas in Crook and Deschutes counties for 24-year-old Sara Gomez who has been missing more than a week. Bend Police have now released the photo of a vehicle investigators believe could be involved in the case. 

Anyone who saw the sea-foam green sedan with a Carolina Panthers sticker, between last Sunday and Wednesday, is asked to contact Bend PD through non-emergency dispatch, at 541-693-6911, or social media. 
Gomez’s former boyfriend, 31-year-old Bryan Penner is a person of interest in her disappearance and remains in police custody on several charges, including violating a restraining order she had against him. 

Deschutes Republicans Host Controversial Speaker

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Republicans hosted a former FBI agent turned Islamic terrorism expert at a special event Tuesday night called "Understanding the Jihadi Threat to America." John Guandolo is the founder of "Understanding the Threat," whose stated  mission is to educate state, local, and federal leadership and agencies on how to defeat Islamic jihad.


Guandolo's appearance drew criticism, but he tells KBND News he's not a hater, "This is the nature of this business. What they're trying to do is diminish the message by destroying the messenger." The Oregon Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) asked the GOP to drop Guandolo from last night's program. Guandolo says CAIR doesn't like his message because they're affiliated with a known terrorist group, "CAIR National, that is a Hamas Organization doing business as 'CAIR.' For those of you not aware, Hamas is a designated foreign terrorist organization by the united States government." Deschutes Democrats and the Oregon Democratic Party called for a boycott of the event, saying his appearance is evidence of the GOP's "decaying moral standards." Democrats call Guandolo a radical Islamophobe and conspiracy theorist. Guandolo says terrorists are winning by convincing Americans that it's unkind to call them 'terrorists.' He told the group, "How can you target something you don't define and how can you defeat something you don't target?"

His message that Muslim terrorists live in American communities and are plotting to attack may be controversial, but Guandolo says it's both reasonable and provable. He told the crowd, "This is not a Republican or Democrat failure. this is catastrophic failure by Republican leaders at the national level, and Democrat leaders at the National level. They've failed to do what needs to be done to secure our communities, and now, it's left to local and state police, and Governors, and county groups like this." He believes the physical war is happening in the Middle East, while the fight to defeat our culture is already in America. "The war is about controlling the narrative, and that is their number one objective. The violence that you see around the world, supports their much larger, much more important non violent effort."

Local Veteran Presented With Overdue Honors

BEND, OR -- Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) honored David Klym Tuesday morning. The Crooked River Ranch man is a former Huey Helicopter crewman who logged 528 hours of flight time during multiple tours in Vietnam. "David's honorable military service qualified him for several distinguished medals, awards, and certificates to recognize his bravery and service to our nation," Walden said during the small ceremony at his downtown Bend office. He presented Klym with the Bronze Star, the Air Service Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal. "Though we can never repay the debt of gratitude we owe to the men and women who have worn our nation's uniform and served our country," said Walden, "We can, however, recognize them for their devotion to country and to protecting our freedoms." He called Klym a brave man who "served our nation valiantly and in uniform."


Klym says he never thought of himself as heroic. "It's a challenge, I think, when I think of heroes, it's one thing, when you go out every day and get ready to climb into the ship, and you're thinking about it, and you think, 'you know, I'm probably going to get shot at today.' But you know, it's still what your job is." He told the small gathering, "The Thing that I want to do is just give credit to those that died, most in service there, and I think our thoughts should always be with them and their families." Klym says his service may have been nearly 50 years ago, but if he were called upon to defend his nation again, he wouldn't hesitate. "All I can say is, I was just doing my job. All in all, looking at that experience, that's definitely something that I would do again, without even a second thought about it."

Commercial Ads Disappear From CET Buses

BEND, OR -- Cascades East Transit buses are starting to look a little different. The Central Oregon Inter-Governmental Council, the agency that manages the bus system, is doing away with commercial advertising.


Derek Hofbauer, with CET,  says the ad space will instead be sold to partner agencies, like the Oregon Department of Transportation and city of Bend. "We want them to be, not just our partners, but also our stakeholders, and come to our meetings and just be engaged as we grow our transit system." He says CET collected about $70,000 a year in ad revenue, and he believes revenue will remain about the same under the new policy. "One of the reasons that we’re doing this is to really be able to tailor each sponsorship with each agency or partner. So, for example, if they wanted to have a group pass program, where they’re getting bus passes for all of their employees, that’s something we can tailor each of these sponsorship agreements to include each of those extra amenities that CET and COIC brings to the table."


He tells KBND News riders won’t notice much change, as ads shift from featuring local products and businesses to promoting local services and safety messages, "We’re going to, most likely, be advertising on the same spots as normal on the sides of the buses. We’re already working with ODOT and there’s a lot of their safety messages and safety campaign information on our buses, so it wouldn’t really differ any from what’s typically been put on the buses."  With the new policy, sponsorships are available for agencies that demonstrate responsible stewardship in the community, and ads must adhere to community values.
CET buses are slowly transitioning to the new ads and will be re-wrapped over time, "This just got passed by the COIC board and adopted, so now we’re in the process of actually implementing it."

Two Incidents Lead To Arrest of Two Redmond Felons

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police arrested a man they suspect is responsible for several recent pursuits. Officers responded to a report of suspicious activity at the Ridgemont Apartments parking lot, on SW Canyon Drive, Tuesday morning. They say Brandon Berrett (pictured, left) initially gave a fake name, but officers determined his identity and he was arrested on an outstanding Parole Violation warrant.


At the time of his arrest, authorities say the 32-year-old Redmond man had meth, drug paraphernalia, $200 in cash and a collapsible baton - which is illegal given his status as a convicted felon. Berrett is also wanted for several recent police chases, including one near Sisters on February second.
And, investigators suspect he's connected to an incident Monday evening that led to the arrest of 25-year-old Randy Lee Cooper (pictured above, right), wanted for an outstanding felony warrant. In that case, the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Street Crimes Unit was watching a vehicle associated with Cooper, on SW 19th Street. Detectives approached him on foot at about 5 p.m. Monday; they say he ran back to the Ford Explorer, backed up quickly and jerked the wheel. The car struck the curb and rolled. Cooper climbed through a broken window and allegedly ran from the scene. He was apprehended by a Detective while trying to jump over a fence. Police say they later found a loaded .22 caliber revolver in the Explorer. Cooper faces numerous charges stemming from that incident, including trespassing, meth possession and felon in possession of a firearm. 

Snowboard Search Leads To Pot Bust

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Deputies accidentally discovered an illegal marijuana grow in South County, prompting the Sheriff and Deschutes County District Attorney to speak out against what they say is a lack of oversight over the marijuana industry.

Deputies executed a search warrant at a La Pine home, on January 10, looking for a stolen snowboard. Instead, they found 98 mature pot plants and 63 immature plants inside the house. D.A. John Hummel announced Tuesday the indictment of 27-year-old Blake Pyfer on multiple drug-related charges, in connection with the case. 
D.A. Hummel says the case highlights a lack of state regulations. He says the Oregon Health Authority conducted no inspections at medical marijuana operations in Deschutes County, last year, and requests for a list of authorized sites have gone unanswered. 
Sheriff Shane Nelson says the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which oversees the recreational pot industry, has only 23 inspectors for more than 1,200 recreational grow and retail outlets. "We must show illegal marijuana manufacturers that they will be held accountable," Sheriff Nelson said Tuesday. "Oregon's U.S. Attorney Bill Williams shard information, at a recent meeting, that there is three times the amount of marijuana than can be legally consumed within Oregon's borders." Nelson has been an outspoken opponent to increasing the number of local pot outlets, "I have taken a stance: no more recreational commercial marijuana grows in Deschutes County. The state needs to take a 'time out' and assess the over-supply that is more than likely going to the black market." Nelson went on to say, "I have heard from several of our citizens that do not want commercial marijuana grows in our county. They are concerned about the livability of the community and the sustainability of the real estate market." He says the Sheriff's Office will continue to work with Community Development and the OLCC to conduct inspections of pot operations. 

Parents, Teens Get Help Talking About Dating



BEND, OR -- A Bend-based nonprofit hopes to help open the lines of communication between parents and teens, to keep everyone safe from domestic violence. February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.


Saving Grace's Erin Rook says talking about healthy relationships is key, "Because we do get all these messages, adults as well as young people, about what's romantic. Do you chase after that person on their way to the airport to marry someone else to confess your undying love? Do you like every single thing they ever post on instagram because you feel like you're supposed to give that validation or something? And so, yes, these conversations are important."


Two workshops will be offered Wednesday night at Bend Senior High: "Let's Talk About It: Teens + Dating," geared toward adults, and "Let's Talk About It: #RelationshipGoals," for teens. "One of those will be focused on how to talk to your kids about relationships, because that's an awkward conversation to have with kids a lot of times," says Rook "We'll also be having a workshop at the same time about teaching kids to understand what they want out of a relationship. Because I think sometimes, we also tell people, 'Oh, someone is pursuing you real hard, and that means they really like you, and you should be flattered'."


The free events are open to everyone and start at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Bend Senior High. Saving Grace provides assistance to those surviving intimate partner violence and sexual assault, and promotes ways to live free of violence.

Redmond Park Competes For Blazers Grant

REDMOND, OR -- Voting opens Tuesday for a competition that could net the city of Redmond thousands of dollars for a park project. Baker Park is the only location east of the Cascades competing for funds provided by the Portland Trail Blazers Moda Assist Program. 


For every on-court assist made during Trail Blazers games, a joint $10 donation from Moda and the Blazers is made to the Trail Blazers Foundation to fund a park project. This year, Redmond's Baker Park is competing against a park in Gresham and one in Dallas, Oregon for the money. The location receiving the most fan votes by March 19 wins the grant. Click HERE to vote. 


Annie McVay, Redmond Parks and Facilities Division Manager issued a statement Tuesday, saying, "We are very excited to have Baker Park's renovation project in the running for the Trail Blazers Assist Program." She went on to say, "It's going to take voting by park supporters throughout Central Oregon to win. The funding would kickstart needed updating of one our oldest parks."


This is the fifth consecutive year the program will help pay for and install all-abilities playground equipment at select parks in the state. Previous winning cities include La Grande and Medford. To date, the program has generated more than $73,000 over its multi-year history.  

Rep. Whisnant Reflects On Legislature, Retirement

SALEM, OR -- State Representative Gene Whisnant will retire at the end of this year, giving up the House District 53 seat he’s occupied for 15 years. He announced in December he would not seek re-election. KBND News caught up with the Sunriver Republican in Salem, during what will be his final Legislative session.


He says it’s the work itself he’ll miss most. "I’ve got some really good assignments I hate to give up. I’m on Capital Construction, which will approve the money for OSU Cascades, and I’m on Ways and Means. I’m on a really important Audits Commission; we just looked at two audits on absenteeism."


In the past, Whisnant has opposed a 35-day February session, saying it's not long enough to appropriately deal with serious issues. However, he appears grateful this short session is keeping his mind off his impending departure. "It’s enough activity, it’s going fast; I don’t think about it too much but it’s going to end," he tells KBND News. "Fifteen years is a long – it’s the longest I’ve ever served in one job." Whisnant adds, "I’ve had a lot of people say, ‘We’re going to miss you,’ and even one person came in and said, ‘Gene, who do you recommend that we go to to get information that you have on children and families issues?’ Because, I’ve worked on Children and families issues for 20 years, through the Commission on Children and Families of Deschutes County, then on a state commission, and then a lot of committees and bills I worked on."

Two Republicans have filed to run for his seat: Tumalo political activist Ben Schimmoller and Jack Zika, a Redmond realtor. Whisnant isn’t endorsing either, saying he wants to remain neutral through the primary, "I think they’re both good candidates and we’re all replaceable; and we want to hold that seat. I’m excited also for the Republican running for Knute Buehler’s seat. I know her and worked with Cheri [Helt] on a lot of issues. And I think she will be a very powerful and strong candidate for that seat, too." Two Democrats have filed to run for Whisnant’s District 53 seat in May, as well: Sunriver Consultant Eileen Kiely and Bill Trumble, a retired college administrator who lives in Redmond. 
To hear our full conversation with Rep. Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver), visit our Podcast Page or click HERE


Photo: Oregon's House of Representatives listens to the reading of several bills, February 16, 2018.

Possible Threat Investigated At Bend High

BEND, OR -- Students at Bend Senior High will see an increased police presence, Tuesday. School administrators notified parents Monday night that the school district and police department spent the weekend investigating a possible threat against the school, but did not uncover any viable leads. The letter is reprinted below, in its entirety. 


According to the letter, a student reported overhearing two others talking about school attacks in a way that was perceived to be threatening. Those students were not identified and the investigation is ongoing. 
The incident comes just days after a perceived threat involving Summit High, in Bend. On Thursday, that reported threat was deemed not credible. 
February 19, 2018
Dear Bend Senior High School families,
In recent days, we have seen students and community members responding to, and talking about, the terrible act of violence that took  place at a Parkland, Florida high school. For those who work and attend school in classroom environments every day – or send their students to school every day - we may find that events like the tragedy in Parkland feel close to home and raise intense emotions. 
This  weekend we talked with a student who reported overhearing two other students talking about general school attacks in ways that were  perceived to be threatening to the Bend Senior High School learning environment. Bend Police Department and school administrators  spent countless hours throughout the weekend attempting to follow up on this lead. The students who were said to have made these  remarks were not identified and the single witness statement did not yield a viable lead. We will continue to investigate any new  information that becomes available. 
I share this with you tonight so that you are aware that we will have an increased police presence at Bend Senior High School tomorrow, which is the date that the reporting student said the two youth were allegedly discussing violence could take place at our school. 
We and our partners at Bend Police Department have invested many resources into looking into this tip – all hours that we give willingly and with passion as we want to do everything we can to keep our students and schools safe.  
That said, we have an opportunity for a ‘teachable moment’ where we can talk to our students about tone that is appropriate to use when having conversations with others about the tragedies that we are too frequently seeing on our mobile devices, on social media and on television. 
It is my hope that you can help to  reinforce to your student that if they see something, they should always say something. Please encourage your students to contact the main office, talk to a staff member or counselor, or use the SafeOregon tip line that they can find under the First Step icon on their iPad desktops at any time. (Parents, you can download First Step on your own device. Search for First Step OR in your app store.) 
This single  incident is not indicative of the Bend Senior High School culture or students. We, and our law enforcement partners, believe that our  school will be safe for all students tomorrow. Patrols and police presence will be increased in an abundance of caution. Additionally, we  understand that in informing our community of this threat we run the risk of other students copying this behavior. However, we felt it was important to communicate with our parents about this situation tonight. 
Thank you for your support of our Lava Bear community. 
Sincerely, Bend Senior High School Administration Team 
Note: It is against the Oregon Law to misuse the tip line and report  false tips. ORS 165.570.


Power Restored After Outage Impacts COCC

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College suffered a major power outage on Monday, at least partially impacting eight buildings, including the Science building (pictured), Juniper and Grandview. Ron Paradis, with the college, says classes were in session, despite the Presidents Day holiday.


Paradis tells KBND News, "There was a fuse that went out sometime overnight, and it affected six or seven buildings on the COCC Campus. We were able to get some of the power back to them right away using emergency generators, but some power, and including the heat, were off." That lack of heat was a big problem, given Monday's high temperature reached just 25-degrees. "Not a great day for the heat to be out, obviously one of the colder days of the year. We worked with many of the classes that were taking place and gave them the option of moving, if that seemed most convenient. Most I think, stayed where they were and just endured the cold weather, but some did move; in particular those that needed more technology, because not all of that was running with the power down."


Paradis says, some technology classes were relocated, but most of the others just dealt with the cold and low lighting. electricity and heat were restored at around 1:30 p.m. 
The other buildings affected were Deschutes, Jefferson, Pence, Pinkney and Ochoco.
Stock Photo

Two Republicans Vie for Rep. Whisnant's Seat

BEND, OR -- Two locals are vying for the Republican nomination for retiring Representative Gene Whisnant's House District 53 seat. Self-described "Lifelong Conservative Political Activist" Ben Schimmoller has been following the short session and is interested in several issues, including the Right to Health Care and House Bill 4135. "And then, also, the Gun Confiscation bill. I think veterans struggling with PTSD will be worried about coming forward for fear of losing their 2nd Amendment rights that they went and fought for."

Redmond Real Estate broker, Jack Zika, says affordable housing and fiscal responsibility are his focus, but he, too, is concerned about HB 4135, the changes to the advance directive form. He thinks this session may be too short to give that discussion its proper due, "When they first came up with the form, there was hundreds of hours of testimony and hearing, and this session, they've done it in just a week, so I think a little bit more thought needs to be put into it."
When asked what, if anything, they'd do differently than the long-serving Whisnant, Schimmoller says Whisnant's contributions to Oregon's House inspired him to run. "I appreciate his conservative perspective. I have great appreciation and respect for his service." Zika also believes Whisnant has done good things for Oregon. "He's a big advocate for education, so I'd like to continue that, and strive for better schools. I think maybe I could be a little bit louder, a little bit more of a squeaky wheel."
They both feel that Central Oregon's issues aren't always given much play in the State Legislature. Schimmoller says his campaign is focused on what he believes are Central Oregon's main issues, "If there isn't somebody talking about veterans more, and business more, and Second Amendment more, we're going to really see a[n] eroding of the rights and the values of Central Oregon." Zika says he's the more experienced candidate for the job, and he's very excited by the prospect of representing District 53. "I'm on the Board of Directors for our State Realtors, I'm on our Government Affairs Committee, I'm Vice President of the Central Oregon Association of Realtors, so I have a lot of board work, a lot of committee work, and I'm also on a planning commission for the City of Redmond, and so I've done a lot of zoning work, a lot of land use laws, things of that nature."
Ben Schimmoller and Jack Zika are running as Republicans for Representative Whisnant's HD 53 seat. Dr. Bill Trumble and Eileen Kiely are running as Democrats. The primary will be held on May 15.


Real Estate "Off Season" Shrinking

BEND, OR -- Bend’s real estate market was a flurry of activity last month, in sharp contrast to a year ago. After a relatively slow fall, Central Oregon’s housing market picked up in January, with more listings, more sales and higher prices. KBND Real Estate Expert Fred Johnson says this winter has seen about three-times as many properties hit the market compared to last year, partly due to the mild weather. But, he says, in general, the industry is staying busy nearly year round. "A lot of people go under the misnomer that, ‘well, there’s no need to put the [house] on until March because I want to have flower boxes on the front porch.’ And, ‘if I don’t have it sold by the end of September, I might as well weatherize the sprinkler system and hunker down for winter.’ And, what we’ve seen is those shoulder seasons have reduced dramatically. There’s people who come early in the spring and there’s people who come late in the fall."


Johnson believes changing consumer trends are partly responsible for shortening the "off" season because house hunters no longer have to brave the elements to look at a prospective property, "Almost everybody shops online anymore. So, what happens is, they can set up their profile on the computer; when a property comes on that meets their profile, it will drop into their box. Well, through the winter months, not many property opportunities have dropped into their box. And then, all of a sudden, this year, January came along and items started to fall in there, and that created the level of activity."


He says the increase in activity, listings and prices are similar to what’s happening all along the west coast, from Seattle to San Diego. And, he believes prices will continue to trend upward, "Even with some influx of interest rates. The unfortunate thing is, the people that are affected by that most are the people at the lower end of qualifying for their housing. So, if interest rates bump up, it’s not going to bother the person that’s paying $500,000 or more. But, for the person that can just barely qualify, the interest rate bump of .5% is the difference between them finding home ownership or not."
Johnson tells KBND News, "The most dramatic impact that we had this year, early on, was the amount of activity in the market above $925,000 in Bend. Where, previously we’ve had more than a year’s worth of inventory in that sector of the market, right now, in the most recent report that was just put out, there was seven months of inventory." In Bend, the inventory of homes listed below $625,000 is at three months or less.

Reward Increases Again For Swan Shooter

SUNRIVER, OR -- The reward for information regarding the Thanksgiving Day shooting of a Sunriver swan has increased again. The Sunriver Nature Center and Observatory announced Friday the reward is now $4,000, for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whomever shot 'Chuck', Sunriver's famed Trumpeter Swan.


Lake Aspen's remaining swan, 'Gracie,' will be introduced to a new mate as soon one is provided by the Nature Center, the Trumpeter Swan Society, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 'Chuck' and 'Gracie' (pictured together, above) were part of Oregon's Trumpeter Swan Reintroduction Program.
Shooting a swan in Oregon can lead to a fine and jail time, as they are not considered game birds. 'Chuck' was killed in what local law enforcement calls a willful act. Anyone with information in the case is asked to call Sunriver PD at 541-593-1014. 

Bend Senator Looks At Improving Student Success

SALEM, OR -- The statewide graduation rate has seen modest improvement, but lawmakers agree more needs to be done. A bipartisan group is now looking at what’s working in Oregon schools and what needs to be done to improve the education system. State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) is the only Central Oregon Legislator on the new Joint Committee on Student Success. KBND News talked with him Friday in Salem. 


So far, the committee has heard from students, teachers and administrators, in an effort to gather data. On Friday, they heard testimony from parent-advocates for charter schools, homeschooling and students with disabilities. Senator Knopp tells KBND News they're trying to find "The best practices of the districts that have best graduation rates, best attendance and are doing good work, and see if we can’t create a model of what really every district needs or is hoping to have. Then, obviously connecting that up with financial resources."


Knopp points to good things occurring at local districts, including Career and Technical Educational (CTE) programs at Bend-La Pine and Redmond schools. But, he says districts struggle with resources due to a number of factors, including PERS. "You have urban, you have rural, you have communities of color, you have differences that are unique to them, so I don’t think you can do a ‘one size fits all.’ But, the important thing is that you have equality of opportunity," says Knopp. "The student that lives in Burns should have the same opportunity to get an education, or get the same education, as someone in Beaverton, Lake Oswego, downtown Portland, Medford or Bend. And so, one of our goals is to make sure there is equality of opportunity. The outcome is really up to those who put in the effort, but I think we want to make sure that we're giving everybody an equal chance." 


The Joint Committee on Student Success is modeled after the committee that created the $5 billion transportation package, which passed the Legislature last year. After the February session, committee members will travel the state on a "road show," when they'll meet with more families, districts and business owners. Knopp says the committee has until the end of 2018 to come up with a package of proposals to be considered in the 2019 session. He admits it's a short timeline, "It's going to be a lot of work," Knopp says, "You have to bring all the differing ideas together and figure out what’s going to work best and try to find a bipartisan consensus and move through the politics of it."


Photo: (L-R) Committee Co-Chair Sen. Arnie Roblan, Sen. Mark Hass, Sen. Tim Knopp and Sen. Ginny Burdick listen to testimony during Friday's Committee on Student Success hearing.

Three Arrested In Bend Walmart Drug Bust

BEND, OR -- Three Bend men face drug-related charges, following their arrest Sunday afternoon at Walmart. Bend Police noticed a suspicious vehicle parked at the store, at about 4:45 p.m.


They contacted 28-year-old Jordan Gilbert (below left), 27-year-old Caleb Bennett (center) and 29-year-old Anthony Sandoval (right) in the car. A Deschutes County K9 Deputy assisted in locating commercial amounts of heroin, user amounts of meth, scales and other drug paraphernalia, as well as $500 cash and a realistic-looking replica gun.


The three were taken into custody without incident. Sandoval and Gilbert are charged with Possession, Delivery and Manufacturing Heroin. Bennett faces the same charges, as well as Possession of Methamphetamine and a Felony Probation Violation warrant. 


Bend Man Rescued After Fall At Smith Rock

TERREBONNE, OR -- A Bend man was rescued at Smith Rock State Park, Saturday evening, after the 30-year-old was injured in a fall while looking for a short-cut. Samuel Bedell fell about 35 feet below the rim in the North Point area of the park. Redmond Fire and Deschutes County Search and Rescue crews used a rope system to bring him up. 


According to the Sheriff’s Office, Bedell was part of a group that was trying to save time getting back to the parking lot. They had crossed the river, and were looking for a ladder to climb to the top of the cliff when Bedell fell.
He was taken to St. Charles with non-life threatening injuries. 

Construction Begins On New Kenwood Gym

BEND, OR -- The students of Highland Magnet School at Kenwood School lost their gym last winter, when the roof collapsed under a snow load. But, a new gymnasium is starting to take shape on the west side of Bend. Concrete was poured this week for the foundation and a third of the walls. 


A temporary 5,500 sf military tent, on loan from Mt. Bachelor, was erected in August, to provide the kids a place to hold gym class. Principal Brian Kissell says the tent has worked out well, but everyone is looking forward to the return of a permanent structure. "The progress on the gym has been incredibly fast. As soon as we closed out the tent permit, we pretty much jumped right into the construction process for the new gym." He adds, "The whole construction crew has just been really fantastic about being able to capitalize on every good weather day. And then, when we've had some kind of downturns in the weather, they've been able to really minimize any time lost, and really continue making progress on all the different parts of the project."


Kissell tells KBND News the students are staying out from underfoot, but that doesn't mean they're not part of the process, "It's still fascinating to watch and some of our kindergarten classes have a front row seat out their window[s] and get to see the big trucks moving around and get to enjoy that."
If construction continues at its current rate, Kissell says, "It looks like we'll be opening the new gym for fall next year, which is fantastic news."
Aerial view of the roof collapse at Highland Magnet School at Kenwood, taken January 12, 2017

Sisters To Participate In Nat'l Wildfire Program

SISTERS, OR -- Sisters is trying to take a proactive approach to wildfire preparation. It's one of eight communities in the country to be chosen to receive help from the Community Planning Assistance for Wildfire (CPAW) program. It's a year-long program focusing on land use planning, forestry, research, and wildfire risk modeling.


CPAW Project Leader Molly Mowery says as communities grow, preparing for wildfire resilience becomes ever more important. "When we talk about planning, we're referring to land use planning. We're literally using land use planning tools that they might be better able to leverage and look at, 'Where is current development? Where would future development occur?' And what kind of ways can they really think about wildfire as part of that process."


She tells KBND News it's not about clear-cutting and building only with concrete, but about protection and preparation, "Can the community be more resilient to wildfire through more resistant structures or landscaping techniques? We're hoping to help support the community in thinking about ways that they can integrate wildfire better into the planning and process."


The program is funded through the U.S. Forest Service and private foundations, and their advice and support is free to the communities selected to participate. Bend was selected to take part in 2016. CPAW will host a kick-off presentation Tuesday, February 20, at 9:30 a.m., at the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire station. To learn more about the program, click HERE


Photo: The Milli Fire destroyed thousands of acres near Sisters in August 2017.

New RPD K9 Already Assisting With Arrests

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are welcoming their latest officer. K9 “Rogue” recently completed several weeks of certification training and is already assisting in arrests.


Earlier this week, Rogue and is human partner, Officer Josh Zundel, conducted a traffic stop. Rogue alerted to the presence of drugs and the vehicle was searched. Jimmy Burkhart, a 27-year-old Madras man, was arrested after a concealed handgun was found. A deeper search then turned up over 22 grams of meth and about $600 in cash.


Redmond Police say they are "very excited about having another drug detection dog to utilize in drug investigations."

Worrisome Incidents Investigated At Bend Schools

BEND, OR -- Several incidents at Bend-area schools have prompted investigations at a time when parents, students and educators are on heightened alert, following Wednesday’s mass shooting at a Florida high school.


The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is investigating separate incidents at High Desert Middle School in Bend, where two boys were temporarily removed, Thursday. At around 11:20, a student pulled the fire alarm. The school was evacuated but there was no emergency. About 20 minutes later, a different student engaged in what was described as “inappropriate behavior amongst his peers." Officials would not elaborate but said it worried other students. Both students have reportedly been disciplined by school administration. 


All Bend-La Pine Schools saw an increased law enforcement presence Thursday, following a reported threat against Summit High that was later deemed not credible. 
A Sunriver Police Officer parks in front of Three Rivers School in Sunriver, Thursday morning. 

Local Principal Addresses Safety Concerns

BEND, OR -- Students, parents and educators across the country are reacting to another school tragedy, following Wednesday’s mass shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 dead. Bend Senior High Principal Chris Reese echoes what many are feeling, "My heart just aches for that community and that school. And - Wow - It’s just tough. No words can describe it."


Reese says he talked with students Thursday to reassure them and address concerns. He also met with his staff to reaffirm safety protocols and discuss the importance of developing trust with the kids. He tells KBND News, "We also encourage our staff to have those conversations about school safety with their students and just continue to foster those positive relationships; and that is so huge." Principal Reese believes if kids trust school staff, they will be more comfortable in reporting suspicious behavior, "So, if stuff comes up or parents or students hear about things – whether it be social media or text messages, or just hear things that concern them, they feel that they can report those issues to staff members and we can address them."


He says Bend High students were just trained Tuesday on the First Step App and Safe Oregon program - a tipline that takes concerns from students and follows up with local authorities. Students can report anonymously, if they want, by phone or online. Safe Oregon has received over 500 tips since it began in January 2017. 


Bend High School practices lock-out and lock-down drills a couple times a year, along with the typical fire drill, and Reese says safety is a top priority, "Unfortunately, now we’ve got to talk seriously about school safety. When I first got into education, I got in to educate students and I wasn’t really thinking about that. Now, these tragedies are happening and it seems like they’re happening frequently and, you know, we’ve got to prepare for that. It’s something that nobody likes to talk about but we have to talk about it."

Bend LaPine Schools To Host Two Job Fairs

BEND, OR -- Bend La-Pine School District is hosting two job fairs to attract prospective employees for positions ranging from bus driver to nutrition services to graphic designer. Human Resources Director Debbie Watkins says the first fair will be this Saturday from 11 am to 2:30 pm at Bend Senior High and will focus on support staff positions. "We just hope we have a really great turn out. It's a great opportunity to talk to some of our principals, talk with the department leads in a very low stress environment, learn about each other and figure out where the fit might be best."


Watkins says there's current staff on hand to speak with applicants and direct them to the jobs that would suit them best. "We're always looking for great people to join our team, and the key is to find the spot where somebody is happy."
The second event will be the Certified Teacher job fair, looking for educators who will be interacting with students in the classroom, and it will be at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds on April 5th. Watkins says both events will be a completely interactive experiences for the applicants. "We're going to have people giving tours of our production kitchen, be able to drive a school bus, sit on one of our riding lawn mowers to get a feel for what that would be like, and then, when somebody has an idea of what they want to apply for, we'll actually have computers there that day where we can sit with a person and do the application process."
The first fair will be held at Bend Senior High this Saturday from 11 am to 2:30 pm and the second event, the Certified Teacher job fair, will be at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds on April 5th from 1 to 6 pm..


Local Leaders Launch 'Celebrate Cannabis'

BEND, OR -- Celebrate Cannabis is a new organization with the mission of unifying and giving voice to the legal cannabis community and educating the public as to the positive aspects the industry brings to the area. Jennifer Clifton, of Clifton Cannabis Law, is one of the Founders of Celebrate Cannabis, and she says the industry is more than just about a fun culture, it has contributed to tourism and, most importantly, employment opportunities. "First, jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs. Hundreds of jobs, and we're at $800,000 over the last few years in tax revenue to Deschutes County. So, we've all benefitted from the cannabis industry."


She says, if people truly understood cannabis and the benefits it brings to the Central Oregon community, there would be no further objections, and Celebrate Cannabis' mission is to make it easy to find true information about the industry. "Celebrate Cannabis is, you can go to a web portal and we're going to have access to information you can get and education about the industry. And we're going to be doing other industries like workshops and webinars to help inform the public about the industry, and debunk myths that just aren't true about it."
The other founders include Hunter Neubauer of Oregrown, Chris Telfer of Spectrum CPA Group, Gary Bracelin of Tokyo Starfish, Judy Campbell of Campbell Consulting Group, and Jack Robson of High Desert Pure.
Clifton says they started Celebrate Cannabis because education about cannabis hasn't kept pace with the industry's rapid growth. "We're seeing a change across the nation, and I would hate to be left out based on backwoods thinking." She adds that, because once people know the truth about cannabis, she thinks they'll stop fearing it. "I just think that we need to get all the facts before we just become rigid in our views and I don't feel like there's been full disclosure and understanding of the industry, so we're hoping to shed some light on that."
Celebrate Cannabis will be holding workshops and webinars that will share information about the benefits of the industry to Deschutes County including product innovation, philanthropy, and environmental friendliness.


For more information, go to www.celebrate-cannabis.org. Clifton wants to emphasize that Celebrate Cannabis only celebrates safe, responsible, adult use.

Bend-La Pine Schools Names New Summit Principal

BEND, OR -- An assistant principal at Summit High School will take over the top job, in July. Bend-La Pine Schools has named Michael McDonald as Summit’s next Principal, following the departure of Alice DeWittie, who is leaving the district. 


McDonald has more than 25 years of experience in education and has been the assistant principal since 2004. Superintendent Shay Mikalson calls McDonald’s leadership style “personal and growth-oriented.” In a statement, Mikalson said, "I look forward to seeing Michael continue the excellent work that has always been a hallmark of the Summit community and student body. Michael is a strong leader and a champion for our students and staff."

Oregon WinterFest Kicks Off Friday

BEND, OR -- Oregon WinterFest takes place in Bend, this weekend; although, the weather could be closer to spring-like for the annual celebration of all things frigid.


Event Coordinator Kirsten Morrell is watching the forecast closely, but isn’t worried. She tells KBND News, it could be worse, "We’ve had experiences in the past where winter just hasn’t arrived and we’ve kind of had to roll with it. We bring some snow down from Mt. Bachelor for the rail jam and that usually does it. And it’s been super fantastic, actually, that we did get some snow here in town, because that gets us really jazzed for this weekend." In 2015, WinterFest organizers were forced to cancel all snow-related events due to poor conditions. This year, Morrell says they’re watching for wind and rain, but she doesn’t expect the weather will negatively impact the overall event.


"We like to call it Oregon’s biggest party of the winter, because there’s not a lot of major winter events here in Central Oregon," says Morrell. "There are a ton of activities going on throughout the weekend. We open up the event at 5 p.m. on Friday and that starts with fire pits and music, and food and shopping." And, she says there are a couple of new additions for 2018, "In the past we haven’t had a gourmet food and lifestyles tent, and we do this year; so, that’s really exciting. Then, we also have a Polar Market, which is outdoors. It’s like a sporting and outdoor-goods sort of marketplace."


Event proceeds benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon. Last year, Oregon WinterFest raised nearly $11,000 for the local nonprofit. 

Redmond PD Reacts To Council Fee Decision

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond City Councilors agree the Police Department needs more officers, but they - so far - have failed to come to a consensus on how to fund the hiring of more staff. At this week's Council meeting, they decided to push any talk of a ballot measure or levy to the fall election; instead, opting to look at prioritizing public safety in the 2018-19 budget. They discussed a proposed $6 monthly utility fee to pay for as many as six new officers, but chose not to impose such a charge right away. 


Lt. Curtis Chambers says there is a possibility Council could find the money in the next budget cycle, "They have indicated that they want to hire more officers in that budget but that will come at a cost to other city departments. What that looks like will be determined as the budget process proceeds in the next couple of months." But, he says, "That doesn't solve the revenue problem." Lt. Curtis tells KBND News, "The Police Department is in the same general operating fund as transportation and parks and some capital improvements. Sacrifices will have to be made in other departments, in order to prioritize public safety, with the current revenue that we have."  He says shifting money to increase police funding would drastically impact the city's overall budget for years to come, if a new revenue source isn't found, "The bucket is only so large and there are a lot of hands."
The Budget Committee will go line-by-line, this spring, to determine whether money is available in the 2018-19 budget for new staff. If they find the funding, Lt. Chambers believes between one and three officers could be on patrol before the end of the year. While other local law enforcement agencies have struggled to fill vacancies, he says Redmond PD has not had that problem, "We currently, at this moment, have a hiring list that we can pull from the moment we get the okay to start hiring officers. And, assuming that those people are still looking for employment and still desire to work at the Redmond Police Department, we would be able to hire those individuals very quickly in the new budget year, which starts July one."
City Council is still considering a November ballot measure, to ask voters to support a fee or tax increase. 


Georgia Inmate Admits To DCSO Scam

MORGAN, GA -- A Georgia inmate admits he tried to scam Deschutes County residents, calling and telling would-be victims they were in contempt of court for missing jury duty and needed to pay a fine with a prepaid card. Jay Baron Wright was indicted in November; he pleaded guilty this week to Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and will be sentenced at a later date.


Federal prosecutors say Wright and other inmates made the calls to Oregon residents using contraband cell phones smuggled into Calhoun State Prison. They told people they could pay the fine with a Money Pak Green Dot card, by providing the card number to the caller. The money was then transferred to other Green Dot Cards.


At least three people in Oregon fell for the scam, transferring values slightly less than $1,000 to cards used by various co-conspirators in South Carolina. Wright faces a maximum sentence of 20 years, with a potential fine up to $250,000.

Scammers Seek Out Lonely Targets

BEND, OR -- Love is in the air ... and online, which can be especially attractive to scammers.


Stephen Mayer, with the Better Business Bureau, says criminals often troll for victims online by using a stolen profile picture, "Maybe someone who’s really good looking – a male model or female model – so, using those to peruse online dating websites and look for people who may be vulnerable and then try to make contact with them. And, their end-goal is to rip you off and get your money." He says if the person on the screen appears “too perfect,” alarms should ring in your head, "If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. In this case, if it’s too hot to be true, it probably is."


He tells KBND News scammers will often avoid meeting you in person, sometimes claiming to be in the military or working overseas to explain they can’t meet up, "If they’re trying to get you to communicate through just email or some sort of messaging service, or even trying to get your phone number – if they’re trying to get you off that website and into a more private way of communication, that’s also a red flag to watch out for." But, he says the end-goal is always the same: to get your money. 


Mayer says if you use online dating sites, you should also watch out for people who start talking about a future together very early on; oftentimes they’ll say they’ve ‘never felt this way before.’ Also beware of those who have a hard-luck story, "‘I lost my job’ or ‘one of my family members is sick.’ Or, ‘I got to get some money from you to deal with a death of a parent or a spouse for those burial costs.’ We’ve seen it all," says Mayer, "And they have no shame, unfortunately, in creating these stories: ‘you love me, right? Why can’t you just help me out with this one thing?’ And, they’re really trying to get you to send them some money."


If you've become a victim of an online dating or romance scam, file a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center

Last Blockbuster In The Lower 48 Is In Bend

BEND, OR -- At its peak, in 2004, Blockbuster had nearly 9,100 video stores. Now, only a handful of brick and mortar stores remain; and the last two in the contiguous U.S. are in Central Oregon.


Ken and Debbie Tisher own the Bend and Redmond locations. Sandi Harding is the General Manager for both, and says they cater to a different kind of customer - one who's looking for a community experience. "We have loyal customers and because of them, we've been able to stay open longer than most other locally owned Blockbusters across America. At this point, our two Central Oregon stores are the last two in the Lower 48."


However, that soon will change, "Unfortunately, it's sort of a sign of the times," Harding tells KBND News. "There's just so many options for people for home entertainment, at this point, that it's really hard to stay viable in the business. The Redmond store, unfortunately, has been struggling, and it's come to a time now where we just can't keep it open." 


Earlier this year, a store in Sandy, Oregon closed, along with the last Blockbusters in Texas. When the Redmond location (pictured) closes in mid-March, the store on NE Revere Ave. in Bend will be the only one left. Six stores remain open in Alaska, where internet coverage is spotty. 

Bend PD Chief Says Radio System Improving

BEND, OR -- Bend’s Police Chief was an outspoken supporter of the county’s law enforcement radio upgrade plans. But, he’s frustrated with how the new system has worked.


Chief Jim Porter is praising Deschutes County Commissioners for taking immediate action as soon as they were made aware of serious technical problems that led to garbled and lost transmissions; in some cases forcing officers to call in on cell phones during emergency situations. The county is now working on developing two new radio tower sites, and there are plans to hire a full-time radio engineer; two things Chief Porter says he advocated for from the start, "Money-wise, we’re in a good place; we truly, truly are because this stuff was already budgeted. We’re moving forward with it and we’re going to save you money and time by hiring an engineer who is qualified to maintain this site and make sure my officers are safe." Porter says they’ve identified two sites on Bend’s west side for new transmission towers … one on Overturf Butte, and the other near the water treatment plant. He tells KBND News, "That site was already scheduled to be built out, so the money was already budgeted. It wasn’t my decision not to build the site; it was the county 911 district decision not to build the site." He’s hopeful a temporary radio tower will be online in the very near future, increasing coverage on the west side of Bend. 

Porter says development of the system deviated from the original design and, some computer code was set up incorrectly, leading to problems, There’s nobody more frustrated when my police officers are in a foot chase with someone armed with a gun and they have no way to call in. I’ve been a Chief for a while, but I remember what it’s like to be a cop. When my cops are out at domestics and they have to use their cell phone to call in, it’s very frustrating."


Chief Porter says that for the first time in six months, he’s optimistic about the direction things are headed. Te hear our full conversation with Bend's Police Chief, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page

Deadly Prineville Shooting Deemed Justified

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man has been cleared by a Grand Jury, which found he was justified in shooting and killing a man, last fall. According to the Crook County District Attorney’s Office, witnesses corroborated Larry Hoevet’s account of events.


On October 22, 56-year-old Kenneth McBeth showed up at Hoevet’s house, uninvited. He demanded the return of personal property; but, when 40-year-old Hoevet refused to open the door, the two reportedly exchanged angry words. McBeth then said he was coming in anyway, counted to three and threw a patio chair through the front window.


Prineville Shooting Leaves One Dead


Hoevet says he feared for his life and shot in the direction of the broken window, striking McBeth in the chest. McBeth retreated to a parking lot where he collapsed. Several neighbors immediately came to his aid, but he later died. The Medical Examiner found the cause of death to be "chest trauma resulting from a single gunshot wound." Hoevet called 911 and remained on the line with dispatch as police arrived. Thy say he was cooperative and turned himself in for further questioning. 


D.A. Wade Whiting said in a statement: "Under Oregon law, a person has an absolute right to feel safe and secure in their own home. A person can be justified in using deadly physical force if another person is committing or attempting to commit a burglary in their dwelling." He went on to say, "In this instance, the grand jury has determined that Hoevet was justified in using deadly physical force under the circumstances he encountered and it was reasonable for him to believe his life was endangered at the time he discharged the firearm from his own home."

RSD Receives Grant For 2017 Snowstorms

REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond School District is the latest to receive federal funds as reimbursement for costs incurred during last winter's extreme weather. Redmond Schools will receive a $464,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to recoup the expense of removing snow from roofs during a January 2017 storm.


Earlier this week, FEMA awarded $1.1 million to Bend-La Pine Schools to help cover its 2017 snow-related expenses. 


U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) said in a statement, "I am gratified this federal assistance is heading to Redmond schools so the district can be reimbursed for unexpected snow expenses. Ensuring local resources are not forced to be spent outside the classroom is a must for students, teachers and staff to have every opportunity at educational excellence."


"Our schools can't budget for surprise weather events, and our students shouldn't suffer when they strike," U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said in a statement issued Tuesday. 



Photo: Crews remove snow from Redmond High School, January 16, 2017

Tumalo to Get New Fire Station

TUMALO, OR -- The Deschutes Rural Fire Protection District No. 2 is designing a new Fire station to replace the Tumalo Location. Dave Howe, Bend Fire Battalion Fire Chief, says the current Tumalo Station is too small and not set up to accommodate a crew large enough to meet current standards. "It served really well, but it really only was set up, essentially, for only having one person. Having one person on an engine is substandard and is unsafe for normal Fire Department operations, so we now have a standard of three people on each engine, which means we need to have three people in the station, minimum."

An Open House will take place at the current Tumalo Fire Station, on 4th street in Tumalo, this afternoon from 4 to 6 pm, and Howe says the purpose is to hear what the residents think of the new plan. "We want the community to really see itself as a partner with us in protection ... fire protection, injury protection. So, we're trying to be as transparent as possible, say 'Hey, this is what we're planning. This is your Fire Station, we are your Fire Department.' So, we're hoping that people will give us some constructive input, and also, hopefully, will appreciate what we're doing."
According to Howe, one of the best parts about getting this new Fire Station is that the District has been saving for it. "This is not going to cost any more. The District actually collects taxes every year and what they do is, they put aside a little bit every year, to make sure that they can afford a station or whatever they might need, so there's not going to be any tax increase at all, it's going to be pretty much handled by the budget."
Howe says the house that's next to the current station, on 4th street in Tumalo, will be relocated and renovated into affordable housing and the entire property will be used to create the new Fire Station.


Rickard Road Garage Destroyed In Fire

BEND, OR -- A three-car garage east of Bend was destroyed in an early morning fire, Tuesday. Bend firefighters arrived at the property on Rickard Road just after 6:30 a.m., and found the building fully engulfed in flames.


Crews took defensive measures to ensure the nearby home wasn't damaged; it stood about 75' from the garage, which was being used for storage and as a hay barn. Because the building was a total loss, Bend Fire says investigators could not determine a cause, as no evidence remains.

La Pine Fire District Asks For Levy Renewal

LA PINE, OR -- The La Pine Rural Fire protection District will ask voters in May to renew funding for the fire and EMS Service District. Fire Chief Mike Supkis says this is the same tax rate that's been in place for the last 20 years, "The district has been very conscientious with the tax dollars. we're a little of an anomaly, we don't carry any debt, we don't do any bonds, we believe every penny of taxpayers' dollars should go to provide the service, and that's kind of unusual today in local government." He tells KBND News, "The funds are necessary to provide the essential services of the fire district. And this fire district tracks every penny that [taxpayers] do give us, and they are resourceful and frugal with their tax dollars, and our folks set out to provide exemplary and caring service." 


According to Supkis, the current levy is set to expire in July of 2019, and a vote to support the measure would extend the levy another five years. The District covers the three fire stations located at Huntington, Burgess/Day, and South Century Drive. "We've had levy support for this Fire District for over 20 years, and the community has strongly supported those levies, and our Board has been able to manage the Fire District on the funds our district has. Because it's a local option levy, we go out to the voters  every five years, and basically, have them take a look, see how we're doing with their hard-earned tax funds, and are we doing the job we say we're doing with it."
If the levy passes, it would continue at $.64 per $1,000 of assessed value for an additional five years, which means a home valued at $100,000 would pay $64 a year.


Local Non-Profit Receives Life-Saving Device

SISTERS, OR -- The Warfighter Outfitters of Sisters received an Automatic External Defibrillator as part of the Sisters Fire District Grant Program. Fire Chief Roger Johnson said Warfighters is a non-profit guide group that takes veterans on hunting and fishing trips out in the wild, where they might need portable lifesaving medical equipment.

Johnson said the non-profit, all volunteer organization was truly deserving. "These are people that have served our country, and sacrificed a lot for all of us. And, we thought it was a great partnership to make sure, while they're out in the environment, they had the protection of having an AED with them."
Johnson added that the Fire District Grant was for $250, which only amounted to 1/3 the cost of the AED, but the Volunteer association donated to cover the rest. Johnson said the AED program has really taken off in Sisters. "We work with our local businesses and encourage them to install AEDs, and this is a program that we're really pushing in our community, and it's a matching grant. We offer $250 towards the purchase of an AED."
22 local businesses have installed AEDs in the last year, with 9 have been awarded as part of the Sisters Fire District Grant. Johnson says AED's cost about $900.
Chief Johnson says these machines save lives. "Somebody has a sudden cardiac arrest, seconds really count, and having bystanders that can start CPR, and having quick access to an AED, are two of the most important elements in survivability."
The Warfighter Outfitters serve veterans and their families from all over Central Oregon.


COCC To Partner With Tesla Motors

BEND, OR -- A Tesla Roadster is now orbiting the earth, and soon, we could be spotting more of the high-end electric vehicles around Bend. Ken Mays, with Central Oregon Community College’s automotive program, says the school just received approval last week, to develop a Tesla training program for technicians. "It’s a program called 'Tesla Start.' It partnerships with community colleges who have current electric/hybrid training," Mays tells KBND News.


The auto-maker has developed similar programs with other schools, but this is the first in our area. "They have a tremendous program for, not only the training, but their employees are treated very well. We’re excited about that," says Mays. He expects it’ll open up job opportunities for students who complete the certification process, "It is a guaranteed career; you will move quickly because they are developing service centers throughout the nation very rapidly."
Mays believes Tesla could eventually open a service center in the High Desert, "California has a huge number of service centers. Oregon so far has one in Portland, and that’s going to change." The COCC training program could be open by 2019.
Click HERE to listen to our full conversation with COCC's Ken Mays, or visit our Podcast Page

DCSO Lt. To Retire, Ending Internal Investigation

BEND, OR -- A Deschutes County Sheriff’s Lieutenant, who has been on paid administrative leave for nearly two years, will retire at the end of this month. Lt. Tim Leak was the subject of an internal affairs investigation for alleged policy violations. 


Sheriff Shane Nelson says the agency reached a settlement which closes the investigation and ensures neither side will file a lawsuit against the other. "This is a business decision I've made in this matter, and continue to move the Sheriff's Office forward. This agreement is in the best interest of the citizens we work for," Nelson tells KBND News. "We're continually learning from our past and following the course we've charted for the future. People who do not fall in line with the mission and values of this office will not work here."


Leak was placed on leave on May 17, 2016. During that time, the Sheriff's Office paid him $238,161.71. Under the terms of the agreement, he’ll receive another $33,330. 

Bend Police Arrest Man Armed With Pitchfork

BEND, OR -- Bend Police arrested a pitchfork-wielding suspect after he reportedly caused a disturbance near Target. The 27-year-old Damascus man is accused of yelling at people in the parking lot, Sunday afternoon, then using the pitchfork to hit a parked truck. He then allegedly got into the truck, tried to start it, then broke out a window. 


Officers contacted the suspect as he walked to a nearby business. During the investigation they learned the truck he damaged had been reported stolen from Woodburn, earlier that morning.
Kyle Griffin was taken into custody on several outstanding warrants, as well as charges of Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Disorderly Conduct and Criminal Mischief. 

Two Cars Hit Two Redmond Buildings

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police responded to two crashes, Sunday night, both involving vehicles into buildings. The first occurred just after midnight on NW Larch Spur Court (pictured above, below). Investigators say the vehicle missed hitting a 10-year-old asleep in bed, by just a few feet. By the time officers arrived, the driver had left the scene.


Evidence at the scene led police to SW Cascade Mountain Lane, where they found a pickup matching the description of the suspect vehicle. They arrested 28-year-old Jory Markiss (right) for DUII and other charges. 


Just after 1 a.m., officers responded to a second incident, when a vehicle hit the Double J Saloon on SW 6th Street, downtown. An employee reported that a woman had hit the vehicle then left the scene, leaving the vehicle behind. Investigators located the suspect about 30 minutes later, arresting 22-year-old Emma Walker for DUII and other crimes. She was issued a citation and released.


Redmond PD also reports three other DUII drivers were arrested between Friday evening and early Saturday. 

South County Crashes Tie Up Morning Commute

LA PINE, OR -- La Pine Fire crews responded to several crashes on Highway 97 Monday morning, as winter returned to the High Desert. The first call came in at about 7:25 a.m., when the driver of a pickup lost control and rolled the vehicle near milepost 157. He was able to get himself out, but was taken to the hospital with back and neck pain.


The second incident occurred just after 9:30 a.m. in the same area. That driver lost control of of the pickup and also rolled, trapping two people inside. They were not severely injured, but crews helped get them out.


Sunriver Fire assisted on both calls, and Crescent Fire medics stopped to help on their way back to their district from the hospital. 

Sunriver Starts Search for New Police Chief

SUNRIVER, OR -- Sunriver Police Chief Marc Mills resigned his post, last week, leaving the Department without a leader. Sunriver Service District Chair Jim Fister says Bend Police Captain Corey Darling did a great job as interim Chief, but they've chosen someone else to head the department going forward. "I do have authority under my Chairmanship to appoint someone temporarily as Interim Chief, and we've asked Scott Hayes who's a retired Deputy Chief from Salem to step in for us," Fister recently told Central Oregon Daily, "We will confirm Scott at our upcoming regular meeting on Thursday." Capt. Darling will return to Bend PD. Hayes takes over while the search continues for a permanent replacement. Fister hopes a new Chief will be hired in the next two to three months. 

Mills had been on leave since early December, when he allegedly punched a fellow officer while on duty. According to Fister, the Board took everything, including community input, into account in deciding to end Mills' contract. "It was divided on both sides; there were some fans, including myself, by the way, who really appreciate the job Marc had been doing. And there were some others who felt that the details they had heard were concerning. And, you know, obviously, we would take that into account, but what we really wanted to do was we wanted to have that discussion with Marc and his representatives himself to really come to a conclusion." Fister says it was a difficult decision, but one that everyone eventually found necessary, due to recent developments, "We did highlight some additional workplace violations, some irrational outbursts of anger and inappropriate comments, some of the officers had expressed fear of retaliation. Those would be violations under our employee handbook or our workplace policies. I think when we looked at those things and just had discussions with Marc and his representatives, that was when we agreed that it would probably be best if he resigned. And he agreed." Mills had over 40 years of service to Central Oregon.

Redmond City Council Discusses Utility Fee

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond City Councilors will decide Tuesday whether to send an initiative to the May ballot for a public safety fee. City staff and the police department have spent several months hosting public meetings on the $6 monthly charge proposed for utility bills. City Manager Keith Witcosky isn’t sure what Councilors will decide, "We’ve just tried to provide them an inclusive list of options." He tells KBND News, "What we’ve been doing to date is just feeding back information to them, giving them data about the percentage of the people who support a fee or don’t support a fee. And, this would be the first comprehensive conversation we’ve had. We just want to make sure that they are fully informed so they can have a good conversation."


That conversation includes more than a half dozen options, ranging from approving the fee immediately to maintaining the status quo, "They have the authority to approve a fee on their own," says Witcosky, "They could also say, ‘we want voter input on this, so we want to refer a fee to the ballot and let the voters decide.’ If they want to fund it through taxes, they could put a temporary operating levy for voter decisions. They could also increase our permanent tax rate." If they choose to send any of those options to the May ballot, they must direct staff Tuesday to create a ballot title, so it can be approved at the next Council meeting on February 20. 


Or, Witcosky says, "They could say, ‘we know that there’s public safety needs. We don’t know if we have additional resources now to bring to the table, but we’d like to see a budget that prioritizes those and get a sense of what the trade-off would be to other general fund programs. They could also say, ‘let’s continue this initiative and let’s target a public vote either this fall, or in 2019 or 2020’.” Or, he says, they could decide to do nothing and keep the police department's staffing at the current level. 


Tuesday's City Council Metting begins at 6 p.m. at Redmond's City Hall. 

DCSO Searches For Redmond Assault Suspect

REDMOND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office is searching for the people responsible for an assault that occurred last week in northeast Redmond.


Deputies were dispatched to NE Maple Ave. early Tuesday morning and found the 30-year-old victim near the High Desert Sports Complex. He was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and released the next day. No suspects were found at the time, despite an extensive search.


Investigators believe the man was assaulted by more than one person. Anyone with information in the case is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 541-693-6911.


UPDATE (2/12/18) -- Deschutes County Sheriff's Detectives believe this was an isolated incident and say the victim has chosen not to cooperate with the investigation. They believe the suspects and victim know each other. 

FEMA Grant To Reimburse Bend Schools

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools will receive more than a million dollars in federal funding to cover costs incurred during last winter's record snowfall. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will provide $1.1 million to cover expenses for engineering evaluations and snow removal that were necessary when the region received massive amounts of snow. Storms also resulted in the collapse of the Kenwood School gym (pictured).


In announcing the grant award Friday, U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden said it’s important the district recoup costs and ensure students and staff are safe. "Last year's snowstorm walloped central Oregon and it's essential that the Bend-La Pine School District gets these federal resources to help recover costs," Wyden says in a statement. 


"These much-needed funds will help the Bend-La Pine School District recover from serious damage caused by last winter's snowstorms," Merkley said in a statement. 

Suspect Arrested For Attempted Murder of Roommate

BEND, OR -- A 34-year-old Bend man was arrested Sunday, accused of repeatedly assaulting his roommate over a 12-hour span. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, the two had a disagreement on Saturday over the suspect moving out of the house on Old Bend Redmond Highway. Matthew Planteen reportedly assaulted his 63-year-old roommate with a hammer at about 3:30 a.m., while the victim slept. 


He then allegedly drug the man around the house while continuing to strike him with a hammer. The victim was finally able to call friends for help around 4 p.m. They showed up, realized what was going on and called 911. The friends armed themselves with a baseball bat and held Planteen at bay until deputies arrived. 
Planteen will be charged with Attempted Murder, Assault, Kidnapping, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Attempted Escape, Tampering with Evidence and Resisting Arrest. He's being held on $480,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in court Monday afternoon. 
The victim was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. 

Highway 20 Speed Reduced East of Bend


BEND, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Transportation lowered the speed limit on Highway 20, last week, just east of Bend near where a man was killed last year.


The stretch of highway from just east of Hamby Road to the city limits is now 45 miles per hour, down from 55. In December, 48-year-old Mark Price was killed when he turned his minivan into the path of an oncoming pickup.  

State Senator Jeff Kruse Resigns

BEND, OR -- Oregon State Senator Jeff Kruse continues to deny allegations of sexual harassment by two female legislators, but he announced Thursday night that he will resign, effective March 15.


State Representative Julie Parrish (R-West Linn) says it's the right decision, "I have to say, I thank him for the decency to do it; certainly thank him for his 22 years of service to the State in being a good public policy maker." In referencing an independent report that backs up the claims of misconduct, Parrish added, "The report is pretty strong, and it was just untenable for him to continue in this position." 


Senate President Peter Courtney says this is the best outcome, "I’m glad that it’s over. This has been an agony for the women who have come forward, this has been an agony for the Senate, this has been an agony for the people in his Senate District."

State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) was appalled by the allegations levelled against Senator Kruse. He says he personally asked him to resign, as Knopp believes Kruse is no longer qualified to serve because of how he behaved towards women with whom he came into contact. "In the report itself, there's two that filed complaints, but there are many other people who corroborated stories and told stories of incidents of their own. He had been warned in March of 2016, and continued to engage in the behavior that he had been warned about and, in the report, he says admittedly, that he did not take it seriously and wanted to continue to touch women."


Initially, the Republican Senate Caucus said it would wait for a decision from the Senate Committee on Conduct before deciding how to move forward. But Knopp broke from his party in calling for Kruse's resignation earlier in the week, saying he believes the allegations. "I can't speak for them, I can only speak for myself. I continue to believe that there is clear and convincing evidence, corroborated by witnesses, that Senator Kruse violated our workplace harassment rules and, as Senators and Representatives, we are here to create a safe workplace environment and that clearly did not happen. He broke the trust."
Knopp didn't want to subject the women who've accused Kruse to a public hearing, "No one should be treated the way the staff, and interns, and fellow colleagues, were treated, and I think there has been a culture in Oregon in both the public and private sectors and some employers, that says that the harassment is okay, and that the women just have to accept it to keep their jobs or advance in their careers and I say that culture must end now."
Kruse continues to deny the allegations.


Olympian Ben Ferguson Shreds For Gold

BEND, OR -- It's Half-pipe Snowboarder Ben Ferguson's first Olympics, but his younger brother Gabe believes he can win Gold, saying Ben is already in South Korea, ready to shred, and that he's pure talent and focus. "He kinda just does his thing. I mean, he like, focuses for sure, meditation, I think, but nothing too strange."


Men's Half-pipe Team USA's 'Posse' is made up of 23-year-old Bend-ite, Ben Ferguson, 31-year-old veteran Olympian Shaun White, 22-year-old Chase Josey, and 19-year-old, Jake Pates.
Ferguson says this is Ben's first Olympics, but he believes he's up to the challenge, because he's competed against all these same people for years. "Honestly, I think he's got it, 'cause it's the same people in every contest, the Olympics are the exact same, just with less [sic] people. People from every country."
Gabe, a pro snowboarder himself who missed this year's team by just one spot, says he believes Ben can win Gold in this Olympics. "He just loves the sport, and he's just having fun out there, he's going fast. Just every time he drops in, you can tell he's just really pumping and trying to get as much speed as possible."
The XXIII Olympic Winter Games starts today with events through February 25th.


Sunriver Police Chief Resigns

SUNRIVER, OR -- Sunriver Police Chief Marc Mills has resigned, following a lengthy investigation. In December, the Sunriver Service District placed Mills on leave when the board became aware of an allegation that he had struck an officer while on duty. Mills was placed on Administrative Leave December 3, 2017.

While the district's investigation was not yet complete, Board Chair Jim Fister says Mills has agreed to resign under a negotiated separation agreement. He says that during the course of the district's administrative investigation, employees raised complaints causing the inquiry to expand, "Including allegations of other outbursts of temper, fears of retaliation and other inappropriate behavior inconsistent with the District's policies and standards."
In a statement issued Friday, Fister said, "Chief Marc mills is a good police officer. One of his most recognized sayings is that the rules apply to everyone, equally. And, I greatly respect that Marc recognizes this in making his decision." The district's investigation is concluded, due to his resignation. 

Problems Persist With Police Radio System

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County's new law enforcement radio system has been plagued with trouble almost since installation, but at a Wednesday meeting with the County Commissioners, 911 Director Steve Reinke said he believes the issues should be solved within three to four weeks.


Reinke says Harris, the manufacturer of the radio system, will meet with County Commissioners on February 28 to explain what they're doing to fix the problems. He says it's taking time because one main issue has been that each problem inevitably leads to others. "As Harris has been working through the various problems, they have uncovered other things they wanted to look into, so they're trying to be very thorough. What they're saying is this is like peeling an onion, and as they open a problem, there may be another component or two to that."
Reinke says at the initial audit, 32 significant problems were uncovered, which lead to missing, dropped, or garbled transmissions. One partial solution is to install another tower in West Bend to help with signal strength, and Reinke says the District is waiting on permits and Tribal input. Harris, which Reinke says supplies nearly 70% of radio systems for the military and countless other emergency districts, has been attentive to the problem and has amassed a large team of engineers and others to solve it as quickly as possible. "We have every reason to believe that they can solve and resolve this issue, but we're very unhappy that things have degraded to the point to where they are, and we need Harris, and expect Harris, and are relying on Harris, to fix the system to make it work the way that it's supposed to."
Progress is definitely being made on the issue, but Reinke says, while they've found solutions for two thirds of the list's issues, the overall effect on the system still leaves something to be desired. "That 32 item list that is down to about 10 or 12 items? They're all so intertwined that no one, specific item has proven to be the 'magic bullet.' What we've been finding is, as they check off things off the list, there's incremental improvement, but it hasn't been noticeable enough to the responders where we're satisfied."
Reinke says the District and Harris are both working hard to solve the problems as quickly as possible because officer safety is their first priority.


Local EMS Responders Work To Stop Flu's Spread

BEND, OR -- Winter is flu season in Central Oregon, and local emergency crews are taking steps to make sure the virus isn't spread between patients.


Bend Fire's EMS Training Captain, Petar Hossick, says crews take precautions like masking the patients and wearing goggles and gloves whenever they're near someone with the flu. "The last thing we would ever want to do is go to a flu call, get somebody to the hospital, and then the next call, go to a cardiac call or something where someone's having a heart or a stroke and then, potentially, introduce the flu to them on top of their major medical emergency. So, we're very diligent about cleaning the medics out, wiping everything down after we've had them in there, and making sure we use hospital level disinfectant that kills all viruses."
Hossick says flu spreads easily and has a long reach. "Flu, it's a droplet based contagion, so if they cough on you, the CDC says a six foot diameter around them where the droplets get on you, and you can contaminate yourself." He says most flu patients who call 911 are typically the elderly or for the very young, but anyone who has the flu should get help. "If they're feeling like they're short of breath, they can't get air in, which is often related to respiratory stuff, we recommend that they call 911, and we'll come evaluate them."
After an unexplained spike in calls this last week, Hossick says this year has been especially hard on anyone who isn't basically healthy. "We have seen a pickup of a lot of respiratory stuff, I don't know if it's all been flu, we don't screen patients specifically for that. I know the hospital has been very busy dealing with a lot of flu intake folks, and it may just be a cold or something else, but aggravating something underlying, let's say COPD, or asthma, for a lot of our patients, and they just get really short of breath."
He suggests getting a flu shot, especially if your doctor suggests it, but if you do get the flu and are considering going to the hospital, call 911, and a crew will do an evaluation.


Smith Rock B&B, Campground Proposal Revised

BEND, OR -- Terrebonne neighbors continue to go head to head with a mountaineering group that wants to open a bed and breakfast and campground near Smith Rock State Park.


Representatives from The Mazamas Foundation presented revisions to their plan to County Commissioners Wednesday and addressed concerns raised at previous hearings, "In no way would our campground, particularly with our 4’ tents within a grove of juniper trees, be blocking those vistas." A handful of neighbors testified again in opposition, saying the development does not fit with the scenic and mostly rural area. "Mazamas are claiming that the tents would not exceed 4’ in height, yet they claim they are providing a ‘glamping’ experience for rather high prices," said one neighbor, "Glamping-style tents are not pup tents and would not only be 4’ tall."


While some neighbors argue it’ll block their view of one of the most scenic spots in the state, others worry about noise due to how close campers would be allowed to surrounding properties. "It fails miserably to meet the additional required setback of 300’ in a Landscape Managed Zone," said one man, "Previously the setback was 160’, now it is 105’."  But the Portland-based group told Commissioners, "The project meets the criteria of the setback waiver and that waiver was approved by the hearings officer; and it’s fully justified based on the intent of the code." She said they're not asking for a variance, which has stricter requirements, "The waiver that we’re requesting is not subject to those rigorous approval criteria. The applicant must simply demonstrate that the campground will be sufficiently screened and buffered; and we’ve done that."
Another area resident express concerns over irrigation impacts if the development is allowed in the rural neighborhood, "The area needed for a commercial septic system requires a large area for a drainage field and it is not allowed to be irrigated. The location the Mazamas are showing is questionable in size and is irrigated land." She added, that if the property is taken out of irrigation use, other properties connected to the private ditch would be drastically affected.
County Commissioners agreed to accept more written testimony and scheduled formal deliberations on March 14. 

Three Suspects Arrested For Bend Car Prowls

BEND, OR -- Three people are accused of breaking into cars at parks, then using stolen credit cards to make thousands of dollars in fraudulent purchases at local stores. The first theft was reported by a woman parked at Pilot Butte State Park, Tuesday afternoon. 


Bend Police tracked purchases made with the victim's credit card at Cascade Village Shopping Center, and developed a description of the suspects based on surveillance footage at the stores. They later arrested Two women and a man matching those descriptions: 21-year-old Paola Rodriguez, of California (right), 21-year-old Juan Antonio Alvear and 29-year-old Leidy Lertora Fuenzalida (below). Alvear and Fuenzalida are both transients. 
During a search of their vehicle, investigators found more stolen property, including items taken from a locked car at Hollinshead Park. 

Businesswomen Share Experience and Advice

BEND, OR -- Successful Central Oregon businesswomen shared their experiences and offered advice as part of the Bend Chamber's 'What's Brewing: The Year of the Woman in Business' event, last night.


Humm Kombucha CEO and founder Jamie Danek said not paying attention to negativity, but focusing on her vision, has lent to her success. "When I go into the day, for example, I never, ever, ever think, 'I'm a woman. How am I going to do this differently?' I just do it. I'm just going to do my thing. And all these stats and stuff that you can hear? I just don't pay attention to them because, I think, maybe they're true, and they probably are, but I need to go my own way because, otherwise, I get caught up in this story of whatever's happening." She added, "All these years later, and I seriously never wake up in the morning and go, 'God, I'm a woman, there are all these things against me.' I wake up in the morning and I go, 'There's so much opportunity'!"
Former CEO of First Interstate Bank, Patti Moss, said diversity is necessary to make a strong team. "Listening is really important. There's a lot of different diversity, but if you have diversity, and you don't listen to it, it's just not going to be as successful."
Investment partner of Seven Peaks Ventures, Corey Schmid, said true success comes from making your own opportunities. "Go give it a go. If it doesn't work, what's the worst that can happen? I didn't know to ask. I had to wait for someone else to present it to me, and that was a learning moment. There's lots of those, so keep your eyes and ears open for them."
Talena Barker, Founder and CEO of new startup Mission Limelight, says when she started up her company just over a year ago, she was heartened by learning so many other women are entrepreneurs like she is, and she's hoping to share that community with others. "In looking at what our options were going to be as a startup company, it was really shocking to me, looking at the sheer numbers of women who are starting businesses. There's a lot that goes into being a woman in business, and so, how can we identify some of these issues, and then address them, educate, elevate, advocate."
Bend Chamber CEO, Katy Brooks, emceed the gathering and said it's important to show women what's possible in the world of business. 


Warm, Dry Winter Could Lead To A Summer Drought

BEND, OR -- It's been a dry, warm winter in Central Oregon so far this year, and that's causing a bit of concern. Marilyn Lohmann, Hydrologist at the National Weather Service, says having this little snow by this point of the year, could set Central Oregon up for a summer drought. "Normally, as we head into this part of the year, we do have a good snow pack, and we're looking at how much water storage that we will have. We do look like the reservoirs are in fairly good shape, they are filling, and they did have some carryover from last year, so there is a little bit of concern as we head through the rest of winter into spring, especially the outlook through February calling for above-normal temperatures and near-to-below normal precipitation."


Lohmann says it is still early in the year and if we have a wet spring, we could avoid a severe drought, but even with a lot of rain, the reservoirs won't be quite full enough to withstand another winter like this one, next year. Lohmann says while some higher elevations retained their snow-pack levels longer than usual, Central Oregon had a warm summer, but without last year's abundance of snow, Central Oregon could have it much worse. "Areas that have had more than one to two years continuous drought, and really severe drought, their groundwater is often so depleted that it takes a number of years for that to come back or to even see it in the base floes, so we've been pretty lucky, in that regard, that we don't have that severe drought." She adds that, as temperatures stay above-average, more water is needed to maintain crops, livestock, and fish habitats. 
According to Lohmann, Central Oregon has seen about half as much snow this winter as last year by this time, and she says it's due to almost a year's worth of above-average dry conditions. "There's been a pocket of Central Oregon that extends from around Bend, up towards Redmond, and over towards the Prineville area that, it's been quite dry there since about last February, extending through this February and it's been somewhat dryer than normal."
Lohmann says there's still plenty of time to avoid severe drought, but without another wet winter, the area may still have one in its future. "We do have spring. A lot of times we do get some really wet springs in Oregon and that makes up some of the difference, but as far as that long-term water, unfortunately, that probably won't be made up this year."
According to the USDA, over 87% of Oregon is considered 'abnormally dry.'


Rodent's Nest Blamed For DRW Appliance Fire

BEND, OR -- An alert neighbor is credited with spotting a fire inside a Deschutes River Woods home, Wednesday morning. Initially he thought it was steam, but quickly realized it was smoke. Firefighters responded to Minnetonka Lane just after 8:30 a.m. and found the blaze inside a clothes dryer. They were able to keep it from spreading.


Bend Fire says the incident was caused by a packrat or other rodent’s nest inside the dryer itself – the vent was not involved. Investigators say dog food brought into the nest by the rodent was close to the heating element and caught fire when the appliance was turned on.


Damage was limited to the dryer, along with a small amount of smoke and water. 

Terrebonne Market Site Of Early Morning Burglary

TERREBONNE, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is searching for three men who broke into a Terrebonne mini-mart, early Wednesday morning. Deputies were dispatched to an alarm at Ferguson’s Market at about 2:35 a.m. and found the door smashed in, but the burglars were gone. A K-9 unit tracked them southwest from the business, but lost the track near the Rustic Ranch Mobile Park on Highway 97.

Three men can be seen on surveillance footage masks covering their faces, wearing long-sleeved shirts, shorts and hats. They’re believed to be in their teens or early 20s.


Anyone with information is asked to call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911; reference case 18-36444. 


UPDATE (2/13/18) -- Detectives say they've identified a 17-year-old suspect in the case, and cited him February 12 for Burglary II, Theft II and Criminal Mischief I. The Sheriff's Office continues to attempt to identfy the other two suspects. 

New GOP Candidate Enters Governor Race

PORTLAND, OR -- Bend State Representative Knute Buehler has a new competitor in the Republican Primary race for Governor. Portland motivational speaker Greg Wooldridge told the Register Guard he’s launching a late run for the May primary after months of deliberation, because he believes Oregon is headed in the wrong direction. 


Click HERE to view his campaign ad released online earlier this month. 


The 70-year-old former Navy Pilot's conservative views put him farther right on the political spectrum then Republican front-runner Dr. Buehler. Wooldridge has been active in GOP circles since arriving in Oregon from Florida in 2006.

Redmond & ODOT Host Transportation Mtg

REDMOND, OR -- The city of Redmond and Oregon’s Department of Transportation host a joint meeting Wednesday afternoon to get input on two major initiatives. City Engineer Mike Caccavano local and state officials are working together on a major revision to Redmond's Transportation System Plan, "It’s been about 10 years since the last one. So far, we’ve been looking at what happens if we don’t do anything, as far as transportation improvements, over the next 30 years or so. And, 'what fails?' Not only vehicles in intersections and roadway sections, we’re also incorporating bikeway and pedestrian improvements in this, as well."


He’s also hoping for feedback on the South Highway 97 Corridor Improvement Project. "From Highland down to the southern city limits – how do we deal with that corridor? ODOT needs 

to do some pavement preservation in there. And, with a project like that, we start talking about sidewalks, business accesses; it needs some care."
Caccavano tells KBND News Wednesday's open house is just one of several opportunities for public input, "And there will be individual one-on-one meetings with business owners, stakeholders – particularly for the South Highway 97 Corridor. Whether you’re on that corridor, you’re anywhere in the city, whether you get around on bike or on foot, we want to get input on where we need to make improvements so we can make those decisions."


The Redmond/ODOT open house at City Hall takes place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

Redmond Solar Farm To Benefit From Federal Loan

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The federal government will help several Oregon cities develop new solar projects, including one in the High Desert. The Rural Energy for America Program offers loans and grants to help improve power in rural areas. Oregon is getting $48 million in loans for six different projects. 


Just over $9 million will go to the Tumbleweed Solar project, just south of Redmond (pictured), which can produce power for nearly 2,000 homes. Three projects in Klamath County will power nearly 7,000 homes and a Lake County solar farm will provide electricity to 2,300 homes. And, in Clackamas County, a solar project will produce enough electricity for 77 homes a year in the Boring and Canby areas. 


Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) says the solar power will help reduce pollution and combat climate change. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) says it'll help keep down the cost of electricity in those rural areas. 

Local Professor Studies Risky Tanning Trends

BEND, OR -- A professor at OSU-Cascades says tanning has become an addiction for some millennials, and increased state regulations and efforts to educate young people about the dangers of skin cancer aren’t helping to curb the trend. "When I started this project, I was obviously interested in it. But, I was like, ‘surely, so many people, they know right? I mean, they know that tanning is bad; they’re really not doing this still, really – are they'?" Dr. Amy Watson tells KBND News, "It turns out, in pretty startling numbers, they actually – in fact – are."

Dr. Watson’s study on addictive tanning appears in the latest Journal of Consumer Affairs. She found two key factors contribute to dangerous and excessive unprotected UV exposure, "Self-esteem: So, those with lower self-esteem are more likely to be addictive tanners; Those with high levels of narcissism. And, that completely makes sense, if you do any research about narcissism, knowledge isn’t going to be impactful for them because they know."
She says some people are so concerned about how they look that they continue to "tan" even after learning of the skin cancer risk. And, she says the danger extends beyond the tanning bed, "We definitely have indoor tanners in Central Oregon. But, we also have a large number of those who are participating in activities year-round outside, that are exposing them to sun, and they’re not maybe always aware of how to properly protect themselves from it, even if they think they are." Eventually, she hopes to collaborate with the local health community to find ways to positively influence consumer opinions toward tanning and sun protection. 
Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Watson will lead a lunchtime lecture at OSU-Cascades, called "Beauty Before Brains: Addictive Tanning among Millennials." It's free and open to the public, although advance registration is requested. 

Permit Denied For Pot Farm North Of Bend


BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners denied an application Monday for a marijuana grow on Harper Road, north of Tumalo. Commissioners called the application unique because the size of the  grow was much smaller than the average in Central Oregon. However, because of setbacks on the property in question, they said the  operation wasn't compatible with neighboring properties.

They were split on certain aspects of the decision; one didn't think odor and noise would be a significant concern due to the small size of the proposed farm at the location known as "Bent Wire Ranch." But others thought those issues could still be problematic considering the proximity of neighbors.
Commissioners unanimously agreed to deny the permit. The decision will become official next week.
Images from the initial application filed with Deschutes County.

Deschutes Offers Popular Brews In Cans

BEND, OR -- One of Bend’s best known breweries is also one of the last to sell its beer in cans. Deschutes Brewery now offers three brews in lightweight aluminum cans in public houses in Bend and Portland: Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Pacific Wonderland Lager and Fresh Squeezed IPA. They are also still available in bottles.


Brewery officials say the new containers allow the popular beers to be sold in venues where glass bottles aren’t allowed. While the cans are available in tasting rooms now, they will be shipped from Bend to retail distributors nationwide, beginning February 19.


House Fire Highlights Dry Conditions

BEND, OR -- A two-story home east of Bend was destroyed by fire, Monday afternoon. Crews from Bend and Alfalfa were dispatched to the address on Cougar Trail at about 3:45 p.m.


The first units on-scene found the building completely involved, with fire extending to a nearby garage, brush and trees. The garage suffered moderate damage and firefighters were able to keep the flames from spreading.  


Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe tells KBND News, "It did demonstrate how dry the brush, the grass, and the trees are. In years past, we've had some pretty big brush fires in February and March; and this year is especially dry, so far. People need to really pay attention and, if they're in the rural district and they're doing any burning, to be super careful because it's already really flammable out there." He adds, "Typically, in the rural district, people do their field burning and their ditch burning in February and March. And, when we have a dry winter, like we have, a lot of those fires will get away and escape control. So, we're anticipating that could happen this year if we don't get any moisture."


The blaze on Cougar Trail caused $650,000 in damage; its cause is under investigation. Howe says this is the first time the Alfalfa Fire District - formed just a few years ago - has assisted with a large structure fire. 


Hwy 20 Closes For Hours Following Crash

POWELL BUTTE, OR -- Highway 20 shut down for several hours Monday night, after a crash involving a semi truck loaded with lumber and a passenger car. The incident occurred around 6:30 p.m., six miles east of the highway's intersection with Powell Butte Road, east of Bend.


The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office tweeted photos but as of Tuesday morning had released few details. 


New Central OR Lawmakers Meet Local Leaders

MADRAS, OR -- Central Oregon’s newest state lawmakers met with city leaders in Madras and Sisters, Friday, on their way to Salem for the February session, which got underway Monday. Republican Daniel Bonham (R-The Dalles) was appointed to House District 59 in November, to complete John Huffman’s term. He’s met with his predecessor several times, but admits he still has a lot to learn, "Ignorance for me is bliss; I’ve been told how difficult this will be and I don’t know any better so I’m going to go down, I’m going to engage in the process and see how we get through it." 


Bonham has proposed two bills: One relates to educators with disciplinary issues who move to other school districts; the other would expand the Good neighbor authority, allowing timber sales on federal forestland. He tells KBND News he's looking forward to getting down to business with the committees on which he now sits, "I’m the Vice Chair of the Early Child Development [Committee]; and then I sit on Transportation and Energy & Environment, so we have some big topics for the short session. I was a little taken aback by how big the topics were for what I thought was designed for fixes, omissions and unintended consequences." Newly appointed State Senator Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) joined Rep. Bonham in Madras (pictured above) and Sisters, Friday. He agrees the short session shouldn't be used to tackle big issues, "When you try to do something really big in the short session, you’ll get it wrong. We many times get things wrong in the long session, and then we come back, supposedly in the short session, and try to fix those things. The world is becoming more and more complex, and when you pass a bill or a law, it’s perfectly normal not to get it perfectly right."


In January, Bentz was tapped to finish Ted Ferrioli's Senate term, after the Republican spent 10 years in the House. He admits there is a bit of a learning curve in switching chambers, primarily due to his loss of seniority. But, Senator Bentz says he’s looking forward to his committee work. He’s assigned to Education, Environment, and Judiciary. "Judiciary, I’ve never served on, even though I’m a lawyer. But, the problem is there are so few lawyers in the Legislature anymore. Right now, I think they have just one lawyer in the Judiciary Committee in the Senate; just one. And, if you’re dealing with laws all the time, it does help to have a legal background. So, I’m pretty sure that’s why President Courtney put me on Judiciary." 
Bentz says meeting regularly with city leaders and constituents will help him represent the state’s largest district, "It’s almost 300 miles from Ontario to The Dalles; and it’s about the same from Ontario to Madras and it’s about the same from Ontario to Sisters; about 300 miles. The challenge, though, isn’t the distance. It’s really understanding what it is the people in these disparate communities want me to do for them. And, that’s why this visit is so important to me." He says he’s heard from leaders across District 30 who are worried about water issues, agricultural exports, transportation and employment. Rep. Bonham is also trying to find ways to communicate with a diverse group of constituents, as he gets to know his large district, "So far, I’ve put 5,000 miles on my car in the last two months. And, we’ve been to Fossil and Spray; I haven’t hit Mitchell yet; it’s on my to-do list." He adds, "I would really encourage people to get a hold of me on social media. It is fantastic to raise issues, to raise awareness."
Both Sen. Bentz and Rep. Bonham say they plan to run in the May primary to keep their seats. 


Madras Creates Unique Citizen Survey

MADRAS, OR -- A Citizen Input Survey is now arriving in mailboxes in and around Madras, to help city officials learn how residents feel about living there. Sara Puddy, the city's Administrative Manager, says it's about knowing what's working, what's not working, and what priorities they should have in the future. "Before we, as a staff, and our elected officials can really, truly prioritize our Master Plans and our goal-setting, we want to know from the people that pay into our budget, what matters most to them. So, it's perception-based. It's a feelings-based survey."

Puddy says nearly 5,000 three-page surveys were mailed throughout the 97741 zip code, and she hopes to get at least 1,000 completed and returned. Spanish versions are available by calling City Hall, and the survey is available online.
Puddy says this is a first for Madras, and she thinks it will really help those who live in the City feel heard, "We gather community and citizen input in a lot of different ways. This will help us better understand, what is the priority of the community? That helps us, as a staff, and as our elected officials, when we're budgeting, when we're writing grants to leverage what little bit of resources we do have, to make this the most livable, growing, thriving Community possible."
The survey covers a variety of topics including safety perceptions, how residents feel about using the Downtown corridor, and whether or not the City is adequately responsive in emergencies, infrastructure failings, and other issues. 
Madras community members have a month to respond and Puddy tells KBND News, "What we're trying to communicate, to the Community, is the City has established a platform for Community members to be 'heard,' and we're using taxpayer dollars to set up that platform, so please take advantage of that opportunity, and let your voices be heard, because we're going to listen and we want to hear what you have to say."


Tariff May Lead to Fewer Solar Farms

BEND, OR -- In a move purported to defend American workers and industry, President Donald Trump imposed a 30% tariff on imported solar panels last month, but regular consumers are unsure what that means for them if they're looking to upgrade to green energy.


Casey Miller, Vice President of Chint Power Systems America, says CPS manufactures solar inverters for the commercial market, and only a small part of the solar industry is affected by President Trump's tariff on solar panels. "The solar tariff is imposed on imported solar cells and the solar PV panels that have those cells. And, simply put, that'll just raise the prices. A 30% increase in the panels, which make up a majority of the cost of a solar project, will only have a small effect on residential-sized projects."
Miller doesn't believe the tariff will bring manufacturing jobs back to America, due to the high level of automation in solar panel production, but Trump's tariff also included imported washing machines, especially aimed at LG and Samsung, which, according to the Washington Post, have announced plans to build manufacturing plants in Tennessee and South Carolina, respectively. 
But Miller says CPS is attempting to navigate the confusion in the industry that's due to the combination of President Trump's tariff and his corporate tax cut. "Tariffs are penalties. Penalties don't necessarily spur economic activity, they usually depress economic activity, and that's what we believe will happen in the solar industry. The market will shrink because costs will go up and that will hurt jobs. Tax cuts, on the other hand, are an incentive that can drive investment, and actually, I do think there will be some positive impact of that in the solar industry."
Miller says the tariff is on the cells of the solar panels, so projects like Saturn Power, the 85-acre solar farm located north of Bend on Highway 97, may end up being one of only a few in Central Oregon, because, he says, natural energy projects have to pencil out. "The larger projects are financed on smaller margins, meaning the economic costs of the project are really sensitive because they're selling power to the utilities at a really low rate. The estimates are that that market could be impacted 10 to 20% in the U.S. because of the tariff."
Solar homeowners, at the retail rate, sell their power back at around $0.10/kilowatt hour while energy farms, at the wholesale rate, sell theirs at approximately $0.035/kilowatt hour. As far as solar energy is concerned, Miller says several countries in Europe have a corner on the market due to their long-term production and advanced automation, which means solar manufacturing jobs aren't likely to come to America. 


Redmond Home Damaged In Fire

REDMOND, OR -- The back deck of a northwest Redmond home was severely damaged by fire, early Sunday. Fire crews arrived on NW Lynch Way just before 2 a.m. and found three levels of the deck burning on the back side of the house. They were able to extinguish the blaze and keep it from spreading to the interior of the home.


Damage is estimated at about $7,000. Investigators believe the fire started with a cigarette that wasn't properly extinguished before being placed in a plastic flower pot on the upper-level deck. 

Stolen Property Recovered, Suspects Sought

BEND, OR -- Police believe they have identified two people responsible for a Christmas Eve burglary at a home in northwest Bend. 


The residents of the home on NW Debron Lane returned from Christmas Eve service to find a stranger at their door. That person left after a brief conversation. But, when the family went inside, they discovered the home had been burglarized. At the time, a search of the area turned up several leads but no suspects in the case. 

Over the past several weeks, investigators learned the victim’s Uber account was used for several trips in the area, leading them to a home on Mt. Washington Drive. During a search of that location, last week, officers recovered property taken from several homes, although nothing from the home on Debron Lane. Detectives also found a handgun and user amounts of drugs, like Cocaine and Xanax. 

They arrested Goldie Ward (right) for drug possession, but are still searching for Michael William Ward, Jr. and Gabrielle Rose Ward in connection with the thefts. Anyone with information on their whereabouts is asked to call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.


Prescribed Burns Planned For Today

MADRAS, OR -- Fire managers on the Crooked River National Grassland plan to take advantage of warm, drier weather to conduct two prescribed burns, beginning Monday.


The Juniper Springs burn is about seven miles south of Madras, east of Highway 26. The West Mountain View project is six miles west of Madras. They'll burn downed juniper in an effort to reduce hazardous fuel buildups, as well as improve winter range for big game animals. 


Officials expect the burns will take two days to complete and smoke will be visible for several days. All prescribed burns are dependent on appropriate weather conditions and fuel moisture. 

Sisters Bus Barn Project On Indefinite Hold

SISTERS, OR -- The Sisters School District's proposed transportation building project has been put on hold, and one reason is, Sisters Superintendent Curt Scholl says, the proposed location of the project would work for the schools, but not for the neighbors. "In the original plans, Parks and Rec was supposed to access their facility off of 242, but because of the cost of developing that roadway, that idea got nixed and they've been accessing it basically through our parking lot. So, basically, the concern was about line-of-sight and traffic patterns into that area."


Scholl says the original plan was to include Career and Technical Education training class space where students can learn mechanics, welding, or ag science. The project was going to be paid for with funds from the $4 million State Grant funds as part of Senate Bill #447, but citizens complained about its proposed location, design, and cost. He says their only other location option ruffles feathers as well. "It's either, it would go in the corner of the parking lot, or we would clear more trees to put it on the existing 21 acres of treed space that we have, so you can't make everybody happy all the time. Our goal is to get community feedback, however, and look at all the options."
Scholl says the district plans to revisit the project after the Middle School upgrades are made, to see if enough is left from the four million dollar state grant funds to build it. The District is expecting the Middle School construction costs to be approximately $2.9 million dollars.


DA Pleased With Early Response To Pilot Pgm

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County launched the Goldilocks program in November, aimed at tailoring punishments for drug crimes. And, District Attorney John Hummel is pleased with the early response, "So, if you’re a low-level user; you’re not dealing, you’re just possessing drugs, you’re just hurting yourself and your family, we’re going to get you into medical treatment immediately, we’re not going to run you through the criminal justice system. But, if you’re dealing drugs to our community, and you’re doing it repeatedly over and over again, we’re going to get tougher on you. We’re going to seek the maximum prison sentence." A mid-range option takes a more traditional justice system approach. 


Hummel tells KBND News, "Two months in, we have 25 people in the treatment program." He says two others qualified for the strictest punishment level, "We’re tracking the results, so we have a long way to go." Hummel adds, "At the end of this pilot program, we’re going to look at the recidivism rates, and if we have significantly lower recidivism rates through the Goldilocks program than through traditional criminal justice, we’re going to keep doing it. And, if it doesn’t work, we’re going to scrap it and try something else, because I don’t have time to waste on a program that’s not working."


He admits the pilot program won't help everyone, "I will guarantee right now that people who go through the Goldilocks program will re-offend. I will also guarantee right now that people who go through the criminal justice system will re-offend. So, the question is, 'where is the re-offense rate lower?' I am saying that the re-offense rate will be lower for the people who go through the Goldilocks program." Hummel believes that by getting more addicts into treatment, the program will also reduce the number of other crimes, like theft. 


To hear our full conversation with D.A. John Hummel click HERE or visit our Podcast Page

Art Selection Underway For Sisters Roundabout

SISTERS, OR -- Sisters-area residents are encouraged to help select the artwork to be installed in the city's new roundabout. Three artists presented scale models of their proposals to Sisters and ODOT officials on Thursday.


Models of "Butte," by John Fleming of Seattle and Jeff Wester of Sisters; "A Land of Contrasts," by Danae Bennett Miller of Tumalo; and "Mountain Helix," by Roger White Stoller of Portola Valley, CA are all on display at Sisters City Hall, until February 16. The community is asked to view the options and provide feedback. The Art Selection Committee will then make a final recommendation to City Council at the end of the month, and Councilors will select the artist and design concept.


The winning piece of art will be installed in the middle of the roundabout at Highway 20 and Barclay Drive, likely by fall. City officials say the project is fully funded by a Federal Lands Access Program Grant (FLAP).


UPDATE (2/20/18): The Art Selection Committee is extending the period in which people can view the models. They will remain on display at Sisters' City Hall through February 28. The Coommittee is expected to then make its recommendation to City Council March 14, after which time Councilors will make a decision on the final design concept.


Photo: Kittelson & Associates

Southeast Intercept Project Nearly Done

BEND, OR -- Bend city officials are celebrating the completion of the Southeast Interceptor project, also known as the 27th Street Sewer Line. Project Manager Eric Forster says the final piece of pipe went in the ground Wednesday. "It’s actually a pretty big step for us." The 30-inch gravity sewer line conveys wastewater to the water reclamation facility northeast of Bend.

The project expands sewer capacity in several parts of the city, meaning more people will be able to connect to the system. "It allows us to decommission some pump stations but, an important part of that is, they were pumping to the Central Interceptor and now we’re shifting those flows to the eastside." In fact, with the new gravity sewer line, the city plans to decommission 24 energy-consuming sewer pump stations. Forster tells KBND News, "It opens up capacity in the central part of town for development. Also, being that this new pipe is of larger diameter, we’re able to open up development more so on the southeast and eastern side of town." He adds, "At the south end of town, there were a couple of spots where we were pretty much at capacity, so now we’re going to be able to open that back up. In addition to that, there are large areas where homes are on septic that now can be served by gravity sewer."


According to Forster, the total project - stretching from the Murphy/Parrell Road area to Moody Park - cost about $70 million, "It’s completing work that started in 2010. It was shelved for a couple years but then they picked it up again in 2014 and finished out the construction, as far as the pipe installation." That two-year pause in the project in 2012 was to allow for a re-analysis. After the project was deemed the most cost-effective fix to the city’s sewer capacity problem, work restarted in 2014, with Forster promising it would be up and running by January 2018. It became operational January 31. "We still have to finish up the road work; there’s going to be some paving and sidewalk and curb work that still needs to happen. But, that work on Neff, we’re hoping to get that buttoned up here, in the next month or so."

La Pine Man Blamed For Bend Construction Thefts

LA PINE, OR -- Bend Police believe they’ve found the man responsible for several recent construction site thefts. Detectives began looking into the thefts at various locations in early January. The items stolen ranged from power tools and hand tools, to utility trailers. They identified 46-year-old Jason Girod as a person of interest and obtained a search warrant for his home in La Pine. Girod was contacted this week during a traffic stop. 

Officers say during the stop, Wednesday morning, they found drugs in his pickup and stolen property inside the trailer that was in tow. They determined that trailer was legally owned by the suspect. Also in the pickup, police found over four grams of methamphetamine.
During the subsequent search of his property on Green Forest Road, investigators recovered over $15,000 in stolen tools, as well as two stolen utility trailers. Recovered property appears to have been from four different construction site thefts; one of which occurred in La Pine the night before the search. Detectives are working to match items with owners and incidents.
Girod faces numerous theft and drug charges. His passenger at the time of the stop - 47-year-old Steven Mock of Bend - is also charged with theft and meth possession. 

As C.O. Grows, So Do Road Rage Incidents

BEND, OR -- As Central Oregon continues to grow, there is more and more traffic on the roads.


Deschutes County Sheriff's Sergeant William Bailey says road rage incidents happen every day, and almost always, they're sparked by something minor. "Honestly, drivers make mistakes. I think everyone, throughout the day, can come up with an idea or a time of when they made a mistake driving. And that mistake, unfortunately, sometimes angers another driver, and it escalates to that point where someone is angry and they are behind the wheel of a motor vehicle and that type of behavior, it affects everyone on the road."
Bailey says just because another driver is angry with you, doesn't mean you need to respond in kind. "Avoid escalating the situation by retaliating with aggressive language or hand gestures, because that will only cause it to get worse." He also says the best thing to do is own your part. "It's always okay to apologize and say 'sorry.' A simple, polite wave and mouthing 'I'm sorry' to another driver, if you made a mistake, is a great way to try to diffuse the situation."
Other tips are to avoid anxiety by giving yourself plenty of time to reach your destination, keep distractions to a minimum, and pay extra attention to other drivers.
According to Bailey, road rage always takes two people, so the best thing to do is to keep from driving aggressively so you're not the instigator. "It is leaving a little bit early, give yourself some extra time so you aren't feeling the stress of arriving at a destination late. Understand other people make mistakes, and don't take it personally. If none of these things works, trying to diffuse the situation, we would encourage you to call 911. Let us come out and try to intervene. Particularly in a situation where a firearm is involved. We absolutely need to be involved in that to ensure public safety."
If you're being threatened, and a simple apology won't diffuse the situation, Bailey suggests pulling over into a well-lighted area where there are other people and waiting for law enforcement.


Science Will Take Sisters High Students to Belgium

SISTERS, OR -- Ethan Ferwalt, Ashonte Hull, and Amy Hills have been selected from applicants all over the world to represent Sisters High School at the Asgard Project, a science competition in Brussels, Belgium.


Their chemistry teacher, Rima Givot, says the three are all excellent students, and she's not surprised their project impressed the prestigious committee. "The students had an opportunity to put together an experiment to send up in a near-space weather balloon to physically test something that they find interesting and would also contribute to the better knowledge of what we don't know yet."
Applications were submitted from students all over the world and Givot says Ferwalt, Hull and Hills' was the only one chosen from the United States.
Givot says The Asgard Project accepted 20 different schools to invite to Belgium where the students will send their near-space experiments up in an atmospheric balloon and that this has been quite a learning process for her students. "They originally had to submit the proposal and once they were selected, now they're in the process of actually designing their experiment and testing it. At this point, they've come up with a prototype. Every month, they have to submit a report to the project in Belgium, and then, they'll go towards the end of April to actually send it up in the balloon with the other students."
Ferwalt and Hull are Seniors and Hills is a junior at SHS. Their project studies the effects of a near-space atmosphere on electronics. 


Light Fixture Failure Leads To Fire Problem

BEND, OR -- An electrical failure led to a fire problem at a downtown Bend consignment shop, Thursday morning. Firefighters responded to the building near Greenwood and Harriman, just after 11 a.m.


Crews say a fluorescent light fixture in a bathroom failed and burned, causing smoke to fill the building. They used fans to blow out the smoke and the business was able to remain open.  

Sick Vacationers May Contribute To Flu's Spread

BEND, OR -- More than 35 children have died from flu-related complications in the U.S., in the past couple months, and the Centers For Disease Control reports the flu is now widespread in every state but Hawaii. Health experts urge people with symptoms to stay home, but that can be a difficult request for a patient with travel plans. 


KBND medical expert Dr. Eric Wattenburg knew it would be a bad flu season, given the timing of the first positive cases, "It is rampant here. In our urgent care clinic, we started seeing the flu in early December - We had positive flu A and B tests in early December. This one hitting right before Christmas, it was just a bad omen because we knew that everyone was going to travel over the Christmas holiday and spread this thing. And, what happened? We saw a nationwide, if not worldwide, explosion of the flu and now the kids are taking it back to school."
He says he’s seen dozens of patients with symptoms over the past few months who also have plane tickets or hotel reservations. "They are very disappointed. The best that I can do is treat the symptoms, treat with medications if necessary or indicated, and I can give a note – and I’ve done this many, many times. I have written a very simple note that says: ‘Patient has the flu. She should not fly and she should not travel until she is better'." He admits it's a long-shot effort to get non-refundable tickets changed. And, he says, many don’t heed his advice and travel anyway, which he believes is contributing to the spread of the flu. "You hear tell of people already afraid to fly on an airline when they’re healthy, because they don’t want to pick up whatever one or two people on the airline might have. We all know, at least anecdotally, if you put one or two ill people in a confined space, many other people will become ill."
AAA-Oregon's Marie Dodds says airlines and hotels often impose change fees to move reservations but some will accommodate requests. She recommends calling and pleading your case by phone. Dodds also urges travelers get travel insurance, which covers illness. She says it can often be purchased as late as 24 hour prior to departure. 
There’s no way to know how many people have contracted the flu from an out-of-town visitor. Dr. Wattenburg says if you’re sick and can postpone travel plans, you should do so. If you must travel, he suggests wearing a mask and washing your hands often. 

Rep. Walden Describes Deadly Train Crash

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA -- An Amtrak train carrying Republican members of Congress, their families and staffers to a retreat in West Virginia crashed into a garbage truck, Wednesday. Oregon Congressman Greg Walden was on board with his wife.


Hours after the incident, Walden described the scene to KBND host Lars Larson, "I looked out the window and saw enormous amounts of bags of garbage strewn along a grassy area between the train tracks and a nearby local road. And, then you could see the twisted metal of the rear-end of the garbage truck separated from the cab and truck part of the truck, if you will."


He says the train came to an abrupt stop, "We had a couple members who got thrown into seats or tables and, just out of an abundance of caution, were taken to the hospital for observation for head and neck injuries; but, we were very, very lucky. All the cars except the front engine stayed on the track; and the front engine, unless you were close to it, you wouldn’t know it had derailed. It was still upright and connected."  Following the crash, he says everyone pitched in to help, "We’ve got about a dozen, 10 or 12 members of Congress who are also physicians or have medical training; they immediately rushed for the doors and as soon as we could get them released and opened, they ran down to try and give life-saving first aid to the garbage truck guys." One person in the truck was killed and two others were seriously wounded. No lawmakers reported any serious injuries. "It shakes you up; it jars you. You realize the fragility of life. I mean, these guys were just doing their job and I don’t know what happened, but it didn’t end well."
The NTSB is now investigating. After the crash, lawmakers boarded buses and continued to their retreat in West Virginia. 
Photo: Allison Wrabel/ The Daily Progress

Secondary Runway Reconstruction Planned at RDM

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Airport officials say reconstruction of the secondary runway will begin February 26. The terminal and primary runway will remain open during the project, allowing commercial air service to continue.


Airport Director Zach Bass said in a statement, "Due to the cross-section work completed as part of our 2016 primary runway reconstruction project, we will not have to close the airport to work on secondary runway 11-29." He adds, "We are focused on improving our infrastructure with minimal disruption to the 800,000+ air passengers we serve annually, US Forest Service operations, hangar tenants and local business that call RDM home."


Nearly all of the funding for the $10 million project is from a grant from the FAA; the remainder will be paid for through airport funds. Click HERE for more information. Bass expects runway 11-29 will reopen by October fourth. 

Sheriff Fires Former Political Opponent

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Deputy who ran against Sheriff Shane Nelson in 2016 was fired Wednesday. Sheriff Shane Nelson tells KBND News, "I terminated Eric Kozowski’s employment with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office based on internal investigations, which concluded that conduct by Mr. Kozowski violated Sheriff’s Office policies."


Nelson refused to release details of the investigation, saying, "Mr. Kozowski has a right to due process and I will release additional information from the investigation after the separation process is complete." Kozowski had been on paid administrative leave since September. At that time Nelson said there were several investigations into the Deputy’s actions, stemming from citizen complaints. On Wednesday, the Sheriff said, "I expect members of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office to adhere to the mission and values of this office. We’ve had a number of people in the past who have degraded the people’s trust. I don’t want those people working here. I’m committed to the highest level of standards and professionalism within this office."
Also Wednesday, the agency announced the conclusion of an Internal Affairs investigation into Sgt. Mike Molan. Captain Michael Shults says personnel action will be taken against the Corrections Sergeant. "Our whole goal is to provide him additional training and increase supervision. And, with that, we want to make sure we ensure his future to be the best possible supervisor he can be." Capt. Shults adds, "And, with that is our hope that, with this personnel action that we ensure future success – not only for him but for how he treats our staff and the citizens within Deschutes County." Molan was placed on leave around the same time Sgt. Paul Navarro was fired for violating policy. The disciplinary actions involving both sergeants contributed to ongoing staffing struggles at the Deschutes County Jail. Sheriff Nelson says the department has filled nearly all its recently created openings. 


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