Local News Archives for 2018-05

Deschutes Co. Budget Committee Meets This Week

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County's Budget Committee has about $456 million to work with for the next fiscal year, $204 million of that in the operating budget. The committee is meeting this week to work through a proposed budget; they're expected to vote on it, Friday.


County Administrator Tom Anderson says there's one big new item in the budget, "We have a new initiative that we're talking through this week, regarding a Crisis Stabilization Center. It's a partnership between the health department and the Sheriff's Office, for a place where individuals undergoing a mental health crisis can be taken en lieu of the Emergency Room at the hospital or the jail." They're also looking at capital projects made possible by the state transportation package and infrastructure improvements already in the county's five-year plan. 


Anderson tells KBND News revenue is high, which means more ideas can be pursued, As people come here, new properties develop, the overall valuation of properties in the county has increased. So, despite a reduction in the tax rate last year, property taxes, nevertheless, are on the increase, just due to the increase in valuation - both on existing and new projects going on in the county."


He says the budget holds the line, with no major increases or deficits, "We're in a healthy position right now, so we're not in a situation where we having to rob Peter to pay Paul in terms of balancing the budget. Really, it's a matter of how much can we afford to pay for the increases? How much can we strategically put into reserves for future burdens, balanced against what we believe is the appropriate property tax rate to charge to the citizens?"


This week's budget meetings are open to the public, however outside comment will not be accepted until the public hearing, scheduled for June 18. Once it's finalized, it will take effect July first.  

BPD Focuses On Distracted Driving Thursday

BEND, OR -- Bend Police will conduct concentrated distracted driving enforcement in two areas, Thursday. Between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., officers will focus traffic patrols on SE 9th and Wilson and SW Simpson and Columbia.


In Oregon, driving while using a mobile device is illegal; that includes holding a phone in your hand, even on speaker phone. Drivers 18 and older are allowed to talk on a cell phone using a hands-free device. 


A first-time offense could lead to a $265 ticket. 


UPDATE: During Thursday's three-hour Distracted Driving Enforcement operation, Bend Police made 73 stops, mostly for drivers using their cell phones. Of those, 36 were issued a citation for driving while using their cell phone, five were issued citations for other violations. Another 11 were issued warnings for cell phone use and five more were issued warnings for other violations. Nine officers were involved in the detail. 

HD 53 GOP Race Recount Possible

BEND, OR -- The May Primary was more than two weeks ago, but the Deschutes County Clerk's office is still counting ballots. The winner of the Republican nomination for Oregon's House District 53 remains undetermined. On May 15, Redmond realtor Jack Zika had a scant 11-vote lead over political activist Ben Schimmoller. 


County Clerk Nancy Blankenship says an observed count of challenged or late ballots will take place Thursday and Friday, including ballots delivered from other counties and write-in votes. But, Blankenship tells KBND News, that's not the end of the process, "We must certify the election first. If the number of votes is still within the percent for a recount, we'll do an automatic recount." That certification is expected by Monday.
Blankenship says they'll then look at the total number of ballots cast, "You take the number of votes for each candidate, and then whatever 1/5 of 1% is, anything less than that would be in the range for a recount, so it depends on how many more votes they receive and if it changes those percentages."
The Republican winner will take take on Democrat Eileen Kiely in November, to take over the State House seat currently held by retiring Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver). 

Advocates Work To Help Displaced Transients

REDMOND, OR -- With pre-eviction notices now in place near a large homeless camp east of Redmond, a group of advocates met Wednesday to discuss how to help the transients who remain. Central Oregon Veterans Outreach Executive Director JW Terry has spent a lot of time in the camp and says some live in squalor while others keep a pristine camp. And each have their own reason for living there, "A lot of them would accept the help but they still have high barriers - whether it's the mental challenge or the addiction challenge, or whatever." 


Despite some official estimates that say 30-40 people are living on the property owned by the Central Oregon Irrigation District (COID) and the Redmond School District, Terry believes that number is really over 100. The county's notices say anyone left after June fourth could be subject to law enforcement action. Police Chief Dave Tarbet says evicting such a large area has never been done before in Redmond, "We've had camps on private property elsewhere in the city that we've had to ask people to move but we just simply tell them they're trespassing and they need to move, and they do." 


Matt Searfus, with the Homeless Leadership Coalition, says the property owners have been more than patient, given the trash, vandalism and illegal activity that's taken place in recent years. "Anybody who owns land and has someone staying on it illegally reaches a point where they would say 'I've done all I can, it's time for someone else to deal with this'." But, he tells KBND News without a plan in place prior to the eviction the problem will simply shift. "I think that's historically what happens. If you move them off one piece of property, they'll go to another. They'll just keep on moving. And, then eventually along the way, there are some who will accept services - some will realized this is not the life they want to be living; that's what we hope for. But, we're going to see people who are just going to disappear again."

At Wednesday's meeting, representatives from agencies like the Shepherd's House and Jericho Road agreed the best short-term solution is to create a temporary shelter or emergency evacuation center. Searfus says they hope the property owners will give them a little more time, "While we look for a facility for temporary staging, for those who are being forced off who would like help, to try and figure out what's next for them." He admits there's no perfect solution and even a temporary shelter could be problematic, "Who hosts it? Who has the ability to say 'use our facility for this purpose for this time'?" He says the long-term goal is to create a homeless shelter in Redmond. Currently, various Redmond churches host a cold-weather overnight shelter in the winter. 
If an extension isn't granted, JW Terry plans to have COVO volunteers standing by in the area on Tuesday when the trespassing order takes effect, to help anyone they can, "I have my fingers crossed I'm taking worst case scenario. I don't want to see anyone hurt in it." Searfus points out the camp is a symptom of bigger issues with housing and mental health, "It's not a new camp; it's not unique to Redmond or Deschutes County. It's a nationwide problem, becoming more of a worldwide problem."

Body Positively Identified As Missing Woman

BEND, OR -- The Oregon State Medical Examiner Monday determined that the body discovered last weekend by a hiker, east of Bend, is 24-year-old Sara Gomez. The cause of death is still under investigation.


Gomez disappeared in February and was believed to have been murdered by her ex-boyfriend. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel believes Bryan Penner killed Gomez in his Bend apartment because she broke up with him, then wrapped the body in a tarp and took her to the remote location off Highway 20, where she was found more than three months later. 
Hummel issued the following statement Monday afternoon:

“Sara Gomez was a strong, smart, and beloved member of our community. In the final months of her life she found peace as she had finally broken free of the abusive relationship she was in with Bryan Penner.  Unfortunately, Penner did not accept this.  Penner killed Sara because if he could not have her no one would.  After killing Sara in his apartment he bound her body and transported her to her final resting spot off of HW 20 approximately 20 miles east of Bend.  Thank you to our local law enforcement officers who worked tirelessly in an effort to find Sara alive, and then to hold Penner accountable, and then to search for her body.  Sara is now home with her family.  We wish them well as they continue to grieve her passing.”


State Emergency Alert Worries Many


SALEM, OR -- An emergency alert sent out Tuesday night, intended to warn Salem residents of a drinking water problem, was inadvertently sent to much of the state. The 8:50 p.m. alert read “Civil Emergency in this area until 11:28 p.m. Prepare for Action.” 


Agencies from the coast to the High Desert took to Twitter to reassure people there was no threat. At 9:02 p.m., the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office tweeted, “there is no civil emergency in Deschutes County … Please do not call 911.” Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management said there was a technical error in the drinking water alert that caused the “civil emergency” verbiage.


USFS Closes Area To Target Shooting

SISTERS, OR -- A popular target shooting area on the Sisters Ranger District is closed to shooting, effective immediately. Jean Nelson Dean, with the Deschutes National Forest, says they received over a hundred complaints last year, involving shooting in the McKenzie Storage area, "It’s within 165 yards of a recreational trail and it’s also near the Crossroads Subdivision. We’ve tried to make it a safe location, because it is popular, but it really isn’t adequate."


She says there’s no back-stop and there are safety concerns, "Based on reviews by our law enforcement and Deschutes County Sheriff’s Department, we’ve determined that we do need to close it so we don’t have any kind of stray bullet hitting a member of the public." Nelson Dean tells KBND News the shooting prohibition is temporary, for now. "There are several other locations, as well as the National Forest land that people can shoot on, as long as they’re doing it in a safe manner - and that’s what was not happening here. The Sisters District Ranger is going to enter into a community conversation around developing maybe a safer location nearby that people could shoot."

Evictions To Begin At Redmond-Area Transient Camp

REDMOND, OR -- Central Oregon’s Homeless Leadership Coalition is working to organize resources for transients soon to be displaced by evictions of a homeless camp east of Redmond. The property is owned by the Central Oregon Irrigation District (COID) and Redmond School District. Last year, the two agencies worked with Deschutes County to close access roads into the area east of NE 9th Street, in an effort to curb illegal camping, shooting, dumping and other activities.


But, COID says many camps remain, and some are growing again. There have been multiple fires in recent months as well as damage to property. Pre-eviction notices are now posted, warning formal action begins Monday.  
The Homeless Leadership coalition meets Wednesday at the Redmond Library to gather community partners and agencies to collaborate available resources to "best meet the needs of the individuals that are remaining at the camps in Redmond." They hope the community can provide support before campers need to vacate the land. That meeting begins at 10 a.m.
File Photo

Warm Springs Woman Sentenced For 2016 Shooting

PORTLAND, OR -- A Warm Springs woman was sentenced Tuesday to 13 years in federal prison for shooting two family members in March 2016. According to court documents, 26-year-old Rhyan Smith returned to a house she’d periodically lived in with five family members, retrieved a pistol she’d taken without permission from the owner, then stood in a bedroom doorway and shot a relative five times. A second victim was shot several times when she heard the gunshots and tried to stop Smith.


Woman To Be Charged With Double Shooting


Police found Smith hiding near the house with an AR-15 rifle; investigators later found a camouflage rifle bag with multiple AR-15 magazines, loose ammunition and a 9mm pistol in a vehicle at the house. She pleaded guilty in February to two counts of assault with the intent to commit murder, along with a weapons charge.

Driver Rescued From Canal North Of Redmond

REDMOND, OR -- A driver was rescued from a canal north of Redmond, early Tuesday morning, after her vehicle crashed through a guardrail on Highway 97. According to Redmond Fire and Rescue, the car plummeted 20 feet into a fast-moving Central Oregon Irrigation District (COID) canal just after 5 a.m. She reportedly lost control while trying to avoid a hitting a deer.


When fire crews arrived, they found the vehicle partially submerged. They were able to get her out of the car and she was transported to St. Charles Redmond by ambulance. The southbound lanes of Highway 97 were closed for a short time to allow for the rescue operation. 



Documents Released On Deputy's Firing

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office has released documents related to the firing of former deputy Eric Kozowski, who challenged Sheriff Shane Nelson in the 2016 election. According to the outside investigators hired in mid-2016 to look into complaints involving Kozowski, he failed to follow Sheriff's Office policy on a number of occasions.


Dep. Kozowski was put on leave in September; he was fired in late January. Shortly thereafter, he filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Sheriff Nelson, claiming wrongful termination and retaliation. The Sheriff would not comment due to that pending litigation, but Captain Deron McMaster says the documents speak for themselves, "None of these allegations did any of the command staff go looking for. They’re all complaints that came into the Sheriff’s office or to the command staff ‘cold'." Capt. McMaster tells KBND News employees are not fired for running for office, but they are let go for not following policy, "One of the things that we here at the Sheriff’s Office are very big on is adherence to our mission and values. And, when we discover somebody who is not in alignment with our values and who does not follow our policy and procedures, then we’re going to take action and deal with it." He adds, "Those investigations were farmed out to independent investigators that were outside our own agency. I’m not able to go into anything about the politics of the situation."


During the internal investigation into the allegations, investigators found about half a dozen had merit, including not arresting a man with an outstanding warrant, failing to properly investigate a possible Measure 11 crime involving a juvenile victim and neglecting to follow up on a theft report. One allegation stems from a 2010 call for service, but the citizen didn’t come forward until he realized Kozowski was running for office. One complaint was "closed with exception." Allegations that Kozowski was not fully honest during a campaign debate with the Sheriff, and claimed he was misquoted by KBND News may have violated professional standards, but that investigation ended when Kozowski lost the election. 

Capt. McMaster says of DCSO employees, "What we ask of them is that they give us a good day’s work for a good day’s pay; they serve with passion, they come to work and go the extra mile, and they do everything they can to serve our community."

ATV Crash Seriously Injures Prineville Man

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A 53-year-old man was hurt in an ATV crash, about 12 miles southeast of Prineville, Saturday evening.  According to the Crook County Sheriff’s Office, 53-year-old Robert Smith rode the four-wheeler from private property on to Prairie Schooner Road without a helmet or protective gear. He accelerated quickly, lost control and was ejected from.


Medics took Smith to the Prineville hospital with a serious head injury; he was immediately transferred from the ambulance to a helicopter and flown to St. Charles Bend.
The crash is under investigation but the Sheriff’s office believes speed and alcohol were contributing factors. 

One Injured In Paraglider Crash

BEND, OR -- A Reno, Nevada man was hurt while making an emergency landing with a paraglider, on Pine Mountain, Sunday afternoon. The 34-year-old launched from the west side of the mountain but got caught in unpredictable winds; he was forced to land the glider outside of the designated landing zone on the east side of Pine Mountain.


Michael Lee was piloting a non-motorized paraglider similar in shape to a parachute. He was taken to St. Charles Bend for observation.


Prineville Standoff Leads To Arrest

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man is accused of violating a restraining order and holding a woman against her will, leading to a weekend stand-off at a Prineville home. 


Just before 1 a.m. Saturday, multiple agencies, including the Central Oregon Emergency Response Team (CERT) responded to SE Second Street. The woman reported Thomas "Tommy" Hays may have a firearm, which led Prineville Police to evacuate adjacent neighbors during the incident.
About four hours later, the woman came out of the house unharmed. Two hours after that, CERT found Hays inside a vehicle parked in the garage. Because he was unresponsive to orders to come out of the vehicle, police broke a window to pull the 36-year-old out and arrest him.
A restraining order barred Hays from having contact with the victim. Hays is charged with Violation of a Restraining Order, Interfering with a Peace Officer, Disorderly Conduct, Possession of Oxycodone and Possession of a Schedule IV Controlled Substance. 

Body Found Believed To Be Missing Bend Woman

BEND, OR -- Human remains found by a hiker east of Bend, Friday afternoon, are believed to be those of Sara Gomez. The 24-year-old Bend woman disappeared in February and authorities believe she was killed by her ex-boyfriend who committed suicide while in law enforcement custody.


A hiker called 911 at about 7:50 a.m. Saturday, to report what he'd found wrapped in a tarp while hiking Friday, about 21 miles east of Bend. A Sheriff's Sergeant responded to the area and confirmed the remains were human. Detectives from the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office and Bend Police began a joint investigation, along with the county and state Medical Examiners, State Police Forensic Lab and Deschutes County District's Attorney's office. 


In a statement, Sheriff Shane Nelson said, "Bend Police Chief Jim Porter, D.A. John Hummel and I believe that this is the body of Sara Gomez, but it will take the conclusion of the Medical Examiner's investigation to confirm the identity of the human remains." He added, "Our thoughts and prayers have been with Ms. Gomez's family since her disappearance and if the remains are determined to be her, our hope is it will bring her family some closure."

Madras Man Arrested In Crook Co. After Chase

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A 22-year-old Madras man faces numerous charges following pursuit spanning two counties. Crook County deputies were notified Friday afternoon that Jefferson County deputies had been chasing a red Ford F150 on Highway 26. The pursuit was terminated near mile post 13, as they traveled toward Crook County.


CCSO deputies responded and found the pickup abandoned on NW Gerke Road near NW Ryegrass Road, about eight miles northwest of Prineville. Oregon State Police, JCSO, CCSO and Prineville Police began searching the area for the driver, later identified as 22-year-old Jose Gonzalez Parra. 


Gonzalez was located south of the truck on the side of the hill. He allegedly attempted to hide in tree cover when members of the search team found and arrested him. He was transported to the Jefferson County Jail on multiple charges, including Attempt to Elude and Reckless Driving.

Mt. Bachelor Hosts Season Finale Weekend

BEND, OR --For the first time ever, Mt. Bachelor will offer skiing, snowboarding and mount biking on the same day. Drew Jackson tells KBND News, "We're calling it our Board, Bike, & Brew Festival. And, it's allowing us, for the first time during this closing weekend, to combine some of the loves that many Central Oregonians have - skiing, snowboarding, and biking."


"To celebrate this pretty unique experience of skiing, snowboarding, and biking on the same day, we're going to give out free t-shirts that commemorate the event to the first 500 people who stop by our little booth at the base of the chair lift, and get a stamp for participating in each activity." Jackson says guests can do all three activities, or not, "So, anyone who comes up here and has a valid lift ticket or season pass for skiing or snowboarding is also eligible to get a free ticket for the chair lift that's going to serve mountain biking. And for those who just want to come up and bike, because maybe they don't ski or snowboard, we'll sell a $19 ticket for just biking."


The Board, Bike, and Brew Festival will also feature live concerts, a stein hoisting competition, the North American Pond Skimming Championships and a Yeti Breakfast. It kicks off Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

Missing Bend Woman Found Alive

BEND, OR -- The 49-year-old Bend woman reported missing earlier this week was found safe at about 4 p.m., Thrusday, east of Tumalo. "A resident living on Glacier View Drive called in after locating Ms. Garcia in their garage," Deschutes County Sheriff Sgt. William Bailey says they believe Dawn Garcia showed shortly before she was found, "She’d not been there three hours earlier – the last time the garage was visited."


Garcia walked away from her Hunnell Road home Tuesday night without her shoes, glasses, wallet or phone, prompting a large search effort. Sgt. Bailey says, "We’re incredibly thankful for all the community members who, not only shared on social media, but reached out and helped support the search for her. We’re very thankful she’s been found alive."
Sgt. Bailey wouldn't release details of her current condition, but tells KBND News, "Ms. Garcia was contacted by Deputies and then evaluated by medics on the scene."

Pilot Butte Fireworks Show In Jeopardy

BEND, OR -- Independence Day is a popular holiday in Bend. But, the big professional fireworks display at Pilot Butte is in jeopardy.


Bend Fire's Deputy Chief and Fire Marshall Larry Medina tells KBND News, "The fireworks on the Butte has been traditionally sponsored by the Bend Bulletin and they gave notice that they were going to pull out as far as sponsorship. So right now, we have no application that's been submitted; there's a lot of discussion that's come my way, as far as other community members and businesses that are interested in funding or providing the financial support for the show." But, he says, so far, a new sponsor has not been solidified. The Bulletin has not returned our calls for comment. 


Medina is optimistic a new sponsor or private funding will materialize, "Bend has a well over 100-year tradition - not with the fireworks specifically - but as far as community events, if you look through some of the archives. And, Bend is a great community that rallies. A lot of people are giving and supportive, so we're just looking for that momentum to be created." He trusts that once people know the fireworks show needs funding in order to continue, residents will make it happen.

Busy Weekend Ahead For RDM Airport

REDMOND, OR -- Those traveling through the Redmond Airport, this holiday weekend, could experience longer wait times at the TSA checkpoint, as well as limited parking availability. Memorial Day Weekend is traditionally thought of as the start of the summer travel season, and AAA-Oregon expects a record number of travelers will hit the roads and skies, this weekend. 


Roberts Field officials encourage passengers to use alternate forms of transportation, in lieu of parking in the on-site lot. For those needing to park at the airport, the updated FlyRDM.com website includes a feature that monitors the number of empty parking spaces, updated every 30 minutes.


Click HERE to view Airport Parking Lot Cams.


Passengers are also asked to arrive a full two hours ahead of their flight's departure time, to ensure enough time to get through security. Increased volumes are expected to last through the summer. 

Health Advisory Issued For Detroit Lake

SALEM, OR -- The Oregon Health Authority has issued a health advisory for Detroit Lake, southeast of Salem, ahead of Memorial Day weekend. Water monitoring confirmed the presence of blue-green algae and the toxins they produce, which can be harmful to humans and animals.


People are encouraged to avoid swallowing lake water while swimming, or inhaling droplets during water skiing or power-boating. Officials warn campers and other visitors the toxins can’t be removed by boiling, filtering or treating the water with camping-style filters.
The advisory will be lifted once the concern is over. Click HERE for a list of algae bloom water advisories in Oregon. 

Fire Destroys Two Redmond Apartment Units

REDMOND, OR -- Fire destroyed two units at the Chaparral Apartments, in Redmond, Wednesday. Firefighters say it began just before 2 p.m. in a first floor apartment, but quickly spread to the second story and attic. 


The 12 apartments in the building on Rimrock Ave. were evacuated by tenants, staff and law enforcement; a dozen people were relocated across the street to Redmond High while fire crews extinguished the blaze. Two people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. 
The fire left about $500,000 in damage, contained primarily to the first and second floor units. Its cause is under investigation.

DCSO Searches For Missing Bend Woman

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office is asking for the public's help locating a Bend woman who hasn't been seen since Tuesday night. Officials say 49-year-old Dawn Garcia left her home on Hunnell Road at 9 p.m. on foot. She was barefoot, and without her phone, wallet or glasses. 


Garcia is white, 5'02" tall and 110 pounds. She was last seen wearing a white tank top, purple tie-dyed shirt and white pants. Anyone with information on her whereabouts, or who has seen her since 9 p.m. Tuesday, is asked to call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911. 


WEDNESDAY P.M. UPDATE: (May 23, 2018) A possible sighting was reported late Wednesday. DCSO says Garcia may have been seen near Deschutes Junction after 11 Tuesday night, although they have not confirmed it was her. Investigators ask property owners between Old Bend-Redmond Highway and Highway 97, both north and south of Tumalo Road, to search their property, including out-buildings.


THURSDAY A.M. UPDATE: (May 24, 2018) The Sheriff's Office has released two additional photos of Garcia to aid in the search effort. Thursday morning, they expanded the search area to include areas east of Highway 97 at the Tumalo Road overpass (Deschutes Junction), along with the Boonesborough Subdivision and BLM land north and east of Morrill Road. Over a thousand residents in the search area were notified through the Deschutes Alert System (DAS), and asked to search their own properties. DAS is used to notify the public during emergency situations, including natural disasters. 

Investigators are also asking that anyone who had contact with Garcia after 9 p.m. Tuesday contact DCSO through non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911. 



New Pgm Aims To Improve Health With Fresh Foods

BEND, OR -- A new partnership between High Desert Food and Farm Alliance and Bend-based health clinics is designed to get more local fruits and vegetables in the hands of Central Oregonians who need them most. Each week for eight weeks, participants in the "Veggie Rx" program receive a $20 voucher for Bend’s Farmers Market, then they shop with Registered Dietitian Hanna Brzozowski. She tells KBND News, "They come to the market and they receive their vouchers, and they also get assistance walking through the market and trying to figure out, ‘Okay, what should I try this week?’ or ‘How do I stretch that voucher to be the most food I can or the most nourishing food I can?’ And then, maybe trying a different vegetable or a different fruit. They can ask me questions about their own health and nutrition, beyond just eating more fruits and vegetables."


Government assistance programs, like SNAP and WIC, already allow vouchers to be used at farmers markets. But, Brzozowski says, qualifications for this program are based on health, not income, "They have to have a diet-modifiable disease, such as cardio-vascular disease or Type-II Diabetes. And then, they’re also prescribed this program from a healthcare provider." She adds, "This partnership is aiming to bridge the gap between our healthcare system, our community and our farmers."
Brzozowski is also the Community Health worker for Veggie Rx. She says the goal is to show participants how their health can improve with more fresh fruits and vegetables instead of frozen or canned, "It’s much higher in micro-nutrient content – the minerals and vitamins in it. We really want people to kind of discover fruits and vegetables and have them taste good, and also have them nourish themselves. So, we want people to be able to say, ‘how do I make an eggplant and enjoy this?’ and, ‘what’s the benefit of eating an eggplant?’"
The first group will start the eight-week pilot program in about two weeks, with more starting on a rolling basis through September. She's hopeful the pilot program will eventually expand to other Central Oregon communities. To get involved as a provider or volunteer, call Brzozowski at 541-610-6046. Veggie Rx is inspired by and adapted from similar programs from the La Pine Community Health Clinic and Gorge Grown Food Network. Click HERE for more information. 

Doctors Back Proposal To Shift School Start Times

BEND, OR -- A proposal to shift start times for Bend-La Pine Schools got a boost, this week, when St. Charles Health System voted to formally endorse the idea. Dr. David Dedrick, Director of the Sleep Center, says fighting teen circadian biology leads to decreased school performance and attendance, an increase in car accidents, and even changes in mental health, "When we're sleep deprived, it's hard for any of us to have good control of our mood, our depression, anxiety, our impulses."


Dr. Dedrick tells KBND News, "Teenagers just have a different sleep schedule. They're not being lazy, they're not doing anything wrong, they're not being defiant; their internal biologic rhythm shifts as they go through adolescence, and with that shift, they tend to stay up later and they tend to sleep in later." He's heard the arguments that getting up early prepares kids for the real world as an adult, but says times have changed, "Historically, where this comes from is teenagers needed to be up and doing things on the farm, earlier, largely for labor." But, he admits, "We do need to have a schedule and mindfulness about how all of the shifting does change the schedule and the other facets of the teenagers' life and family life that it's going to impact."


He supports the proposal to start high school classes later in exchange for elementary students starting earlier because, he says, the science supports it, "If you do allow teenagers to sleep and go to school at a time that is more natural for their internal biological clock, or circadian rhythm, things are better. And, one of the facets is the improvement and gains they can have in their emotional health." He adds, "A schedule where our teenagers are allowed to sleep at the times they would want to naturally sleep, and then be alert and learning at the times they are naturally learning, things will be better for them. And that's well supported in the literature."

The school district is taking feedback on the proposal through May 31. To take part in the public survey, click HERE

RHS Again Seeks New Principal

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond High has had five Principals since 2010, none lasting longer than two years. Paul Nolan was promoted from Assistant Principal in 2016, replacing Tony Pupo who took a job at the district office; Nolan resigned earlier this month.


Redmond Superintendent Mike McIntosh tells KBND News, "There’s been, it seems like, a revolving door. And I want to just say publicly and formally that we can victimize ourselves and say, ‘oh poor me, we have to go through this again.’ Or, we can take an opportunity, as Redmond High School is doing right now, in supporting the class of 2018. They graduate in two weeks and they deserve our best and our only attention. And so, they've [staff have] stepped up."


With Nolan's resignation so close to the end of the school year, McIntosh admits it leaves a tight timeframe to choose a replacement before summer, "The process to replace Principal Nolan is underway. We want to include staff and students in the process, so to get them we have to get it all done before June 14. We believe there will be on-site interviews as early as next week." He says he wants everyone at the school involved in selecting the next principal in an effort to find someone with longevity. "What Redmond has the opportunity to do today – there’s been a survey that the staff has filled out, to help shape what they want. They’re going to define using words like ‘caring,’ ‘passionate,’ ‘compassionate.’ I think that’s the right approach. We’re going to create the condition, then we’re going to find the person that matches it."


Prior to Nolan, Pupo served as RHS principal from 2014-2016, until he was tapped to become the district's Director of Support Services. He replaced Nicole MacTavish when she left for a job in Idaho; she was also Principal just two years. Prior to MacTavish, Lee Loving had the job for one year, as he awaited the opening of Ridgeview High. He took over in October 2011, when Brian Lemos was fired after a year on the job. 

Fire Crews Prevent Spread of Bend Brush Fire

BEND, OR -- Bend Fire is investigating a brush fire near downtown that put at least one nearby building at risk; officials say it was likely human caused. Flames were spotted on a rock ledge above NW Wall, just south of Revere, at about 4 p.m. Tuesday. Fire crews stopped the blaze before it could reach a storage facility 10 feet away, holding the fire at about 1,000-square feet.


Tuesday night, firefighters caught a blaze before it destroyed a home in Deschutes River Woods. Crews responded to Navajo Road, just after 9 p.m., after a neighbor called 911 and reported smoke alarms were sounding inside the two-story house. Arriving crews found combustible material placed on the stove was responsible for the small blaze, which caused about $5,250 in damage. 

Local Jobless Numbers Hold Steady

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon jobless rates are largely unchanged, in April. Job growth continues to slow in the region, but unemployment levels remain at or near historic lows.


Deschutes County's rate held steady at 4.2% and added 660 jobs, which is significantly fewer than typically expected this time of year. Jefferson County only added 90 jobs in April, where the unemployment rate remained at 5.5%.
In Crook County, there was a small drop in the rate, from 6% in March, to 5.8% last month. The county added 140 jobs, and the Employment Department says growth was stronger than expected, led by Leisure & Hospitality, and Construction hiring. 

Rx Burn Planned For Near High Desert Museum

BEND, OR -- Fire managers plan to conduct a large prescribed burn near the High Desert Museum, Wednesday, if conditions allow. The museum will open late, at noon, to accommodate the operation. Three units are scheduled for ignitions, including 74 acres of museum property and 121 acres of National Forestland adjacent to the museum. 


Instead of regular daily programs, museum educators will offer hourly escorted interpretive walks so visitors can see the burn, starting at 1 p.m. The project is a joint operation between the Deschutes National forest and High Desert Museum, to reintroduce fire to an area that hasn't experienced a wildfire in more than a hundred years. 

Suspect Connected To Hospital Lockout Found

BEND, OR -- The subject at the center of Monday’s lock-out at St. Charles Bend has been identified as Grant Schlicker – the man arrested Saturday after a brief foot chase in northeast Bend. He was charged then with being a felon in possession of a firearm, and violating a restraining order. 


Police believe he was involved in more criminal activity after posting bail and began searching for him again, Monday. Schlicker reportedly told friends he would hurt any law enforcement that tried to contact him. One of those calls originated from a phone associated with St. Charles-Bend, prompting the hospital lock-out. 
Tuesday morning, Detectives tracked Schlicker to Skull Hollow Campground in Jefferson County. Medics were dispatched to the area at about 11:40 a.m., following a report that a "suspect" had a stab wound to the neck. Bend Police say they found Schlicker in his car at the campground; when they attempted to contact him, Schlicker began to hurt himself. He was flown by Airlife to St. Charles Bend with life threatening injuries. There is no word on his current condition. 

One Hurt In Crash Northeast of Redmond

REDMOND, OR -- One person was hurt in a Tuesday morning crash on the outskirts of Redmond. Emergency crews responded to NE 5th and O'Neil Way at about 8:30 a.m. after a semi collided with a passenger car; both vehicles also hit a concrete barrier on the side of the road.


Redmond Fire says one person was able to get themselves out of the car and was transported by medics to St. Charles Redmond. One lane of O'Neil was closed to allow for the rescue operation and investigation. 


UPDATE:  The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office says Tuesday's crash occurred when the tractor towing an empty "belly bump" trailer failed to negotiate a curve. The driver, 63-year-old Robert Nash of Crooked River Ranch, reported having a sudden medical issue that caused him to lose control of the semi. It struck the Cadillac and pushed it into the concrete barrier. The 34-year-old driver of the car suffered non-life threatening injuries; she was taken by ground ambulance to the hospital. Nash was later taken to the hospital by family. 


Drake Park Parking Limits Start Saturday

BEND, OR -- Parking limitations will be imposed near Bend’s Drake Park, starting Saturday. The city’s Parking Demand Manager, Drew Dietrich, says allowing people to park along Riverside Boulevard for no more than four hours was a joint decision with Bend Parks and Recreation, "They wanted to increase circulation for visitors at Drake Park, to accommodate all the types of visitors that are going to be enjoying the park, this summer. In order to do that turnover, they want to make sure there’s an equitable time for everybody, so they’re going to implement – as a pilot – a four hour parking limit."
The time limit applies to cars parked on Riverside Blvd, between Broadway St and Tumalo Ave, "They believe that four hours is a sufficient time to go have a picnic, walk the park, float the river and kind of explore all the amenities that the park has to offer," Dietrich tells KBND News, "The key emphasis for this is that this is a pilot; and it’ll run from May 26 to September third, on Labor Day."
The city and Bend Parks and Recreation will take public comment throughout the joint pilot program. "We’ll see how that goes and do some other measurements on traffic and evaluate at the end of the summer and, between Parks and Rec and the city, decide whether this was a successful pilot." Dietrich says, "We’ve had some preliminary feedback, but a lot of it is kind of just a lot of ‘wait and see’ how this does or doesn’t adjust visitor behavior." Click HERE to learn more; those wanting to provide feedback can call 541-371-3000 and choose option 3. 
Those who violate the four-hour parking rule could face a $50 ticket. 

Bend Hospital Lock-Out Lifted After Hour Search

BEND, OR -- St. Charles Medical Center went into lock-out, Monday afternoon, to allow for a Bend Police investigation. The hospital's doors were locked at 2:42 p.m. while officers searched for a person of interest in an ongoing investigation.


Lieutenant Clint Burleigh wouldn't comment on the nature of the investigation, but tells KBND News the hospital was not in any danger, "It was more of a precautionary measure in regards to just a threat that we were looking into. We had some information that the person might be at St. Charles. There was no threat to St. Charles, there's no threat to anybody in St. Charles, other than the unknown threat that could happen in the case we were looking at." He says the person they were looking for was neither a patient of staff member, "We don't think there were any safety issues to, or concerns for, anybody at the hospital, the hospital itself, or inside the city of Bend. We're just looking into this a little further, trying to figure out what we can do locate the person involved in this."


The subject was not found and the lock-out was lifted about an hour after it began. 

Two Prescribed Burns Planned For Tuesday

BEND, OR -- Deschutes National Forest officials plan two prescribed burns Tuesday, if conditions allow. 


A 77-acre operation in Shevlin Park will be highly visible to people in and around Bend; the unit is north of Skyliner’s Road, across from the Phil’s Trailhead turnoff. Ignitions are expected between 9 and 10 a.m. and should be complete by 2 p.m. During the burn, smoke could impact the area, including the western portions of Tetherow. Smoke may settle in the evening, impacting residents of Northwest Crossing. 
The other burn planned for Tuesday is five miles north of Hole in the Ground, 22 miles southeast of La Pine. That 1,000 acre burn could take two days to complete. Smoke may temporarily lower visibility along Highway 31, and impact residences near Fort Rock and Hole in the Ground.  

Escaped Debris Burn Blamed For Brush Fire

LA PINE, OR -- Firefighters say an escaped debris pile led to a small brush fire in La Pine, Saturday afternoon. Crews were called to Reed Road just after 1:30 p.m. and say the blaze scorched about a quarter acre of brush and trees in the La Pine commercial area, before firefighters contained it.


Investigators say Gordon Shield had been burning earlier in the day, but left the site. Twelve firefighters responded with three engines and a tender, as well as a USFS crew. 


Residents are reminded to obtain a debris burning permit prior to burning on private lands; permit conditions must be followed, including tending the fire at all times. "Typical weather in Central Oregon often has mid-afternoon temperatures increase, humidity drop, and higher winds - causing increased fire behavior. Exactly what happened on Saturday," said La Pine Fire officials.


Pile burning on private land within the La Pine Rural Fire Protection District is expected to close at the end of May, for the summer wildfire season. 

Deputy Loses Leg In Terrebonne Motorcycle Crash

MADRAS, OR -- A Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy hurt in a motorcycle crash last week continues to recover. According to the Sheriff's Office, Bill Kenyon was northbound on Highway 97, Friday afternoon, when he collided with a pickup turning on to the highway. He was off-duty at the time of the crash.


Kenyon was taken by ambulance to St. Charles Bend with multiple injuries and immediately underwent emergency surgery. Due to the crash, the deputy lost his right leg below the knee, and will need additional surgery for a broken pelvis and hip. The Sheriff's Office says he "is amazing upbeat and is already making plans to replace his damaged Harley Davidson with a three-wheeled motorcycle." 


Wanted Man Caught After NE Bend Search

BEND, OR -- A Bend man, wanted for violating a restraining order, was arrested Saturday morning after a brief foot chase and area search. Police say an officer attempted to contact 38-year-old Grant Schlicker as he left a northeast bend gym. He allegedly tried to escape by running through several backyards and businesses.


Schlicker was eventually found hiding in an undeveloped area near the Healy Heights apartments. Officers obtained a search warrant and say they found an unloaded revolver in the convicted felon’s pickup parked at the gym. 
He's charged with Violation of Restraining Order, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, Interfering with a Police Officer and two counts of Criminal Trespass II. 

Jeff. Co. Commissioner Mtg Opens With Hindu Prayer

MADRAS, OR -- Jefferson County Commissioners will open this week's board meeting with a Hindu prayer. 


Commissioners open each meeting by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and with a prayer or blessing from a local spiritual leader. Commissioner Mike Ahern says the practice was started by fellow Commissioner Mae Huston, and all faiths are welcome, "We didn't start these public prayers until about three and an half years ago. I think the key is, when you're a public body you just have to be open to whatever, because the United States Government doesn't recognize any one religion." He tells KBND News, there are only a few Hindu in the Madras area, but the Board is open everyone. "It's open to any pastor in town, and it's just a come one - come all, and I can think of three or four of them that usually do it. So, it's always been good." The Majority of the spiritual leaders who have taken part, so far, have been of varying Christian denominations. But, Ahern says there are Buddhists and Native Americans in the area, and he hopes they will also become involved in the inter-faith exercise.
Rajan Zed, a Hindu Statesman, will recite from ancient Sanskrit scriptures and deliver a blessing at the meeting. He's the President of the Universal Society of Hinduism and has been honored with the World Interfaith Leader award.


Local Cougar Sightings Worry Wildlife Officials

WARM SPRINGS, OR -- One man was killed and another seriously injured by a cougar, in Washington state. The two were mountain biking near North Bend, about 30 miles from Seattle, when the wildcat attacked. In Central Oregon, local officials warn outdoor enthusiasts about cougars recently spotted along the Lower Deschutes.


Up to three cougars have been spotted along the Lower Deschutes River, between the Warm Spring launch and Harpham Flats, according to the Prineville Bureau of Land Management. Campers are encouraged to keep sites clean and to sleep 100 yards from cooking areas; recreators should be vigilant while rafting and hiking. The BLM warns to never feed wildlife or approach a cougar. And in the hours around dawn and dusk, when cougars are most active, stay in groups when possible, and always keep pets on a leash.
Cougars can become a public safety risk when they are seen repeatedly, which can mean they are becoming habituated to human activity, but sightings are rare. If you see one, call the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Injured Skier Rescued From So. Sister

SISTERS, OR -- A Portland man was rescued from South Sister after he was injured while skiing, Saturday afternoon. 

Air Link flew four Deschutes County Search and Rescue volunteers into the area; four others hiked from Devil’s Lake Trailhead. 
They stabilized 32-year-old Nick Economou's leg injury and took him to the waiting helicopter. He was flown to St. Charles Bend. 
The Sheriff's office says that, while skiing South Sister is inherently dangerous, the victim did several things right, including being prepared for the conditions and familiar with the area, and he was traveling with others who were able to call 911 when he got hurt. 

SE Bend Home Damaged By Fire

BEND, OR -- An early Sunday morning fire heavily damaged a southeast Bend home, and officials say the family is lucky no one was hurt. According to fire investigators, a heat lamp for chicks was duct taped to a table; the fire started when the tape could no longer support the weight of the industrial lamp, and it fell.


One person awoke just after 2 a.m. to find smoke filling the house and alerted the others – smoke alarms were not working.  All residents, including the chicks, got out of the Alstrup Road home safely and firefighters were able to knock down the blaze, but not before it caused about 65-thousand dollars in damage. 

Six Arrested For Bend High Bike Thefts

BEND, OR -- Six people face charges in connection with a number of bike thefts from Bend Senior High. The bicycles were housed in a storage area for an educational program that teaches students to build and fix bikes. Staff noticed bikes were disappearing in early April, prompting Bend Police to launch an investigation and a proactive policing effort.


Between April 15 and April 24, investigators determine the bikes were taken in the early morning hours and contacted the six suspects:

  • Anastacia Egan (23, from Bend), arrested for Theft I and Criminal Trespass II
  • Eric Fletcher (23, from Bend), arrested for Theft I and Criminal Trespass II
  • Eric Spott (54, from Bend), arrested for Theft I and Criminal Trespass II
  • Mark Miltimore (29, from Bend), arrested for Theft I and Criminal Trespass II
  • Nicholas Lopez (35, from Bend), arrested for Theft I and Criminal Trespass II
  • Mitchell Charriere (27, transient), Theft I, two counts Theft II, Possession of Meth and Criminal Trespass II

Bend Police encourage bike owners to register their serial numbers at bikeindex.org, and take photographs of your bike to help in recovering your property if it's stolen. 

Sisters, Bend Voters Approve Tax Levies

BEND, OR -- Voters approved two Bend Fire tax levies in Tuesday's election. Battalion Chief Dave Howe says the measures cover two separate regions protected by District Two, "Taxpayers pay the same exact rate for fire protection in both the city and the rural district, so they're the same amount per thousand. We just had to have two ballot measures."


The five-year levies renew the existing 20-cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, originally passed by voters in 2014. They're expected to bring in about $12.5 million for the department. Bend Fire Chief Larry Langston tells KBND News, the measures allow the agency to maintain current service levels for both fire and medical services. "We're very pleased with what's happened, the support of the community, the voters, and it's been one of those things that means a lot to the service we deliver. So, yeah, we're excited down here." Revenue from the levies is spent on staff, equipment and training, as well as staffing and equipping two Basic Life Support ambulances. 


The Fire Department issued a thank you letter to residents:

The City of Bend Fire Department and the Deschutes County Rural Fire Protection District #2 wish to thank the voters of both entities for their trust and confidence in these organizations, as shown by the recent positive levy results. Your approval of the levy measures will ensure that the Bend Fire Department can continue to provide the best possible fire protection and emergency medical services to the community.

We are dedicated to fire and life safety, community risk reduction and positive collaboration with all segments of public safety in the region, and what we value most is our connection to our community.

Thank you all for your votes and for making our community safer. We are truly Partners in Protection.

In Sisters, voters approved two five-year levies, Tuesday, benefiting schools and parks and recreation. Bob Keefer, with the Sisters Park and Recreation District, says the new funding will go a long way toward expanding programs for kids, "It's really an honor to see the voters in Sisters country really support us and understand the value we bring to the community." The parks district levy imposes a property tax hike of 15-cents per $1,000 of assessed value. 

Winter Lewis was Chair of the Sisters School District Political Action Committee (PAC) and says the vote proves residents care, "We feel fortunate to have a pass rate percentage-wise by about 68% this year, which speaks to the wonderful support we have in the community here in Sisters with our schools." The school district levy renews the current 75-cents per $1,000 property tax rate for schools, for another five years. Winter says it was important that both districts get the funding they need, "It all ties together, it's a small community out here, and programs in both the Park and Rec and the schools go to support each other." He tells KBND News, "Given that the Sisters Park and Rec District, quite frankly, has been underfunded for several years, it's just been remarkable that they've been able to provide the programs they have. [They've been] underfunded relative to other park and rec districts of similar size in neighboring districts."


Bend Flight School Wins Federal Contract

BEND, OR -- Bend-based Leading Edge Aviation has been awarded a regional contract through the U.S. Department of Transportation, to provide flight training to veterans interested in becoming airline pilots.


Leading Edge Vice President Travis Warthen says the “Forces to Flyers” research initiative helps pay for vets to attend flight school without having to earn a college degree, "The GI bill that they get if they come directly to a flight school, it pays just over $13,000 a year towards flight training. What it costs to get all of the ratings they need to be employable, I think is around $80,000. So, they’re paying the difference between the $13k the GI bill pays and the full cost."
The initiative will evaluate whether removing barriers, like funding, allows more veterans to enter the pilot workforce, while also addressing a nationwide problem. "The Department of Transportation is looking at options to fill the pilot shortage, which is getting worse and worse every day," Warthen tells KBND News. "Alaska [Air], last summer, canceled a bunch of flights just because they didn’t have crews, and they’re hiring people. I mean, airlines are paying helicopter pilots to become airplane pilots. Everybody’s doing what they can to try and attract people to that job."
The estimated $1.8 million dollars in contracts were awarded to four flight schools across the country. Leading Edge, based at the Bend Airport, represents the Western Pacific/Northwest/Mountain/Alaskan Region. Each of the contract flight schools will choose 10 veterans to take part in an 18-month program. Warthen expects it will be a competitive selection process, given the number of calls he’s already received from potential students. He expects the program will be extended in two years, if they can show the initiative is successful in training vets to fly planes and address the pilot shortage. 
Click HERE for eligibility requirements and a list of the other regional flight schools awarded USDOT contracts for the "Forces to Flyers" program. 

Election Results Signal Changes For Redmond

REDMOND, OR -- We now know the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners will look different in 2019. When incumbent Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney lost in the Republican primary, Tuesday, the upset surprised many local leaders, including Redmond Mayor George Endicott.


Mayor Endicott tells KBND News, "Tammy is a friend of mine. I know Patti, as well - I know both of them; been around them both quite a bit. They’re both great ladies, I just think their political leanings are a little different. Tammy is more of a moderate; I think Patti is a little more conservative. We’ll see what impact that has on the county/city dynamics." He adds, "The dynamics change, no matter what; so, you have to figure that out. I personally think that Patti’s probably more conservative than Tammy, so we’ll have to figure out what role that plays. Tammy’s had some very important state roles, such as Chairman of the Oregon Transportation Commission. I mean, I think technically she can stay there, but I don’t know if the Governor will do that."


Adair faces Democrat Jim Cook in November, for the Position Three seat. Cook currently serves as Chair of Redmond's Planning Commission, but would likely step down if he wins a place on the Board of County Commissioners. "He’s very much an advocate for a performing arts center and things like that," says Endicott, "He’s been- I’ll call him ‘the champion’ for that. So, if he leaves, then either a new champion steps up or you see priorities change." 


Redmond's Planning Commission could see other changes next year, if Jack Zika wins the GOP nomination for Oregon House District 53. That race is still too close to call, with Zika holding an 11-vote lead over his opponent. Endicott believes Zika has a good chance of winning in the general election, which would be another loss for the Commission, "I have a lot of respect for Jack; he’s a really good member, he’s very thoughtful.  So, that’ll hurt. But, again, hopefully we’ll find someone at least as good, to come in."

GOP District 53 Winner Still Undeclared

BEND, OR -- The race for a Republican nominee to fill the State House seat being vacated by retiring Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver) is still too close to call, and the Deschutes County Clerk says it could be at least two weeks before a winner can be declared. Only eleven votes separate Redmond Realtor Jack Zika and Tumalo Activist Ben Schimmoller. 


GOP Fight for Whisnant Seat Too Close To Call


County Clerk Nancy Blankenship says her office is evaluating ballots considered "challenged" and will gather any mailed to other counties, or that haven't been delivered from postal distribution centers. Those ballots, along with write-ins, are likely to be processed May 30 and June first, so the race can be certified by the June fourth deadline.


If it's still too close to call after that, a recount may be next for the District 53 race. The winner faces Democrat Eileen Kiely in November. 

BPD Releases Details On Drive-Thru Shooting

BEND, OR -- Bend Police say the man who allegedly shot a transient several times in a fast food drive-thru was legally carrying his firearm and is cooperating with the investigation.


Investigators say 39-year-old Christopher Nolan pulled a knife on 39-year-old Robert Garris, of Medford, just after 9:30 Monday night. Authorities say the confrontation was unprovoked at the Jack-in-the-Box restaurant on NE Third, and the two did not know each other. Garris pulled out his handgun and fired several times, striking Nolan. 


Police say the investigation is ongoing and will be reviewed by the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office. 

Redmond Kindergarten Registration Today

REDMOND, OR -- Kindergarten registration is taking place across the region, for kids turning five on or before September first. Redmond Early Learning Center (RELC) Principal Desiree Margo says there’s one big but simple step parents can take now to make sure young kids are ready to start school in the fall, "Spending time with your child. I mean, one of the best things you can do is just read books to them on a daily basis, have conversations, think out loud – so, you’re getting ready to make dinner and you’re just talking about what you’re doing. What we find is there’s just less of that with so many devices, and I just have to say, we are noticing a change in children."


RELC is hosting a kindergarten registration event Wednesday, from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. "They get to find out about breakfast and lunch from our nutrition team, lots of community resources and partners will be there, and really just get their questions answered," Margo tells KBND News, "New families, especially if it’s their first child entering kindergarten, there are just so many questions." She says the event is not required for incoming families, since registration can occur at any time, "We call it rolling registration; families can come in, pick up a packet and get the ball rolling. And, even if they have already done that – and we have quite a few families who have already registered their child for next year – we still want them to come to this event because, registration is an important part of it, but there’s so much more." Make sure to bring the child’s birth certificate, immunization records and proof of address.
RELC opened in the fall of 2016, and houses kindergarten classes for Redmond's in-town student. Families in Tumalo and Terrebonne should contact their community school for kindergarten registration information. 

Voters Approve Bend Charter Changes

BEND, OR -- Bend voters overwhelmingly approved a change to the city’s charter, allowing for a directly-elected mayor starting in November. The measure passed with 74% of the vote. Until now, the Mayor has been selected from among sitting City Councilors, by their vote. Councilor Sally Russell says it’s time, "Bend is growing quickly, and to have the electorate be able to choose who is driving the decisions and working with a Council to be informed on all the decisions that come in front of Council these days, is incredibly invaluable."


About 54% of Bend voters also approved removing language from the charter that sets Councilor pay; going forward, their compensation will be set by ordinance, which requires a public process. Russell tells KBND News increasing compensation could lead to more candidates, in the future, because it more appropriately compensates Councilors for the work they do, "This item, in particular, is going to have a huge effect on the increase in diversity of people you see serving – running for election and serving on City Council. I think that’s the opportunity that we have in front of us." 
A citizen advisory committee recommends increasing Councilor pay from $200 to $533 a month, and paying a directly-elected Mayor $1,066. The amount paid to current Councilors won’t change until each position goes through an election. 

Abandoned Baby's Father Faces New Charges

BEND, OR -- While donations pour in for the baby left in the woods south of Bend, last week, his father faces new criminal charges. Brandon Blouin is accused of leaving one-year-old Bradley naked and alone for at least six hours. The baby was found by a Deschutes County detective following an extensive search, Thursday.


Blouin is now accused of custodial interference, in addition to neglect and other charges. D.A. John Hummel says Blouin took Bradley from his maternal grandmother in West Virginia, who is the baby’s legal guardian.



GOP Fight For Whisnant Seat Too Close To Call

REDMOND, OR -- The Republican race for State House District 53 is too close to call. Redmond realtor and business owner Jack Zika has just an 11-vote lead over activist Ben Schimmoller. 


Schimmoller told KBND News Tuesday night, he doesn't mind being patient while every vote is counted, "We're going to wait overnight and make sure the final votes get in and tallied, and we're eager to see what the final results are." He says if Zika is determined as the winner, his work isn't over, "I'm going to support and make sure a Republican is elected in the general election for House District 53."
Democrat Eileen Kiely will take on the GOP winner in November. She easily defeated Dr. Bill Trumble, who conceded early in the evening. Kiely says she's ready to take the job, "We have difficult problems to solve. And that's why I'm running, because I have experience in solving difficult problems." She tells KBND News, "Our legislature is supposed to sit down and solve problems together. Not see it all the same way, but actually to continue talking. And that's what I'm prepared to do for the people of Central Oregon."
The District 53 seat has been held by State Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver) since 2003; he's retiring at the end of the year.

Comm. DeBone Easily Defeats Primary Challenger

BEND, OR -- The race for Deschutes County Commissioner Position One was called pretty early in the night, Tuesday. In the Republican Primary, incumbent Tony DeBone took a commanding lead in the ballot count, from the start. Local Restaurateur and former private Investigator Ed Barbeau only received about 28% of the vote.


At the first counting, DeBone was cautiously optimistic. He told KBND News, "I'm honored to have the majority of the votes in this first set of numbers and it looks like it may go my way this evening, but we're waiting for the final results." He says he's honored to serve the county, "We provide a cost-effective level of government. Everybody who provides these services are just such great servants to the community, and I'm honored to be part of the leadership group."


DeBone's Democratic challenger is Amy Lowes, a healthcare provider and small business owner who ran unopposed in her primary. 

Commissioner Baney Concedes in GOP Primary

BEND, OR -- long-time Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney has lost her bid to hold on to her Position Three seat. Her challenger, Patti Adair edged out a 698-vote lead in Tuesday night’s Republican primary – although results are not official. Adair is expected to take on James Cook in November. Cook was unopposed in the Democratic Primary. 


Baney released a statement to KBND News, saying Wednesday morning, "I am proud of the work I have done for our county. Having led us through the recession, expanded mental health and veteran services, reduced burdensome regulations and increased transparency at the state level to address local transportation and housing needs, the work is never really done. I look forward to continuing to serve in the next few months and I am grateful for those who have mentored, challenged and supported me. Deschutes county is a dynamic, economic force in Oregon, I am proud to be a part of it."

Metolius Mayor Arrested After Fight

METOLIUS, OR -- The Mayor of the small town of Metolius was arrested Sunday for an alleged assault.


Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins says 52-year-old John Chavez fought with his brother and respending deputies determined he was the aggressor. Sheriff Adkins says alcohol appears to be a contributing factor in the incident.

Buehler Hosts Local Pre-Election Event

BEND, OR -- Republican Gubernatorial candidate and Bend State Representative Knute Buehler says he's ready to take on Governor Kate Brown in November.


At a pre-election party in Bend, Monday night, Dr. Buehler thanked local supporters and said that by working together, Oregon's complex problems can be solved, "I am running for a simple reason, and that's to fix the big problems in Oregon that have been avoided, ignored, and actually made a heck of a lot worse by Governor Brown over the last three years." He told the crowd, "This place- This place we call home, Oregon, should be the best place in the world to live, work, and play. But do you know what's holding us back? Kate Brown." And, he says his work in the Legislature proves he'll take a different approach, "I've rolled up my sleeves, I've reached across the aisle and worked with others; we've passed groundbreaking legislation."


If elected, Buehler vowed to work on lowering taxes, reform PERS, help schools succeed, end the opioid crisis, and fix the foster care system. But, he admits he has a long road ahead. 


Buehler tells KBND News that Oregonians are bound together by a love for the state and a need for change, "Kate Brown should be very scared. Because I am going to clearly point out where Governor Brown has failed to lead and where I will lead with regards to improving our schools, with regards to improving our infrastructure, with regards to the mismanagement of the state. It is really time for a turnaround in Oregon that Governor Brown can't engineer and I will lead where Kate Brown has failed."
Before he can take on Gov. Brown in the general election, Buehler must secure the GOP nomination in Tuesday's primary. He's up against Central Oregon Businessman Sam Carpenter and retired Navy Captain Greg Wooldridge. Monday night's event was Buehler's only Central Oregon election gathering; he's hosting a "victory party" in Wilsonville, on Election Night. 

May Primary Ballots Due By 8 PM

BEND, OR -- As of Tuesday morning, about 23% of Oregon voters had returned ballots for the May primary. Local turnout is slightly higher, with Crook County turnout at about 30% and Deschutes County at just over 28%. About a quarter of the Jefferson County ballots were in, as of early Tuesday.  


In May 2014 - the last primary in a non-presidential election year - Deschutes County turnout was just under 39%; it was 36% statewide, that year. 
Ballots are due by 8 p.m. Tuesday and postmarks don’t count. A list of drop-off sites can be found in the voters guide, or click HERE for Deschutes County locations and HERE for Jefferson County's drop sites. 
After 8 p.m., Oregon's Secretary of State will post results HERE, as they become available. KBND News will have reaction from winning local and statewide candidates Wednesday morning on the KBND Morning News. 

Flags Lowered For Peace Officer Memorial Day

BEND, OR -- Governor Kate Brown has ordered Flags at public institutions to fly at half-staff Tuesday, in observance of Peace Officers Memorial Day. President Trump signed a proclamation recognizing the day, in honor of the service and sacrifices law enforcement personnel make each day. He also proclaimed this as National Police Week. 


Bend Police held a memorial service at Brooks Park, Monday (pictured). The Crook County Sheriff's Office plans a flag ceremony at the courthouse in Prineville, Tuesday at 9 a.m. 
President John F. Kennedy signed the first proclamation in 1962 designating May 15 to honor peace officers. 

Local Pot Dispensary Fined For Violations

BEND, OR -- A Bend recreational pot dispensary faces penalties from the OLCC for two alleged violations. Jenny’s Dispensary at Northeast Third and Greenwood has been ordered to pay a $6,105 fine or serve a 37-day license suspension.


The OLCC says the retailer did not keep surveillance recordings for a minimum of 90 days and failed to store marijuana products in a manner where they are only accessible to authorized personnel prior to a completed sale.

NW Bend Fire Blamed On BBQ

BEND, OR -- A malfunctioning Bar-B-Q is blamed for a fire that damaged a northwest Bend house, Monday night. The homeowner reportedly lit the grill and, after a brief warm-up period, discovered flames on an outside wall.


Firefighters responded to Northwest Underhill just after 6 p.m. and found flames spreading into the attic. By the time crews put out the blaze, it had caused about $175,000 in damage.

Bend Police Investigate Drive-Thru Shooting

BEND, OR -- Bend Police are investigating a shooting at the Jack in the Box near NE Third and Hawthorne. They've released very few details, but say officers responded to a report of a shooting in the restaurant's drive-thru, just after 9:30 Monday night. They found a 39-year-old man with multiple gunshot wounds. Another man was on-scene, armed with a handgun. 


The wounded man was taken to the hospital while the other was transported to the police department for questioning. Investigators ask witnesses who have not yet been contacted, and anyone else with information in the case, to call Bend Police through non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.

DA Decides On Charges In 2017 Fatal Crash

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County District Attorney says the FedEx truck driver responsible for a fatal crash last fall, will not face criminal charges. According to D.A. John Hummel, 51-year-old Trenton Sage was driving the truck that hit a bicyclist near NW Wall and Portland on November 20, 2017. The victim, 31-year-old Jonathan Chase Adams, died of his injuries two days later. 


Hummel says Sage remained on scene, fully cooperated with the investigation and was not impaired or using his cellphone at the time fo the crash. Following a several months-long investigation, the D.A. believes Sage committed a traffic violation: Failure to Yield to the Rider in the Bicycle Lane. However, he says Sage did not violate Oregon's criminal code.


"This was a heart wrenching case for all involved," D.A. Hummel said in a statement, "My decision to not charge the driver of the FedEx truck with a crime was not because I devalued Jonathan's life or disrespected his family. And my decision to charge the driver with a traffic violation was not the product of animus based on Jonathan losing his life. I charged a traffic violation because a traffic law was violated and I declined to charge a crime because a crime was not committed."


Sage is due in court on the traffic violation on May 16. 

Top GOP Candidates For Gov Square Off

PORTLAND, OR -- The top three candidates fighting for the Republican nomination for Governor took part in their only debate Friday, on KBND, hosted by Lars Larson. Central Oregon businessman Sam Carpenter says he's the best candidate because, unlike Greg Wooldridge and Knute Buehler, he pledges to follow the will of the voters, even if their choices are anti-gun or pro-sanctuary city. "I'm going to try to make the laws correct, I'm going to follow the law, I am pro-life, I am pro-gun, the Second amendment is fine just the way it is, and I support our President."


Greg Wooldridge, a former Navy captain, thinks Oregonians want something  different than the leadership the state's had for over three decades, " This is our year. I am a pragmatic conservative. I will win against Kate Brown. Nobody else can."
While State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend) stands on his record and experience. "Who has a proven track record for supporting limited government, for lower taxes, for protecting small businesses and the Second Amendment? Greg and Sam can talk about it; I've done it."
The three candidates discussed a number of topics, agreeing on the need to lower taxes, be more proactive with forest health, uphold the Death penalty and reform PERS. But, they attacked each other's character and temperament several times. Wooldridge says Carpenter claims to have served in the military, "Really, there's not much to prove that you did serve. And, by the way, Sam, your desperation doesn't serve you well." Carpenter responded with claims Wooldridge is lying, "I have never represented I've been in the military, and if you'd read the little paragraph on my website, you would've seen that."
Carpenter also fired at Buehler, saying he wants to "kill babies" because the doctor is pro-choice. Buehler rebuffed the attack by talking about legislation he helped write, which he says has reduced abortions in Oregon by 20%, "That's leadership; when you bring people from both parties, from the left and the right together, to accomplish some real positive change."
Debate moderator Lars Larson asked what each would do if the controversial gun measure IP43 were to pass. Carpenter began, "I'm going to dodge the question, if you want to call it that." And Buehler interrupted with, "Hey, Lars, I won't dodge that question. I won't enforce that law. It's unconstitutional. And that's what it takes to be a leader, is to stand up and say 'These things are wrong'." Wooldridge says he's been against IP43 from the beginning, "Lars, I would not enforce that law. Good leaders have the courage to stand alone. and the courage to go against things that are just not right." Carpenter says his strategy would be to keep IP43 from ever becoming law in the first place, but if it passes, he would uphold it.
While the three agree on several key Republican issues, their race has been contentious enough that Larson asked the candidates if they would support the Republican nominee, once he's chosen by voters on Tuesday. Wooldridge answered, "Over Kate Brown? Yes." Carpenter said, "Yes." But, Buehler responded, "I'll support Greg Wooldridge. But the jury's still out with regards to Sam's background; too many open questions for me."
Click HERE to watch the full debate. Ballots are due back at county elections offices by 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 15.


Redmond Teacher Honored With State Award

REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond middle school teacher has been selected as the regional representative for Oregon Teacher of the Year. 


Rosemary Tyson teaches sixth grade math at Obsidian Middle School. Principal Tami Nakamura tells KBND News Tyson has a special way of connecting with her students, "She helps them to really become mathematicians. She refers to them as future mathematicians and really helps them to build their confidence. So, there’s a lot of discussion and questioning so that the skills are really set, so they understand, really clearly, what they’re learning before they move on."
Tyson has been at Obsidian more than 10 years. "She has a way about her, when working with the kids and, her approach and her style is really unique," says Nakamura, "She does a lot of working on mathematical mindset so kids want to learn how to do math." She adds, "With Ms. Tyson, she’s a pretty strict teacher, but they love her. I think it’s the relationship piece; they know she believes they can do it, and then she shows them how they can do it."
This year, the Oregon Department of Education and Oregon Lottery expanded the annual program to celebrate teachers in all parts of the state. Each regional winner receives $500 from the Oregon Lottery and is in the running for the statewide 2019 Teacher of the Year award, announced in September. The last Teacher of the Year from Redmond was Carrie Carpenter, from Hugh Hartman Middle School, in 2003. 

Prineville Woman Cited For Saturday Crash

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A motorcyclist and his passenger were hurt in a downtown Prineville crash, Saturday morning. According to police, Sandra Kerbow, of Prineville, was northbound on Combs Flat Road when she turned left onto Third Street. Her SUV turned directly into the path of the southbound motorcycle.


Dan and Carol Jensen, of Bend, were ejected from the bike and later taken to the hospital. Kerbow was cited for failing to obey a traffic control device.


Anyone with information on the crash is asked to call Prineville Police at 541-447-4168 or visit the department's Facebook Page


Power Outage Blamed On DUII Driver

BEND, OR -- A 27-year-old Bend man was arrested Sunday for Driving Under the Influence and other charges, after a northeast Bend crash that caused a small power outage. Police say Nicholas Fortin was south on Boyd Acres near Lamoine Lane, just before 6 p.m., but was driving too fast and lost control. He struck landscaping rocks then a power pole, snapping it in half.


Fortin was found inside the pickup a short distance from the broken power pole. He was taken to jail while Pacific Power crews restored power to the neighborhood.


Suspected Arsonist Arrested Following NE Bend Fires

BEND, OR -- A Bend resident was arrested Sunday on Arson and reckless burning charges, after two fires on his property. Emergency crews first responded to the home on Lamoine Lane at about 8:45 a.m., for a backyard burn. Bend Police spoke with Bobby Yarbrough, but determined there was no crime. 


About 90 minutes later, at 11:15 a.m., witnesses reported a shed was fully engulfed in flames, in the same backyard. Firefighters extinguished the blaze and, based on evidence and witness statements, Police launched an arson investigation. Yarbrough was arrested and taken to St. Charles for evaluation. The shed was a total loss. 

Downtown Bend Gas Leak Blamed On Work Crew

BEND, OR -- Bend Fire says a city paving crew is responsible for a downtown gas leak, Friday night. The contractor hit the line with a concrete saw blade, near NW Harriman and NW Oregon. Crews were able to place a temporary patch until Cascade Natural Gas can complete repairs Monday.


Investigators say the contractor properly called before digging, the line was shallower than expected and locating paint was difficult to see due to dust and low light.

Bend Fire Learns Latest Trench Rescue Techniques

BEND, OR -- Local firefighters received specialized training, Thursday, to learn how to rescue someone trapped in a trench collapse.


Bend Fire Training Captain Mike Baxter says they’re extremely dangerous, although not common, "It’s a high-risk, low-frequency event, which is good. But, when they happen, they’re pretty catastrophic. We’ve had two of them in Bend over the last several years." And, with so much construction around town, the risk grows, "Not only new construction, but a lot of contractors dig up old trenches to make repairs or extend sewer lines; and those are the ones we’re most likely to have incidents in." CMC Pro Technical Rescue Instructor Alan Baker agrees construction zones are in the most danger,  "Maybe they’re digging out basements, putting in new water lines, new sewer lines, general construction might be using it, your streets and utilities departments. So, anything where there was a trench and they didn’t shore it properly."


Because they don't happen often, it's important for technical rescue crews to be well-trained. Bend Fire conducts refresher trainings annually, but special instructors are only brought in every five to eight years, to teach the latest techniques. Captain Baxter tells KBND News having the equipment and trained personnel saves precious time, "We’re a long ways from help, here in Bend. So, if we don’t do it, we’ll be waiting hours for help from the Valley. So, it’s good to know how to do this."


Baker is also a firefighter in Southern California, and says when a trench collapses, crews must work quickly and safely so rescuers don't become secondary victims. He says if a trench collapses, there's a 50-80% chance it will collapse again, if not done properly, "We train them how, on a trench collapse, to come in and shore up the trench and create a safe zones for themselves in order to dig the victim out and extricate, whether a live or dead body." He adds, "Trench rescue is very logistically heavy. And then, to have the person in the trench, they have to have the specialized training or they just might cause more damage themselves." 


CMC Pro travels all over the country to provide trainings to fire and rescue agencies. This week's training is hosted by Bend Fire, but firefighters with six other agencies, from around Oregon and as far away as Texas, are also taking part. 



Judges Difficult But Important To Vote For

BEND, OR -- Several judges are up for election or reelection in Tuesday's primary, and for many, it can be difficult to make an informed decision. Some even wonder why it is necessary to vote for judges.


According to 35-year veteran civil trial attorney Greg Hendrix, Oregon has a different system than most other states, "Every six years, every judge has to run for reelection and that gives the public a chance to see whether or not they want to keep the judge, it also gives lawyers, perhaps, a chance to run against the judge, if there are reasons to do that. Every judge in Oregon is elected."
Hendrix says admits it can be difficult to get specific information about judge candidates, since they tend to do the majority of their work behind closed doors, but they are important, "Judges have an outsized impact on the community, even though that they are mostly anonymous. Their work is every day, all day long; having competent judges resolve disputes in a way helpful to the community and helpful for the litigants, is important to everybody and important to our quality of life." But, he acknowledges it can be difficult for the average voter to get informed. Hendrix tells KBND News, "Even if they're not being opposed by anyone, I would urge everyone to read the voters' pamphlet about the judges who are running either for election or reelection, and that's probably the  most helpful place to find information about who they are and what they hope to do for the community." He says public records on each judge is also available on the Oregon Bar Association website, or 
talk to someone you know who is a lawyer. 
Ballots are due by 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 15. 

Father Arrested After Missing Baby Found Safe

BEND, OR -- A missing one-year-old was found naked and alone, but safe Thursday, following a massive six-hour search just south of Bend. Sheriff Shane Nelson says the baby and his parents were living in their car off China Hat Road, and sometime in the night, the 18-year-old mother left the baby boy with 25-year-old Brandon Blouin.


Blouin later went to find the woman, taking Bradley Michael Thomas, who is not yet walking, with him. He set his son down about a mile from the vehicle, but couldn’t remember where. Authorities didn't know the baby was missing until Blouin showed up at a home on Sholes Road at about 6:15 a.m. asking for law enforcement. "We don’t know exactly when Bradley went missing," Sheriff Nelson tells KBND News, "But, from our best estimation, it was sometime in the night or early morning hours." Despite the urgent nature of the case, it was hampered by a lack of information from the parents, "The two adults were under the influence of controlled substances, which was part of the challenge of trying to figure out exactly where Bradley was. Initial reports that we had was the adult male had put him down 'by a fence'."

Searchers immediately mobilized on the ground and in the air, and Nelson says more than 80 people from multiple agencies got involved, "It was really incredible, the community support. Thirty-five firefighters diverted (pictured, right) and helped our Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team because their controlled burn had been called off due to our search. To get that number of resources in that short amount of time is an incredible miracle." DCSO SAR used drones for an aerial search and a National Guard helicopter equipped with a Flir camera was requested; although the baby was found prior to its arrival, and it was called off.  
During the search, a Sheriff’s Detective took Blouin to retrace his steps, finding the baby just after noon, "Detective Jackson (pictured, right) looked over in the area where the adult male said we should locate Bradley, and noticed Bradley laying on the ground in the semi-fetal position on some pinecones and completely unclothed," says Sheriff Nelson. "He was asleep at the time, so when the detective woke Bradley up, he noted he was in excellent condition and we are just so happy to have found Bradley safe and sound." Sheriff Nelson says it’s a miracle the baby wasn’t hypothermic or dehydrated, or worse, "We have coyotes in that area, and all that comes into play when conducting these searches and when we’re trying to look for an individual – especially an infant."
Baby Bradley was treated by Bend Fire medics and taken to St. Charles Bend for evaluation, "We’re working with the Department of Human Services of the state of Oregon," says Sheriff Nelson, "They’ll have custody of Bradley and our office will continue the investigation into any possible neglect." Blouin was later arrested and is now in custody at St. Charles Bend. He faces numerous charges, including Criminal Mistreatment, Child Neglect, Endangering the Welfare of a Minor and Assault III. The assault charge stems from an injury authorities believe Bradley suffered while in Blouin's care. 


DCSO SAR utilize a drone during the aerial search for Bradley Michael Thomas.


Second Smith Rock Rescue In a Week

REDMOND, OR -- For the second time this week, Redmond Fire and REscue helped an injured climber at Smith Rock State Park. Crews responded to the Morning Glory Wall area at about 11:30 Thursday morning, along with a Park Ranger. 


A woman had sustained non-life threatening injuries but was unable to get out of the area under her own power. Medics treated her at the scene, then loaded her into a wheeled litter; she was taken to a fire department pickup then driven to her own car where she was released to seek her own treatment. 

Two Arrested In Bend Nightclub Stabbing

BEND, OR -- Two Jefferson County men have been arrested in connection with a May fifth stabbing in front of a downtown Bend nightclub.


Investigators say they received multiple tips from the public after releasing photos of persons of interest, this week.
That information led them to 22-year-old Isaias Gutierrez Parra (left), of Culver,  and 25-year-old Edgar Ramirez, of Madras. Both were arrested late Wednesday in Prineville and are charged with Assault.
The 29-year-old victim from Canby is recovering and told police he was attacked by four men. Additional suspects are being sought in the ongoing investigation. 

Prescribed Burns Allow for Training Opportunities

BEND, OR -- Firefighters from all over the world are in Central Oregon this week, training with the Deschutes National Forest. Kassidy Kern, with the Forest Service, says it's not just the good weather that's leading to more prescribed burns, right now, there are people in town ready and willing to help with the operations. "Because we have the training program, we're able to get more acres done, but really the prioritization of how and which units we choose to go with are really about the safety of our communities and protecting private land assets."


She says the Central Oregon Training Exchange, which is a partnership between the US Forest Service and the Nature Conservancy, gives firefighters a unique training opportunity. "We've brought people in from all over the world. There are people here from Florida, from Arkansas, and even a man from France, who are prescribed fire practitioners wherever they are, or in some cases, maybe they're learning about it for the first time. But, this is giving them an opportunity to continue their skills, and it gives us an opportunity to get more work done on the ground."


Kern tells KBND News igniting prescribed burns is an important part of forest health. "It's incumbent upon all of us, particularly in the west, but all over, to restore our forests back to a healthier landscape and that really is going to come from a suite of options in that forest restoration box from mowing and burning to even commercial thinning, as well."
A 121-acre burn scheduled for Thursday morning was posponed due to the search for a one-year-old baby, reported missing in the area. After crews helped with that search effort, they returned to the prescribed burn, later in the day. That operation took place south of China Hat, approximately one mile south of the Back Nine Golf course and the Woodside Ranch subdivision. 
Friday, they're expected to burn 250 acres adjacent to the Back Nine golf course. Due to the locations of the fires, nearby residents could see smoke and drivers could be impacted on nearby highways and forest roads.
FRIDAY UPDATE: Friday's operation was canceled due to high winds. 


DCSO Searches For, Finds Missing Toddler

UPDATE: Sheriff's Office officials say the child was found safe and is with medics, as of 12:20 p.m. Above photo is Bradley Michael Thomas with Detective Doug Jackson, who found him. 


BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a one-year-old child, reported missing southeast of Bend. They’re asking residents near Sholes Road and Tekampe Road to search their property for the boy. He has blonde hair, brown eyes and may have been wearing a green onesie with a baby blue blanket. He was last seen near a barbed wire fence.


If you see Bradley Michael Thomas, you're asked to call 911, immediately. All other inquiries or information should be made to non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911. Officials say searchers are not needed at this time, and they urge the public to stay out of the area to allow Search and Rescue teams to work. 


The Forest Service has postponed Thursday's prescribed burn planned for south of the Woodside Ranch subdivision, due to the search effort.


Updated with child's name and photo

Officials To Get Update on Mirror Pond

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors and the Bend Parks and Recreation's Board meet Thursday evening to discuss a number of key issues, like tree planting, UGB expansion plans, the transportation system, and dredging Mirror Pond. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Parks District office; the public is encouraged to attend. 


Taylor Northwest's Todd Taylor, who owns the land under Mirror Pond, is responsible for the dredging solutions and will update Councilors and Parks Board members on progress. He tells KBND News it's important that everyone involved is informed of the newest developments, so they can stay on the same page, "There's really four entities involved in this process: it's Mirror Pond Solutions, the company that owns the land, Bend Metro Parks and Recreation District, the City of Bend, and Pacific Power; and the community members."
He says the focus on community and possible impacts to the public is a key part of the project near downtown Bend's popular Drake Park, "It has to work around, to the best of everyone's ability, the events that are taking place. That's part of the methods and means that are established when the permit, and also when the construction and pre-construction, start."
Final permits have been issued, but work on Mirror Pond can't begin until funding is secured. "If the funding was to come together in a timely fashion, our intent would be, our hope would be, to start the dredging in 2018," says Taylor. "If the funding takes longer than anticipated, we would start it in 2019."

Low Turnout For Early Primary Voting

BEND, OR -- With less than a week before the May Primary, the vast majority of Oregonians haven't yet voted. Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship says she’s talked to a lot of people who haven’t yet cast their ballot, "Trying to encourage them to get their ballots in, and so many people have such apathy. But, you know what? With this low turnout, you can really make a difference. Your voice is heard. And, it’s important."


As of Wednesday evening, just over 15% of Deschutes County registered voters had turned in their ballot, which is slightly higher than the statewide average. Jefferson County turnout is at 17.4%, and Crook county's turnout is a bit higher still; Blankenship tells KBND News it’s not unusual for voters in rural counties to be more engaged, "I think that’s attributed to lots of different things, but some of it is they know these people personally and they have a vested interest in that. There are different opportunities to meet these candidates throughout the campaign period, so it’s incumbent upon each of us to get to know those people when we can."
Overall, Blankenship is disappointed, "I was hoping that we’d have a good turnout this election. We’ve got money measures in most parts of Deschutes County, there’s some contentious races as well, even for non-partisan races – there are some judgeships that are contested. So, there’s a lot of things on the ballot and because turnout is so low, every vote is going to count." She says it’s too late to mail your ballot and should be dropped off at an official drop site or county elections office; locations and times can be found in the voters’ pamphlet. Or, click HERE for Deschutes County drop sites and HERE for Jefferson County locations. 
Signed ballots are due by 8 p.m. Tuesday.


Bend Police Seek Witnesses To Stabbing

BEND, OR -- Bend Police continue to investigate a stabbing that occurred last weekend, outside a downtown nightclub. They’ve released photos of people who may have information in the case, in an effort to identify possible witnesses.


A 29-year-old Canby man was stabbed several times, early Saturday morning, in front of SEVEN Restaurant and Nightclub, on Bond Street. He is recovering from his injuries and told investigators he was attacked by four Hispanic men with “fade haircuts.” No arrests have been made.


Anyone who can identify people in the photos is asked to call Deschutes County non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911. 



Experts Discuss Local Cannabis Industry at Forum

BEND, OR -- Experts from law enforcement, state agencies and the legal marijuana sector discussed local challenges with the cannabis industry and its future impacts, at Tuesday night's Bend Chamber What's Brewing Event. 


Andre Ourso, with the Oregon Health Authority, says medical marijuana has been legal in Oregon for nearly 20 years, but there are inconsistencies in the system and privacy laws, that get exploited, "We want to be as helpful as we can, but we want that to be within the bounds of state law. We've asked the attorney general to look into that, how we can best verify grow sites for each other so we can conform and get those bad actors out of the system." Ourso says medicinal marijuana is now a "compassionate" business model; he says that if growers want to make money, they need to sell pot recreationally, which is regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. OLCC Executive Director Steve Marks says a lack of funding has led to a shortage of qualified inspectors to keep up with the number of new businesses, "The ratio that we have is, on the recreational side, one inspector per 100 licenses."
Hunter Neubauer is the co-owner and president of Oregrown in Bend. He says he lobbies the Oregon Legislature regularly, trying to get state lawmakers to see cannabis as a possible solution to a big problem: chronic pain. "Let's offer people the opportunity to choose a cannabis product instead of a narcotic product - an opioid - and then let's study it; and let's see how much money the OHP program saves on a monthly basis." He acknowledges the industry has its issues, "I think it's going to take us to have the conversations and address issues that this industry continues to face. We're going to need some more time to get it all figured out." Neubauer told the crowd, ""I look forward to continuing that kind of relationship. That's what we want! We want people to come see our facility. And, if we're making a mistake, tell us."
Bend Police Chief Jim Porter also took part in the panel discussion; Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson and Laura Breit, of Cannabis by Design, participated from the audience. 

Bend PD Overcomes Hiring Challenges

BEND, OR -- After years of struggling to hire enough officers for every patrol shift, Bend Police Jim Porter says his department is now near-full staffing, "We’re happy to say, after four years, we’re at 99% staffing." He tells KBND News, "That give us the ability to fill in when somebody’s injured, when one of my three officers is gone on long-term military leave, we’re able to immediately plug people into that. And, it’s enabled us to staff what we call our community response team. That’s the mental health team, to get out there with all three officers." He says 100% staffing isn't a realistic goal, given the natural turnover in law enforcement. 


Chief Porter says the recruits are already paying dividends, "We’re seeing amazing differences in some of the benchmarks that we measure our department’s effectiveness by." He says at the end of last year, prior to bringing on the new officers, emergency calls were up 15%, "The officer-initiated calls were actually down about 4%, so that means the officers weren’t able to be pro-active, to get out of their car and deter crime. Since we’ve brought our staffing up, our latest numbers show the emergency 911 calls are down 3%; the officer-initiated calls are up 15%; and that’s what you’d expect to happen. When the officers have more time to get out of their cars, deter crime, you’ll see the emergencies go down."


Porter credits the City Council for approving necessary funding, and efforts by his own staff, "We challenged our officers – men and women – to go out and recruit people they think will work within our culture who would serve the people of Bend the way they wanted. We also, then, turned around and offered some pretty good incentives to move here, to offset the cost of housing in this area. And, we changed the way we address our officers’ health and wellness inside the department, and that’s where we’re seeing the big draw come from."


To listen to our full conversation with Bend Police Chief Jim Porter, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE

Redmond Seeks Deputy City Manager

REDMOND, OR -- The city of Redmond is searching for a Deputy City Manager to oversee Community Development and other growth-related issues.


City Manager Keith Witcosky says years ago Redmond had two Assistant City Managers, similar to Bend’s staffing structure. But about five years ago, those positions dissolved. "There’s about 11 people that report to me directly, which is not efficient at all." He tells KBND News, "It’s inefficient for my time; it keeps me at a micro-level, at times, that I shouldn’t be at. And I need to focus on – in this case, I’ll be focusing on police, the airport, city finances. It’ll give this person a chance to focus on growth and then I can get more involved at the strategic level, which is where I should be."


The new Deputy will replace the Community Development Director position, which has been vacant for several months. "We’re not bringing on a full time FTE to make the organization top-heavy; we’ve actually been top-light for three, four, five years, which is not good either."


Witcosky says the Deputy City Manager will make between $110,000 and $135,000 a year. Applications will be accepted through May 31 and he hopes to have someone in place by fall.

Local Counties To Benefit from SRS Payout

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon’s three counties will each get a piece of the $55 million payout from the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) Act. U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced Tuesday that 29 Oregon counties will start receiving payments this week from the Forest Service. Congress recently approved a two-year extension of the funding.


Crook County is set to take in over $1.5 million, Deschutes County will get $1.3 million  and Jefferson County will receive just over $520,000. Click HERE for a complete breakdown of SRS payments by county.


The payments are in addition to $14 million in Bureau of Land Management funds headed to 18 western Oregon counties, announced earlier this week, as part of the O&C Lands deal. That combined $69 million will be shared among a total of 33 Oregon counties.


"SRS payments are crucial to keeping schools and libraries open, maintaining roads, ensuring there are police officers to keep communities safe, and providing mental health resources in rural counties," Senator Merkley said in a statement. "After hearing from Oregonians, I also secured a fix that will allow SRS funds to be used for counties' preparations for emergency response, as well as for emergency response activities themselves. This important funding now provides the flexibility counties need to spend emergency response dollars where they will do the most good."


Senator Wyden says since co-writing the original SRS program in 2000, Oregon counties have received more than $3 billion. 


Photo: Getty Images

Hawaii Eruption Leads To Local Worries

BEND, OR -- Nearly 40 structures have been destroyed by the eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano and its massive lava flow; and with volcanoes surrounding Bend, some residents wonder whether something similar could happen here. 


Volcanologist and University of Oregon Adjunct Earth Sciences Instructor Daniele McKay says our region is in a volcano danger zone, "There are volcanic areas here in Central Oregon that are very similar to Hawaii. And then, there are volcanoes that erupt quite differently. We have that type of volcano that can produce that kind of eruption, and we also have volcanoes that would produce eruptions that are much more explosive; that would produce a lot more ash."
She says so much of Bend's unique beauty and topography are the result of a volcanic past, and that could mean more activity is possible. "Newberry volcano has produced lava flows that have traveled quite far in the past, and that's an indication that it could do that again in the future," says McKay, "And then there are also lava flows that have come from the Cascades - from higher up in the Cascades. In Bend, in particular, we're sitting within the volcanic hazard zones of multiple volcanoes."
McKay tells KBND News, "Here in Central Oregon, if something like that were to happen, we would have a couple of other potential hazards that typically people in Hawaii don't have to deal with, and one is forest fires. We also have rivers and streams that, in the past, have been dammed by lava flows, and so they could dam the Deschutes River." 
There are approximately 19 prominent volcanoes in the state of Oregon, but there are many smaller ones, as well. Those that ring Central Oregon are monitored by Cascade Volcano Observatory seismometers and scientists, and McKay says residents would receive warning of volcanic activity. She recommends having an emergency pack ready to go, just in case.
Photo: Kilauea Volcanic Lava Flow, May 5, 2018; courtesy USGS Volcanoes 

Murray & Holt Dealership Slated For Development

BEND, OR -- The former site of the Murray and Holt car dealership in Bend is slated for redevelopment. Brooks Resources announced Monday it has closed on the property at NE Second and Franklin for an undisclosed amount of money; the nearly two-acre site was listed at $2.9 million.


Pat Kesgard, with Compass Commercial Real Estate, says it’s an example of the transition that’s coming to Bend’s newly designated Central District. "We’re in contract on that for redevelopment; and that [redevelopment push] will play into, in some cases, just retail, in others, retail, office and perhaps living." Bend’s Central District has been identified by the city for infill and redevelopment opportunities. 
Murray and Holt opened in Bend in 1957; it stopped selling new cars during the economic downturn and shut down completely last fall. Kesgard acknowledges the dealership was a Bend fixture, but tells KBND News redevelopment is expected, "The auto industry downturn during the recession killed them carrying national brands, so it’s just a natural transformation. Furniture stores went through this same cycle; it’s just part of the retail and real estate evolution."
Kirk Schueler, President and CEO of Brooks Resources, said in a statement, "While we have explored different development concepts, we don't have an immediate plan for the property. We're making an investment in the potential of this land and hope to create a mixed-use development in the future that is well received by the entire city of Bend."


St. Charles Again Tops List of Large Employers

BEND, OR -- According to the latest report from Economic Development for Central Oregon, the region’s 50 largest private companies employ more than 21,000 people. Despite recent layoffs, St. Charles Health System again tops the list, with 4,100 employees, region-wide. Sunriver came in second, moving up one spot from 2017. 


Click HERE for the full list of Central Oregon's largest employers, as compiled by EDCO. 


According to regional economist Damon Runberg, 78% of Oregon businesses have nine or fewer employees, and the average private company has 11 workers.

Tuesday Prescribed Burns

SISTERS, OR -- Firefighters with the Forest Service hope to continue prescribed burns in South County and near Sisters, Tuesday, if conditions allow. They’re still working near the Milli Fire scar, about 3.5 miles southwest of Sisters. Tuesday's burn involves 174 acres, directly across Forest Road 15 from operations completed in the past few days. 


Crews also plan to ignite a 150-acre burn east of Sunriver, along Forest Road 9720. Visit the Forest Service's website to track scheduled prescribed burns. All operations are weather dependent. 
Prescribed burns often send smoke into populated areas when temperatures cool overnight. Nearby residents are urged to keep windows closed. As of early Tuesday morning, the air quality near Sisters was considered by the DEQ to be "unhealthy." Click HERE to access an interactive map of the state's air quality index. 
Fire managers on the Ochoco National Forest have postponed the prescribed burn scheduled for Thursday, 19 miles east of Prineville. Officials say that given last weekend's storm and the rainfall expected Tuesday evening, the unit "is likely too wet to burn with desirable effects." They expect to conduct that operation next Monday or Tuesday. 


Suspected DUII Driver Hurt In Crash North of Bend

BEND, OR -- A Bend man suspected of drunk driving was seriously hurt in a crash, near Deschutes Junction. At about 2:45 Monday afternoon, a witness called Deschutes County Dispatch to report seeing a bike come out of the bed of a pickup, as it drove south on Highway 97 from Redmond. A second caller reported the vehicle was crossing into oncoming traffic.


According to the Sheriff’s Office, a deputy caught up with the suspect and activated his overhead emergency lights, but the driver failed to pull over, and allegedly nearly hit an ODOT road worker as it approached Deschutes Junction. The pickup then left the road at highway speeds and crashed. 
Medics took 56-year-old Greg Willis to the hospital for treatment of what first appeared to be minor injuries. He was later admitted to the hospital with serious injuries. Willis faces charges of DUII, Felony Driving While Suspended and Reckless Endangerment of a Highway Worker. 

Several Prescribed Burns On Tap This Week

SISTERS, OR -- Firefighters will conduct more prescribed burns in Central Oregon, this week. 


Firefighters will conduct burning operations southeast of Sunriver, near the Lavacast Forest, Monday and Tuesday. They'll start with two units, totaling 140 acres, near Forest Road 9720. 


On the Sisters Ranger District, fire managers will finish a unit south of Sisters, adjacent to the Milli Fire Scar off Forest Road 15. They have 72 acres remaining in that unit.


And, later this week, crews plan to conduct a large prescribed burn along Highway 26, in the Ochoco National Forest, 19 miles east of Prineville. They expect to start the operation late Wednesday morning and continue through Thursday. Crews will line the 1200-acre unit by hand, and may use a helicopter for aerial ignitions.


All operations are weather dependent.


Night Work Begins On Bend Parkway

BEND, OR -- Night work gets underway on the Bend Parkway, Monday, between Murphy Road and Reed Lane. ODOT’s Peter Murphy says crews will be cleaning up the side of the road, "Get the brush removed, I mean, totally removed down to bare dirt on that section of the Parkway. It’s just become such a problem that we need to take more definitive action." He says the vegetation collects trash and road sand from winter maintenance. "We found that over time it just became a trash collection function. It’s not very pretty, it’s very hard to maintain and it’s a bit of a safety hazard, too."


Murphy tells KBND News, "What we’ll do is team up with the city and try and get as much of that brush completely removed from the Parkway. And, it’ll be a big change for motorists who see it as they drive by. So, we want people to know, number one, we’re going to be on the road doing the work; and number two, it’s going to look a lot different."


One lane in each direction will close nightly, between 7:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. Work should be complete by Thursday morning. 
UPDATE: ODOT says crews will extend efforts north to Colorado, while still wrapping up work by Thursday morning. 

BLS Makes Decision On Controversial Book Selection

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools is responding to controversy over a book selected for a statewide competition. George, the story of a transgender girl, is included on the 2018-19 Oregon Battle of the Books ("OBOB") reading list for third through fifth graders. The selection has prompted several districts to rethink their participation in the popular event.


OBOB organizers choose a list of titles for students to read. They're divided into three divisions: third through fifth grade, sixth through eighth grade, and high school. Students compete against other kids in school-wide, district and state contests, based on their knowledge and comprehension of each book. "Bend-La Pine Schools does not require students to participate, nor do schools require participation of students," says Julianne Repman, with the district, "It's a voluntary program through the Oregon Association of School Libraries." 


For the first time, the youngest Bend-La Pine Schools participants will need parental permission to take part, "Bend-La Pine Schools believes that partnering with families is a good approach for determining whether Oregon Battle of the Books is a good fit for students," Repman tells KBND News, "The district has decided to require that any elementary students participating in the Battle of the Books have parent permission; and that will begin next fall." 


Repman acknowledges some are concerned about elementary school children reading about transgender issues. "That is one of the reasons, or perhaps the reason we've decided to take a step back and take a look at the program as a whole, and decided that we wanted to partner with parents; it's always the best practice." She says parental permission will not be necessary for middle and high school OBOB participants. 


Last week, the Hermiston School District and Cascade, south of Salem, announced they won't take part in the state event, due to George. Those students will compete in school and district-wide contests without the book. A handful of other districts are still evaluating their response. 

Investigation Continues Into Nightclub Stabbing

BEND, OR -- Police continue to investigate a weekend stabbing in front of a downtown Bend nightclub, and are now searching for witnesses who may have video of the incident. 


Officers responded to Seven Restaurant & Nightclub on Bond Street, at about 1:15 a.m. Saturday, where a 29-year-old Canby man was stabbed several times. Antonio Zuniga told investigators he was attacked by four Hispanic men, all with “fade haircuts.” One was described as wearing a black and red jersey. Despite an extensive search of the area, no suspects were found.
Zuniga was treated at the hospital for non-life threatening injuries. Police continue to search for the four people responsible. Anyone with information is asked to call Bend PD through non-emergency dispatch, at 541-693-6911.  

Smith Rock Climber Rescued After Fall

TERREBONNE, OR -- A climber at Smith Rock State park was seriously hurt in a 30' fall, Sunday afternoon. Redmond Fire and Rescue, Deschutes County deputies and a Search and Rescue team responded to the Rope-De-Dope area just after noon, along with a State Park Ranger.


It took crews about an hour to get the man from the climbing area to a waiting Life Flight helicopter. He was then flown to St. Charles Bend for treatment. 

Juniper Canyon Home Destroyed By Fire

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Juniper Canyon home was destroyed by a weekend fire. When Crook County Fire crews responded to the house on southeast Sharps Street, at about 2:30 Saturday afternoon, the house was already fully involved.


No one was home at the time, and there were no injuries. The cause of the blaze is under investigation. The Red Cross is helping the two adults and three pets who lost their home. 

Property Owners Asked To Prep For Fire Season

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County residents are encouraged to get their property ready for wildfire season, by creating a defensible space. "It’s a space around your home that has fire resistant landscaping," says Project Wildfire's Alison Green, "It’s irrigated, and really making sure that pine needles are out of your gutters, the leaf litter is not up against your wood siding, you don’t have brush underneath trees that will then carry fire into those trees. And, really making sure that ‘lean, mean and green’ needs to be around your home right before fire season hits."


Green says clearing away risky vegetation doesn’t mean you can’t have any plants near your home, "If we were completely surrounded by gravel we’d be a lot safer, but we want our landscaping. So, it doesn’t need to be a moonscape, but the correct plant choices can give you an 85-90% chance of surviving a wildfire." She tells KBND News, "Making sure that they are plants that have a higher moisture content; they stay greener through the summer – like wax currant, for instance; native plant but it’s fire resistant. You can have Ponderosa Pines in your front yard, but making sure that they’re limbed, that they’re healthy and they don’t have all this crazy pitch and stuff coming off of them." Click HERE for a list of fire resistant plants. 


To help people get rid of needles, shrubs and limbs, Project Wildfire and FireFree offer free yard debris disposal events at local transfer stations through the next month; the first take place this weekend in Sunriver and at the Westside Collection Site in Bend. Click HERE for a full list of events in Bend, Redmond, Sisters, La Pine and Sunriver. 
To hear our recent full conversation with Project Wildfire and the Deschutes National Forest, click HERE

Work Underway On Old McKenzie Hwy

SISTERS, OR -- Old McKenzie Highway remains closed for the season. Typically, cyclists and pedestrians would be allowed along the scenic route in the spring. But, this year is different.


The Oregon Department of Transportation is asking everyone to stay out, Monday through Thursdays. ODOT's Peter Murphy says crews are repairing extensive damage caused by last summer's Milli Fire, "We’ve got road graters and other heavy equipment on the road and we really don’t want cyclists and pedestrians up in that area because it’s going to be a risk to them and to us, too. We’ve got some signs posted on the fence, leading up from the east side to the top. And, when it says ‘extreme danger: road closed, do not enter,’ that’s we want people not to do, is to not enter." 
ODOT will open the historic highway on the weekends, but only to pedestrians and cyclists, "Friday, Saturday and Sunday it’s going to be okay, available for people to go up there," Murphy says, "But, the other part of that is that folks who want to visit the Old McKenzie Highway need to be prepared for the dramatic change in scenery that they’re going to see." He tells KBND News, "There are burned trees virtually everywhere, even from before the gate on the Sisters side, up to pretty close the top of the pass." He says even the dirt, road and some signs are charred. 
ODOT plans to open the highway to motorized vehicles June 18.  

Prescribed Burns To Continue Into Weekend

SISTERS, OR -- Firefighters with the US Forest Service plan more prescribed burns this weekend, if conditions allow. They expect to continue work Friday on several units along Highway 97 near Sunriver (pictured).


They also plant to ignite a two-day operation southwest of Sisters, Friday morning. The 200-acre unit is directly north of the Milli Fire scar, about 2 miles south of the Crossroads subdivision.


Smoke will likely be visible from both operations. Drivers near Sisters could experience low visibility on Highway 20 and Highway 242. In south county, driving could be impacted on Highway 97 near the Sunriver interchange. 


Track Central Oregon prescribed burns with the USFS interactive map

Deer Shot With Arrow Now Recovering

SHADY COVE, OR -- Two deer that were still alive after being shot with arrows near Shady Cove, in southern Oregon, have had the arrows removed. Dan Ethridge, with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, says State Police wildlife officers helped them tranquilize the deer so they could remove the arrows and treat the wounds.


The arrows didn't hit any vital organs and he expects they will make a full recovery, "They seem like they’re going to heal fine and do good. They look quite mobile and walked off like normal, too." The doe and yearling doe were first spotted last week. 

Ethridge says an investigation continues to find who was responsible. He doesn't believe hunters did it, "Their method was illegal, their time of year was illegal, their animal was illegal – it was in city limits. Just everything about it was kind of bad." There is now a $2,600 reward offered for information that leads to an arrest. 



Redmond Budget Includes More Police

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s Budget committee has approved a $46 million budget for the next year, and it includes four more police officers and an evidence tech. City Manager Keith Witcosky says the group was initially asked by the City Council to find room in the 2018-19 budget to hire three additional officers. Then, the committee met for a rare third time, "We came up with basically a $1.3 million list of needs. We said, ‘of these needs, is there anything you want to change in the proposed budget?’ And that’s what led to somebody saying, ‘can we afford that fourth officer?’ And, we can."


Witcosky says there will be sacrifices to pay for the increased police staffing, "We’re not having to make budget cuts to make this work; we’re just not able to kind of staff and invest in some of these services at the levels that they need. So, what gave was Parks." Redmond’s Parks budget will remain flat. Witcosky says that means that department will not have enough money for needed maintenance and staffing increases.
The budget was approved by the committee this week; City Council is expected to adopt it at their June 12 meeting. Witcosky says the city is still looking at how to raise revenue needed to properly fund Parks and get the police department to full staffing, which would require four more officers. He tells KBND News the Budget Committee had an idea, "They said, ‘we want to increase the permanent tax rate by 64-cents and give the citizens of Redmond a chance to vote on that, and that will help us get to the current service levels that are required’." He adds, "The average sale price of a house in Redmond is about $290,000. For that house, it’s about $130 a year to have your parks improved, to get your parks maintained and to get a police department staffed at a level we need, given the demands the community is placing on them." A permanent tax rate increase must be approved by voters. Witcosky says City Council will have to decide by late August whether to send the request to the November ballot. 

Prineville Seeks Input on Roundabout Feature

PRINEVILLE, OR -- As Oregon Department of Transportation crews pour concrete for curbs and ramps at the site of Prineville’s first roundabout, a committee is looking at what should go in its center, at Highway 126 and Tom McCall Road, once it’s finished. "As part of that agreement with ODOT to construct the roundabout, the center feature is going to be determined by the city and county," says Prineville City Engineer Eric Klann. 
He tells KBND News they're calling it a "feature," not "roundabout art," because officials want to keep their options open. An online survey launched this week aims to find out what the community wants. And, Klann says, it starts with some basic questions, "What is the role of the centerpiece? Is it to beautify the community, are we going to celebrate our history, or are we trying to inspire locals and visitors? What should it represent – should it represent the past or the future or be timeless? You know, things like that, just to get us a general direction."
Klann says the feature could be a sculpture, landscaping, historical piece honoring the 100th anniversary of the Prineville Railroad or something else altogether, "One of the members of our community still has the original steel-wheeled logging wagon that the Hudspeth family drug into Prineville in the early 1920s. There’s a lot of history with that piece of equipment, right there. So, is that something we want to put up there to represent our natural resource base?" He adds, "I think this is really a wonderful opportunity to welcome people to our community and welcome people home."
A Thursday Facebook post by the City of Prineville says, "The purpose of a feature/art/landscaping in a roundabout is to limit or reduce sight distance through the roundabout. Limiting this sight line allows drivers to focus on vehicles to their left that is already in the roundabout rather than those entering on the opposite side. While the feature likely won’t completely block being able to see vehicles on the other side of the roundabout, it will provide a visual screen for oncoming traffic and bring the drivers focus to the turn at hand."
The online survey is available now on the city’s website and Facebook page; or click HERE. Klann says they’ve already heard from over 700 people since it launched earlier this week. Survey results will be revealed at a June 12th workshop; construction of the roundabout should be done by October and installation of whatever center feature they decide on, is expected in the spring of 2019. 

Sunriver Offers PD & Fire Chief Jobs To Locals

SUNRIVER, OR -- The Sunriver Service District Board has chosen new leaders for the police and fire departments. And, they're familiar faces in Central Oregon. 


Board Administrator Debbie Baker says the decision followed a long process that whittled 48 applicants down to three finalists for police chief and two finalists for fire, who took part in public forums, last week. "The community was able to provide us input, the board had input from the two previous interview panels and then that final interview. So, based on all of that information, they voted to provide a conditional job offer to Cory Darling for Chief of police; and then for fire, they offered a conditional job offer to Tim Moor."


Darling is currently a Bend Police Captain; he served as interim chief in Sunriver for several months, after the controversial resignation of Chief Marc Mills. Baker says Darling was the best candidate to take on the challenges of the job and provide some stability to the department, "Sunriver’s a unique community in that it has a small number of permanent residents, but we do have an influx of visitors, so interacting with the community is really important for us. But, you also have to have strength, internally; so, it’s a dual focus."


Moor is the long-time chief of Redmond Fire and Rescue. Sunriver's last Fire Chief, Art Hatch, was also hired from Redmond. Baker acknowledges it’s unusual to search for a fire and police chief at the same time. But, she says it didn’t start out that way. The process initially began with the retirement of Chief Hatch in August, "The board was considering whether to merge the two departments under a Public Safety Director. But, when the issue with came up Chief Mills and he resigned, the decision was made to move forward with two executives in each of those disciplines. The disciplines are very different, although they’re both public safety. But, they decided we needed leadership in both of those departments."


Baker says they must still complete background checks, physical and psychological exams and contract negotiations. She's optimistic that process will move quickly because both men are local, which she says has other benefits, as well. "It’s a little bit of an advantage to know the make-up of the area, as far as connections with other agencies, and understanding what the issues are of the area." Baker hopes Hatch and Darling will be on the job by July first, if not sooner.   

Bend City Council To Explore School Safety

BEND, OR -- Bend’s City Council has agreed to meet with Bend Police and officials from Bend-La Pine Schools, to discuss ways to improve school safety. Several students spoke at Wednesday night’s Council meeting urging the city to take action, without making school feel like a prison. 


Mayor Casey Roats agreed to explore options of how the city could get involved, "I’d certainly be supportive of a work session where maybe we have the School Resource Officers here, the Chief of Police, and we can ask some of these questions and get at the heart of what these young ladies are asking for."  


Marika Green is an elementary teacher in Bend. She told Councilors, Wednesday, she thinks about her student’s safety every day. "Something has to change. Our minds should be focused on curriculum goals and on the progress of our students. We should be thinking about honing our craft and engaging our learning communities. Defending our students in a life or death situation was never part of our job description."


Green was one of several speakers to thank Councilor Barb Campbell for opposing a proposed county ordinance. The “Second Amendment Preservation” ordinance would allow the Sheriff to not enforce state and federal gun laws he deems unconstitutional. If supporters gather enough signatures, the ordinance could go to Deschutes County voters in November. It's in direct response to IP 43, a proposed state measure that would ban some firearms and high-capacity magazines. 



A group of Bend-La Pine students spoke to the Bend City Council Wednesday night (Wed) about gun safety, and their opposition to a proposed “Second Amendment Preservation” county ordinance. 

Several speakers at last night’s meeting thanked Councilor Barb Campbell for filing a challenge to the wording of the proposed Deschutes County ordinance … 
that proposed ballot measure would allow the Sheriff to not enforce state and federal gun laws he deems unconstitutional. 

Prescribed Burns Planned For Sunriver Area

SUNRIVER, OR -- Firefighters with the Deschutes National Forest plan to conduct more prescribed burns Thursday, if conditions remain favorable. They hope to ignite several units totaling 140 acres south of Bend and east of Sunriver; another 69 acres could be burned Friday in the same area.


Due to the location of these operations, the Oregon Department of Transportation warns drivers should be prepared for smoky conditions near Highway 97 and the Sunriver interchange.


Officials say the operations will decrease hazardous fuels accumulations within the Wildland Urban Interface near the city of Sunriver, to reduce the risk of high-intensity wildfire and reintroduce fire into a "fire adapted" ecosystem. 

Lucky Pit Stop Nets Prineville Man $30k

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A pit stop before a camping trip was worth $30,000 for a Prineville man. Joe Martin says he and his new girlfriend, Dani, stopped at a Prineville gas station to get sodas before heading into the mountains. He had a little extra money and picked up the $3 Pirates Gold Scratch-It.


After they got settled at the campsite, Martin says he scratched the ticket and saw a three; he thought he’d earned his money back. Then he saw a bunch of zeros and realized it was a $30,000 winner. When they returned to the store and scanned the ticket, they realized he had really won, "I was jumping and whooping and freaking out," he said. "The clerk had me sign the back of the ticket immediately."


He plans to use the money to expand his glass art business, "We can get more artists and a better space now," he told Oregon Lottery officials. 



Prineville Woman Accused In Theft Investigation

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County Sheriff's investigators say a 62-year-old woman was involved in the theft of a generator. Deputies received a report of a generator stolen from the Davis Loop area and developed evidence that led them to a home on SE Canyon Road. 


Investigators executed a search warrant at about 11 a.m. Wednesday, with help from Central Oregon SWAT and Prineville Police. They found the stolen property, as well as equipment used to move the generator and meth paraphernalia. 


Margaret Verduin was contacted at the house and arrested for possession of stolen property and drug possession. 

Suspect Arrested After Wild South County Chase

LA PINE, OR -- A 66-year-old man was arrested late last night, following an erratic police chase in south county. Deschutes County deputies were first dispatched to La Pine Inn on a report of a highly intoxicated person out of control, just after 10:30 p.m. The suspect was later identified as Lesley Snyder. By the time deputies arrived, he was gone.


Snyder was quickly spotted driving dangerously, nearly hitting a building. Officials say he refused to stop for pursuing officers on Highway 97. Speeds during the chase ranged from 25 to 65 miles per hour. Several times, he crossed into oncoming traffic, forcing at least one person off the road. After changing directions in the oncoming lanes several times, Snyder ran over spike strips and was eventually stopped using a "PIT" maneuver. 
He was taken into custody and, after receiving medical treatment for minor injuries, Snyder was taken to jail. He's accused of Felony Elude, Reckless Driving, Criminal Mischief, DUI, Reckless Endangering, Hit and Run and Attempted Assault III. 

Buehler Answers Criticism On GOP Issues

BEND, OR -- Republican candidate for Governor Knute Buehler (center) faces a tough fight in the last two weeks of his primary campaign. The Bend State Representative is considered by many to be the GOP front-runner, but he faces renewed criticism that he’s not conservative enough to be the party’s nominee.


Buehler voted in favor of a state bill preventing convicted stalkers from owning firearms, leading some to say he’s anti-Second Amendment. On Tuesday, he told KBND host Lars Larson that's not true, "I grew up in Roseburg with guns, I’m a gun owner now- I have my 9mm for personal protection, I have my .22 rifle for killing sage rats, and I owned a shotgun for bird hunting. I understand the importance of this issue to people, and to have their Second Amendment rights, not only for self-protection, but recreation."
On reports that he breaks with his party on the abortion issue, Buehler admits, "I’m pro-choice." But says, "I’m not ‘pro-abortion.’ I think we should strive to make abortion as rare as possible. And, I’ve done that in my time in the Legislature; remember, I wrote and passed a groundbreaking law that gives women in Oregon the ability to buy oral contraception over the counter." Buehler told Larson, "We need to convince people in their hearts and minds that abortion is the wrong option, give them more access to prevention through contraception, more options with regards to adoption for their unborn children. Those are the types of things that are going to decrease abortion."
And, there are claims Buehler is avoiding public forums with opponents Sam Carpenter (left) and Greg Wooldridge (right). "I haven’t been avoiding these things; it’s a pure scheduling problem," says Buehler. "We’ve been to 50 – either myself or my campaign manager have been to 50 of these forums in the last six months. There’s a lot of these going on right now, because of a lack of connection between the different county organizations." Buehler agreed to appear on the Lars Larson Show with his opponents for a live debate, prior to the May 15th primary, if scheduling allows.

Community Training To Prevent Fatal Opioid OD

BEND, OR -- As the opioid epidemic spreads, there is a push to train more people to use Naloxone, the drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and is already available to local first responders. Julia Pinsky, Executive Director of Medford-based Max's Mission, says the Surgeon General recently endorsed the idea of average people carrying Naloxone, "Family and people who use, and neighbors and community members should be carrying Naloxone because there is a huge amount of people out there on prescription opioids, as well as illicit opioids. There’s no community in Oregon that is safe, really; that can be excluded from the opioid epidemic."


DCSO Using Drug To Reverse OD Effects


Pinsky works with health officials and law enforcement to organize free community trainings, and two will be held in Central Oregon on Thursday, "It’s very easy to train; seriously. Yes, it’s a big issue because you are bringing someone back to life and it’s an emergency situation. But, as adult human beings, we’re used to dealing with those fairly regularly. And, using Naloxone, especially the nasal form, is really very, very easy." She adds that providing a dose of Naloxone should always be done in conjunction with calling 911. 


Pinsky lost her son to a heroin overdose in 2013 and formed Max's Mission 18 months ago to help other families learn how to prevent a similar tragedy. She says they lived in a rural area, which delayed the arrival of first responders. Pinsky believes she could have helped her son had she known about Naloxone and had it available when he OD'd. However, she tells KBND News trainings aren't just for those who know an addict, "Many older people overdose accidentally. They forget that they took their prescription in the morning and they go out and garden and then they’re in pain in the afternoon, and then they take something else. We try to cover all eventualities."
The first local training takes place Thursday at Sahalee Park in Madras, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Pinsky says it's an informal "pop-up" event where people can learn about the symptoms of an overdose, the Good Samaritan Law, how to use Naloxone and get a starter kit, "We want to educate people on how they can access it locally, but they also want to give it to people who turn up, so they can go away with some in their hands." Thursday evening, a more structured event will be held in Bend, at the Deschutes County Services building (1300 NW Wall St), 6:30-8 p.m. The events were made possible through a partnership with the Central Oregon Health Council and Bend Treatment Center. 

Forest Near Walton Lake Remains Closed

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Forty acres of forest near Walton Lake, northeast of Prineville, remains closed to recreators, due to public safety concerns. Ochoco National Forest officials say the area is infected with a tree disease that weakens roots and can cause them to fall without warning. Laminated Root Rot is considered the most damaging root disease of forest trees in Oregon and Washington. 


A one-year closure was issued in May 2017, and renewed Tuesday; it'll remain in place until the Forest Service can deal with the threat to people's safety. Click HERE to read the full order. It prevents people from visiting an area that borders the busiest recreation site on the Ochoco National Forest. Walton Lake, its boat launch and campground will open as normal, May 15.

Group Launches Redmond's Spirit Foundation

REDMOND, OR -- A new organization hopes to help Redmond-area nonprofits overcome funding challenges. "The government cannot and probably should not be seen as the funding source – or the end-all/be-all for funding sources – for different organizations around our community," says Redmond's Spirit Foundation co-founder Angela Boothroyd.


She says her new endeavor is modeled, in part, by the 100+ Women Who Care and similar groups who pool funds contributed by members. The money is then awarded to needy nonprofits as voted on by the members. Boothroyd says Redmond’s Spirit takes the concept to another level, "We want to get 1,000 individuals to commit to contribute a minimum of $100 a year, and pledge to do that for three years so that we will have a larger dollar amount, by combining all our funds, that we’ll be able to contribute back into the community." She adds, "It would have to go out into other 501c3 organizations; that is part of our charter."


Boothroyd tells KBND News a selection committee will  create a list of a handful of local organizations that need help, "It will go back to the people who are contributing, for them to have some input on which endeavors they would like to support. And then, ultimately, the Board of Directors will decide where the funds go back out in the community."  She says there are many non-profits doing great work, but the time they spend fundraising can detract from their mission, and the foundation can help ease some of that pressure. "Our plan is not to give, you know, one or $2,000 here and there. We’re hoping to make much larger contributions that will really make a difference for organizations." 


A kickoff event will take place Tuesday at noon, at Centennial Park. Organizers will plant a flag and answer questions about Redmond's Spirit. 

Sisters Revamps Short-Term Rental Rules

SISTERS, OR -- Sisters officials are working on new rules for short term rentals, following a public review process.


Community Development Director Patrick Davenport says the Planning Commission took both sides into consideration in making the new rules. "Some folks are saying that it's a detriment to affordable housing; it's taking away from the stock of long term rentals in the city. But, on the other side, we're getting complaints that we're being too strict." He says those homeowners believe they should be able to do with their properties as they see fit who no interference from local government.


The new regulations call for strict licensing and insurance requirements, only 8% of the homes inside city limits can be short term rentals at any given time, and the review process is more frequent and comprehensive. Davenport says it's a compromise, "You've got competing interests, so I think we have a great solution on still allowing them, but not allowing them to proliferate and take over the city."
There will be another hearing to finalize the regulations May 17; an official decision is expected by City Council on June 27.

Prineville Man Sentenced For Sex Abuse Of A Child

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A 34-year-old Prineville man will spend the next 50 years in prison, for sexually abusing a young girl over three years, starting when she was just four years old. Timothy Gassner was sentenced Monday.


Crook County District Attorney Wade Whiting says it was a satisfying end to a heartbreaking case, "The mother worked a graveyard shift; the live-in boyfriend had unfettered access to the young child, unfortunately, for these three years. It wasn’t until the mother took out a restraining order against the boyfriend and he was removed from the home that the young girl felt safe to come forward and tell her story." Whiting says she waited another year to disclose the abuse because she worried Gassner would come back; he threatened to hurt her if she ever told anyone.
Gassner's conviction falls under Jessica’s Law, which means he won’t be eligible for early release, "Through the girl’s testimony, we could determine that there were at least 13 separate incidences where this took place," Whiting tells KBND News. "The maximum penalty the defendant was facing was the possibility of 325 years in prison. Ultimately, Judge Ahern determined that the appropriate sentence in this instance would be 50 years in prison." He’ll be on lifetime supervision when he does get out, and he’ll have to register as a sex offender.  
"These are the most important crimes," says D.A. Whiting, "And it really takes a very large community partner effort to get these cases to where we can take them to trial. In this instance, thankfully we had good grandparents and a mother that immediately came forward to the police. These are cases that really tug at the heartstrings. It’s heartbreaking that a four- to seven-year-old girl had to endure this kind of sexual abuse for years."

DCSO Swears In Six Corrections Deputies

BEND, OR -- Six new Corrections Deputies will be sworn in Tuesday at the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, in an ongoing effort to get the jail up to full staffing. Sgt. William Bailey acknowledges it's a slow process. "The training process takes some time, to get a deputy from the hiring date until they’re on their own doing the job of a deputy. That can take nine months, approximately. A patrol deputy can take even longer, depending, because the academy is longer."


The Corrections Department has struggled to reach full staffing in recent years, due to retirements, promotions and several internal investigations. Sgt. Bailey says the Sheriff's Office is doing a better job recruiting qualified employees who will stay for the long-haul, "Right now, we’re using the National Testing Network, which is opening up our applicant pool across the nation. Then, it’s going through a good hiring process: interviews and a thorough background check and really vetting these people that we’re bringing on at our agency, and making sure they’re a right fit; making sure they're going to fall in line with the values and mission statement of our agency, and the customer service-oriented nature that Sheriff Nelson expects."

Captain Michael Shults, the new Corrections Division Commander, tells KBND News that after three Deputies were sworn in in January and another in March, four openings remain. He admits the concept of "full staffing" at the jail is a moving target because staff get promoted or move to the Patrol Division, and in one recent instance, moved out of the area. 


One Injured In Redmond Four-Car Crash

REDMOND, OR -- A four car crash just west of Redmond, sent one person to the hospital, Monday afternoon. According to the Sheriff’s Office, 68-year-old Gertraud Morrison, of Terrebonne, was northbound on Helmholtz, at about 3:30 p.m. When she attempted to cross Highway 126, she pulled into the path of a westbound pickup driven by 52-year-old Jeffrey Hewitt, of Prineville.


After the two trucks collided, they hit a Plymouth Breeze stopped at a stop sign on the north side of the highway, pushing it into the Audi behind it. Hewitt was taken by ambulance to St. Charles Redmond with non-life threatening injuries; no other injuries were reported. 


Investigators don’t believe speed, alcohol or distracted driving were factors in the crash. Helmholtz was closed between Antler and the highway for about 1.5 hours; Highway 126 remained open. 


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