Local News Archives for 2019-01

Madras Discusses Tiny Home Village

MADRAS, OR -- The city of Madras is considering whether a tiny home development could provide much-needed low-income and transitional housing. Community Development Director Nick Snead admits he originally thought it couldn’t work in Madras. Then, last month, he attended a presentation in Redmond by SquareOne Villages, which has two tiny home neighborhoods in Eugene. He says members of the law enforcement and faith-based communities joined city officials and homeless advocates to discuss solutions, "Sitting to my left was Redmond Police Chief Tarbet and to my right, Mayor Endicott, and several other people representing veterans and several other affordable housing nonprofits; and, when I heard the story about SquareOne Villages and how successful it’s been in addressing some of the homeless issues in Eugene, I thought, ‘Man! We need to have the same presentation in Madras’." Click HERE to view part of that presentation.

Each of the two Eugene villages has 20 tiny homes. Snead says a Madras plan would need to be scaled down, "Look at the city of Madras, which is 6,300 people; you know, we could have four tiny homes and proportionately have the same kind of impact on our community." And, he says he's encouraged to hear neighbors of the Eugene programs speak highly of how the communities are managed. Snead says it would only work in Madras if it improves livability for everyone, "It’s really important to make sure that it’s not creating problems for the neighbors living in that same area. That, rather, it’s adding value to that neighborhood. So, you’re reducing crime, taking people off the streets and dealing with the difficult issues that we need to deal with in our community."


Snead hasn’t identified a location for such a village, nor a timeline for development because, he says, he wants to first see whether residents support the idea. "I think there’s a sense, here at City Hall, that if the community was behind this city staff would do everything we could to, if needed, change our development regulations and anything else, to make this go forward." He’ll start gauging support at a Thursday meeting where SquareOne Villages shares what it’s doing in Eugene. The presentation is open to the public; it begins at 3 p.m. at Madras City Hall (125 SW E St.). 


Jefferson, Crook Co. Cable Customers Without CBS

UPDATE (02/01/2019) — TDS Telecom, Ben Broadband’s parent company, announced late Friday they have reached an agreement to carry stations owned by Nexstar Media Group. The deal allows for retransmission of local stations to more than 50,000 customers in eight states, including KOIN in Jefferson and Crook counties, after a month-long blackout. 


In a statement, TDS President Jim Butman thanked customers for their patience and cooperation, “Because of their support we were able to come to a reasonable agreement with Nexstar.” Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 



BEND, OR (01/31/2019) -- Bend Broadband’s parent company, TDS Telecom, is in a contract dispute with the owner of Portland CBS station KOIN-TV and Super Bowl fans are caught in the middle. "CBS is broadcasting the Super Bowl this year, and obviously we don’t want our customers to miss out on this big game," says TDS Telecom's Cheryl McCollum, "But, unfortunately, we are still in negotiations and it appears it will not be resolved by the time the Super Bowl is this weekend."


McCollum tells KBND News, "The sticking point is rates – what Nexstar Media Group is asking us to pay to broadcast that station. Some of our negotiations with them are up to 112% higher than it was a year ago. It’s generally not the first year that the contract is that expensive. It’s what happens in years two and three that we have our concerns with." She says that would equate to a few dollars extra per month, on each customer’s cable bill in Jefferson and Crook counties. While McCollum admits it's not a lot, it adds up over time.


Nexstar Media appealed directly to viewers earlier this month, issuing a statement that claimed, in part, "It appears that TDS is using Nexstar’s pending acquisition of Tribune Media Company, to try to pressure Nexstar to accepting an unreasonable offer. To accept an unreasonable offer would compromise Nexstar’s ability to provide more great local content to you, our loyal viewers. Nexstar’s local news and operating staff are proud local residents, and they aim to provide you with the best local content. Nexstar does not publicly comment on negotiations, regardless of how active they may be, but the fees TDS is claiming that Nexstar is asking for is quite an embellishment." 


The dispute forced Bend Broadband to black-out KOIN on January first. McCollum says federal rules prohibit the cable company from providing a different CBS station, "The FCC determines the DMA, the Designated Market Areas. And Madras and Prineville and Culver, and some of those communities are out of the Portland DMA, so we can only broadcast that station in that DMA." The Bend television market encompasses Deschutes County, where cable subscribers receive TDS-owned KBNZ-CBS and therefore aren't impacted by the blackout.


"We still are hoping to get this resolved, but at this point," McCollum says, "It doesn’t appear that it’s going to happen before this weekend." But, she says customers in Madras, Crooked River Ranch, Culver, Metolius and Prineville who aren't able to tune in to CBS can still watch the Super Bowl. McCollum says it will be live streamed and available for free on the CBS Sports app, NFL mobile app, Yahoo Sports app, online at CBSSports.com, or via streaming devices like Apple TV, Google Chromecast or Roku. Click HERE for more on how to watch the big game. 

No Injuries in Two Powell Butte Crashes



POWELL BUTTE, OR -- Wednesday morning’s dense fog and slick conditions may have contributed to two Crook County crashes during the morning commute, both on Powell Butte Highway.


The first occurred at about 7:45 a.m. Deputies say 52-year-old Sheri Baker, of Bend, failed to negotiate a curve and sideswiped an oncoming car, driven by a Bend man. Baker was issued a citation for failing to drive within her lane and both cars had to be towed from the scene.


The second incident (pictured above) was just after 9 a.m., when 25-year-old Kaylee Stout, of Prineville, reportedly lost control and rolled her SUV when she tried to pass another vehicle.


No one was hurt in either crash.

Development in Sisters Could Include Apartments

SISTERS, OR -- A Sisters architect is considering how 7.5 acres along Highway 20, behind the Three Winds Shopping Center, could be developed. Chris Mayes is now working with the city to complete a land-use application. The property extends from Hood Street to the McKinney Butte roundabout. 


The current property owner hopes to sell and Mayes says whomever purchases the land will need to plan ahead, "It's a very odd-shaped lot now, because the original development, which is the Bi-Mart and Takoda's - those kind of took a chunk right out of the center of it. So, there's some really odd-shaped triangular pieces; It's 7.5 acres, but it's a little bit of a challenge because of the configuration."


Mayes says it's still very early in the development of a Master Plan for the area zoned Highway Commercial, "We don't have any specific plans; there's nothing to talk about in terms of what specific businesses are coming in, other than just commercial, probably a food, and the multi-family - probably two stories of apartments." He tells KBND News, "We're just putting together footprints and having an idea of 'this kind of space could fit here.' And, we're looking at parking and circulation to and from those areas."


He hopes to present his proposal to the Sisters Planning Commission soon and have their decision by late spring. 

Piper Sworn In As Councilor Amid Protests

BEND, OR -- Bend’s newest City Council was sworn in to office, Wednesday morning, during a special meeting at City Hall. But, Chris Piper's term starts under protest by community groups, who say another candidate should’ve been chosen for the vacancy.

Michael Funke was one of the organizers of a rally that took place just before the meeting, "There was actually a huge outpouring of broad community support for another candidate, Kerani Mitchell. When I say ‘huge,’ I want to point out that City Councilor Bruce Abernethy actually told me that the amount of emails that they got in support of Kerani Mitchell was really a lot, by their standards." He tells KBND News he opposes Piper's appointment because of what he says was undue influence by the Central Oregon Association of Realtors, Bend Chamber of Commerce and Central Oregon Builders Association. He believes Mayor Sally Russell, who initially supported Mitchell, was swayed after conversations with the business groups. Funke says it’s nothing personal, "I don’t know Chris Piper. But, I think it’s worth pointing out that these three organizations heavily financed two candidates in the November election, Andrew Davis and Sarah McCormick; those two candidates were defeated. And now, the Council has turned around and told these three organizations that even though your candidates were rejected, we’re still going to appoint your candidate to this vacancy."


He acknowledges a rally wouldn't influence anything, in the short term, "It’s unlikely that they’re going to change this particular appointment; we’re looking down the road. They pass up a candidate who was a person of color. It would’ve been a profound statement – a profound positive statement to people of color throughout the city, if they had chose her. And, she was very, very qualified. I would say more qualified than Chris Piper, actually."


Photos: (top) Chris Piper is sworn in at City Hall, during a special Council meeting at 8:30 a.m., Wednesday. Photo courtesy City of Bend.

(upper right, right) Protesters gather outside City Hall at 8 a.m. to protest Piper's appointment. Photo courtesy Central Oregon Daily/Zolo Media. 

Plans Advance for Closing Redmond Birthing Ctr.

REDMOND, OR -- St. Charles Health System is moving forward with plans to close the Family Birthing Center at the Redmond hospital. The decision, announced last fall, was met with a lot of community opposition, including from Redmond’s City Council.

Medical Director for Women’s Services Dr. Barbara Newman says it wasn’t an easy decision, but now that it’s been made, they need to prepare, "The latest date that it will happen will be July 31st. We don’t have an exact date yet because we have about 13 workgroups who are dealing with the many, many problems and balls up in the air of trying to make this happen in a well-expedited way." She tells KBND News, "First of all, we are telling all our patients that the closure is happening; we’re making sure that everyone knows. There’s a marketing campaign that will be going on, to notify our community members. So, no surprises for our patients." Dr. Newman says St. Charles is also working on plans to remodel the Madras birthing center to accommodate more babies and other medical personnel will be prepared to handle deliveries, as well, "We are developing training programs, and we will be going out and giving extra training to EMS and ED [Emergency Department] providers."


St. Charles Bend is also expanding services, with plans to launch a midwifery program similar to what's currently available at the Redmond hospital. And, Dr. Newman says, expectant mothers in Redmond and the surrounding area will be able to stay with their OB-GYN, "With the closure of Redmond’s FBC, we’re estimating about 500 deliveries per year will be shifted to – predominantly Bend, but either Bend or Madras. To meet that demand, because there are no new providers coming to Bend at this stage, anyway, the hospitalists will be doing the deliveries. Our OB-GYNs who are in Redmond already, will be doing shifts as hospitalists." Those doctors are expected to stay with the Redmond Women's Clinic, which is remaining open. 

Local Interest Grows for State of Jefferson

CROOKED RIVER RANCH, OR -- A grassroots effort to create a 51st state is spreading through California and southern Oregon, and it’s now sparking interest in Deschutes and Jefferson counties. 


Mark Baird, with the State of Jefferson movement, says they want smaller government and better representation, "What the state of Jefferson hopes to achieve is to create a state where one house of the state legislature will be by county, so communities have some representation. And then, the other house of government will be directed by apportionment, just like it is now; although, the districts will be far smaller." He says that would prevent urban areas from making decisions that impact more sparsely populated areas, "Now, we have a situation, for example, in Oregon, where Portland and Salem have enough political power that they can pass any bill they want anytime they want, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else in the state wants or thinks. Between those two cities, they have more than 51% of the representation in each of the houses of government and none of the rest of us can have any hope for adequate representation." Baird says similar problems arise in his home state of California, "My Senate District One has one State Senator for 11 counties and Los Angeles County has 11 Senators. So, what we hope to achieve in the State of Jefferson is smaller government, with far smaller people in each elected district, so that the representative will have to pay attention to what his voters think."


An informational meeting Thursday evening, hosted by Ranch Matters CRR, offers Central Oregonians a chance to learn how Jefferson and Deschutes Counties could get involved in the movement. That meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Crooked River Ranch Juniper Room (5195 Club House Road). Call Ranch Matters CRR at 503-256-1656 for more information. 

Utility Crew Strikes Gas Line, Closing Bend Streets

BEND, OR -- A busy section of Northeast Third Street in Bend was closed for more than four hours Tuesday, after a utility crew cut a gas line. Bend Fire responded to the alley between Taco Bell and Baskin Robbins just before 10 a.m., and found a 4" high-pressure main gas line had been cut.

Police and road crews shut down Second, Third and Fourth streets, between Olney and Greenwood, as well as portions of First and Fifth. Businesses in the immediate area were evacuated, including two preschools, while others in the surrounding area were told to shelter in place and avoid doing anything that could cause a spark. 

Cascade Natural Gas crews dug up the line and installed valves to shut it down, monitoring for gas concentrations while they worked. The area reopened just before 2:30 p.m. 

Park Construction Begins Year After Contest Win

REDMOND, OR -- The design for a major facelift at Redmond's Baker Park is complete and work will finally begin soon, to create an all-abilities playground. It was last year's winner of the Portland Trailblazers Moda Assist contest, following an overwhelming response during an online vote. "It was really exciting to win and have the community support," says Redmond Parks Division Manager Annie McVay, "The Baker project is just really exciting. It was one of the first parks in Redmond and it's in dire need of an update." But, she says it took a while to secure the rest of the funding needed, "$20,000 is a great donation, but kind of just a drop in the bucket for all of the things that we wanted to do at Baker." McVay tells KBND News she applied for another grant over the summer, "We got a great grant from Oregon Parks and Rec Department, so now we can complete the whole project."


She acknowledges everyone is anxious to begin work at Baker Park, especially those living in the area who have questioned why it appears nothing is happening, "It'll probably take a good month or month and an half to do full construction of the area. They won't see that we've started until, probably, we tear down the old equipment and that will be sometime this spring." McVay adds, "We just awarded the contract for the equipment this week. We'll install it, hopefully before school is out; but not making any promises."


Prineville's Old Stryker Field is in the running for this year's Moda Assist grant. It could receive more money because they've doubled the amount contributed for each on-court assist made by the Blazers; it's now $20. Online voting for the 2019 contest begins February 20. 


New Bend Elementary School Boundaries Released

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Shay Mikalson approved new boundaries for elementary schools, Tuesday, to take effect next fall. The district made changes to accommodate the new 600-student school opening in September at O.B. Riley and Cooley Road, as well as alleviate pressure from growing enrollment throughout the city. 

Generally, the boundary for the new school stretches from Tumalo to Butler Market and Mount Washington Drive, east to Highway 97, as well as a small portion of the Boyd Acres neighborhood. Click HERE to download a PDF of the new boundary map.

A committee worked for months, including community meetings and surveys, to come up with the new boundaries for elementary schools. Next school year, the district will do the same for middle and high school boundaries in advance of the new southeast Bend high school opening in 2021. 

Bend Gas Leak Shuts Down NE Third

BEND, OR -- A northeast Bend gas leak shut down several streets and led to evacuations, Tuesday morning. Bend Fire responded to near the Taco Bell at NE Third Street and Kearney, just before 10 a.m. They found a broken 4" natural gas main and began evacuating nearby buildings, including a preschool. 


Third Street closed between Olney and Greenwood; police and ODOT crews are rerouting traffic around the area. Traffic could be impacted for up to four hours. Those in the surrounding area are asked to "shelter in place," between First and Fifth streets, and from Greenwood to Olney. People are asked to stay indoors and not use open flame or anything else that could cause a spark and refrain from operating vehicles or machinery.


KBND News will continue to follow this developing story, and will update as more information becomes available. 


11 a.m. UPDATE: Bend Police say the leak was caused during construction in the alley between the Shell gas station and Baskin Robbins on Third Street. Cascade Natural gas crews are responding, but they estimate it won't be fixed until the afternoon. NE 2nd, 3rd and 4th streets are closed between Greenwood and Marshall Ave. Some traffic restrictions are also in place on NE 5th and 1st. Everyone is asked to avoid the area. 


1 p.m. UPDATE: Bend Fire crews say gas is shut off to the leak, and Cascade Natural Gas continues to repair the break. They hope to be finished by around 2 p.m. 


Search Again Underway for RHS Principal

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond High is, once again, on the hunt for a new principal. Superintendent Mike McIntosh says the school has been in a state of transition since May, when the last principal suddenly stepped down, "It was a late resignation in the school year; and there is certainly a ‘season,’ if you will, of hiring in our school system and we missed that. So, we’ve gone a different route with this year being a building year. We’ve hired HD Weddel, former Bend principal, and we have Tracy Renwick, who is my Secondary Curriculum Director, who are managing that building, which has given that staff, I think, a chance to heal and regroup."

McIntosh acknowledges the school needs a long-term leader. RHS has had five principals since 2010, none lasting longer than two years. He tells KBND News Weddel and Renwick are involved in creating the profile for the type of person they think should take over, "They’ve had multiple meetings as they plan to replace and find the permanent solution with those ideals and those philosophies and the vision of the principal that they would suggest and would like to find." McIntosh explains, "They have to love kids; they have to be in a position of being able to show their passion and vision for how to improve student success. That’s it: they want a kids-centered, parent-accessible person who can lead the staff into a common direction."


He would like to see the job posting garner between 25 and 35 applications. A team will review them all and recommend a handful of applicants take part in video interviews. The top two candidates will then be presented to McIntosh who will conduct his own interviews and make the final decision. McIntosh hopes to name the next leader by April, with that person starting work July first. 

USFS Back At Work Following Furlough

BEND, OR -- Federal workers were back on the job Monday, for the first time since before Christmas. Jean Nelson Dean, with the Deschutes National Forest, says it was a relief to see the shutdown end but returning to the office comes with challenges. "Folks are very excited to get back to work. But obviously, operationally, we need to get our financial systems up and running; people need to get their computers that have a lot of passwords that have expired up and running; And so, just kind of rebooting everything that would be in place if we had been in continual operation."


Following the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, Nelson Dean says her office's top priority is to identify which forestry projects need to be done first, "We’ve missed over a month of work. You can’t just come back and meet all the goals that you had for the rest of the year. So, trying to really look at our priorities and what we can continue to accomplish. I know it seems a ways off, but we’re starting to really prep for field season and fire season." She tells KBND News some work did get done during the shutdown, "We continue to do timber sales and our vegetation management treatments that are under contract, to make sure our local contractors weren’t impacted by the furlough. And then [we] did some limited maintenance on our recreation sites, particularly the Deschutes River Trail and the sno-parks." Those were deemed "critical" projects because of how important winter recreation is to the region. She says they also continued with hiring summer temporary workers, to make sure impacts from the shutdown wouldn’t continue into wildfire season.

New Coalition to Discuss Deschutes River Health

BEND, OR -- A group of river-related agencies meets Tuesday to discuss a shared vision for the Deschutes. North Unit Irrigation District Director and Deschutes Basin Board of Control Manager Mike Britton says the goal is to return the river to full health for future generations, "It's a vision whereby we can work together to find solutions for the Deschutes River that benefit families, farms, and fish. Not just local interests, but really basin interests; not just a Deschutes or Bend issue, I believe it's really a Basin issue, and that's what the coalition is about." He adds, "It's really a broad perspective of representatives from the fishing community, from the recreational community, from the farming community. It really is an effort to bring in all those interests in a shared vision for the River."


The Shared Vision for the Deschutes, part of the Coalition for the Deschutes, holds its first meeting at the Riverhouse On the Deschutes, to discuss and celebrate the river's future, "I think this is a great first step, developing a group of people that can continue to work together to find solutions through local involvement." Britton tells KBND News, "Farmers, environmental groups, municipalities, and others with an interest are being invited to talk about the vision and find ways and help move the effort forward." He says they plan to invite community to take part in the collaborative in the future, because the Deschutes River is an integral part of life in Central Oregon.



Possible Measles Exposure in Bend

UPDATE (01/30/19): The Oregon Health Authority has confirmed a person contagious with measles visited Deschutes County on January 19 and 20. They now say that person visited Mountain Air in Bend on Saturday, Jan. 19, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and Juniper Swim and Fitness Center on Sunday, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The infected person is one of 38 now linked to a broader outbreak that started in Clark County, Washington


Deschutes County Communicable Disease Nurse Jill Johnson tells KBND News most people have been vaccinated and are protected. "We do not have any confirmed cases of Measles in Deschutes County. The person that has been confirmed was just visiting our area on January 19th and 20th."


County Health Services is working to notify people of their potential exposure and help them take steps to stop the spread of the virus. Johnson says, "[We're] Working with the businesses to identify people that were unimmunized and visited those locations on Saturday the 19th and Sunday the 20th, to make sure they’re familiar with the signs and symptoms of Measles and contact their healthcare provider right away, should symptoms arise." She adds, "For general questions about Measles, they should call 211, if they’ve been immunized. If they’re not immunized and they visited one of the locations, they should call the health department at 541-322-7418." 




BEND, OR (01/29/19) -- At least 35 people in the Portland-Vancouver area are now infected with measles. The outbreak originated in Clark County, Washington around Christmas. Local officials now say a person who may be infected visited the Bend area, 10 days ago, possibly exposing Central Oregonians. 

The Oregon Health Authority is awaiting test results to confirm, but Deschutes County Public Health officials say possible public exposure sites include Mountain Air on January 19, between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., and Juniper Swim and Fitness on January 20; that timeframe isn't yet known. The locations are now considered safe because the virus can only live up to two hours in airspace where an infected person coughed or sneezed. 

If you believe you may have been exposed and are not fully vaccinated, please contact Deschutes County Health Services at 541-322-7418 (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Anyone with questions about public exposures can call 211 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily). Click HERE for more information on when to call a doctor and where to receive vaccines.


Measles poses the highest risk to unvaccinated pregnant women, infants under one-year-old and people with weakened immune systems. According to KATU News in Portland, 31 of the 35 infected people were unvaccinated and the other four are not verified to have received the vaccine. 



Design Close to Final for New High School in Bend

BEND, OR -- Bend’s newest high school doesn’t have a principal yet, nor a name, but the building’s design is nearly finalized. Bend-La Pine Schools Assistant Superintendent Lora Nordquist says it will feature a variety of learning and gathering spaces, "Our high schools in Bend now, all have large commons area that are gathering spaces  for kids, in particular. But, what we saw in the schools that we really liked, as we toured, and what we heard from students and staff, was to have a number of different kinds of spaces – smaller, more informal collaboration spaces; as well as some larger spaces throughout the school, not just in one place." Some classrooms will also have transparent walls, partly in an effort to utilize natural light. But, she says the goal is to also inspire other students. "So, a student might be walking by a science lab and be able to see inside and think, ‘Wow! That looks really neat; I wonder what they’re doing in there.’ Or an art class or a CTE lab." Click HERE for a virtual tour. 


Nordquist tells KBND News the new school at SE 15th and Knott Road will be much like the other large schools in Bend, "We are going to be locating our high school dual immersion program at the new high school. But it will be, aside from that program, a neighborhood school. It’s going to be about the same size as Bend High, Mt. View and Summit High School."

The design should be finalized this spring, with construction to start by summer. And then, she says, the hard work begins, "We just finished up – or are finishing up, when our Superintendent finalizes a recommendation – on our boundary process for elementary schools. We will start the process then at looking at our middle and high schools, next year, and finish that by spring of 2020. High school boundaries are the hardest because, once a high school student has started school, or even an eighth grader who’s dreamed forever of going to ‘X’ or ‘Y’ high school, and then we change the boundaries; it’s tough." The naming process won’t begin until after the Principal is selected. Nordquist expects that person will be in place by July first. The school is scheduled to open in the fall of 2021.

Deschutes County Weighs Trash Options

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County’s Knott Landfill is less than 50 years old, but Director of Solid Waste Timm Schimke says it’s already near capacity, "The remaining life of the landfill is projected at only about 10 years left. And, if you’re going to site a new landfill or a new disposal facility of any sort, you need 10 years to make that happen, to get through land use, DEQ permitting and all that stuff." So, he says the county needs to start looking now at options for where its trash should go. 


Schimke says there are two options on the table: trucking garbage to the Columbia Gorge, like Jefferson County already does, or build a new local landfill. Either way, he says, disposal fees will eventually increase. The big question is by how much, "The analysis we have so far is pointing toward an in-county landfill, strictly from a financial standpoint. I estimate that if we transport out of county, our tip fees will increase by about 40%; that’s very, very significant. If we go to an in-county landfill, 25 miles out [from Bend], our tip fees will increase only about 12%." But, he says selecting a site within 25 miles of Bend could be tricky, given land-use and DEQ restrictions. 


On Thursday, the county will host a meeting that Schimke hopes will get the public involved in the decision-making process, "We’re hoping to lay out those two options, the pros and cons of both of those, and get the community involved – and get the pulse of the community on which way they think is the best way to go." The meeting starts at 5 p.m. at the County Services Building (1300 NW Wall St. Bend). Click HERE for more information.


Schimke acknowledges a final decision won't be easy, " We’re looking at the entire solid waste system. I mean, the driving factor is we need to figure out what we’re going to do with the landfill after it closes; but we’re looking at everything: recycling, transfer, collection, everything, as part of this system review."

Murder Suspect Due Back in Court

BEND, OR -- The woman accused of killing her neighbor, north of Bend, earlier this month, now faces additional charges. Investigators say 49-year-old Joanna Kasner shot Valerie Peterson outside her home in the Boonesborough neighborhood, on January 16. According to the District Attorney’s Office, a Grand Jury indicted Kasner on one count of Murder, one count of Attempted Murder unrelated to Peterson's death, thee counts of Menacing involving three separate victims, Unlawful Use of a Weapon and First Degree Animal Abuse. The D.A.'s office would not comment on what led to the additional charges.

Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson says the homicide investigation continues, "I just visited with Valerie’s brother, so we were able to sit down with him and answer some of his questions and what the family had. So, this is always ongoing and there’s a lot of information that we want to try to determine, and we try and come up with as many answers as we can." He tells KBND News it's complicated because there seems to be no apparent connection between the suspect and victim, "We don’t have any information that they knew each other; as a matter of fact, I would say that they did not know each other. They live in close proximity to each other. Valerie was staying with a family member in the area. And, of course, the suspect lives in that same general area." He adds, "Most person-to-person crimes that involve a homicide can often times be related to a domestic incident; or, at least, the two parties knew each other or were in some kind of ongoing dispute. So, it is unique."

Kasner is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment Tuesday afternoon.

Bend Snowmobilers Rescued After Overnight Search

BEND, OR -- A pair of snowmobilers from Bend was rescued Saturday morning, after spending a very cold night near Mt. Bachelor. Seth Elliff’s wife called 911 late Friday to report her husband and his friend Zachary Druckrey couldn’t be reached and were several hours overdue.


Deputies found their vehicles at Kapka Butte Snow Park, at 11 p.m., and began a widespread search effort, including help from the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. Druckrey was finally able to call 911 at about 7:40 Saturday morning and dispatchers provided coordinates of his phone's location, within about a half-mile.


AirLink was dispatched to the area and, during a grid search, one man was found just after 9 a.m. The AirLink team sent ground crews (pictured, above) to his location and found Elliff at about 10:15 a.m. A second team located Druckrey about 15 minutes later. 


They told rescuers they were traversing Trail #6 when they inadvertently traveled downhill into the watershed terrain. At about 6 p.m., they realized they were lost and didn't know which way to go. Search and Rescue says the pair was able to make a small warming fire, and they had food, water, map and shovel. They placed one of their phones into "airplane" mode to conserve the battery.

Search Continues for Car Theft Suspect

REDMOND, OR -- The search for a car theft suspect led to a neighborhood-wide manhunt on Friday, in southwest Redmond. Lt. Eric Beckwith tells KBND News, "One of our Redmond patrol officers spotted a stolen vehicle in the 1400 block of SW 27th Street. Based on their observations, we conducted some surveillance with officers and Redmond Police detectives. Additionally, the suspect in the stolen car, Preston Bonner III (pictured above), was seen walking on foot in the area."


He says they searched the area and a nearby home tied to the 25-year-old suspect, "We would like to take Bonner into custody and see if he wants to talk to us about why he stole the vehicle. I was pretty confident that we were going to get Bonner, but it just didn't turn out the way I wanted it." Lt. Beckwith says the effort wasn't a complete waste of time, "We got Dustin Gates (pictured, right). He was another subject that was associated with the residence. He was wanted on multiple prior cases from quite a number of other agencies." Gates faces multiple charges including Identity Theft and computer crimes. 


Redmond PD is asking the community to help continue the search for Bonner. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call law enforcement and not approach him.


UPDATE (6 p.m.) -- Redmond Police finally caught up with James Bonner III at the county parole and probation office in Redmond, just after 11 a.m.  He's now charged with Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, and violating probation. 

Redmond Arson Leads to Arrest

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police believe a domestic dispute led to a Saturday afternoon arson that destroyed a motorhome on vacant land east of town. Firefighters responded to the blaze near Northeast 17th and Hemlock and found the RV fully involved, just after 3 p.m. The property is owned by Deschutes County, and has been the site of several illegal transient camps in recent years. 

No one was around when crews arrived at the scene, but witnesses say a couple had been fighting, prior to the fire. A man left but a woman went into the motorhome for a short time. The fire started after she took off. 

Police identified the woman as 36-year-old Janice Knieriem and found her in a nearby travel trailer. They believe she doused clothing with gasoline and lit the fire before leaving. She’s charged with Arson and an outstanding warrant. 

ODOT Wants Input on Hwy 20 in Tumalo

BEND, OR -- The Oregon Department of Transportation is looking to address traffic congestion on Highway 20 through Tumalo. ODOT’s Alia Burck says traffic has grown dramatically in the past 20 years. In 2000, the agency counted an average of just 8,100 vehicles per day traveling through the area. "By this year, it’s expected to increase to 15,200," Burck says, "Which is nearly double the 2000 count, making the conditions substantially of a greater concern than they even previously were, which is why moving forward with this project – the timing couldn’t come sooner, I think."


Increased congestion isn't new in the High Desert. But, Burck tells KBND News, some areas handle it better than others, "We see that specifically impacting this particular area, so we definitely know something needs to be addressed because the way things are right now is leading to a lot of congestion and side street traffic. And, just, it’s not as safe for our pedestrian crossings, the way things are currently."


ODOT will start taking public feedback at an open house next week, from those who know the stretch of highway best, before working up any designs, "We’re still very loosely workshopping ideas, so there’s nothing specific that we’re putting forward as a preferred alternative, which is kind of why we’re asking people to come to this open house. We’re wanting to get people in on the process while it’s still so early." That open house starts Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m., in the Tumalo Community School gym. Click HERE for more information.

The state is working with Deschutes County on the project, which is expected to eventually cost $10 to $15-million. 

Snowmobile Pair Rescued From Fall Creek

BEND, OR -- Two Bend men were rescued from near the Green Lakes Trail Head, Thursday afternoon, after a snowmobile crashed into Fall Creek.


The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office says 48-year-old Alan Valenti called 911 just before 2 p.m. to report his snowmobile had rolled on top of him. His riding partner, 44-year-old Joseph Virgilio, also received non-life threatening injuries trying to help Valenti.


A Deschutes County Search and Rescue volunteer was recreating in the area and was the first to respond, helping to stabilize and warm the pair until more resources arrived about an hour later. They were taken to Dutchman Flat where Bend Fire medics took over. Virgilio was later taken to the hospital.

Construction Safety Summit Begins

BEND, OR -- Work-site safety is the focus of a two-day event in Bend, next week. Katy Miracle, with the Central Oregon Safety and Health Association (COSHA), says the Mid Oregon Construction Safety Summit provides an opportunity for construction workers and landscapers to earn continuing education credits. "We have everything from fall protection, you want to make sure you continue that training annually, as well as some excavation and soil classification that’s actually for Central Oregon. Usually, when you go out of the area, we don’t talk about all the lava rock that we experience here, and the different silica and stuff that we are exposed to." She adds, "There’s a security threat awareness training; it’s like an active shooter program. A lot of times people don’t believe, in Central Oregon, we’re going to be exposed to that. So, it’s really neat that we’re able to bring that and expose Central Oregon to it."


For the first time, the keynote address will be delivered by a married couple with an important story, "Usually you hear from the person who has been injured or someone that’s motivating and encouraging that safety culture out there," Miracle tells KBND News, "This is truly the perspective of a husband and wife team. She has to care for him now because he had an on-the-job injury. And share that perspective of what life is like today, with the ongoing struggles all these years later." 

The summit starts Monday at the Riverhouse on the Deschutes. Click HERE for details and to register. 

Prineville Park Competes for Blazers Grant

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County Parks and Recreation District hopes the community will rally behind an effort to fund a major upgrade for a downtown Prineville park. Executive Director Duane Garner says Stryker Park doesn't have many amenities. He hopes the Portland Trailblazers-Moda Assist competition will help provide funding for a facelift, "It’s a large-scale, it’ll be a downtown improvement project. As we’re looking for ways to begin a fundraising campaign, we became aware of this opportunity with the Moda Assist program. We applied and just found out we’re one of the three finalists." Prineville is up against Baker City and Independence for the contest, which commits $20 for every assist made by a Blazer in a game; the money is for an all-abilities playground. 

Garner says Stryker Park has been a blank slate since the area flooded in 1998. He says plans have been in the works for a while and the district has already overcome several hurdles. "The city of Prineville to give us land use approval for that site, and knew that we would need to get approval from FEMA to be able to build in the floodplain, and be able to design something, knowing that it perhaps could flood at some point and make sure it didn’t cause any damage to the structure – all those pieces came together and so we’ve got this fantastic proposal for, I would say, we’re going to call it a destination playground." 


The full project is expected to cost about $600,000 dollars and includes a volcano tube crawl tunnel, magical wizard castle and big pine enchanted treehouse; it would be built near the splash park planned by the local Kiwanis Club. The winner of the 2019 Moda Assist grant is determined by online vote. "Win or lose, you know, I think the experience will be worth it," Garner tells KBND News, "We want to get this project out in the view of the public and it really is going to be a community project. We don’t have any funding dedicated for it, yet." 


Redmond's Baker Park was last year's big winner, receiving $15,000 from Moda Health and the Trailblazers. This year's award could be larger because Moda is committing twice as much per assist than in 2018. Garner hopes to capitalize on that exposure, and controversy over the voting process that elevated the program's recognition. And, he says, he plans to appeal to the kids. Because, he says, if the kids get behind it, it'll be successful, "We’re going to do our best to push it through social media, like our Facebook page; we’ll use other traditional means, as well." Online voting begins February 20 and continues for 30 days. 

Graduation Rates Improve Across the High Desert

REDMOND, OR -- All five Central Oregon school districts saw improvement in four-year graduation rates, according to numbers just released by the Oregon Department of Education. The statewide average was nearly 79% for the 2017-18 school year; that's a 2% increase from the previous year. 

Bend-La Pine, Sisters and Redmond Schools are all higher than the Oregon average. Redmond Superintendent Mike McIntosh tells KBND News it affirms they’re on the right track, "We’ve gone from the low 70s, last year we were in the low 80s. And, I think we’ll continue that march upward as we get our kids to doing great things. We know that CTE, we know that choir, we know that band – that when kids are engaged, they tend to perform really, really well and so we’ve provided many, many options for our kids and they are, in fact, performing."

Redmond went from 79% to nearly 83%. Sisters rose from 86.5% to just over 89%. Bend-La Pine Schools increased about 3% to a record-high 81.9%. Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Shay Mikalson said in a statement, "While we are celebrating today, we also will not be satisfied until all of our students graduate ready for the future that they choose." The district has seen a 14% increase in the last seven years. Deputy Superintendent Jay Mathisen tells KBND News, while Marshall High again has the lowest rate in the district, it also saw the biggest increase, jumping 11% in a year, "When you have as many high schools as our district does, and you have a year where every school sees an increase over the prior year’s numbers, that’s awesome. And then, to go up over 3% in a single year, districtwide, it is exciting; we’re very, very pleased."


Mathisen says there’s still work to do because one in five students is still not graduating in four years. Although, he says it’s not realistic to think they’d ever hit 100%. "Some of those students are students with disabilities that lead them to earn what’s called an alternative certificate. And, their programming for their educational placement is best for that’s student, and it doesn’t include the credits needed for a diploma. Others, take an extra term or two to get there." He adds, "We’ve got ground we can gain from here and we expect to be doing that in the coming years. The interesting thing is, when you see a number like 81.9%, districtwide, the ground in front to be gained is just going to be harder ground. But, we hope to see numbers continue to increase each year between now and the next three and beyond." 

Crook County Schools saw the biggest jump in the region, going from 72% to 78%; Jefferson County 509-J went from under 72%, to about 77.5%.  Every individual high school in the tri-county area saw some level of improvement. 


Updated 01/25/19 to reflect more information received from Bend-La Pine Schools.

Avion Water Lifts Boil Notice

UPDATE: (6 a.m. 01/24/2019)  According to a notice posted to Avion's website, the agency was notified at 5:30 a.m. that water samples taken Wednesday morning passed and the state has lifted the boil water notice. They urge customers to flush pipes, as a precaution, to clear any potential contaminents. 



BEND, OR -- (01/23/2019) Avion Water customers in southeast Bend remain under a boil water notice, Wednesday. Avion President Jason Wick says the trouble started with a broken pipe, Tuesday night. "Around 9 o’clock we discovered a mainline leak right near 15th and Knott and dispatched our crews. They finished repairing the line about 7 a.m." Click HERE for the latest on the notice.

The boil order impacts about 10,000 homes east of SE 15th. It went into effect after the repair was made, Wick says that’s when contaminants can enter the system, "Unfortunately once you put the pipe together, without turning it on and flushing it somewhere, it’s hard to control where that slug of bad water would go."

There’s no evidence the water is contaminated, but Wick says when a line loses pressure, as it did Wednesday morning, Avion is required to test samples and issue the warning, "If you’ve ever seen a muddy hole in the ground and some of that dirty water gets into a short section of pipe and, since we do not know what’s in that soil, the state requires we issue a boil water notice," Wick tells KBND News.

Water samples are now with a lab for testing. He expects those results will be back around 10 a.m. Thursday, "We cannot turn a line on until we have a good sample; the minimum time for a sample is 18 hours." But, Wick says, if those samples don’t come back clean, the boil order will remain in place.


COCC Names Top Presidential Picks

BEND, OR -- The search for the next President of Central Oregon Community College is narrowed to three finalists. At the Board of Directors' Wednesday meeting, the group selected Dr. Kimberlee Messina (left), from Foothill College in California, Dr. Tod Treat (center), from Wenatchee Valley College in Washington and Dr. Laurie Chesley (right), from Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan.


COCC's Ron Paradis says all three are strong candidates, "These three focused a lot on students and student success and their experiences at other community colleges. I think that’s what set them apart from some of the other candidates, was their real desire to serve students, and to serve the community college mission." He tells KBND News the school is working to avoid the missteps  suffered during its last Presidential search, in 2014, when the board discovered its top pick failed to disclose he was on administrative leave and under investigation. "We’re working closely with a consultant to make sure we know a lot about these candidates before they come to campus and find out even more, then. I believe these are strong, very highly-capable people who have good experience at community colleges elsewhere."


The finalists are scheduled to visit the region separately, in early February, "They will be here for two days, that will include a formal interview with the board of directors, a tour around the campus and meetings in Redmond, Madras and Prineville, in addition to a series of meetings on the Bend campus with faculty, staff and students, and also a community meeting, here in Bend." For more on the candidates and the complete schedule of their visits, click HERE

Also at Wednesday's meeting, the board appointed former Bend Mayor Jim Clinton to fill the Zone Five seat vacated by the sudden resignation of John Mundy, last month. Paradis says they received three applications for the vacancy, but one stood out, "Dr. Clinton came in and did a great job in his interview, talking about students and the community college mission and what he thought he could do to help us move forward." He says it was important to get the position filled quickly, "Because our board members are appointed by zones based on population, if we had one vacancy, that would be one part of the community that would not be represented as we were looking for this new President." That Zone Five seat will appear on the May ballot and Paradis says Clinton plans to run to maintain his position. 

Prineville Seeks Artistic Proposals for Roundabout

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Six months after the completion of Prineville’s first roundabout, the city is looking for art to adorn its center. Prineville Mayor Steve Uffelman hopes artists will draw on the community’s natural beauty and cultural heritage to create an original, large-scale, interpretive piece for the roundabout at Highway 126 and Tom McCall Road. The $125,000 art project will be paid for by private donors. 


Prineville Seeks Input on Roundabout Feature (05/03/2018)

Only Pacific Northwest artists will be considered, those living in Oregon, Washington or Idaho. Applications and proposals will be accepted online through March fifth. Click HERE for more information. 


The city hopes to have the artwork installed by the summer of 2020.

Murphy Rd Extension in Design Phase

BEND, OR -- A long-awaited connection for southeast Bend is moving forward. Project Manager Garrett Sabourin says the Murphy Road extension project will eventually connect Brosterhous to SE 15th Street. "You have the existing section, which we're looking at a lot of safety and connectivity improvements; so that goes from Parrell over to Brosterhous. The second part of that is extending the road from Brosterhous over to 15th Street, providing some additional connectivity and reliability, and decreased emergency response times down there in Southeast Bend." The project also includes taking Murphy over the railroad tracks (pictured above). He says the Bend City Council has been prioritizing dollars for transportation, making this project possible.


Because construction is expected to cause upheaval on heavily-traveled roads in the area, Sabourin says the design and scheduling phases are crucial to making the whole project run smoothly. "We want to make sure that we're sequencing the job in a way that makes the most sense from a financial perspective, and also from a safety perspective for the community," he tells KBND News, "Knowing that along with that, there's a lot of development that's going on here in southeast Bend we need to be coordinating with, as well."


Sabourin is hopeful the project won't take more than a few years, "We really are just starting design this month here, in January, and there's going to be several steps between now and when we get to construction. So, I won't commit to a construction date, but we are hopeful to be breaking ground on some portion of the project in the later part of 2019." He expects it to be finished in 2021. 

RSD Investigated for Election Material

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Schools faces a state investigation into material releasd during the 2018 campaign for a $70-million bond that was defeated by a slim margin in November. Superintendent Mike McIntosh says, "We can’t say, ‘run out and vote no,’ we can’t say, ‘go out and vote yes.’ We can encourage people to vote. And so, we work incredibly hard to make our publications, our information, as non-biased and factual as possible. Obviously anybody can take exception to that; and someone has."


He says the complaint filed with the Secretary of State's Office involves information released about M.A. Lynch Elementary, which the district has said needs to be replaced, "There was a 30-second video on the condition of Lynch and we think it was absolutely factual." McIntosh tells KBND News, "So, the question was, ‘could you have given other alternatives to the bond?’ Well, I don’t know what other alternatives there would’ve been, so we didn’t feel it necessary to give those alternatives." He believes the district will be cleared, "Our consultant has used identical messaging in other districts. There’s a process in the state called ‘safe harbor,’ where you run all your material past the Secretary of State’s office in advance, so I think we’re in good shape."


McIntosh says voters will be asked to approve the levy again; the next attempt will look about the same as the 2018 request because, he says, safety and security needs haven’t changed. But, he says the school board wants to wait another year, "The consensus is probably to avoid 2019, and we’ll probably make an attempt to go out in May 2020. That’s the Presidential primary, so we’ll get some voter turnout, which is probably the biggest deterrent for either of the two in ’19 – the May and November both are projected to have mid- to low-20% voter turnout."

Crook County Offices To Move

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Several Crook County departments are shifting offices, in an effort to create more room for growing agencies, most notably the Community Development Department, which officials say is particularly impacted by a lack of space. 

Crook County Human Resources and Legal departments will move to the Chucker Point Building at 27 NE 2nd Street, in the next few weeks. County Court and Administration staff will move across the street, into the offices vacated by HR and Legal. County officials say that space will be remodeled to provide a larger conference room for work sessions and other county meetings.

The changes will allow Community Development to occupy the entire first floor of the County Courthouse. All moves are expected to be complete by the end of February. 

Suspect Arrested After Redmond Hospital Assault

REDMOND, OR -- A Sisters-area man is accused of assaulting three people, Tuesday morning, including a security guard at St. Charles Redmond. He allegedly attacked two other people in northwest Redmond before he was caught. The hospital went into lock-out for about 45 minutes after the initial altercation. 

St. Charles Spokesperson Lisa Goodman says it all started just before 7 a.m., "The gentleman came into the facility looking for someone. And, when he couldn’t find them, he became agitated, at which point the security guard did confront him and there was an altercation." The security guard suffered minor injuries, and property was damaged during the assault. "The lockout was cleared at about 7:30 a.m. after he left the facility," Goodman tells KBND News, "But, as a precaution, we did limit public access to our Emergency Department and main entrances and posted security guards in both places until about 9 a.m., when Redmond Police were able to apprehend this gentleman." Police identified the suspect as 37-year-old Scott Bulloch.


At about 9:30 a.m., officers responded to NW 17th and Jackpine for a physical dispute where witnesses reported a man had assaulted and strangled a woman. When police arrived, they discovered it was the man suspected in the hospital incident. Investigators say Bulloch approached a garbage truck driver and asked to use her phone. After the call, a family member arrived and was subsequently assaulted. The truck driver tried to intervene and was also attacked. When she retreated to her garbage truck, investigators say Bulloch tried to get into the vehicle through the driver's window, hitting and slapping at the woman. 

Bulloch was arrested, placed into a WRAP restraint and taken back to St. Charles Redmond for evaluation. As of Wednesday morning, he had not yet been booked into jail. He faces numerous charges, including multiple counts of Assault, Trespass, Coercion and Resisting Arrest. Drug use is believed to have been a factor.

Annual Central OR Homeless Count Begins

BEND, OR -- The annual Homeless Leadership Coalition Point-in-Time homeless county takes place this week. Coalition Chair Colleen Thomas says the HUD-mandated survey is conducted every year across the tri-county area and Warm Springs Reservation. "The reason for the point-in-time count is for agencies to connect with individuals who are experiencing homelessness across our region, to better collect data and understand the scope of what the people experiencing homelessness in our region are facing." Volunteers tally those living in shelters, transitional housing, living with family or friends, camping or living in cars, or in other places not designed for human habitation. 


Thomas tells KBND News over 1,300 people were counted and categorized as "precariously housed," "sheltered," or literally homeless, in 2018. "We use that data to better understand the barriers and different situations that folks are facing and to say, 'this is the scope of our crisis of individuals experiencing homelessness in our region' and deploy more resources for our area."


While the count is required to access federal funding through Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Thomas says it's also an opportunity for the coalition to connect with the homeless and provide resources. They also provide incentives for people to participate, "Food, water, dog food, and some places might even have some gift cards for folks. It's just a better way for us to understand the scope of the issue that we're seeing in Central Oregon."


The count takes place Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at local churches, social service organizations, food banks and some camp sites and parks. Click HERE for a complete schedule.

Snowmobilers Rescued From Kwolh Butte

BEND, OR -- A Eugene pair was rescued from Kwolh Butte, Sunday night, after their snowmobile got stuck. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office says 46-year-old Jeffrey Roos called 911 at about 7:45 p.m. to report he and 18-year-old Sarah Lang needed help.


Two Deschutes County Search and Rescue volunteers responded to Edison Butte Sno Park and rode a tracked side by side about five miles, reaching the two just before 11 p.m. They were found cold, but otherwise okay, and were helped out of the backcountry.


The Sheriff's Office reminds those traveling into the backcountry to prepare for the unexpected by carrying essentials, like a shovel, avalanche beacon and probe. 

Redmond Officer Involved in Crash

REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond Police officer was involved in a crash, Monday morning, near downtown Redmond. The officer was eastbound on SW Black Butte, just after 11 a.m., when the unmarked patrol car was struck by a pickup at SW 7th Street. 


Because Redmond PD was involved in the crash, State Police responded to conduct the investigation. They say the driver of the pickup stopped at the stop sign, but failed to yield and hit the officer. The patrol car was badly damaged and the officer suffered minor injuries. The other driver was not hurt, but was cited at the scene. 

Rep. Zika Looks For Discrimination in Housing

SALEM, OR -- The 2019 Oregon Legislative session gets underway Tuesday, in Salem, as State Representative Jack Zika (R-Redmond) accepts a position on the state Task Force on Addressing Racial Disparities in Home Ownership. House Speaker Tina Kotek recently appointed Zika, citing his work as a realtor in Central Oregon for the last 15 years.

Zika says he hasn't seen racial Discrimination in local housing, but that doesn't mean it's not happening. He says he's committed to learning where breakdowns occur and creating ways for everyone to be treated equally, "It might be eye-opening to hear some of the stories. In this group, there are all different backgrounds, different representatives from different areas, and ethnic groups, so it will be interesting to hear their perspectives." He says, "I'm going in with the mentality that everybody should be treated equal. So let's find out ways that people are not being treated equal, and let's fix those." Zika adds, "We're looking into if there's any groups that are being excluded or having a hard time in the home purchasing process." And, he tells KBND News, the committee is covering all aspects of the home buying process, "From the lender to the realtor to home inspections to appraisals, all the way to closing."


The task force was created by the 2018 Legislature, as part of the Human Services and Housing Committee, on which Zika sits.  

Pets Perish in SW Redmond Fire

REDMOND, OR -- A southwest Redmond home was heavily damaged by a Monday afternoon fire that killed several pets. Fire crews arrived at the home, near 37th and Reindeer, just after 4 p.m., and found fire and smoke pouring from a second floor window. 


Police helped get residents out, along with a dog and cat; firefighters rescued a rabbit, but several ferrets and a rat succumbed to smoke inhalation. A second cat has not been found. The residents were later taken to the hospital for evaluation.

The blaze caused about $100,000 in damage; its cause remains under investigation. The Red Cross is helping the three adults displaced by the fire. 

Redmond Man Suspected of Eastern OR Theft

LA GRANDE, OR -- A Redmond man remains in the Union County Jail following a Friday police chase through several eastern Oregon cities. A La Grande car dealership reported 54-year-old Shawn Lee took a test drive Friday afternoon, but didn’t return. When State Troopers checked the ID left at the dealership, they discovered Lee had a Deschutes County warrant.


The car was discovered in the parking lot of Wildhorse Casino, in Pendleton. But, when Umatilla Tribal Police tried to find the suspect inside the casino, he returned to the car, spotted a patrol car and took off. Tribal Police chased him for a short time, but the pursuit was terminated for safety reasons.


A La Grande-based State Trooper then saw the vehicle driving eastbound on I-84. It ran over police spike strips but continued for several miles. The highway was briefly closed near La Grande until Lee was taken into custody. He's charged with Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, Burglary, Attempt to Elude, a Probation Violation and Failure to Appear. OSP says the investigation is ongoing and more charges could follow. 

Local Neighborhood Honored for Fire Prevention

BEND, OR -- A neighborhood south of Bend is earning national recognition for its widespread effort to prevent the spread of wildfire. Joe Stutler, Deschutes County’s Senior Advisor for Forestry and Natural Resources, has worked with Sunset View Estates for more than 10 years.


He says the neighborhood was first rated at extremely high risk for wildfire in 2004, "But, over a five-year period, nothing happened; it remained the same. In fact, it got worse. So, when they received the second 'High Density Extreme' designation, in 2009, there’d been new people that moved in, new people on the board, so they really took the rating seriously. And that’s when we began working with them to do some of the work." Stutler explains "High" is the lowest rating possible in Central Oregon, due to the region's overall fire risk, "You have High Density Extreme, Extreme and High." He tells KBND News, "In a three-year period, they went from High Density Extreme to High and a FireWise Community; so that shows you the level of effort and commitment that that neighborhood made to fixing their problems."


Through a county grant and help from Project Wildfire, residents limbed trees, mowed vacant lots, cleared debris and created defensible space. And, Stutler says, the neighborhood-wide effort has continued for several years, through funding and support from the homeowner association. 


In March, Sunset View Estates will be awarded a National Wildland Fire Mitigation Award, which is typically given to civic groups or organizations. "This award has been going on since 2014. They annually recognize a half a dozen recipients," says Stutler, "This is the first time in the history of the award that an individual neighborhood has been selected and that is, really, an incredible honor."



Submitted photo: Stutler tells KBND this tree on a vacant lot was struck by lightning. But, because the property had been treated by mowing and limbing, the resulting fire didn't spread. "Even though the fire burned the tree some and some ground litter around the base, because there was little to no available fuel for the fire, it was quickly suppressed by Bend Fire." Prior to the neighborhood work, "brush and other highly flammable fuels were so dense, one could not walk through this property."

Walden Holds Long Awaited Bend Town Hall

BEND, OR -- Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) returned to Central Oregon, over the weekend, hosting a series of town hall meetings in Bend, Madras and Prineville. He faced a mixed crowd at Bend's Mountain View High School on Saturday. He expected to face questions about the partial federal government shutdown. He told the crowd, "It's very frustrating to me. Big countries shouldn't operate this way. And I'd like to see it fixed." A person in the audience yelled, "You're not helping," and he replied, "It takes both parties, and the leadership of both parties to come to the table and find agreement."


The Republican discussed the impasse at the federal level over border security saying, until recently, better border security was a bipartisan effort, "We know where the fence was built in San Diego, El Paso, and in Arizona, illegal border crossings are down more than 90%. So, it works. I want secure borders. You can disagree. How Many want open borders?" He asked, with a yell from the crowd, "It's not a black and white issue." He added, "So, let's start there. We all agree we should have secure borders." Also over the weekend, President Trump offered temporary three-year protection for "Dreamers," in exchange for funding his wall on the southern border. Democrats refused the deal. Walden weighed in, telling the crowd, "Temporary is better than nothing when it's about to expire. And in June ..." He was interrupted by a "No" from the crowd. "Well, if you're one of the 300 about to be deported," he replied, "I'd think you'd take a three year temporary extension right now." Walden went on to say he'd supported a bill last June that would've given permanent relief to the DACA program, and kept children from being separated from their parents, but it didn't pass the Senate. At least on one issue, Walden enjoyed universal support, "In July, I lead the delegation to the border, because I wanted to see it firsthand. We never should've been separating kids from their parents!" A statement met with applause.

Walden's support of the Trump tax cuts got another strong reaction. He believes they've helped Oregon families, "I think they've had a strong effect on the economy," he said, which was followed with jeers from the crowd. He also fielded questions about the timber industry, gun safety, federal legalization of marijuana and healthcare. 

This was Walden's first Bend town Hall since April of 2017, a fact not lost on at least one attendee who said the Republican's failure to hold a public event last year makes his every word suspect. But Walden says he's always listening and working, "In the last two years, I've responded to 168,000 emails, phone calls, and letters that have come into the office; 42,981 of them from Deschutes County alone, so your voices are being heard."


On Sunday, Walden held town hall meetings in Madras and Prineville. He's in Burns and Ontario on Monday, before heading back to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. 


Gun Theft Leads to Nine Arrests

BEND, OR -- A report of a gun stolen from a northeast Bend apartment on Friday, led to the arrest of nine people and two other citations, through the weekend. Joey Duvall told police he suspected his son and daughter-in-law took the handgun. Officers arrested 29-year-old Kevin Duvall (top left) on Saturday; he's charged with Theft and being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm. His wife, 24-year-old Shyann Duvall (top, center) was also taken into custody on multiple counts of Theft and Forgery. Police had previously received information she had used counterfeit money in Bend. 


Investigators tracking the gun believed it was with 43-year-old Benjamin Perry (top right), who was known to stay at homes on SW Huckleberry Drive and Lodgepole Drive. While watching the Huckleberry Drive location, Saturday afternoon, officers contacted Keeanna Jay Brown (bottom, center) in her car and she was arrested for meth possession and an outstanding warrant. Four others were arrested inside: 25-year-old Jordan Weigel (bottom, right) and 25-year-old Omar Garcia were taken into custody for unrelated warrants, Benjamin Perry was arrested for a warrant, being a felon in possession of a firearm and a drug charge, and 21-year-old Shaneeze McConnell-Dibben is charged with Heroin Possession.


Later that day, the CERT Team responded to the Lodgepole Drive address and arrested 46-year-old Ivan Snegirev (bottom, left) and 36-year-old Cameo Marsh, who had unrelated warrants; two others were cited for meth possession.

Bend Couple Arrested After Stand-Off

BEND, OR -- A Bend traffic stop led to a stand-off and eventual arrest of a wanted couple, Friday. Bend Police Sgt. Rob Emerson says officers pulled over a car linked to 36-year-old Dana Johnson and his girlfriend, 33-year-old Angela Capps-Watson. While the two were not in the vehicle, police learned information that led them to a garage in Romaine Village, where they were reportedly living. 


When investigators arrived at the home on Volare Lane, the 36-year-old Johnson threatened to shoot police. "He also claimed that he had some explosives in the garage, and through the course of the investigation, we'd learned that that may actually be accurate; based on the subject's history, we believed those threats to be true," Sgt. Emerson tells KBND News, "He actually barricaded himself in the garage, put a bunch of objects in front of the only door, and through the course of the investigation, we learned that he did actually have a replica firearm. It was a pellet gun, but it looked extremely real." 


A negotiator was called in, and the two eventually surrendered. Police found flammable materials inside the garage, but Emerson says none was rigged to explode, but were dangerous.

Capps-Watson and Johnson are being held on their felony warrants, and Johnson faces additional charges of Failure to Register as a Sex Offender, Disorderly Conduct, and Menacing. 

Redmond Cabinet Shop Destroyed by Fire

REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond-area cabinet shop was destroyed by fire, Sunday night, but firefighters were able to save nearby vehicles and buildings. 

Crews arrived at the rural property on SW Helmholtz Way, south of Highway 126, just after 11 p.m. They found the shop fully engulfed in flames. The blaze was contained that building and damage is estimated at more than $50,000.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. 

Murder Suspect Expected in Court Tuesday

BEND, OR -- A Bend-area woman accused of murder is now at the Deschutes County Jail. Joanna Kasner had been in police custody at St. Charles Bend since the Wednesday homicide. She’s accused of shooting 58-year-old Valerie Peterson, who died outside Kasner’s home on McGrath Road. 

The Sheriff’s Office has not said why she was hospitalized. She was transported to the jail Sunday afternoon, where she’s being held without bail on one count of murder. Kasner is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.

One Killed, Two Injured in Icy Crash

BEND, OR -- A La Pine man was killed in an icy crash, south of Bend, Friday afternoon. State Police believe 56-year-old Kevin Werts was southbound on Highway 97, when he lost control and slid into oncoming traffic, colliding with a car driven by a Bend woman.


The highway was covered with packed snow and ice, at the time. Werts was pronounced dead at the scene. The other driver, 70-year-old Susan Pitarro, and her passenger, 63-year-old Terry Thopson, were taken to the hospital with serious injuries.


Highway 97 was shutdown for several hours, nine miles north of La Pine, to allow crews to investigate and clean-up the scene. 

Rep. Walden Hosts Local Town Halls

BEND, OR -- Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) is on his way back to Central Oregon for a series of town hall meetings, this weekend, as the partial federal government shutdown enters its 28th day. Walden believes people want to talk about the economy, healthcare and veterans' services, along with the shutdown. He says with the current impasse, he's looking for creative solutions, "Day to day, the American people expect those they send to Washington to get their job done, like they have to do their own job. And, that means funding the government and providing security for the country. It's unfortunate those two items have been on a collision course."


Walden had voted to end the shutdown, but voted against a short-term funding bill on Tuesday that he says lacked adequate resources to secure the southern border and address illegal immigration. In bipartisan efforts over the years, more than 750 miles of border fencing have been built, but Walden tells KBND New it's no longer enough, "We've got to beef up border security, or else our country doesn't have security. And, we should have a thoughtful, measured way to deal with those who come here seeking asylum, and we don't have that today." 


The Republican says he's doing all he can to get everyone paid and back to work, but until he's successful he is asking his pay be withheld, too, "If they're not going to get paid and they're working in the BLM Office over in Prineville, or Burns, or Vale or somewhere there's a Forest Service office, or Crater Lake, we should stand in solidarity."

Walden hosts several southern Oregon town halls on Friday, and will be in Bend on Saturday, for a town hall at Mountain View High School at 2:30 p.m. It's his first public event in Bend since April 2017

On Sunday, He'll be at the Jefferson County Senior center at 11 a.m. and at Crook County High at 2 p.m. Walden hosts events in Malheur and Harney counties, Monday. Plans to visit Baker, Wallowa, Union, Umatilla, Morrow, Gilliam, Hood River and Wasco counties later in the week were scrapped after changes were made to the Congressional calendar due to the shutdown. 


Photo: Rep. Walden tours Bend's Humm Kombucha in March 2018

Culver Woman Arrested for DUI After Crash

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Culver woman is accused of Driving Under the Influence, following a Thursday crash on SE Juniper Canyon Road. According to the Crook County Sheriff's Office, 30-year-old Jenna Mazour was northbound, just after 4 p.m., "at variable rates of speed" and lost control. The car went off the east side of the road and continued for about 30 feet before flipping on to its side.


Mazour's was the only vehicle involved in the crash. She refused medical treatment and was arrested at the scene. 


Early Head Start Expands with Permanent Facility

REDMOND, OR -- NeighborImpact hopes to grow its Early Head Start program that serves high-risk families with infants and toddlers, "We have 22 families that we home visit in our Early Head Start program in the Redmond community, right now," says Deschutes and Crook County Head Start Director Kimberly Brown, "But, I did just put in a grant to hopefully be able to expand into all the communities, next year."


The program launched about a year ago. "Early Head Start participants are pregnant moms through age three. Then, at age three, they would transition into the Head Start Program," Brown tells KBND News, adding that it provides social opportunities, training and weekly home visits, "Our home visitors go into the home and use a parenting curriculum to work with the family around goals they might have, to help get them further along in life with whatever that might be. And, then we also have child goals, to help get the child school-ready."


NeighborImpact recently opened a new center to make it easier for these families to meet for monthly socials. A ribbon cutting was held Thursday at that facility near Consumer Cellular on the south end of Redmond. 


Brown says families interested in getting involved can apply online, "We serve families who are the neediest of the needy within our community, and have specific selection criteria to ensure that we are serving the neediest."

Piper Looks Forward to Joining Bend City Council

BEND, OR -- Chris Piper expects to become Bend’s newest City Councilor, at the end of the month. Councilors selected him Wednesday night, from among six finalists, to fill the vacancy created when Sally Russell was elected Mayor.

Piper was out of town on business and watched the meeting on the live stream. "When I learned of the appointment I, actually – in all honesty, was numb with excitement," he told KBND News Thursday, from his hotel room, "And then the energy started kicking in and I started writing down things that I’m looking forward to addressing with the Council as a whole." Those top priorities include identifying and addressing transportation and affordable housing needs, and getting to know the rest of Council and constituents. He acknowledges he has extra work to do on those relationships because he didn't go through a traditional election, "The personal piece of it was missed. Because in campaigning, you know, that’s where you really get to connect and get to know the individual running and to truly get to understand that individual as a person and then also as someone you want to begin to know and trust to take the city forward. With the application process, that’s very difficult."


He has lived in Bend 14 years, and works from home for Proforma, an Ohio-based marketing company, "Telecommuting has gotten me to get very engaged with the community by working at some of the workspace centers – the tech service on Emkay, the coffee shop downtown, and that was one of the reasons I took the opportunity to apply." Bend leads the nation in telecommuting workers, according to a new study, and some Councilors supported Piper’s appointment in part because of his remote work. Click HERE to listen to City Manager Eric King explain the selection process and rationale. 


Piper is expected to be sworn in to office during the January 30 City Council meeting. 

OLCC Reprimands Two Local Establishments

SALEM, OR -- Two local businesses face reprimands from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. 


Horseshoe Saloon, in Prineville (pictured), will surrender its liquor license after the OLCC found numerous violations. The agency says the restaurant and bar has a history of serious and persistent problems, citing 50 documented incidents; 28 of which involved violence. They were also found to allow self-service alcohol, permitting consumption of alcohol between 2:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. and serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person.

A Bend marijuana lab is forced to surrender its lab license to the OLCC. Managers of Evio Labs, on O.B. Riley Road, agree to accept the reprimand for three violations, although the agency did not specify what those were. Evio's Eugene lab is also surrendering its lab license for six violations. 

Murder Suspect Identified, Remains at Hospital

BEND, OR -- Authorities have released the identity of the suspected shooter involved in a Wednesday homicide, north of Bend. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office says 49-year-old Joanna Kasner faces one count of Murder. She’s accused of shooting 58-year-old Valerie Peterson in the Boonesborough neighborhood. Peterson died outside a home on McGrath Road, which is owned by Kasner, according to county property records. 


DCSO Investigates Homicide North of Bend (01/17/19)


Kasner has not been booked into the jail, and as of Thursday night remained in police custody at St. Charles Bend, although authorities have not commented on what she is being treated for. Sheriff Shane Nelson confirms to KBND News Bend Fire was called to the same house the day before the shooting. But, he refused to comment on the nature of the call, citing the ongoing investigation. In a Facebook post dated Monday, Kasner complains of mistreatment by law enforcement and says she hasn't eaten or slept in the last month, and is suffering from PTSD.

Investigators have not released a possible motive, nor whether the two women knew each other prior to Wednesday morning. 

Second Mtg. Planned for Controversial Apt. Proposal

BEND, OR -- A second meeting is scheduled for Friday, to allow neighbors to provide more input on a controversial 170-unit apartment complex proposed for southwest Bend. A meeting last week drew heated discussions among residents opposed to the four-story building. The Planning Division's Colin Stephens says the hearings officer is looking for new information, "I think it's a good opportunity for people who weren't able to come to the previous one to come and give their testimony. I'm just hopeful that it's not just a rehash of what we've already heard, and that we can get some new people, new ideas and new comments into the record."


Seattle-based Evergreen Housing is behind the proposal, seeing it as a solution to the area's ongoing housing crisis. But the plan to build a nearly 50-foot building on Shevlin Hixon has drawn criticism for potentially blocking views of the Deschutes River and increasing traffic congestion. Stephens tells KBND News emotions ran high at last week's meeting, but progress was made, "There were certainly people who spoke outside the criteria, very emotionally and very persuasively. But, they also were able to steer a lot of their comments to the criterion, which I think was helpful to the hearings officer." He adds, "In making land use decisions, they have to be based on code, and the criteria and regulations contained in the code; not on feelings, and emotion and the number of people who testify one way or the other. So, it's going to be up to the hearings officer to make the determination." He says there will be two more weeks' worth of discussion, followed by some final input from Evergreen Housing before a final decision will be made on whether the development can move forward. 


Friday's meeting starts at 3 p.m. at Bend City Hall. 

Bend Fire Sees Big Increase in Gas Leaks

BEND, OR -- Bend Firefighters are responding to nearly double the number of calls involving gas leaks, compared to just five years ago. "In 2015, we went from an average of 30 up to 67, and it’s just up in the 70s, now," says Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe, "So, we’re averaging over 70 gas leak calls per year; that’s a big jump for us and we’re trying to figure out why."

Battalion Chief Dave Howe suspects it could be partly due to the overall increase in construction around Bend, "Which means there’s more construction vehicles digging. And, the second thing was Cascade Natural Gas is continuing with their major gas line upgrade, where they’re replacing all the old lines in, like, 17 phases. And, there are a lot of line-strikes in that particular project." That gas line replacement project began in 2016, and Howe tells KBND News it has been challenging for contractors, "Replacing the gas lines in a city like Bend is a very complex job. And, there are gas lines that were presumed to be abandoned and were not abandoned; they were live."


Howe says other leaks were caused by homeowners working at their own property who failed to properly locate underground lines by calling 811 prior to digging.


Photo: Bend Fire responds to a gas like downtown, on November 7, 2018

Former City Hall Likely to Become Parking Lot

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond officials are changing gears on the future of the former city hall property. City Manager Keith Witcosky says the original plan to develop market-rate housing isn’t cost effective in this economy. "As it turns out, it would require a pretty big subsidy from the city, which wouldn’t be appropriate for market-rate housing. And so, what we’re looking at right now, as we examine the needs, public parking is a need downtown. We’ve got a new theater, we’re going to have a new hotel open this year, we’re going to have a new park. Giving people a place to park off-street is going to be important; and it looks like we’re going to go down that route."


Witcosky tells KBND News the lot across from Centennial Park could be converted into housing or some other use in the future, "As the economy turns around and continues to grow over the years, I could see that parking lot be developed at some point in time, which happens in major metropolitan areas." But, for now, he says it's important to make sure the property doesn't fall into disrepair, "We look at ‘what’s an interim use that serves a community need?’ Public parking is a need and we’re responsible for providing it."


Developing the lot will still take time and money, "You’ve got structures on it and then you’ve got to kind of create the parking lot. And even that is going to cost – we’ve been pretty open about it - $700,000 to $800,000. It costs around $7,000 per stall to build a surface parking lot." Witcosky believes it would provide free parking to about 100 vehicles, adding around 30 to the 70 spots already adjacent to the former City Hall building. It has yet to be designed but could be open by the end of the year. 

DCSO Investigates Homicide North of Bend

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a homicide in the Boonesborough neighborhood, north of Bend. "At approximately 11 a.m., our office received reports of shots fired," Sheriff Shane Nelson said Wednesday, "Deputies responded to the scene and found a female with apparent gunshot wounds. Oregon State Police and deputies from our office attempted life-saving efforts; the victim was pronounced dead at the scene." The victim, 58-year-old Valerie Peterson, was found down in the street outside a home on McGrath Road.


Nelson refused to provide many details, citing the ongoing investigation, "There is no active threat to the community. We do have a person of interest in custody and more details will be released as we continue the investigation." He refused to release the name of the person in custody; as of Wednesday night, his office reported detectives were with the person at St. Charles Bend.


Sheriff Nelson confirms first responders were at the same home the day before the shooting, "We have preliminary information that the fire department was dispatched to this residence; but that’s part of the ongoing investigation." SWAT and other special investigation teams responded to the scene. Roads in the area were closed for several hours and the Sheriff's office took to social media to urge neighbors to stay indoors until the situation was more stable. "This investigation is ongoing. We’ve called out the Tri County Major Incident Team to assist our detectives in examining the scene and completing the investigation," said Nelson. McGrath Road fully reopened overnight. 


Investigators don’t yet know whether the victim and shooter knew each other. 


Photos: (top) Law enforcement vehicles line McGrath Road during the homicide investigation. 
(upper right) Deschutes County SWAT and Command Center vehicles at McGrath and Morrill Rd.

(middle) Sheriff Shane Nelson directs traffic as residents attempt to return home, through roadblocks.

(bottom) The Tri-County Major Incident Team continues to investigate.

Piper Selected As New Bend City Councilor

BEND, OR -- In a four-to-two vote, Wednesday night, Bend City Councilors appointed Chris Piper to fill the Position Three seat vacated when Sally Russell was elected Mayor. At first, Katherine Austin appeared to have more support. But, after deliberations, Councilors selected Piper, the VP of New Business Development for Ohio-based marketing company Proforma.

Mayor Sally Russell was enthusiastic about the choice. "He represents a demographic of people who work in the city of Bend at home, they raise their families, they grow their businesses, they travel all over the United States, they give to their community, they give to veterans, they contribute to schools; they participate actively in our community." She added, "I felt that he had a strong interview." Russell recognized all six candidates were strong in certain areas, but said, "There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle. Each person has a different piece of the puzzle to offer. Whoever sits on this dais has to be good and broad enough to be able to recognize all the pieces of the puzzle because not all those pieces can sit up here in seven places." Piper will serve the remaining two years of Russell’s term. 

Councilors Barb Campbell and Gena Goodman-Campbell voted against Piper’s appointment. 

Sen. Knopp Addresses Workplace Harassment

SALEM, OR -- The 2019 Legislative session begins Tuesday. But first, this week, all lawmakers are taking part in mandatory training to recognize, combat and report harassment. State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) says for too long, certain powerful people were allowed to create hostile work environments for women and minorities, with no one calling them to task, "That culture must end and it has to end now. And, it's up to all of us to join together and say it's not going to be tolerated anymore." He tells KBND News, "I mean, it's the silence that has allowed all this stuff to continue."


Knopp was outspoken when allegations involving former State Senator Jeff Kruse emerged nearly a year ago. He says there's no room for harassing and disrespectful behavior in the Legislature or anywhere else, "I think we're at a critical moment in our culture when we have the opportunity to do some real good out of what has been a very ugly year of revelations all across the country; in many state houses, and Hollywood, board rooms, and companies, large and small, all across Oregon and America."


The Bend Republican is Vice Co-Chair of the new Joint Committee on Capitol Culture and he's sponsored a bill that would change laws regarding sexual harassment allegations. It would extend the statute of limitations beyond 365 days, create liability for those who know about harassment and do nothing, disallow confidential settlements that silence the accuser and prohibit a company from firing an alleged victim just for coming forward. Knopp says, "I look forward to working with my colleagues to set an example of the type of workplace that we all should have here in Oregon." He adds, "Nobody is held accountable publicly. So now that that is going to occur, I think it will have a marked difference and change in behavior now that people know what the consequence is going to be."

ODOT Considers Hwy 97 Safety Improvements

TUMALO, OR -- The Oregon Department of Transportation is considering changes to Highway 97 between Bend and Redmond. While it’s still very early in the process, ODOT’s Peter Murphy says the agency wants to improve safety, "You’ve got increasing demands placed on the highway, there’ve been some crashes that we don’t like to talk about; nobody does. And, so, what we’re trying to do is, short of putting billions of dollars into the highway, what can we do with what we have available? So, we have asked for some input." 


The public is invited to weigh in on what’s needed, at a community meeting, Wednesday evening. Murphy says ODOT has some ideas, "Maybe increased lighting, other kinds of improvements that are smaller or less expensive than the big ‘let’s do this whole median barrier all through the highway system,’ and build backage roads and frontage roads. Those kinds of things may be in the offing, but in the short term, what can we do to make the highway safer?" He tells KBND News a nine-mile median isn’t an easy option, "You see a driveway there that means ODOT has given that person access to the highway. Now, this goes back, in many cases, to when it was a horse trail or something similar to that. So, over time, people have gotten access rights. You can’t just take that away. Those rights belong to the people who have obtained them. So, in our world, we can’t just say, ‘Okay, we’re going to take away your right to have a turn into your driveway’."


Click HERE for more details on the project. Wednesday's community meeting It starts at 5 p.m. at Three Sisters School on Tumalo Road. For those unable to attend in person, ODOT is also hosting a virtual open house through February first. 

HSCO Provides Pet Food to Furloughed Workers

BEND, OR -- The Humane Society of Central Oregon is offering free premium dog and cat food for federal employees on furlough due to the partial government shutdown. HSCO has partnered with FreeKibble and Halo Pet Food to make sure government workers can still feed their animals.


Furloughed federal workers Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson and Klamath counties can pick up about a month's worth of premium pet food at the Bend shelter on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They must bring proof of employment.


Federal employees can receive pet food assistance at the Humane Society Shelter on SE 27th St. at any time. 

Fake Money Passed at Bend Locations

BEND, OR -- Bend Police are investigating more than 15 reports of counterfeit $20 bills being used at local businesses. The bills look identical, including the same serial number and markings. They have the words "COPY MONEY" written in the corner of one side and "SPECIMEN" printed in red on the other side. The money looks legitimate, but investigators say the paper feels different than real cash. 


The fake money was passed at Bend establishments like 7-11, Burger King, McDonalds, Taco bell and Bogey's Burgers. In some cases, employees noticed the counterfeit and contacted police; but in others, the money was reported by the bank who received it. 

Anyone with information in this case is asked to call law enforcement through non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.


Photo: Submitted by Bend Police; the recovered counterfeit money have similar markings, but different serial numbers than what's shown above. 

Elderly Driver Crashes Into La Pine Store

LA PINE, OR -- A 79-year-old La Pine woman reportedly mistook the gas pedal for the brake, sending her car through the front of the La Pine Ray’s Food Place, at about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. Anita Jaramillo told Sheriff’s deputies she’d recently bought the car and wasn’t very familiar with it. 

While trying to park in front of the store, She drove over the sidewalk and through the front window, causing substantial damage to the building and checkstands. The store was open, but no one was hurt. No citations have been issued. 

Bend Fire Blamed on Heating Lamp

BEND, OR -- A northeast Bend chicken coop was destroyed in a fire blamed on a heating lamp, Tuesday afternoon. Firefighters responded to the home near Fourth and Hawthorne, across from Hawthorne Station, just before 12:30 p.m. and found the coop fully engulfed, with flames spreading to brush. They were able to stop the blaze before it reached a nearby detached garage. 

Fire investigators say a heat lamp secured by a clamp inside the coop fell into bedding, igniting the fire. Officials suggest heat lamps used for animals be secured to their supports by more than a clamp, which loses strength as it warms. 

Culver Woman Arrested For Ramming Cars

REDMOND, OR -- A Culver woman was arrested in Redmond by officers with guns drawn, Tuesday morning. Redmond Police were first called to a car dealership on South Highway 97, just before 10:30 a.m., on a report of a woman intentionally ramming vehicles and nearly hitting two employees. The suspect left before police arrived but, after several calls from the public, they caught up with her in the Petco parking lot, on the north end of town. Vanessa Hancock was arrested during a high-risk traffic stop. 

Investigators say the 37-year-old damaged six vehicles at the dealership, as well as her own 2011 Kia Sportage (right). She reportedly littered car parts along the road as she drove north. Police say she was upset with employees at the dealership over an ongoing civil dispute. 


Hancock is charged with Reckless Driving, Recklessly Endangering Another, Criminal Mischief and Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver Involved in an Accident. Redmond Police encourage those involved in civil disputes to seek a legal resolution. 

Sewer System Upgrade Nearly Done in NW Redmond

REDMOND, OR -- Crews are nearly finished installing a large sewer line in northwest Redmond, to accommodate the exponential growth expected in the area over the next couple of years. Steve Wilson, a Civil Engineer with the city of Redmond, tells KBND News, "This project replaces a pump station that was at Spruce Avenue that served the parcels that are adjacent to 19th Street, but it didn’t have capacity nor flow depth to serve anything beyond that point." That means the old pump station could not have handled the more than 500 new housing units now in development on 77 acres near NW Spruce and Northwest Way. Wilson says the new Far West Interceptor corrects that issue, "This particular piece does serve a very large portion of land. There’s a sewer master plan that breaks things down where different basins will go in the future. As each section develops farther and farther to the west and to the east, these areas are collected by new infrastructure. 


He says the work was complicated by the geology of the area. Crews had to bore through the rock wall on the north end of the Dry Canyon, to connect the line to the waste water treatment plant. "There’s all sorts of things that you just cannot see until you’re actually doing the boring. In this particular case, there was a lot of unique geology, but our borer did a really, really good job working with that geology to get us a fairly good alignment." The pipe was installed Friday and tested Monday morning; Wilson says it passed inspection "with flying colors."


The Far West Interceptor is expected to come on line in the next three to four weeks. 

Calculating The Local Impact of Furloughed Workers

BEND, OR -- When the latest local jobless numbers are released next week, they won’t yet show how the the partial federal government shutdown is impacting Central Oregon's economy. Damon Runberg, Regional Economist with the Oregon Employment Department, tells KBND News, "The reference week that we use for the unemployment rate and hiring numbers was before the shutdown began. So, when the December numbers come out, we won’t see an effect. For sure we will in January, because those folks are counted as unemployed – well, if they are looking for work on the side." Those January numbers are released in mid-February.


Even when those January stats come out, Runberg says it won't provide a complete picture of how furloughed workers are coping, "They’re not a traditional unemployed person; right? So, if they’re sitting back and waiting for the government to reopen and they’re not looking for work to fill the void, they would not be counted as unemployed. But, they still would qualify for unemployment insurance benefits." He adds, "It’s a little confusing, how we’re going to try to capture some of this on the data. We do generally know the number of positions that have been funded, locally, by the federal government that are effected – about 800 jobs. But, it might be a little bit skewed. Some of the natural resource/land management agencies, some of those positions that we’re estimating were affected, might actually be seasonal jobs."


Tuesday is day 25 of the longest ever shutdown of the federal government. 

OSU-Cascades To Apply for EPA Grant

BEND, OR -- OSU-Cascades is seeking federal funds to help clean up a 72-acre former landfill, to allow for construction of more academic buildings at the Bend campus. Blair Garland, with OSU-Cascades, tells KBND News the university has received $9.5 million in state money, and they're now hoping to get a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. "The EPA is going to award around 40 of them around the country, and we'd certainly like some of these federal funds to come here and be applied here in Central Oregon. That'll help us make best use of state funds. And, if we receive the grant, it's going to expand the size of the first phase of remediation, and possible do it faster."


Garland believes the school's proposal is a good fit for the EPA grant committee, "Combining this former landfill and the former pumice mine, which were two sites that were formerly unusable, and bringing those together in order to build a university, which is a benefit to the community. And, it's a way to serve an underserved region with higher education. We think that's going to be one of the most innovative land reclamation stories in the country, so we think we have a good shot." A public meeting will be held Wednesday evening at Tykeson Hall to discuss the EPA application process and get community feedback. That meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. 


Even before securing the additional money, Garland says work is already underway at the former demolition landfill, "Right now, we're mostly doing the preparation work, like finalizing testing and planning with contractors. And, we're going to start moving dirt around on the site beginning in the spring, or possibly the summer."

St. Charles Bend, Nurses Reach Labor Agreement

BEND, OR -- After more than six months working under an expired contract, and 26 negotiation sessions, nurses at St. Charles Bend reached a new labor deal with the hospital over the weekend. Both sides call compromise that was finally hammered out in a marathon two-day session, which ended 1 a.m. Saturday. Details were released Monday. Kevin Mealy, with the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA), says the agreement addresses concerns about patient care, "What we see in this agreement is commitments to limit floating, so that the right nurse is in the right place at the right time; we’ve seen commitments to add some shared governance structure, where it’s 50% representation from direct care nurses and 50% nurses from managers. And, it really gives direct care nurses a voice in changing that care."


Mealy says it also provides yearly pay increases for nurses to address the rising cost of living in Bend, while giving the hospital financial flexibility, "Nurses will see between a 2-4% wage increase per year. But, in year three that’s going to be linked to the consumer price index. So, if the cost of living goes up significantly, nurses’ wages will go up a little more to try and keep pace; if it stays flat or goes down, nurses won’t make as much." And, he says, nurses accepted increases in the cost of their health benefits.


The new labor contract stretches through December of 2022. "[It's] A four and a half year-long contract, which is unusual in negotiations. But, I think it speaks to both sides’ willingness to work together and find ways to give those upstream solutions that we’ve hammered out in negotiations time take effect and to see the improvements in patient care as time goes on." It still must still be ratified by a majority of the more than 900 nurses represented by the ONA. Mealy expects that will happen in the next two to three weeks.


An informational picket scheduled for next Monday has been canceled, but a food drive planned to coincide with the demonstration is expected to still take place. 

Bend City Council Delays Decision on Vacancy

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors continue efforts to fill the vacancy on Council created when Sally Russell was elected Mayor. They interviewed their top six candidates during a special meeting, Monday night. Kathy Austin, James Dorofi, Kerani Mitchell, Andrew Davis, Chuck Allen and Chris Piper were selected from among nearly 40 applications received earlier this month. 

Councilor Barb Campbell acknowledged it’s difficult to choose someone for a seat that’s normally elected by voters, "My experience is, sometimes the voters want a complete outsider who has never set foot in City Hall, sometimes they want someone with a great deal of experience." But, she said she didn't think readiness was going to be an issue with this pool of candidates, "Looking at this specific list, I don’t see any of these folks that make me worried that they’re not going to be able to get up to speed."

The six Councilors agreed all of the finalists had good things to say and represent a broad range of ideas. But, after several hours of interviews and deliberations, Councilor Bruce Abernethy told the small crowd gathered in Council Chambers they would push a final decision to Wednesday’s regular meeting, "Unfortunately this is probably not what the candidates are going to want to hear. But, again, you are getting a sense of what you may be getting into, and that it’s a little bit messy. I think there was some really good discussion; we’ll get a chance to sleep on it and reflect a little bit more." 

Wednesday's Bend City Council meeting begins at 7 p.m. 

La Pine Man Found Dead Outside Home

LA PINE, OR -- A La Pine man was found dead outside his Newberry Estates home, Monday. Authorities say he likely died of exposure.


The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office says 66-year-old Larry Campbell lived on Penny Court, which is a dead end street. They believe he came home Sunday night, got out of his car and slipped on the ice. "Mr. Campbell was unable to get to his feet and began crawling towards an area of the driveway with less ice, where he could get back onto his feet," Sgt. William Bailey said in a statement. Campbell was unsuccessful and succumbed to the cold. He was discovered just before noon Monday.



Rep. Walden Pushes For Government to Reopen

BEND, OR -- With the Government Shutdown now in Day 24, Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) says his colleagues have taken sides. He believes most Americans understand the country's immigration system and border security need fixing, but no one in the U.S. House is compromising, right now. "What's happening down there [on the southern border], in many ways, is pretty inhumane and cruel. We need to fix this problem, and it's unfortunate that the sides can't come together." Walden tells KBND News he's frustrated because border security is important, but that's not helping people in District Two who are employed by the federal government or otherwise affected by the shutdown, "This is having real life consequences, and I wish the big players would figure a way through this." As the shutdown drags on, he said it will make it more difficult for furloughed employees to catch up on their work once they are back on the job.


Walden has asked for his own pay to be withheld in solidarity with federal employees who are currently furloughed, "I wish Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer would negotiate in better faith than they have been, frankly. The President has presented multiple alternatives to them, and they've just told him 'No,' and no doesn't get you very far in a negotiation." He says he wants the government to reopen, but that doesn't mean he's not in favor of increased border security, "We should fund enhanced border security. We have a problem at the border; it's a crisis, and we need to deal with it for humanitarian purposes, and for national security purposes."


Now in the minority party, Walden is confident the good working, bipartisan relationships he's built over time will continue, "Obviously, there's a new party in town in the majority in the House and they have a different agenda in some areas, but in a lot of areas I think we'll find common ground and get things done for the country." That is, once the government reopens for business.

La Pine Home Damaged in Fire

LA PINE, OR -- An early morning fire heavily damaged a home on Forest Road, Monday. La Pine firefighters responded just after midnight and found a motor home and shop fully engulfed in flames, with fire spreading to a nearby home. Everyone had safely evacuated the house, although two dogs were later found dead inside.


The people using the RV as a temporary home were not there when the fire broke out. They told fire officials they had just purchased the 1977 RV and hadn't evaluated all heating and electrical systems prior to the fire. Investigators suspect the fire started with an electrical problem in the vehicle. 


The Red Cross is helping the six adults displaced by the fire. 

Fish Tank Extinguishes Fire, Saves House

REDMOND, OR -- Investigators say a fire inside a northwest Redmond home was extinguished by the same item that started it. A man returned to his home on NW Nickernut Ct. just before 10 p.m., Friday, to find his house filled with smoke and glass and water on the floor. He called 9-1-1, unsure what had happened.

When firefighters responded, they discovered a blaze had started in the back of a cabinet holding a 25-gallon fish tank. The fire broke the glass, spilling the tank’s contents and extinguishing the flames. The blaze caused about $1,000 in damage. 

Crews found two lifeless catfish on the floor covered in soot, and were able to revive them in a sink.


Redmond Fire responded to another incident about a mile away, Sunday evening. They say a fire started in the home's kitchen, on NW 20th St., when someone turned the wrong dial on the stove, igniting a burner instead of the oven. Materials left on top of the stove caught on fire, but it was put out with a fire extinguisher before crews arrived. 

New Hangar Planned for Redmond Airport

REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond Airport has secured a 30-year agreement with Leading Edge Jet Center to provide general aviation services, as well as several million dollars in airport improvements. A big portion of that contract is construction of a 24,000-square foot executive aircraft hangar.

Leading Edge Aviation President and CEO Brad Fraley says a hangar on the south end of the airport houses smaller aircraft, but higher-end jets don't fit, "They can range from a couple million dollars up to $60 million aircraft, and they don’t like to leave them outside." He says creating a place to store those multi-million dollar planes increases the region’s marketability, "Those people that want to come in and invest usually fly in on a jet and then they’ll look at what kind of facilities can support business as well as their aviation – their aircraft. It’s kind of grown; we’ve seen businesses come in and then be able to keep their airplanes that they do their business out of, and have them based in Redmond, which is great." He tells KBND News, "It’s a huge economic driver for Central Oregon to be able to have facilities like this that we can support those aircraft for those investors to come into the region. And, be able to leave their jets, go do their business, come back in, and then be supported. We do deicing, we have full service lav carts and water systems, which was lacking before. So, we’re able to take care of those people and get them in and get them out, and let them get their business done." He expects to break ground on the new hangar within 18 months. 


Leading Edge has been at the Redmond Airport since 2015, and Fraley says business increases each year. The company is committed to investing $5 million within three years, in addition to its lease payments to the city-owned airport. It also plans to build a 6,000-square foot office building and make $100,000 in improvements to an existing World War II hangar. The annual lease payments, under the new deal, increase from the current $49,000 to $129,000, and will rise over time. Roberts Field also collects seven-cents for every gallon of jet fuel dispensed by Leading Edge, generating around $315,000 a year. 

Bend Police Investigate Homicide

BEND, OR — A woman was found dead in a northeast Bend apartment, Saturday afternoon, near Costco. Investigators say officers were responding to a call from a male at the complex on NE Watt Way, at about 3:45 p.m. when the body was found. 


Authorities are talking to a male who was on scene, but they’ve released no other information. They don’t believe the public is in danger. 

KBND News is following this story and will have more information when it becomes available. 


UPDATE (01/13/19): Bend Police have identified the victim as 37-year-old Jenny Lynn Cashwell. A source tells KBND News she died of a gunshot wound, but authorities have yet to confirm. However, they have released the identity of he suspect, and say 36-year-old Alan Porciello (right) faces charges of Manslaughter and Unlawful Use of a Weapon. 

Bend Umpqua Bank Robbed

BEND, OR -- Police are searching for the man who robbed the Umpqua Bank in Bend, Friday. Bend Police, Deschutes County deputies and State Police troopers responded to the bank on South Highway 97, south of Reed Market Road, but the suspect left prior to their arrival.


The say the man did not display a weapon and no one was hurt during the robbery, but he got away with an undisclosed amount of cash. He's believed to be between 25 and 40 years old, 6-foot tall and 180 pounds. He was seen wearing a blue sweater, blue baseball hat and blue pants. Investigators say he may have been wearing a disguise. 


UPDATE (01/13/19): California authorities reportedly arrested a man suspected of robbing the Bend Umpqua Bank, Friday afternoon. According to KRCR in Redding, 40-year-old Cory Homestead (pictured) was arrested after a high-speed chase. The Modoc County Sheriff’s Office began pursuing the McMinnville man when Lake County chased the suspect into California. They followed the suspect over 70 miles, at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour. The car was driving on its rims when it rolled, ending the chase in the small town of Bieber, California. 

Search For COCC President Enters New Phase

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College continues its search for a new President who will take over when Dr. Shirley Metcalf retires this summer. COCC’s Ron Paradis says the search committee is ready to conduct video interviews with a group of semifinalists, "We had well over 50 applications, which – for a search for a President of a community college – is a really strong number. We have a Presidential Search Advisory Committee that looked through all those applications and lowered the number down. And, next week, that group will be doing ‘technology enhanced’ interviews with somewhere between nine and 12 candidates, about an hour a piece, over a two-day period."  A handful of finalists will then be invited to visit COCC in person, "Probably either three or four because, when we do bring them out, we bring them out for two days, so it’s quite a commitment for them and quite a commitment for the college."


Paradis says the process was not impacted by the recent resignation of COCC Board Chair John Mundy, who also led the search committee, "Haven’t skipped a beat, aren’t hearing any negative feedback from any of our candidates. They’re all aware of what happened, but we’re not losing anybody because of this. We’re still feeling like we’re in really good shape." He tells KBND News new Chair Laura Craska Cooper also led the board during the school's last presidential search. 


While Mundy's position as Chair was quickly filled by Craska Cooper, his Zone Five board seat remains vacant. Paradis says applications will be accepted through Monday, "At this point, we’ve received one. But, we’ve got a deadline of Monday and we’ve heard from several other people so, we’re pretty sure we’re going to get a nice pool. We’ve asked people to send in a resume and quick letter by Monday and then a board committee will take a look and decide where to go from there." Applicants must live in Zone five, which encompasses much of Bend. 

Prineville Women Injured in High Speed Crash

REDMOND, OR -- A Prineville woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in a high-speed crash, about nine miles east of Redmond, Thursday night. According to State Police, 20-year-old Kiahnna Saunders was westbound on O'Neil Highway when a trooper clocked her at 104 miles per hour, just before 6:30 p.m.

Before he could pull her over, she lost control in a corner, and the car flipped on its side. Saunders was initially found unconscious but regained consciousness and was able to get herself out of the vehicle.

She was flown by Air Link to St. Charles Bend. OSP cited Saunders for Reckless Driving, Violation of the Basic Rule by going over 100 MPH and Driving While Suspended. 

CET Plans For 20 Years of Transit

BEND, OR -- Cascades East Transit is developing a transit master plan and they need community input. Senior Transit Planner Andrea Breault says, "This new plan will encompass expansion projects, as well as increased efficiencies and possible new technology related to transportation through 2040, so that we have one consistent plan through the region."


CET will host a series of open house meetings, this month, to provide interactive opportunities to give feedback on a variety of transit aspects, "Agreement on the vision, a set of goals that will direct the projects, and then we will actually have maps available where people can place suggestions and feedback for expansion of services or increased frequence of existing routes," Breault tells KBND News, "This, also, does  not just include fixed route, but what we refer to as 'on-demand' or 'dial-a-ride,' and those are services for elderly, disabled, and low-income." Click HERE for more information on the plan, or to submit online comments. 


Six meetings will be held, one each in La Pine, Madras, Redmond, Warm Springs, Prineville and Bend, "They are open to all members of the public and they will provide feedback on the visions, goals, and priority projects for that region."

  • LA PINE : Tue., Jan. 15 (4:30-6:30 pm) at La Pine Public Library (16425 1st St.)
  • MADRAS: Thu., Jan. 17 (4:30-6:30 pm) at Rodriguez Jefferson Library Annex (134 SE E St.)
  • REDMOND: Tue., Jan. 22 (4:30-6:30 pm) at Redmond City Hall, Room 208 (411 SW 9th St.)
  • WARM SPRINGS: Wed., Jan. 23 (4:30-6:30 pm) at Warm Springs Community Ctr (2200 Hollywood Blvd.)
  • PRINEVILLE: Thu., Jan. (4:30-6:30 pm) at Crook County Library, Broughton Room (175 NW Meadow Lakes Dr.)
  • BEND: Tue., Jan. 29 (4:30-6:30 pm) at the Trinity Episcopal Church, Brooks Hall (469 NW Wall St.)

A second round of open house meetings is scheduled for March. The data will be compiled and a final draft of the master plan will be available in the spring of 2020. 

Convicted Bend OSP Captain Surrenders Certification

BEND, OR -- Oregon State Police Captain William Fugate has resigned, two days after pleading guilty in Deschutes County to harassment for an incident involving his estranged wife. Eriks Gabliks, Director of the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST), says Fugate contacted the agency to surrender his certification. The move essentially removes his standing as a law enforcement officer.

Gabliks says, once the paperwork is completed, Fugate's name and information regarding the conviction will be added to a national database. If Fugate applies for another job in law enforcement, that agency will be directed to OSP for further details. Gabliks tells KBND News DPSST had planned to open an investigation on Fugate, but with the surrender of his certification surrender, it is no longer necessary.

Oregon State Police was unavailable for comment.


UPDATE 01/14/19: William Fugate was booked into the Deschutes County Jail on Saturday (pictured above), just after 4 p.m., to serve his two-day sentence for Harassment. 

Naked Man Found Injured South of Bend

BEND, OR -- A naked man was found near the Lava Lands Visitor Center, Thursday night, showing signs of hypothermia. Deschutes County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to the center’s entrance on Highway 97, south of Bend, at about 10:15 p.m., after a driver reported being approached by the man asking for help to jumpstart a car. 

Deputies say 27-year-old Adam Gilliam had extensive injuries consistent with walking through the woods without clothes. Sunriver medics took the John Day man to the hospital where he told authorities he’d walked naked from the visitor center to Benham Falls and back, covering over 10 miles in 20-degree weather. 

Drugs are believed to have been a factor in his actions. 

Pedestrian Seriously Hurt in Redmond Crash

REDMOND, OR -- A 49-year-old pedestrian was seriously injured when he was hit by a car on Highway 97, Wednesday evening, on the south end of Redmond. According to police, Randall Sullenger was attempting to cross the highway from east to west, near Odem Medo, when he stepped into northbound traffic at about 5:30 p.m. The driver of a car in the right lane saw the man and was able to stop, but a Jeep Grand Cherokee in the left lane did not. Investigators say the SUV was traveling with the flow of traffic, 40-45 miles per hour, when it struck the man. 


Life Flight was activated but was canceled by medics. Sullenger was taken by ground ambulance to St. Charles Bend, where he was listed in Fair condition, as of Thursday morning. Medics believe the victim survived because two nurses happened to be in the area when the crash occurred, and immediately began CPR until first responders arrived. 


Police say Sullenger was wearing dark clothing, he was not in a marked crosswalk and the area is not well lit. The Jeep was driven by a 24-year-old Terrebonne woman. Investigators say she was not hurt, although her vehicle sustained minor damage. They don't believe impairment or distracted driving played a role in the incident. 


Freshmen Lawmakers Prepare for 2019 Session

BEND, OR -- The 2019 Legislative session gets underway in less than two weeks, with much of Deschutes County represented by two freshman lawmakers. District 53 Representative-Elect Jack Zika and District 54 Representative-Elect Cheri Helt admit they have a lot to learn in a short amount of time. Zika says, "Things so trivial, like setting up your office, what office number, and how to get to certain points in the building. And then, the process; when you do submit legislation, where does it go? How do you get that in?" And, Helt tells KBND News, "The most surprising thing to me was the deadlines for bills. There was a deadline in December and so, as Representative-Elects, you’re allowed to put in Legislative concepts." They’ll be sworn in Monday. Then, Helt says, they’ll have four days to submit specific bills for consideration this session.


But, neither plans to go it alone. Zika says he will work closely with the retiring Rep. Gene Whisnant, who he's replacing, "I’ve called him and I’ve talked to him, I’ve had lunch with him. We work together really well so I look forward to being able to lean on him during the session, if I do have questions." Helt already thinks of her predecessor Dr. Knute Buehler as a mentor, "I’m proud to have him as a sounding board, as well as Representative Whisnant. I look forward to working with them, even as I move forward. I’m not viewing it as necessarily them not being involved, because I want to keep their thoughts and ideas moving forward."

Helt has been appointed to the Joint Committee for Student Success and will be Vice Chair of the House Education Committee, "Education is really my top priority and I’m super honored that I’ve been put on these two committees to be able to move that conversation forward." She has served on the Bend-La Pine School Board since 2010 and she says she’d like to remain, if possible, "I will decide as our schedules come out. And so, when those are finalized, I will be able to decide if I will have time to be in Bend for the School Board meetings or not. It’ll come down to what my schedule is going to allow me to do." Helt is also on the House Human Services & Housing Committee, along with Zika. He will also serve on the Energy & Environment and Veterans & Emergency Preparedness Committees.


Thursday evening, Helt, Zika and Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) will take part in the Bend Chamber's What's Brewing forum, at 10 Barrel Brewing. They'll discuss priorities for the 2019 session and what it's like to be a Republican in the Democrat-led Legislature. Click HERE for more information.


Following Monday's swearing-in, lawmakers have several days of training before the full session begins January 22. 

Redmond Planning Commission Undergoes Changes

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond's seven-member Urban Area Planning Commission has five new members, this year. Mayor George Endicott says this is the highest number of appointments he's made to the Planning Commission since he was first elected in 2008, "I've had four before - more than once - but five is a little unusual." He says the high turnover is a coincidence, "It was circumstances: People leaving, people getting elected [to other offices], terms of office over. But, having the two experienced people on the Planning Commission, I'm pretty comfortable we're going to do all right."


Mayor Endicott tells KBND News that in choosing the new members, he looked for variety in experience, "I did a cross section of the community, a couple of real estate people, and citizens that may not have all the knowledge, but they've got the skills to be able to participate, quick learners, that sort of thing." Heather DeWolf, Teri Jansen, Michael Kusinska, Nelson Rivers, and Cat Zwicker replace Krisanna Clark-Endicott - who was elected to City Council, Jack Zika - who was elected to the State House, James Cook, Alicia Wobbe and William Hilton. "I wanted a balance," says Endicott, "A couple of them are real estate people or in the business. By state law you're allowed two of those; so that means that they have some experience, at least generally, [in] what kinds of things matter in terms of density, and they're already pretty well up on a lot of the codes. And then a couple of the others were just citizens that are interested in participating in the public process."


David Allen and Ross Centers remain; their terms expire in 2020. The new members will be sworn in Monday.

Local Nonprofit Cancels Events Due to Shutdown

BEND, OR -- As the federal shutdown reaches record length, Discover Your Forest, the non-profit partner of Deschutes National Forest, has been forced to cancel interpretive snow tours at Mount Bachelor. Executive Director Rika Ayotte says snowshoe tours and the "Ski with a Ranger" program are run by volunteers, but their liability coverage is provided by the federal government and, "Because those volunteers signed volunteer agreements with the Forest Service, they're not able to serve as volunteers during the government shutdown."


Ayotte tells KBND News the programs serve more than 1,000 tourists and 2,000 students each winter, "We have a pretty broad spectrum of curriculum for snow science for local schools. Those kids really do look forward to getting out on their snowshoes and winter only lasts for so long." She adds, "We're really hopeful that the federal government can resume operations and that an agreement can be reached that we can get back to work and back interacting with the public, but until that happens, all public programs will continue to be canceled and school programs will be canceled on an as-needed basis."


She says the longer the shutdown lasts, the bigger impact it will have, locally. "Several hundred people could've really benefited from experiencing these programs, who won't get to do that. And, the longer it continues, the more that number grows. We're in a little bit of a holding pattern, but we're really doing the best we can, and we're confident that when federal funding is restored, we'll be okay."


The event calendar on Discover Your Forest's website is littered with cancellation notices. 

Bend Seeks Neighborhood Input on Transportation

BEND, OR -- The city of Bend will host a series of neighborhood workshops, this month, to get input on the Transportation Plan. Senior Planner Karen Swirsky says a lot has changed in the 20 years since the plan was last revised and a lot has changed since then, "We just finished doing the Urban Growth Boundary expansion project, we added some land to the city and we identified some opportunity areas in the city where we want to change the land use, and we just recognize the city’s growing really fast, so it’s time to get the Transportation Plan updated and gets a little more modern."


The plan deals with how people get around, whether by foot, bike, car or mass transit. Swirsky admits the process is lengthy; the project began about a year ago and is now about halfway complete, "Phase One was really to look at these big citywide projects and programs that make a difference. And then, in Phase Two, we’re filling it in with these smaller projects; most of which, if you put into a transportation model, wouldn’t make a big difference in terms of capacity and congestion but make a big difference for the folks living in those neighborhoods." She tells KBND News, "Our hope is that we will have our plan adopted by the city and acknowledged by the state by the early part of 2020. We have a good solid year of work ahead of us. "

Five meetings will be held between January 23 and 31, each in a different geographic location (see below or click HERE for more information). Swirsky says the goal is to get feedback on issues that directly impact each neighborhood. She points out these are workshops where attendees should be prepared to take an active role.





Old Bend, Century West, Southern Crossing, Southwest Bend

Wed., Jan. 23

5:30 – 8 p.m.

OSU Cascades

Tykeson Hall, Rm 111

1500 Chandler Ave.

Boyd Acres, Orchard District, Mountain View

Thurs., Jan. 24

6 – 8:30 p.m.

Bend Municipal Court

555 15th St.

Awbrey Butte, Summit West, River West

Tues., Jan. 29

5:30 – 8 p.m.

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

61980 Skyline Ranch Rd.

Larkspur, Old Farm District, Southeast Bend

Wed., Jan. 30

6:30 – 9 p.m.

Bend Senior Center

1600 SE Reed Market Rd.

Core Area (Central Bend)

Thurs., Jan. 31

5:30 – 8 p.m.

Trinity Episcopal Church

Brooks Hall

469 NW Wall St.

Convicted State Police Captain Still Employed

BEND, OR -- A Bend-based State Police Captain pleaded guilty to Harassment, Tuesday, but has not been fired. According to the Deschutes County District Attorney, William Fugate has been ordered to serve two days in jail, later this week, followed by 24 months probation. However, "He is still employed with the Oregon State Police," OSP Captain Tim Fox tells KBND News.


D.A. John Hummel says the conviction stems from a 2017 incident when Fugate "violently grabbed" his estranged wife, leaving a bruise on her arm. As part of the plea deal, one count of Harassment was dismissed. Hummel says five other claims of domestic violence could not be pursued due to the statute of limitations. 


Fugate was placed on paid administrative leave in March 2018, when the Sheriff's Office began its investigation into the allegations. The D.A. began reviewing the case in April. Capt. Fox says, "Back when he was charged by the Deschutes County District Attorney's office, the State Police moved him to unpaid administrative leave, and so he's been on unpaid administrative leave, and will continue in that role until we can complete our investigation." He says that internal review is complicated by technicalities in the law, "Harassment, in and of itself, is not a domestic violence charge in Oregon. The 'Domestic Harassment' is based on the fact that it was a domestic situation, but it's not actually a crime of Domestic Violence." And, he says, investigators need to determine whether the conviction prevents Fugate from executing his law enforcement duties, "That's what the investigation is going to vet out: Is it even possible? Can he possess firearms?"


While Capt. Fox says OSP can employ people convicted of certain crimes, he believes troopers should be held to a higher standard, "We should be the example, not the exception." He adds,  "At this point, we just need to make sure we do a thorough investigation for everyone involved, and make sure that we get all the facts, and make a decision from there, what's legally sound and just."

Fugate worked for OSP more than 11 years and served as the agency's Senior Public Information Officer (PIO) when he was placed on leave. 

BPD Honors Officers Involved in Shooting Call

BEND, OR -- Nearly a dozen Bend Police personnel are being recognized for their response to a shooting call, last fall. In October, according to the District Attorney, Tyler Herrick shot one neighbor then hunted down the victim's roommate in their home on Sierra Drive; the second man eventually shot and killed Herrick.


Captain Paul Kansky says officers entered the home to save the first victim, amid an active situation, "There are very few calls in a career where you’re on scene while this is still occurring - you’re arriving while people are calling in that shots are fired. And also, you just don’t know the details; in cases like this, you’re getting calls from multiple people outside the actual incident." He tells KBND News officers didn't hesitate to act, even with several unknowns, "One person’s able to come out, but they still ultimately have somebody who’s been shot as a victim and someone else that’s been shot as a perpetrator; and unknown exactly: are they alive? Are they still a threat? Is at least the suspect still a threat?" Capt. Kansky adds, "In this case, the Sergeant and officers made the determination that they needed to go in to at least attempt to rescue the victim. And, in doing that, it took extreme courage and hard decision-making, putting officers’ lives in danger to hopefully save one of our citizens. Unfortunately, in this case, he passed away. But, for their bravery to make that decision, the Chief has honored them with the Chief’s Coin."

Kansky says most of the officers received their coins over the last few weeks; the Chief handed out the last two on Tuesday, "He hands them out in very rare circumstances that are far above and beyond." Receiving coins were Officers Greg Goller, Martin Tabaco, Chad Owens, Cliff Cox, Daniel Koehnke and Tommy Charles; as well as Reserve Officers Leigh Anne Boileau, Andrew Barlow, Corporal Cindy Ksenzulak, and Sergeants Bob Jones and Mike Landolt

The D.A. has said investigators could not determine why Herrick targeted his next door neighbors on October 20, 2018.


Submitted Photo: January 4, 2019, Chief Jim Porter (far left) presents coins to (from L-R) Sgt. Mike Landolt, Officer Greg Goller, Reserve Officer Leigh Anne Boileua, and Reserve Officer Andrew Barlow


St. Charles Nurses Prepare to Picket in Bend

BEND, OR -- Nurses at St. Charles Bend plan to picket later this month, to protest the lack of progress in ongoing labor negotiations. Registered Nurse Megan Hanson says they’ve been working without a contract since July, "The hospital just kind of is being sticky and does not want to negotiate on some really key items for us. And, the union and hospital have brought in a mediator, which still has really gotten us nowhere. We do have mediations again coming up on the tenth and eleventh. Hopefully, we’ll move forward with those and we won’t end up having to picket."


But, Hanson tells KBND News she's not optimistic, "We’ve asked for some pretty reasonable Cost of Living increases and they have said, ‘no way.’ We’ve asked to keep our insurance rates the same. Our insurance is extremely expensive and the coverage is less than desirable. So, we aren’t asking for better insurance or an improvement in our premiums. We’re just asking for it to stay the same." She says nurses also want staffing levels to be determined by patient need not the number of patients.


St. Charles Health System recently launched a media campaign, running ads outlining nurse wages and benefit packages. The commercial claims, "At almost $100,000 per year on average, for full time, our nurses are among the highest paid in the nation." But Hanson says, after six years with the hospital, she doesn’t make anything close to that amount. "It’s made a lot of us angry that they are willing to just spit blatant untruths; for what reason? I don’t fully understand other than, my guess would be, to try and turn the community to not support us."


The Oregon Nurses Association says more than 95% of the nearly 900 nurses at St. Charles Bend voted to authorize the "informational picket" if a "fair agreement" isn't reached by Monday, January 21. It's scheduled to take place that day on public sidewalks just outside the Bend hospital; they'll collect non-perishable food for needy families, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Hanson says on-duty staff won't take part.  


St. Charles Bend President Aaron Adams issued a statement Tuesday, saying, "We respect our nurses and their right to hold this informational picket. While we have made much progress on the contract over the past six months, we have not yet reached a final agreement. We look forward to meeting again at the bargaining table later this week." He went on to say, "The majority of remaining issues have to do with wages and benefits," and added, "We value our nurses and are proud that they are among some of the highest paid in the nation." Adams also reiterated that the demonstration is not a work stoppage and the hospital will continue to operate normally during the event.

Councilors Select Candidates for Bend Vacancy

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors have narrowed down the list of possible appointees to fill the seat vacated when Sally Russell was elected Mayor. Council received 36 applications, including several former candidates.


Tuesday evening, they named Kerani Mitchell, Kori Sparks, Andrew Davis and James Dorofi as the top nominees. Charles Allen, Katherine Austin and Christopher Piper were also chosen to take part in interviews.

Mayor Russell and Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Abernethy are developing three to five questions. Interviews with each of the seven nominees are scheduled to take place Monday. 

Bend Transient Arrested for Threats

BEND, OR -- A 30-year-old transient was arrested Tuesday afternoon for allegedly threatening others at a homeless camp near 18th and Brinson in northeast Bend. 

Police initially responded to a report that Nathan Felix had a hatchet, just before 4 p.m. When officers arrived they say the man was armed with a pry bar and refused to cooperate, threatening police. After everyone else was evacuated from the camp, Felix was taken into custody without further incident. 

According to the Deschutes County Jail, he faces charges of Menacing, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Disorderly Conduct and Theft. 

Bend OSP Captain Sentenced for Harassment

BEND, OR -- An Oregon State Police Captain has been convicted of Harassment, following a plea agreement with the Deschutes County District Attorney. William Fugate pled guilty in Deschutes County Circuit Court on Tuesday, and was sentenced to two days in jail, two years of probation and he's required to complete "batterers intervention counseling."


D.A. John Hummel says the Harassment conviction stemmed from an incident on June 15, 2017 when Fugate "violently grabbed" his estranged wife, leaving a bruise on her arm. In exchange for his plea, one count of Harassment was dismissed. Hummel reviewed five other domestic violence allegations that allegedly occurred between 2007 and 2016, but he says the statute of limitations prevented him from charging Fugate.


The investigation into the OSP Captain began in March of 2018, when he was the agency's Public Information Officer. 



Update: Article updated to reflect Fúgate is not a “former” Captain. State Police officials say he is still employed by the agency pending the outcome of an internal investigation. 

Community Training to Combat Human Trafficking

BEND, OR -- A local anti-human trafficking group offers a free training this week, as part of National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Amanda Gow, with Guardian Group, says the free community training is open to anyone, "Parents and teachers; it’s even appropriate for high school-aged students, business owners, community members; basically, anybody who is interested in finding out more about what human trafficking looks like here in Central Oregon, and what we can do – as the average person – to ensure that it doesn’t continue to happen in Central Oregon."


She says it's important for everyone to be prepared and capable of spotting the signs of trafficking, "You see youth that are disconnected, a young person who has a significantly older boyfriend, or these different kinds of things we see happening here; what to say to somebody if you think they might be being trafficked, like where to send them or where to get more help and support."


Gow tells KBND News Friday's event and recent first responder trainings with Bend Fire and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office are part of Guardian Group's Sealed City Initiative aimed at closing the region to traffickers, "Any person can be at risk for being lured in to or taken into this industry. It is something that can affect you, your neighbors, down to our most vulnerable populations of runaway and homeless youth or young people who don’t have those caring, supportive caregivers or role models in their lives."


Friday’s free training starts at 6:30 p.m. at Journey Church in Bend; pre-registration is requested and dinner is included. Gow says if you can’t make it to the January 11th event, Guardian Group will offer a free webinar series, starting January 16. Click HERE for more information and to sign up for the organization's January events. 

Whisnant Recounts Successes in Oregon's House

SUNRIVER, OR -- State Representative Gene Whisnant steps down from office this month, after 14 years serving district 53. "My most important achievement, I think, in my career was passing a bill called the Taxpayers Transparency website," he tells KBND News, "You can go online and see how much money comes into the state and how we spend it." Whisnant's Oregon Taxpayer Transparency bill passed unanimously in both chambers of the Legislature.


He admits there are issues he wishes he could've resolved before retiring. "There's a lot of issues that I've worked on and tried to improve them, but they're still out there; concerns like the Oregon PK-12 system, our unfunded PERS debt liabilities, increased cost of state government, and the management of our forest land, homeless and affordable housing, medical care, especially mental health. We need reform. It's not just money."


According to Whisnant, education needs the most work. "What we're doing is not working. We're putting more and more money, but the cost drivers- if we don't address the cost drivers, we can't do it. It's not practical." Whisnant thinks combining overhead and administration costs, and decreasing the number of school districts would create avenues to spend education money more wisely. He'd also like to provide practical courses for students, "Civics and financial literacy I think need to be put back in the high school graduation. It might prevent another housing crisis or some other debt like that." For him, education successes include creating a way for students to rent their textbooks instead of buying them, reforming the English as a Second Language programs, and tuition assistance for Oregon National Guard personnel."

The Sunriver Republican admits serving in the state House when his party is in the super minority could be frustrating, but he says it was an opportunity to build relationships, "I worked hard, I think I built up a really good relationship with both Republicans and Democrats. You have to; and I'm really proud of the successes I had."

Whisnant's last day in office is January 14, when Republican Jack Zika takes over his District 53 seat in Oregon's House. 

Bend Launches Climate Action Plan Survey

BEND, OR -- The city of Bend is working to identify ways to reduce fossil fuel use. Sustainability Coordinator Cassie Lacy says a new online survey will collect community feedback, starting Wednesday. The City's Sustainability Coordinator, Cassie Lacy, says it's important that residents support the Community Climate Action Plan once it becomes official, so getting input now is vital, "It's going to take everyone. If we're going to achieve our fossil fuel goals, we're really going to need many people in the community to step up and play a role. So, we hope everyone gets involved by taking part in the survey and trying to figure out how to work together to reduce fossil fuel use here."


She tells KBND News nearly 100 people came up with some initial ideas, but the city would like a lot more involvement, "We're hoping that people take a look at the different ideas that came out of that effort and tell us how much they support the different ideas." Results from the community survey will be used to create recommendations for the City Council, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Lacy says community support is necessary, because the policies outlined in the new plan will be voluntary, "We're not going to do everything on that list, so we want to make sure that the things we end up pursuing are things that are widely supported by the community."

The survey will be available January 9 through February 3. Click HERE to access the survey and get more information on the Climate Action Plan. 

Two Prineville Homes Destroyed by Fire

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Two Prineville homes were destroyed by a fast-moving fire, early Monday. Crook County Fire crews were dispatched to a fire in an outbuilding on SE Melrose Drive, at about 6:40 a.m. When they arrived, they found flames spreading to neighboring structures. 

Crews fought the blaze for several hours. In all, two homes and two outbuildings were lost. A dog and three cats were rescued and the Red Cross is helping the impacted families. 

The cause of the fire has not been determined. 

Joint COCC & OSU-Cascades Enrollment Allowed

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College and Oregon State University’s Cascades campus in Bend are expanding their partnership. Under a new agreement, COCC students interested in earning a Bachelor’s Degree can be jointly admitted to both schools, providing access to OSU-Cascades academic advisers and support. Officials say it's an effort to address concerns about COCC credits transferring to a four-year university.

Applying students must meet OSU admission requirements and pay tuition at each school based on their registration, but would be responsible for only one application fee. 

Currently, about 30% of the students at OSU-Cascades transfer from COCC. The agreement will be formally announced at Wednesday evening's COCC Board meeting. 

DRW House Fire Serves As Cautionary Tale

BEND, OR -- Fire officials say a blaze that heavily damaged a home in Deschutes River Woods on Friday was caused by a common mistake. Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe says the homeowner thought he did everything right when he cleaned ashes out of a fireplace, last week, "They put the ashes in a container, they were thinking they were dead-out and cold. They left them there for two to three days in the metal bucket. But, the problem is that ashes can hold heat for up to a week." Investigators believe when the man transferred the ashes to a garbage can, the day before the fire, it allowed just enough oxygen in the pile to re-ignite. The fire caused about $200,000 in damage.


Howe says the elderly couple, both in their 90s, escaped unscathed, thanks to working smoke detectors. "These ashes will burn your house down, if you’re not really, really careful with them." He tells KBND News, "They need to be put in a metal bucket, preferably filled with water. And then, do not put that metal bucket on anything that can burn, like a wood deck or steps. You want to put it on concrete outside the house, or on gravel." And, Howe says, don't expect them to cool quickly, "Just leave it out there for a week or two, just to be sure, because these ashes are so sneaky. And, every single year we have multiple fires caused by ashes that people thought were cold and they weren’t cold."

Madras Works to Develop Large Sports Complex

MADRAS, OR -- A new sports facility could bring dramatic changes to Madras. Jim Weyermann took over as Executive Director of the Madras Aquatic Center Recreation District last fall. He's now in talks with an anonymous donor to fund development of a massive sports complex. 


Weyermann tells KBND News, "The indoor facility is about 125,000 square feet, and then you'd add another 22,000 square feet for an Olympic-sized ice rink. And then there are some additional soccer fields, baseball, and softball fields that are being built, as well." The facility would be built to accommodate tournaments for soccer, basketball, volleyball, and badminton, but it won't just be for sports teams. "There's a whole other layer of kids who don't want to play in competitive leagues," he says, "So, this model is about how do we make sure that there's accessibility across the board."


Weyermann says the facility is needed to improve overall health, "The primary purpose is for Madras to begin providing traditional recreational services to the local community." He adds, "We battle with child obesity, we battle with nutrition, we battle with the right level of exercise and mental stimulation." If the facility is planned and developed properly, he says it could also boost the economy, "We have to take responsibility for developing facilities and activities that redefine who we are in the minds of the people who live here."


While he intends to develop the project without taxpayer dollars, Weyermann says getting the complex built doesn't end the financial need, "We've been spending a lot of time on the business pro forma, the sustainability model, how that's going to work and where we're going to generate our revenues, and how we're going to make sure that this thing operates profitably." If funding comes through, Weyermann wants to start the design phase in February, and hopes to break ground in summer. He says, realistically, the project could be finished by late 2020.


File photo

Merkley Talks Shutdown, Presidential Run in Bend

BEND, OR -- U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) hosted a series of town halls, last week, stopping in Madras, Bend and Prineville on Friday. They were his seventh, eighth and ninth town hall meetings of 2019, and 367th, 368th and 369th of his career. 


He told the crowd, "Of course, we have the immediate challenge of the government shutdown- a partial shutdown, and how we resolve it." At Mountain View High School in Bend, he told the crowd Democrats have supplied funding for border security, and they're willing to do more, but not for the wall the President wants, "The issue is whether that money is going to be spent in a smart fashion, an effective fashion, not a fourth century concrete wall that even the border guards says would be absolutely horrific." He promised to donate a portion of his salary to show support for the more than 800,000 non-essential employees affected by the shutdown.


Merkley tells KBND News Oregonians across the state have told him the nation's election system needs revamping, "A lot of concern over the corruption in the form of gerrymandering and voter suppression and dark money. We saw a lot of that being deployed on November sixth and it really produces government by and for the powerful rather than by and for the people." He says he'd do away with the Electoral college, calling it no longer necessary with available technology, "Now that we have those tools, and the concept of equal voice, for example, would say that the right thing to have is direct election of a President." 

The Oregon Democrat thinks one of the main issues facing average Americans right now is dwindling access to safe, affordable health care, "Every healthcare system has a few flaws, but ours has too many: Too expensive, we don't control drug prices, we're the only citizenry in the developed world that worries about going bankrupt over healthcare." He says President Trump and Republicans have been obstructionists when it comes to healthcare, "Let's have a bipartisan legislative response to the President and say no more deliberate efforts to sabotage America's healthcare system." Merkley wants to improve Obamacare, making it simpler and available to anyone.


He also fielded questions about climate change, the farm bill, wildland fire mitigation, border security and a potential run for the White House. "The question I'm asking myself is, can I be more effective being part of that 2020 Primary discussion, or taking the time and energy I would put into that and putting it equally into the Senate to try to be able to drive that same agenda?" He told the audience he expects to make a decision on a potential presidential run by March. Several people at the meeting encouraged Merkley to stay in the Senate, saying he's been most effective in his current position.

Board Set To Name Bend's New Elementary School

BEND, OR -- The Bend-La Pine School Board is expected to vote Tuesday night on the name of the new elementary school being built at Cooley and O.B. Riley Road. Principal Kevin Gehrig says the public submitted 375 ideas. He and the naming committee then considered which to recommend to the board, "Kind of vetting them through the historical society and doing research on each of them, and ultimately, while following the board policy and parameters, getting down to three names: One being North Star Elementary; another one, Ruth Reid Elementary and then Florence Drake Elementary."


Ruth Reid was Bend’s first teacher and principal, "She ultimately brought K-through-12 education to Bend," Gehrig tells KBND News, "It was initially K-through-8; and our understanding is we were sending students over the hill to go to high school, and she really made that K-12 continuum in Bend."


Florence Drake persuaded her husband Alexander Drake to settle along the Deschutes River, shaping the city’s development. Drake is considered the founding father of Bend. Drake Park sits on the site of the couple's original homestead. 


Gehrig says North Star Elementary is the committee’s first choice, "North Star just is that idea of a source for stability. A lot of people talk about a person’s ‘true north,’ and that internal compass being that guiding successful life path. And also, just that idea that we want kids to be curious learners, seek and explore and reach for the stars." The school is also the northern-most in the district. 

Regardless of which one the board chooses, Gehrig says he's excited for his school to finally have a name. He admits he's tired of calling it “Bend’s Yet-To-Be-Named-Elementary School.” It's slated to open in the fall. 


UPDATE (01/09/19): Due to the absence of some School Board members, the group chose not to vote on the name, Tuesday night. They are expected to take up the issue again it the next meeting, scheduled for February 12.

Despite Low Snowpack, Great Nordeen Goes On

BEND, OR -- After being forced to cancel last year's event, Mt Bachelor Sports Education Foundation (MBSEF) says the 2019 Great Nordeen ski race and Fat Tire bike race will go on as planned, later this month. The races start at Mount Bachelor and descend to Wanoga Snow Park, which was bare, last January. But, Event Director Molly Cogswell-Kelley says this year is different, "It’s a pretty promising snowpack. Wanoga - the trails are great, there. And also, the fat biking has been amazing at Wanoga. I’ve been looking at the weather and it looks like, in the next couple of days, we’re going to start getting some colder temperatures and even a little more snow. So, I think we’re in great shape." She admits the snowpack isn’t very deep and the outlook for the event could change, if things warm up and rain moves through before the race.


The annual event brings participants from across the state to Mount Bachelor, says Cogswell-Kelley, "We have an 18k skate ski; we also have a 30k skate ski and then the 15k fat tire bike race. And, I think that we will have a lot of participants this year because it was canceled last year and people love this event." She tells KBND News, "It’s a challenging race; the conditions usually are great because we get it groomed. It’s through forest that normally aren’t groomed and we get permission from the Forest Service to groom these trails just for this race, and that’s why it’s unique."

The Quantum Health Great Nordeen is scheduled for January 27. Sign up online to participate; or call 541-388-0002. 

Commissioner-Elect Adair Prepares For New Post

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County's newest Commissioner won't officially take her seat until Wednesday, but she says she's already working on the issues she campaigned on. "I've already started and I've been going to a lot of meetings. There's a lot to do," Patti Adair said, this week. She says she's not worried about being the only new member of the board, "I like challenges, so it's fine. Definitely, there's a lot of different things going on with the county. Positive things; and we want to keep those positives. And, there's a lot of things we need to do, too."


Adair tells KBND News addressing the county's finances and streamlining the budget are areas where her expertise as a CPA would be most valuable, "I just think we have to really be careful. You know how we always have such a cycle here, the ups and downs. We want to keep things smoother, if that's at all possible." She also wants to focus on wildfires and marijuana. "The marijuana in rural Deschutes; that's where we have such a problem because people that live in the rural county were the ones that have been so impacted. And, I also just really feel like we really, really need to clean up more fo the forests next to our towns."

She'll be sworn in at Wednesday's Board of County Commissioners meeting, joining Commissioners Tony DeBone and Phil Henderson. Their first order of business will be to appoint a new Board Chair. Adair replaces long-time Commissioner Tammy Baney, who is now head of the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council

Multiple Fire Agencies to Train in Sisters

SISTERS, OR -- Firefighters from the Sisters-Camp Sherman, Black Butte, and Cloverdale fire districts will hone their skills in a "Burn to Learn" operation, this weekend. Sisters-Camp Sherman Deputy Fire Chief Tim Craig says there's nothing quite like live fire training to teach attack, search, and rescue skills, "This is as close as we can get to a real hostile structure fire within a controlled training environment. There's nothing that really provides the experience of lighting a fire inside of a real structure - a real house - and allowing our firefighters to come in through the front door and attack that fire like they would during any type of a hostile fire event in a home, or in any other kind of a structure."


Craig tells KBND News it takes thousands of hours of training to be considered proficient at firefighting, "You always learn something new. There's always another opportunity to gain more knowledge, more experience, that sort of thing and so I don't think there's any such thing as too many opportunities for live fire training."


Crews will set fires in two Sisters homes, at Jefferson and Larch, "They're both very small, older homes that were built in the 20s or 30s," says Craig, "My understanding is that they were originally built out in the Camp Sherman area as part of a logging operation, and  were ultimately moved into Sisters later on."  Training begins Saturday morning and all fires will be extinguished by Monday.

File Photo

Rental Assistance Voucher Wait List to Open

REDMOND, OR -- Housing Works opens its waiting list for rental assistance vouchers, later this month. Housing Choice Voucher Director Lesly Gonzalez says low income residents in Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook counties must get their applications in between January 14 and 18, for the program formerly known as HUD's Section 8, "The applications are for the rental assistance program, which is a tenant-based assistance. So, the voucher holder – anybody that’s selected – would get a rental assistance voucher to help them pay for a portion of their rent."


According to Gonzalez, Housing Works uses the waiting list to fill the 300 to 600 openings that come available throughout the year. But people can only apply during the five-day period, "It’s important because it’s the time when we open up the general wait list. It only opens up once a year. We normally receive anywhere from 2,500 to about almost 4,000 applications. We did receive about 3,000 last year." Those on last year's waiting list must reapply. Because vouchers are distributed by lottery, it doesn't matter when during the application period information is submitted. 


This year, Housing and Urban Development made 40 “mainstream vouchers” available in Central Oregon, "Those are specifically for disabled households who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless," Gonzalez tells KBND News, "So, for the 2019 waitlist, we did add a preference specific to these 40 mainstream vouchers. So, if somebody fits within these criteria, they want to make sure to check that on the application."

You’ll find more information, including the online application on the Housing Works website

Deschutes River Woods Home Damaged by Fire

BEND, OR -- A Deschutes River Woods home was heavily damaged by an early morning fire. Bend Fire Crews responded to Cinder Butte Road, at about 2:30 Friday morning and found flames coming from the back of the house.

Everyone had safely evacuated by the time firefighters arrive. They told investigators ashes from the fireplace were put on the back deck, in a metal bucket, several days ago. They thought they were cool enough and moved them to a trash can, yesterday. While Bend Fire officials say the fire is under investigation, they expect the ashes caused the blaze.  

Damage is estimated at around $200,000. 

Portland Man Killed in Hwy 97 Crash

CHEMULT, OR -- Oregon State Police are investigating a crash near Chemult that left a pedestrian dead. Troopers say 22-year-old Caleb Robichaud, of Spokane, was driving northbound on Highway 97, when his car struck a 37-year-old Portland man who was in the northbound lane of travel.


The crash occurred just after 11 p.m., Wednesday, near milepost 204. David Ralphs-Thomason was pronounced dead at the scene.

Hemp Farmers Optimistic for the Future

BEND, OR -- Oregon hemp farmers see big things ahead, now that their crop is legal at the federal level. The new Farm Bill, recently signed by President Trump, decriminalizes hemp, opening the door for expanded production. Hemp had been banned for more than 80 years, because of concerns about similarities with marijuana. 


U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) fought for the change. "It essentially becomes a commodity, like any other in the agricultural industry," he said Wednesday. Hemp is legal in Canada and Merkley says it has boosted several industries, there. "Hemp cooking oil, hemp clothing, hemp concrete – or hempcrete, building materials; and we’d like to have all of that be part of our economy, here in the state of Oregon." CBD oil is a hemp byproduct used for pain relief and other medicinal applications, without the side effects of marijuana. 


Since 2014, Oregon has been allowed to run a hemp pilot program, but it couldn't leave the state because of federal prohibition. It's now grown across 11,000 acres in the state by farmers like Michael Hughes, of Bend. He says the new farm bill has clarified some details, "We needed actual provisions that clearly said that it's distinct from marijuana and is not part of the Controlled substance schedule. So, that's what happened. It looks like there was overwhelming consensus, and President Trump signed it. I think it's a common sense thing to do."


Hughes, also a local attorney, says now that hemp is a regular commodity, farmers will be able to work with the USDA for crop insurance, "I think it's going to be something that Central Oregon farmers will be able to take advantage of, so I think we're going to see more and more farmers from the conventional farming community get involved in hemp." He believes local farmers will benefit by getting involved in the $22 billion industry, "I think we're going to see a lot more acres of industrial hemp in Central Oregon. And, I think we're even going to see more processors that move into towns like Madras and Bend and La Pine, who are going to continue to add to the local economy."

Taking Bend Skiing to the Land of the Rising Sun

TOKYO, JAPAN -- A Bend woman spent her winter vacation in Japan, teaching children to ski in an immersive English language environment. Megan Sinclair is one of more than two-dozen instructors from all over the world, working at Japan's Tsunan mountain resort since mid-December, "I'm over here teaching two sessions of ski camp and acting as a ski instructor and camp counselor. So, it is 100% go time," Sinclair told KBND News from Tokyo, during a break for the New Year's holiday.  

Sinclair was nervous, at first. She's an on-air personality for 107.7 The Beat, and describes herself as a fair-weather skier, not an expert, "Usually, someone who's going to take off for three weeks and teach kids how to ski in Japan knows how to go backwards on their skis really fast and maybe do some tricks. I never thought in my life I would teach it, or have that opportunity. And, fortunately, I ended up getting a beginner team, which was really neat because they had all the basics down, but they couldn't ski better than me."


She says the 17-hour time difference, riding the bullet train, and always being in crowded places take some getting used to. But, the unique experience is worth it. And, while it hasn't always been easy, she says the kids she's teaching make it fun, "The conditions were terrible [in the first session]. We taught the kids how to ski in a blizzard, but I am amazed by the kids. They were so enthusiastic."


Sinclair is now teaching her second of two sessions. But, she says it's what she's learning that makes this adventure so special, "The world is big, but it's not that big. All the people that I've met, that's what's been really inspiring."


Trial to Begin for Woman Accused of Killing Cyclist

BEND, OR -- The Alfalfa woman accused of driving under the influence and killing a cyclist just over a year ago will face a jury, later this month. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel tells KBND News, "There's been a year of preparation by both the prosecution and the defense, and it'll culminate in trial on January 29."


Hummel says, "I don't think anyone disputes that Shantel Witt struck Marika Stone; and sadly, Marika Stone was killed." But, he says, "The question is whether Shantel Witt committed a crime when she struck Marika Stone, or whether it was merely an unfortunate accident." He adds, "The issue of whether Shantel Witt was under the influence of one or more drugs, that will be an essential point of the trial; that will be a critical issue - an issue that will be put in front of the jury, and they will have to decide."


Stone, a local dentist and mother of two, was riding her bike on the shoulder of Dodds Road with two other cyclists when she was struck on December 30, 2017. According to Hummel, "This is the time when guilt or innocence will be decided. The talking means nothing. It's going to come down to the evidence and the law, and the case will be presented to a Deschutes County jury and they'll decide whether Ms. Witt is guilty or not guilty."


Witt was released on bail, following her arrest. She was recently accused of violating the conditions of her release agreement, but the judge threw out that charge. Her defense attorney asked the judge to exclude evidence relating to Witt's blood alcohol level. That request was also denied. 

Bend City Council Welcomes New Members

BEND, OR -- Bend’s first directly-elected Mayor in 90 years gaveled in the first City Council meeting of 2019, Wednesday night, amid cheers. Municipal Judge Gwen Moore administering the oath of office to new Councilor Gena Goodman Campbell, re-elected Councilor Barb Campbell and Mayor Sally Russell. Each then gave a short speech thanking supporters and voters.


Mayor Russell singled out her daughters, both now in college, saying they were her inspiration, "I think, and I hope that you’ll come to back to Bend and enjoy this city as we have enjoyed it, and that was one of my major drivers for really deciding to throw my hat in the ring to be Mayor and work for another four years for this community." She added, "For everyone who stepped up, especially to vote, because it’s your vote that brings people to this dais who really begin to make policy decisions for our community. So, thank you to you. I am in for the distance in this job; this is a job I consider really important for community and I am ready to work for all of you." 

And, Russell wasted no time recognizing the historic nature of her position, "The last elected Mayor served between 1923 and 1928, so it’s been a while since we actually had an elected Mayor. But, that’s what people elected to do in May of this year [2018], and that’s why you’re now sitting here with an elected Mayor."

Councilors are now accepting applications to fill the vacant seat left by Russell’s shift to Mayor. 


SWAT Responds To Sunriver Weapons Offense

SUNRIVER, OR -- A Sunriver-area man faces multiple charges following a weekend domestic dispute. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office says James Crawford’s girlfriend showed up at his place to get her dog; she was worried about Crawford's safety and tried to take his guns away. A struggle ensued and she left with a friend. 

The 32-year-old man allegedly then drove his motorhome to the friend’s house, Saturday night, and fired a shotgun at the car in which the woman and her friend were sitting. No one was hurt, although the car was damaged, and Crawford went home. 

Early Sunday morning, deputies spotted Crawford driving into the parking lot of a mini-mart in Sunriver. SWAT responded and contacted him by phone, ordering Crawford out of the motorhome; he was arrested without incident. 

Authorities say he has a restraining order against him the prohibits him from having any firearms. He faces two counts each of Attempted Assault, Menacing, Unlawful Use of a Weapon and Pointing a Firearm at Another, as well as Misdemeanor Driving While Suspended and Violating a Restraining Order. 

Bend Swears In New City Councilor

BEND, OR -- Bend's newest City Councilor will be sworn in Wednesday evening. Gena Goodman Campbell says the ceremony will be largely a formality during the regular Council meeting. "I'm excited to get right to work," Goodman Campbell tells KBND News, "Our first task will be appointing somebody to fill the vacancy that is left now that Sally Russell is moving in to Mayor." Applications to fill Russell's Council seat will be accepted through Friday. "Hopefully, we'll get a lot of good applicants to choose from. And then we'll have interviews on the 14th, and hopefully select somebody on the 16th, at our meeting then."


Goodman Campbell says she's not worried about being the lone new Councilor. She says each current member brings something different to the table and she's interested in seeing where her expertise can be most effective in achieving the goals she outlined in her campaign, "Long-range transportation planning and making sure that we're getting a better transportation system in place for the next generation, and then affordable housing is just always the focus. Council has done a lot, but I see some other places where we can move forward, and some exciting opportunities, so I'm excited to get to work on that." She says she's ready to add to the process, "They have been doing a lot of good work on issues like affordable housing and transportation. So, I'm just looking for where I can fit in and provide a new perspective, help move the conversation forward and help people find common ground and not get stuck in debates."


Wednesday's Council meeting begins at 7 p.m. with Mayor Sally Russell, incumbent Councilor Barb Campbell and Councilor-Elect Goodman Campbell taking the oath of office. Council will also select a Mayor Pro Tem. 

Parks Dist. Builds Fitness Ctr. On Bend's South Side

BEND, OR -- After years of planning, construction of the new Larkspur Community Center, adjacent to the Bend Senior Center, gets underway in the spring. Bend Parks and Recreation Development Manager Brian Hudspeth says the general contractor is finalizing subcontractors, this month. "Our plan is to award a Guaranteed Maximum Price, which is the piece of the contract that basically says, ‘this is how much money it’s going to cost to build the building.’ We’ll award that contract, and then give them a notice to proceed and that contractor goes to work. Right now, we plan to hopefully start construction, or at least mobilize on-site, sometime in March."

The more than 37,000-square foot addition to the Senior Center on Reed Market Rd. will include a warm water pool and many other amenities, "It has an upstairs walk/jog track and a fitness area upstairs, with treadmills, cardio machines, that kind of stuff," Hudspeth tells KBND News, "And then it has some dedicated fitness rooms, a mind and body room and a fitness room for classes and, of course, locker rooms and about 5,000-square foot of water. The swimming pool will be a warm water pool; it has a lazy river in it."


He says the $21.4 million project is in response to a desire by the community to have more fitness options, "We kind of redid the master plan for the Senior Center, and out of that plan came a bunch of information from public input that led us down the path that we are at today." The Reed Market Road location, he says, provides another option for the parks district to serve those who don't want to travel to Juniper Swim and Fitness. "The southeast side of Bend is the fastest growing – it’s going to be the biggest growing spot in Bend in the next several years. And, this serves that growing need right spot on." Hudspeth says the district has been tucking money away for several years for the project. It should be open by the summer of 2020. 

Buehler Says He Will Not Seek Another Elected Office

BEND, OR -- Dr. Knute Buehler (R-Bend) has served as House District 54's Representative since 2015. As he prepares to leave office in two weeks, he says he's looking ahead, "I'm not going to run for political office again, and I'm not going back and being a surgeon. So, other than that, I'm going to cast a wide net, but I suspect that I'll end up in health care in some capacity in the future." He tells KBND News, "I'm just not going to go off quietly into the night. I'm going to continue to speak out about long-ignored issues in the state that I think really put the state at risk."

Buehler believes his failed run run for Governor drew attention to important issues that he would like to continue working on; primarily, revamping Oregon's health care system, "I think it may take a disruptive company, some approach in the private sector that delivers health care in a very, very different way, and that's what I'm most interested right now." He believes now is the right time for a new approach, "I think the industry is ripe for that kind of reform, so I'd like to be engaged in that kind of activity." The state's "broken" foster care system is also a big concern for Buehler.

He plans to use tools left over from his campaign, "[I have] a big following on Facebook and Twitter. So, we'll use those digital channels to get the word out and focus attention on a lot of these big issues." He spoke directly to supporters on Facebook with a new video posted on New Year's Eve


Republican Cheri Helt was elected to replace Buehler as Bend's State Representative. She takes over January 14. 


2024-04 | 2024-03 | 2024-02 | 2024-01 | 2023-12 | 2023-11 | 2023-10 | 2023-09 | 2023-08 | 2023-07 | 2023-06 | 2023-05 | 2023-04 | 2023-03 | 2023-02 | 2023-01 | 2022-12 | 2022-11 | 2022-10 | 2022-09 | 2022-08 | 2022-07 | 2022-06 | 2022-05 | 2022-04 | 2022-03 | 2022-02 | 2022-01 | 2021-12 | 2021-11 | 2021-10 | 2021-09 | 2021-08 | 2021-07 | 2021-06 | 2021-05 | 2021-04 | 2021-03 | 2021-02 | 2021-01 | 2020-12 | 2020-11 | 2020-10 | 2020-09 | 2020-08 | 2020-07 | 2020-06 | 2020-05 | 2020-04 | 2020-03 | 2020-02 | 2020-01 | 2019-12 | 2019-11 | 2019-10 | 2019-09 | 2019-08 | 2019-07 | 2019-06 | 2019-05 | 2019-04 | 2019-03 | 2019-02 | 2019-01 | 2018-12 | 2018-11 | 2018-10 | 2018-09 | 2018-08 | 2018-07 | 2018-06 | 2018-05 | 2018-04 | 2018-03 | 2018-02 | 2018-01 | 2017-12 | 2017-11 | 2017-10 | 2017-09 | 2017-08 | 2017-07 | 2017-06 | 2017-05 | 2017-04 | 2017-03 | 2017-02 | 2017-01 | 2016-12 | 2016-11 | 2016-10 | 2016-09 | 2016-08 | 2016-07 | 2016-06 | 2016-05 | 2016-04 | 2016-03 | 2016-02 | 2016-01 | 2015-12 | 2015-11 | 2015-10 | 2015-09 | 2015-08 | 2015-07 | 2015-06 | 2015-05 | 2015-04 | 2015-03 | 2015-02 | 2015-01 | 2014-12 | 2014-11 | 2014-10 | 2014-09 | 2014-08 | 2014-07 | 2014-06 | 2014-05 | 2014-04 | 2014-03 | 2014-02 | 2014-01 | 2013-12 | 2013-11 | 2013-10 | 2013-09 | 2013-08 | 2013-07 | 2013-06 | 2013-05 | 2013-04 | 2013-03 | 2013-02 | 2013-01 | 2012-12 | 2012-11 | 2012-10 | 2012-09 | 2012-08 | 2012-07 | 2012-06 | 2012-05 | 2012-04 | 2012-03 | 2012-02 | 2012-01 | 2011-12 | 2011-11 | 2011-10 | 2011-09 | 2011-08 | 2011-07 | 2011-06 | 2011-05 | 2011-04 | 2011-03 | 2011-02 | 2011-01 | 2010-12 | 2010-11 | 0000-00

On Air Now

Hugh Hewitt
Hugh Hewitt
3:00am - 5:00am
The Hugh Hewitt Show



News Disclaimers