Local News Archives for 2019-02

Power Outage Spans Jefferson County

MADRAS, OR -- A major power outage impacted much of Jefferson County, Thursday morning, during sub-freezing temperatures. Electricity first went between Crooked River Ranch and Warm Springs at about 7:45 a.m., impacting about 10,000 Pacific Power customers.

The utility says power was restored to about 4,000 customers in Culver, Crooked River Ranch and Terrebonne at around 10:30 a.m. But Madras, Metolius and Warm Springs remained without service at 11 a.m. 


Unconfirmed reports suggest a power switch in Crooked River Ranch, which supplies power to the area north of the switch, went out. Power is reportedly expected to be restored no later than 1:30 p.m. 


UPDATE: Pacific Power says the problem began when a fault occurred with a transmission connection from an energy supplier that feeds into the Culver substation. 


UPDATE: Power was restored to Madras at about noon.

Redmond Hospital Group to Push SCHC for Members

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond City Councilors voted this week to support the creation of a new group representing the interests of the former Central Oregon District Hospital (CODH). St. Charles Health System took over the hospital in 2000 and agreed to have a Redmond representative on its board. But former Mayor Ed Fitch says they've not held up their end of the deal. He wants to change that. "Ensuring that the agreement that was reached between the Redmond community, through CODH, and St. Charles is upheld."


Fitch, a local attorney, says St. Charles hasn't had a Redmond representative on its board in about a decade, "They’ve appointed members to their board from Chicago and South Dakota and Portland. I mean, from my perspective, that really was telling Redmond ‘we don’t care'."


St. Charles has said it’s more important to have medical and hospital experts than regional representation on its board. During the resolution vote at this week's Council meeting, City Councilor Camden King said he believes it’s not an “either-or” situation, "I’m sensitive to their board directive, in terms of having subject matter experts. But I don’t understand why it can’t be ‘this and that,’ and also have some representation here; because, certainly, we have very competent medical minds here in Redmond, as well." There was unanimous support for Fitch's proposal; Mayor George Endicott said the need for more representation became clear last year, "When the decision was made by St. Charles to close the Redmond Birthing Center, it highlighted the fact that, even though Redmond, in our opinion, should be engaged with the St. Charles Hospital Board, it has not been for years."


Fitch is leading the charge to create Redmond Hospital, Inc., with five to seven members selected over the next two months, "The city will be appointing a member to the Redmond Hospital Board, as well as the school district, the Chamber and the Park and Rec Board. And then there will be two or three at-large members." He hopes the group will work to ensure St. Charles upholds that original purchase agreement. He admits it could lead to a lawsuit, "I hope it doesn’t. I mean, I would think St. Charles would recognize that they got this hospital for basically free, based upon a commitment to the community that the community would participate in any decision-making on it."


St. Charles Health System was not available for comment, following the City Council vote in support of Redmond Hospital, Inc. But a spokesperson issued the following statement:

According to the asset transfer agreement, St. Charles Medical Center and Central Oregon District Hospital (CODH) joined forces in 2000 for the express purposes of “(1) enhancing the public health and general welfare of all the inhabitants or residents with the district boundaries of CODH, and (2) providing quality health care services, ensuring access, and containing the costs of health care for persons in the service areas of SCMC and CODH in Central and Eastern Oregon and beyond.”  Just over 18 years later, we can say with confidence that the goals of the merger have been—and continue to be—accomplished.  This outcome was not a given.  Health systems throughout the United States are currently struggling not just to maintain services and service levels; they are struggling to keep their doors open. 


St. Charles has managed to succeed where others have failed because of its commitment to serve all of its communities in an efficient and effective manner.  The health system intentionally moved away from a board comprised of community representatives in order to foster this more system- and region-centric view.  The directors on today’s board are not asked to advocate specifically for the hospitals or clinics located closest to their homes.  Instead, they are asked to advocate generally for all of St. Charles’ hospitals and clinics, recognizing that it is neither appropriate nor financially viable for a health system to provide a full range of services in each of its locations.  In fact, it is becoming increasingly evident that attempts to be all things to all communities may be causing some health systems to sacrifice viability for expediency.


St. Charles will continue to explore ways of improving the health care it provides to Redmond and other communities.  The health system welcomes the partnership of the Redmond City Council in this effort.  Working together, St. Charles and the Redmond City Council really can make a positive difference for Redmond and its residents.

February Snow Makes Up for Lost Time

BEND, OR -- As Central Oregonians fight mounting drifts of snow, The Natural Resources Conservation Service says we can look forward to summer, knowing that - more than likely - we now have enough water to sustain irrigation season. "With the cooler air, it resulted in these multiple snow accumulations both  in the mountains, of course, and down in the lower elevations as well," says Hydrologist Scott Oviatt. Central Oregon's snowpack was just 73% of normal on February first. "But now, we're at 111% of normal in the Upper Deschutes and Crooked River Basin," Oviatt said Thursday. "All in all, this is where we want to be. We're hoping to continue to build that snowpack. We'd like to see the cooler temperatures prevail through early spring and even into early summer, because that'll maintain that snowmelt for a longer period of time, adding to our stream flows."


According to the NRCS, February is the first month with near-normal precipitation Central Oregon has seen since October. Oviatt tells KBND News, "Our hope is that we continue with this cooler, wetter trend and continue to build our snowpack throughout the remainder of the winter season." He says last summer was a warm one, resulting in a lot of demand on already low reservoirs. "If we have a slower, cooler runoff period in the spring and early summer, that'll help maintain our streamflows and build our reservoir levels up," says Oviatt, which would help the region recover from some of the effects of the area's long-term drought. 

Schools Consider Make-Up Days

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon schools are closed for a fourth day, Thursday, after record-breaking snowfall. District crews across the tri-county area continue clearing snow from facility parking lots and sidewalks. 

Bend-La Pine Schools and others are now faced with how to handle so many missed days. A district representative tells KBND News Bend-La Pine has not yet formalized how many days will be made up, but they expect some or all of the lost days will be added to this year’s calendar. The determination will be made once school is back in session and the severity of the closure is known. 

Meals On Wheels Resumes Deliveries Thursday

BEND, OR -- After three days of cancelations, Meals on Wheels deliveries resume Thursday, thanks to a cooperative effort between staff at the Council on Aging of Central Oregon, volunteers and the community. 


The agency says people have been asking how they can help make sure home-bound seniors get fresh food. In one case, COACO used Facebook to coordinate help for a woman in Redmond who was stuck in her home and had run out of food, medication and pet supplies. A member of a local four-wheeler group helped her get to the store.

Staff spent Wednesday preparing fresh salads for today's deliveries. A number of community members with off-road vehicles have offered to get Meals on Wheels volunteers to seniors, and help dig out pathways so deliveries can be made.

Lunch at the Bend Senior Center remains canceled. 


Photo: Council on Aging Executive Director Susan Rotella and Nutrition Services Manager Bob DeBoard prepare salads, 02/27/19 (courtesy Council on Aging)

Pilot Butte Master Plan to be Revamped

BEND, OR -- The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is working to update the 30-year-old Master Plan for Pilot Butte State Park in Bend. Planner Rachel Hill says the agency has been gathering feedback on what works and how it will fit into the community 20 years from now, "It became really clear that Pilot Butte is a very loved local park and a very loved regional park, and most of the people who spend time there come from nearby."  And, she tells KBND News, that input will be used throughout the process, "That information will then get folded into what we present to the public at our next open house, which we're planning for April." She doesn't expect much will change in the updated plan, "Our intention is actually not to continue to develop. I mean frankly, we don't have a lot of space for that, it's one of our smallest parks, but also to really focus on the elements that exist that people love that need some attention."


Hill says the next step is for an advisory committee to compile all that information, "We put together an advisory committee which has stakeholders, representatives from ODOT, Bend Fire, Bend Chamber of Commerce, neighborhood associations, many, many different groups and individuals who have stakes in the park. They really are representatives of the public."

The Advisory Committee was supposed to meet in Bend this week, but that was postponed by the weather. It will be rescheduled for early April. The public is invited to attend, but won't be able to provide feedback until a public meeting, planned for later this spring.

DCSO Searches for Missing Sunriver Man

SUNRIVER, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a Sunriver man who hasn’t been seen since Sunday. Investigators say 36-year-old Jeremy Taylor disappeared after filling up his black Toyota 4Runner at a Sunriver gas station. They don’t believe he has a cell phone with him. 

Taylor liked to off-road in the forested area west of Sunriver, but they don’t know if that’s where he went after getting gas. 

He’s white, 5’11”, 165 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes, and may be wearing black pants and a black jacket. Anyone with information is asked to call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911. 

Body Found at Bend Hospital Parking Lot

BEND, OR -- Bend Police are investigating the death of man whose body was found near St. Charles Bend. Police responded to a dispute at a home on NE Laredo Way, across 27th Street from the hospital, Tuesday evening. When officers arrived, they were told one person involved had walked to his motor home parked at St. Charles. Police followed shoe tracks in the snow a short distance from the motor home and discovered the man's body on the ground.


The cause of death is under investigation, with help from the State Police Crime Labe, District Attorney's Office and Medical Examiner. The person's identity has not been released, pending notification of next of kin. 


UPDATE (02/28/19): Bend Police say the victim has been identified as 45-year-old Michael Shawn Rupp. His cause of death remains under investigation.

Discussions Continue on County Stabilization Center

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners continue to discuss a master plan for a proposed public safety campus at the main Sheriff's Office in Bend. It includes plans for a safety and stabilization center, which would provide supervision to those in crisis who have not committed a crime and don't need to be in jail.

DCSO Public Safety Campus Plans Take Shape (10/25/2018)


Commissioner Tony DeBone believes the facility is needed and he's ready to move forward with a draft plan presented to the Board of Commissioners last week, "We're working on what the first version would a stabilization crisis center look like here in Deschutes County. I'm supportive of proceeding with contracting to redevelop the existing building, which is where Parole and Probation is working out [of] at the public safety campus." He tells KBND News, "There's a vision out there. We've just got to all work together to get to that first version and make sure it's doing what we intended."


Sheriff Shane Nelson has pushed for the facility since 2016. While DeBone says he's ready to move forward, Commissioners Patti Adair and Phil Henderson are waiting to finish their analysis, "We've got the Commissioners taking some time to analyze this. I'm supportive of proceeding, and the other two are taking some time to look at other places around the state, at this time, so it's a time of evaluating, when some people are ready to go." 

Cold Weather Shelters Strained During Storm

BEND, OR -- With sub-freezing termperatures and snow continuing to pile up, Shepherd's House Ministries is asking for the public's help to care for the homeless at shelters the non-profit manages. Development Director David Notari tells KBND News, "All of our shelters are greatly impacted. At this point, we've doubled our numbers from a normal night, and then there's several that come in and they touch our services, but don't spend the night, and we don't necessarily know how many more of those there are, but it definitely has an impact."


Notari says shelters in Bend, Sisters, Madras and Redmond have cared for more than 100 people a night, during this latest storm and staff and volunteers have a hard time keeping up with everyone's needs, "I think the thing to know is that the homeless population is not going down at all. We've seen an increase, and we're slated to see a larger increase over the next two years, of homelessness." He adds, "When these weather events occur, like we've seen in the last couple days and the huge dip in temperatures, we just need to be able to meet those needs." According to Notari, Shepherds House is also working to pick people up and shuttle them to the nearest shelter so they can be fed. And they're staying open longer than normal hours.


He asks the community to help with donations. Notari says monetary donations are most important, to help the nonprofit purchase what's needed, "The biggest donations people can bring in, besides monetary donations, would be handwarmers, thermal underwear, and then we have huge needs for socks, and then also for gloves and hats." For more information, visit the Shepherd's House website

Oregon Sec. of State Loses Battle with Cancer

SALEM, OR -- Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson lost his battle with cancer Tuesday night, at the age of 69. Deputy Secretary of State Leslie Cummings released a statement Wednesday morning saying Richardson passed away at about 9 p.m., surrounded by family and friends at his home. 


Richardson was elected to Oregon's House of Representatives in 2002 and served 12 years. He ran for Governor in 2014, losing to John Kitzhaber, who resigned three months after the election. Richardson became the first Republican elected to statewide office since 2002 when he took over as Secretary of State in January of 2017. 

Cummings says, "From his service in Vietnam as a combat helicopter pilot to his 30-year legal career and 19 years in public service, this father of nine and grandfather of 31 found great joy in serving and taking care of others." He added that Richardson leaves a legacy of always aiming high, expecting excellence, moving fast, and doing what is right for the people.


Governor Kate Brown ordered all flags at public institutions immediately lowered to half-staff in honor of Richardson. She released the following statement on his death, "Dan and I are saddened to hear this news today. Our hearts are with Secretary of State Richardson's family, friends, and fellow lawmakers today," said Governor Brown. "Regardless of what side of the aisle his colleagues sat on, we all knew Dennis' kind heart guided his career of service to the people of Oregon. His reputation for perseverance not only guided him through the fight with cancer, it also gave us all reassurance that he was fighting cancer with the same determination he brought to work every day."

The Oregon Constitution requires the Governor to appoint a new Secretary of State. She says he and her staff will begin the process of reviewing candidates and make an appointment in the coming weeks. Brown has decided to consider appointees from the Republican party who commit to not entering the 2020 election for Secretary of State, as she did in 2015 when selecting her own successor. 


House Republican Leader Carl Wilson (R-Grants Pass) issued the following statement:

"We have suffered a great loss with the passing of Dennis Richardson. Dennis was a steadfast man who loved family, his country, the State of Oregon, and the people he served. This loss is a difficult one for us all. His death will be deeply mourned by all his former colleagues in the Oregon House of Representatives.”


And Congressman Greg Walden released the following statement:

"I am so saddened to learn of Secretary of State Dennis Richardson’s passing.  Dennis was such a kind, caring, and thoughtful friend. A wonderful public servant, and a deeply loving husband and parent. Dennis’ quiet competence and civility is such a rarity in today's world. I feel blessed to have known and worked with him for so many years. Mylene and I are sending our prayers to Cathy and their children. Dennis served his country with honor and his body of work leaves Oregon better for the next generation."

Bend Police Asks Public To Weigh-In on Priorities

BEND, OR -- The Bend Police Department is gathering input from the community to determine future funding needs and priorities. Chief Jim Porter says a bi-annual survey is used to target how tax dollars are spent, "It’s not me as the Chief of Police saying, ‘I want this here.’ It’s, ‘No. People – citizens of Bend – who pay for us want this; the City Council, who’s been elected, wants this. And, my staff, as professionals, believe that we can actually implement this way."


Chief Porter tells KBND News, "Our last survey, people felt extremely unsafe [in] downtown Bend in the evenings. So, that’s when I went back to ask for an increase in officers to focus on what’s happening downtown. They felt traffic was not being controlled. I went back and asked for additional traffic officers and we focused there." He expects this year’s survey to show those are still big priorities. "We’re hoping, also, to be able to propose to the City Council two new positions within the police department, and that is to address homelessness – straight-up homelessness – as liaisons to homeless, panhandling and those types of situations. To have specialists help us reduce that issue by getting those people connected with services or locations so they aren’t sleeping on the sidewalk. We’re hoping that is something we can convey a need for to the Council."


Portland State University conducted a statistically valid survey in the first phase of the community feedback project. Now, Bend residents who were not contacted during that phase are asked to participate in an online survey available on the Bend Police website, or HERE. To watch a video message from the Chief regarding the survey, visit the department's Facebook page

CRR Fire Protection Bill Heads to President

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Oregon Congressman Greg Walden’s bill to protect Crooked River Ranch from wildfire is headed to the President’s desk. The Crooked River Ranch Fire Protection Act, Walden says, is essential to save lives and prevent the area from becoming the next Paradise, California, destroyed by fire, last year.

Walden's CRR Fire Bill to Get House Vote (07/09/2018)


The bill adjusts the boundaries of a Wilderness Study Area, to allow for fire prevention activities on the edge of the community. It had broad support from local officials and first responders. Click HERE to watch Walden's speech on the House floor, February 26, 2019. 

Thursday: Another Day of Snow Closures

BEND, OR -- A massive winter storm continues to dump snow across Central Oregon. The system began Saturday night. By Monday morning, the region awoke to about 12" of snow on the ground, tying up the commute and canceling schools. Visit Tripcheck.com for a look at the latest chain restrictions, closures and delays on area highways. 


The Redmond Airport closed Monday at about 9 a.m. While snow-removal operations continued, the rate of snowfall impacted electronics required for safe use of the airfield. It reopened at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Travelers can check the status of their flight on the Roberts Field website.


Thursday CLOSURES:

  • Bend-La Pine Schools
  • Redmond Schools
  • Crook County Schools
  • Sisters Schools
  • Culver Schools
  • Jefferson County 509-J
  • COCC
  • OSU-Cascades
  • No trash pickup for Bend Garbage, High Country and Cascade Disposal. Customers can put extra out next week
  • Bend Parks and Rec Kids Inc before and after school and sports programs 


The National Weather Service calls it a "prolonged snow event" and has extended the Winter Storm Warning to 4 a.m. Thursday.

Redmond Airport Remains Closed, Tuesday

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Airport remains unable to safely land aircraft, after snow damaged critical navigational equipment, Monday. Nicole Jurgensen says they had hoped to have the equipment fixed by Tuesday at noon, but they're waiting for the Federal Aviation Administration. "Some of the airport's navigational equipment, called the Instrument Landing System - the ILS - was damaged by the snow. It had a component that went out. So, the FAA needs to replace that component to turn the ILS back on. And, they're not expecting to be able to do that and have that system back in operation until [Wednesday] morning at 9." The ILS is owned and operated by the FAA. It allows pilots to land in conditions that are not under Visual Flight Rules (VFR). Current conditions require use of the ILS for landing at Roberts Field. 


Although no flights are coming in or going out, including General Aviation, Jurgensen tells KBND News crews are still busy, "The airport is still actively working on removing snow in various locations and maintaining the runway, so that if something happens and the FAA is able to get their equipment in sooner, we can open the airfield sooner." And, she says the terminal remains open, "Passengers are a little bit confused by all of this weather, and now this equipment that's also been effected. The best thing that passengers can do is call their airline directly. The airport, we really aren't able to assist people with the commercial carrier side of things."


Travelers can check the status of their flight at the Redmond Airport website or directly with their carrier. 

Plows Work Around the Clock to Clear Streets

SUNRIVER, OR -- A late winter storm that dumped up to four feet of snow in some parts of Central Oregon, led to school closures, power outages and the cancelation of other services on Monday, and continues Tuesday. 

After Monday's Deschutes County Commissioners meeting was postponed, Commissioner Tony DeBone chose to use his snow day to work with a plow and sanding crew in South County. He says he was glad to help, "At the county, we've got a couple shifts and we're going to be working 24 hours a day for as long as we need to to just keep things moving. We've got multiple plows out and around. It's a county-wide event, so north end, south end, and the middle of the county. We've got a lot of staff working hard, right now."


At one point, DeBone's plowing adventure didn't go quite as planned, "We're stuck," he told KBND News just before noon, "But we'll get moving here in a moment. Nothing dangerous, we just can't seem to go uphill, in the snow, while plowing." He said the road was narrowing and crews worked to combat deep snow. "We're evaluating how to get to the top of this connection to Cascade Lakes Highway, and it looks like we may not be able to. We're trying to figure out how to keep the roads open up here. It's wild out here."


With record snowfall between Sunday and Monday, many Central Oregon roads are still not passable, Tuesday morning, and more snow is expected. Bend city officials say 34 pieces of equipment are deployed, but admit it could take another day to clear all 850 lane miles of city roads. Click HERE for information on the priority streets for city road crews. Click HERE to read more about Redmond's winter street operations. And, Deschutes County information can be found HERE. Officials encourage everyone to exercise caution and patience. They also ask that residents check on neighbors, especially the elderly. 



Pictures: (Top) Courtesy Deschutes County; (upper right and above) courtesy of Commissioner Tony DeBone.

Childhood Trauma Causes Classroom Problems

REDMOND, OR -- The job of local educators is getting increasingly more difficult, as more students experience traumatic family events. Desiree Margo, Principal of Redmond’s Early Learning Center, says trauma can often lead to behavior problems in school.


"Trauma is an exceptional experience in which a powerful and dangerous event overwhelms a person’s capacity to cope. We’re working with children from zero to five and so trauma can look very different in a variety of ways." She says for some, it’s disruptive classroom behavior; others may show signs of learning disabilities because they lack appropriate communication skills, "Because trauma affects the brain and it affects behavior; it can," Margo tells KBND News, "And the questions we’re asking are, ‘what’s changed in society? In our community? In our own lives?’ And then the next question we ask is, ‘what can we do? What can educators do? What do we have control over?’ and, ‘What can our parents do?’"


She believes the problem is getting worse, "What is the change? What’s happening before they come to us? And, one of the things I’d just like to throw out there is ‘distraction by device.’ And, I think we really have to start talking about this as a society an as a community." Margo wants to see more parents and educators talking about trauma and how it affects kids, and to partner to find solutions. 

Crook Co. Sheriff Releases Fatal Shooting Details

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County Sheriff is releasing details of last week's triple fatal shooting - an apparent murder-suicide. Sheriff John Gautney says 39-year-old Joe Christopher Hight lived on SE Umatilla Loop in Prineville with his 70-year-old father, Joe Preston Hight and 11-year-old son, Aiden. "On the 21st, we got a call about noon; a neighbor had not seen them for several days, and had gone over to check," Gautney says that's when the bodies were discovered.

Investigators determined Hight shot both his father, Joe Preston Hight, and his son, Aiden, "They all died of a gunshot wound. The elderly gentleman, the 70-year-old, and the 11-year-old both had received gunshot wounds; and then Joe Christopher Hight died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound." Sheriff Gautney tells KBND News, "Over the weekend, we were able to make a positive identification on all three of the persons that were involved in this." He adds, "The case is closed at this point."

Gautney hopes the community can begin to heal, "This was a very tragic event for all that [was] involved, the family most especially, and the first responders, so it's been a very tough case to have to investigate."



SCMC Patient Tower Nearly Done

BEND, OR -- Construction of a new patient tower at St. Charles Medical Center Bend is nearly complete. The new addition is designed to increase the ability to care for the critically ill. Project sponsor and Critical Care Director Selena Smith says the hospital desperately needs the space for patients who aren't quite sick enough to be in the ICU, and not well enough to do without specialized care. "Right now, our capacity is pretty much maxed out on a daily basis and patients go throughout the hospital and still receive excellent care, but it's kind of, 'Okay, where are they going to fit today?', whereas now we'll have that capacity to fit them in the right place." She tells KBND News they only have 18 Intensive Care Unit beds, now, "So what this gets us is a 24-bed ICU, and we're also going to be opening a 28-bed Progressive Care unit, which is going to be a step-down unit; and that is a unit that is in between ICU and the medical floor."


St. Charles Tower Project Gets Funding Boost (02/22/19)


Smith says it's an important project as Central Oregon's population continues to grow, "With the new tower, we do have the lower level that has a space that we haven't determined what needs to go in there. So, we do have opportunity if we needed to grow, to go into that space. When we open up, we are probably going to be at 50% capacity." She says all the nurses and providers have been hired and are in training. The Tower project is expected to open to new patients on May 19.

Helt Supports Abolishing Most Vaccine Exemptions

SALEM, OR -- The Measles outbreak in the Pacific Northwest has prompted State Representative Cheri Helt (R-Bend) to co-sponsor a bill that would end non-medical vaccination exemptions for school children. She says many preventable childhood diseases are making a troubling comeback, "We are seeing diseases that have previously been eradicated coming back, with this recent measles epidemic, and I believe this is only the tip of the iceberg."


Helt tells KBND News she realizes some groups will be upset with the provisions in the bill, "This legislation takes away all exemptions except medical exceptions, to opt out of vaccines." That includes religious exemptions. She says the focus is on improved public health and dispelling immunization myths, "These medications are scientifically proven;, they're safe, and they save lives. We have to make sure that we are able to have everybody get them because they are not effective unless everybody gets them." She says there’s a growing, but misguided, public sentiment that vaccines are more dangerous than the diseases they prevent. She hopes HB 3063 will help educate parents, "We could see Polio come back; we could see Rubella come back. And we have to prioritize, as legislators, for public safety."

The bill remains in committee. "One of the things that you will see from me as a legislator is that I lead with my heart and I lead with my mind," says Helt, "And this is at the heart of what I believe is right, to make sure that we're prioritizing public health."

Senator Ron Wyden Hosts Local Town Halls

MADRAS, OR -- U.S. Senator Ron Wyden held two local town hall meetings over the weekend. On Friday, the Oregon Democrat talked with about 150 people in Madras, including a large group of high school students (below, right) who were very interested in his stance on immigration and a border wall. Wyden told them he strongly supports increasing security at the border, "I have voted for over $100 billion in laws to promote border security. So, we’re talking here about the fences and having people on the ground, and drones and radar, and a variety of other things. I think the wall is a big mistake." He went on to say, "I think our country is better and stronger because of immigration."


The possible release of the Mueller report and how it could impact the President was one of the biggest topics of discussion. Wyden says he wants it made public, "Clearly, there should be what are called ‘redactions,’ if appropriate for national security. But, I think the public ought to know about it. I’ve made it clear that I’m prepared to go to the floor of the United States Senate to fight and make sure that document gets out to the American people." The comment was met with widespread applause, as well as one "boo."


One veteran asked about gun control legislation. He wants stricter punishments for criminals, but believes proposed bans on certain firearms go too far. He told Wyden, "As a legal, law-abiding citizen, I’ve never broken a law with these things. I’m being punished for something someone else did." Senator Wyden says young people tell him something needs to be done to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands, "The way I read the Constitution, it doesn’t say the Second Amendment says that if you’re on the terrorist watch list or you have mental health problems, you should be able to get a gun."

Saturday morning, Wyden met with constituents in Bend at Summit High, but he canceled an afternoon event planned for Prineville, due to the winter storm. 


Right: Madras Mayor Richard Ladeby waits to call on the next person, as Senator Wyden answers questions at Friday's town hall.

Redmond Fugitive Caught in Kentucky

REDMOND, OR -- One of Redmond’s most wanted fugitives is back in custody. Michael Tallman – a.k.a. Michael Bremont – had been on the run since October, when he failed to appear for a hearing related to new sex abuse charges. 


Information developed by the FBI’s Bend field office led a Fugitive Task Force to the Paducah, Kentucky area, where the convicted sex offender was found in an RV. He allegedly climbed out a window and tried to run from officers but was arrested. It’s unknown when he will return to Deschutes County. 

Tallman was convicted in 2012 of several sex crimes stemming from relationships he had with two Redmond Proficiency Academy students, the charter school he helped found, and once directed. The latest charges stem from another victim who reported she was abused several years ago.

Investigation Underway Into Crook Co. Shooting

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate a triple fatal shooting discovered late last week. Deputies were dispatched to a report of a deceased person inside a home on Southeast Umatilla Loop, Thursday night, and found three bodies. The area was sealed as a crime scene and the Central Oregon Major Incident Team responded, along with the State Police Crime Lab.

The District Attorney has ordered an autopsy to help positively identify the victims before names are released. 


Investigators believe everyone involved in the shooting was found in the home, and say there doesn't appear to be an outstanding suspect. 


UPDATE  (12:15 p.m.): The Crook County Sheriff says next of kin have positively identified the three people killed, as 70-year-old Joe Prston Hight, 39-year-old Joe Christopher Hight and 11-year-old Aiden Daniel Hight. All three lived at the home on Umatilla Loop. He says all three died of a gunshot wound. Investigators believe Joe Christopher Hight fatally shot his father and son, then turned the gun on himself. 

COCC Names Top Presidential Pick

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College has named its top pick for President. The COCC Board of Directors got feedback from faculty, staff, and the community, and Board Chair Laura Craska Cooper says Dr. Laurie Chesley was a nearly unanimous first choice, "It was really heartening to realize that we had three outstanding candidates, and I was told multiple times that we couldn't go wrong, no matter whom we picked. But, Dr. Chesley definitely stood out as being right for COCC, right now, because of the values that she holds and because of her personality. She just seems to be the right fit."


Craska Cooper tells KBND News, "We really did have three great candidates, but Dr. Chesley just stood out as having the right personality, values and skill set. And, she says, Dr. Chesley's priorities aligned with those of the COCC Board, as outlined in their strategic plan, "The three things that really stood out to us were her commitment to student success, her focus on financial stability, and her dedication to workforce development."


Several members of the board are expected to travel to Michigan, this week, to visit Grand Rapids Community College, where Chesley serves as Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. If all goes well, they will extend a formal job offer after that campus visit, "We talked to Dr. Chesley, she's very excited about coming here," says Craska Cooper, "And we're hoping to actually complete the hire by the end of the week." Current President, Dr. Shirley Metcalf, retires in June. 

Snowmobile Rider Rescued Near Bachelor

BEND, OR -- A Bend man got stuck overnight, while snowmobiling near Mt. Bachelor. Stephanie Boni called 911 just after 1 a.m. Friday to report her husband Patrick Boni was possibly in distress. Boni had gone snowmobiling on Thursday afternoon and got stuck on his way back to his vehicle.


Deschutes County Search and Rescue (SAR) patrol deputies attempted to pinpoint his location, and determined he was likely southeast of Mt. Bachelor. Operations staff from the ski hill used a snow cat to follow snowmobile tracks and an AirLink helicopter was able to spot Boni's helmet light to confirm his location. He was stuck in waist-deep snow about 500' down a drainage from the catch line, in timber. 


Nearly a dozen SAR volunteers deployed from Sunrise Lodge and snowmobiled as close as they could. Then, they traveled by snowshoe downhill into the drainage, reaching Boni and warming him up briefly. He was able to snowshoe back with the group, up to the catch line. He was then taken by snow cat to Mt. Bachelor by about 7:30 a.m.


Boni is said to be an experienced rider, equipped for the conditions, with appropriate clothing and a pack of some supplies.

Crook County Health Helps Community Shed Pounds

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County health Department wants to help the community shed a few pounds and improve overall health. A free, year-long program launches Monday aimed at teaching participants how to incorporate healthier eating and moderate physical activity into daily life, while reducing stress.

Health Educator Kylie Loving says it's no coincidence "Weigh-in Crook County 2019" starts around the time most people give up on their health-related New Year's resolutions, "Making healthy changes is something that doesn’t take three weeks. It’s something that really takes a long time. So we have this year-long program that we’re offering to help people to create new habits that will increase their health and keep them going." She tells KBND News this isn't a quick-fix, fad diet program, "We are talking about proven methods of losing weight. You know, eating healthier and trying to get more exercise, and making small changes that will make a big impact in your overall health."


The program follows curriculum from the national Diabetes Prevention Program, "What has been found is that people, if they lose 5-7% of their current weight and get 150 minutes of exercise per week," says Loving, "Then their chance of getting Type II Diabetes drops by more than half. "

Monday's welcome session starts at 1 p.m. at St. Charles Prineville. Pre-registration is required through the Crook County Health Department

Northwest Drivers Confident in Roundabouts

BEND, OR -- A new study shows more than three-quarters of drivers in the northwest believe they properly navigate roundabouts and, "Nearly 1/3 of respondents, 31%, believe other drivers lack confidence in their own abilities to correctly drive through a roundabout, says Derek Wing, of PEMCO Insurance. The biggest mistakes they found: "Failing to properly yield, or perhaps taking a shortcut, or going through them the wrong way; possibly failing to use your turn signal when exiting, things of that sort."


Wing tells KBND News their poll also reveals the traffic circles are growing in popularity, "More than half of Northwest drivers, about 58%, do say that they favor ditching traditional intersections for roundabouts, but only 1/3 of respondents are still opposed to the idea." Wing says one reason for the continued opposition could be from lack of experience, "There are approximately 5,000 roundabouts in the entire United States, whereas there are about 30,000 roundabouts in a country like France. So, part of it may just come from the fact that people aren't really that used to roundabouts in the U.S."


But, Bend drivers certainly get lots of practice. The city's first roundabout was completed in 1999, and there are now more than 30, with several more planned or currently under construction. "PEMCO applauds the city of Bend, Oregon," says Wing, "Because we are strong proponents of roundabouts. In fact, we believe that roundabouts are the safer option to street lights or four-way stop signs, and ODOT agrees with us." Wing says O-Dot reports a 90 percent reduction in fatalities, as compared to traditional intersections. 


Photo: Bend's Franklin & 9th roundabout

Neff & Purcell to Get Redesign, Road Work Unfunded

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors, this week, approved a contract for engineering and design of improvements at the intersection of Neff and Purcell (pictured, left). City Manager Eric King says its location near the hospital and long-standing congestion problems make the intersection a priority project, "We’ll be increasing some lanes so the intersection will handle the capacity; right now, there’s just long queues on all ends and the signal doesn’t really work very efficiently. So, the signal will be replaced. The grade is a little funky – there’s a slope. So, we’ll be flattening it out to make it safer, filling in some missing sidewalks. It’s a pretty comprehensive project." He tells KBND News, "Even simple things like putting in a right hand turn lane, or a dedicated left hand turn lane, it’s amazing what those types of things will do to the efficiency and prevent some of that backing up. What happens is, there’s a lot of rear-end crashes, too; people don’t expect those long queues." 


But, he says, for now funding is only available for the initial design, not the actual work. Councilors are expected to look for that money in the next budget cycle, but King admits it may involve increasing revenue somewhere. 

The city is also looking to fund improvements at another troubled intersection. At Wednesday's meeting, Councilors agreed to apply for a federal transportation grant to supplement state money to fix Highway 97 and Cooley Road. King says a large portion of the project will be paid for by the 2017 state transportation package, "We wanted to leverage that $50 million and combine with some other local sources, both the city and the county, as well as apply for a federal grant. And that’s what we’re doing right now is applying for what’s called an INFRA grant. We applied last year; we made it all the way to the Transportation Secretary’s desk, so they encouraged us to apply again. There was a lot of competition for those funds." He adds, "[The] City stepped up, the county stepped up and the state did as well. We all did to improve our chances because, as the federal government is looking to dole out money, they’re looking to which communities have more skin in the game." Applications for the INFRA grant are due March first. 

St. Charles Tower Project Gets Funding Boost

BEND, OR -- Fundraising for a new patient tower at Bend’s St. Charles Medical Center could get a big boost this spring. The Tykeson Family Foundation says it will contribute a million dollars to the $66 million tower project, if the St. Charles Foundation raises $4 million by April 30. St. Charles is about $800,000 shy of that goal, and is asking the community to help, in addition to caregivers, doctors and vendors. 

The patient tower is designed to increase patient capacity, with a 28-bed Progressive Care Unit and 24-bed Intensive Care Unit. It will also have 20,000 square feet of "shell space" for future development. Planning for the tower began in 2016. Hospital officials say the current facility is beyond capacity and they were forced to transfer nearly 100 patients due to overcrowding, last year. 


St. Charles Bend Patient Tower Takes Shape (04/20/2018)


In a statement, St. Charles CEO Joe Sluka says, "It's abundantly clear to us just how much we need the new patient tower. Thanks to the incredible generosity of the Tykeson Family Foundation and our other donors, this project is going to be a reality." He says in addition to being overcrowded, the hospital's ICU is outdated; they're reportedly 44% smaller than what's recommended. For more information about the project or to contribute to the St. Charles Foundation, contact John Jepson, Senior Philanthropy Officer, at 541-706-6953 or via email


Image: Architectural rendering of the completed tower, courtesy of St. Charles Health System

Bend Man Accused of Sex with Minor

BEND, OR -- A Bend man arrested this week is accused of having an ongoing sexual relationship with a minor. Bend Police Lt. Jason Maniscalco says an anonymous tip led detectives to the 27-year-old suspect, "Brandon Patrick Olden was in contact with the victim on an ongoing basis, and that led to this abuse. In this particular case, our Detectives' Supervisor is saying that he asked this minor victim for photographs and videos and he wanted them to be in a sexually explicit manner."


Maniscalco tells KBND News the tip from a concerned citizen was key to the investigation, "There's obviously a lot of kids being abused, every day, even in Central Oregon. We really rely on these anonymous complaints, or these people that are aware of these situations that are willing to come forward and make a complaint to us, so we can investigate it. So, we do. We rely on everybody else out there to help us out, and to help the victims out." He adds, "Our Detectives work a lot of abuse cases against minors, and it's probably more than 50% of their case load."

Olden was taken into custody Wednesday. He's charged with several counts of Second Degree Child Sex Abuse, Encouraging Child Sex Abuse, Luring a Minor, Giving Liquor to a Minor, Using a Child in a Display of Sexually Explicit Conduct and Contempt of Court. His next court appearance is scheduled for Thursday. 

Terrebonne Businesses Ask County to Help with 97

BEND, OR -- The dispute over how to handle Highway 97 congestion in Terrebonne continues. Several Terrebonne business owners are now asking Deschutes County Commissioners to get involved in talks with the Oregon Department of Transportation. 

Jeff Jordan, owner of the Pump House Bar & Grill, told Commissioners Wednesday that ODOT refuses to consider alternative plans created by an independent engineer he hired, "And we’ve been working very diligently with them and trying to reach out, but whatever they propose, they can do no wrong. In the interim, I guess I’m asking for help to facilitate some kind of orientation – what’s best for the community, best for commerce and best for the public safety of north Deschutes County."  


ODOT officials have said the best way to relieve congestion in Terrebonne is to widen Highway 97 to five lanes or, more likely, use 11th Street to create a couplet. But, Jordan and other members of the "Save Terrebonne Coalition" say neither of those proposals addresses the real safety issues, nor the access problems for Crooked River Ranch residents at Lower Bridge Way. "In a perfect world, it would be nice to bypass the whole town of Terrebonne, and we probably wouldn’t be sitting here talking a whole bunch about this," Jordan said Wednesday.


Randy Lunsford, owner of Ferguson's Market, also spoke, telling Commissioners a questionnaire inside his store has collected more than 420 signatures, the vast majority of which are opposed to ODOT's plans. He says some in the community are worried the county will automatically side with ODOT or the Board of Commissioners don't understand the real issues. All three Commissioners said they've attended meetings on the plan, at various times, and committed to stay engaged and will try to attend future work sessions in Terrebonne. Commissioner Tony DeBone acknowledged something needs to be done, "We know, I mean, there’s a constant stream of vehicles coming north to south through the town, and it really makes it hard to go back and forth. The state legislature put in this ‘X’ amount of dollars, which is the seed money for the discussion. The community is engaged now, so let’s work together [and] work through the process." Commissioner Phil Henderson said, "I’m encouraged you’re working together because I think it would be a shame to have this money allocated to the Terrebonne area and that intersection and we don’t get to a plan that works, because we have other areas in the county we’re trying to get money that aren’t allocated. But, I am interested in making sure that it’s something that works for the community."

La Pine Home Heavily Damaged by Fire

LA PINE, OR -- A Wednesday afternoon fire destroyed a La Pine garage and heavily damaged a home. Multiple units from La Pine and Crescent fire districts responded to the home on Falcon Lane, at about 3:45 p.m. Initially reports indicated the fire was burning in a detached garage, threatening the adjacent house.


When crews arrived, they found flames spreading from the garage to house. The residents discovered the fire and were able to evacuate safely. The nearly 20 fire personnel were on scene for about four hours, extinguishing the blaze. 


Firefighters believe the fire started with an electrical problem, but the exact cause has not been determined. 

Redmond Hopes for Three New Hotels

REDMOND, OR -- The city of Redmond is working to attract another hotel developer for the south end of town. Mayor George Endicott says one permit has been pulled and work is underway on two hotels on the east side of Highway 97, just south of Yew Avenue (pictured). He expects those will be a Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn, "There’s a third one – we’re in negotiations now; we do have a letter of intent – over near the fairgrounds. The city owns a piece of property, through this ‘FAA control,’ so we have to go through that process. But, there’s an opportunity to build a hotel there; 150 to 200 rooms."


That third hotel would be built on city-owned property near the Deschutes County Fairgrounds on Airport Way, "We’ve been wanting one all along that’s complimentary to the fairgrounds," says Endicott, "You know, they hold 400 events a year, give or take. I was talking to Dan Despotopulos the other day, and the event center is booked every weekend from now through May." He tells KBND News, "Some of these big shows, where a lot of vendors come in, a lot of them have to bunk up in Bend because there aren’t facilities available. Well, if we add another – let’s see – 500 rooms, with these three hotels all of a sudden, it gives us 50% more capacity than we have right now."


Juniper Canyon Alternate Access in The Works

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A proposal to construct a new access road for Juniper Canyon, in Crook County, is gaining support. County Commissioner Jerry Brummer tells KBND News about a quarter of the county's residents live in the Juniper Canyon area and the single access road raises concerns over evacuations for fire or other emergencies, and creates more congestion in Prineville. He says a second route would improve safety, "It would come off lower Davis Road, approximately a mile and an half from Juniper Canyon Road, and then it would come out on Highway 27, which goes out over the Golden Dam and connects with Highway 20." 


Brummer has been working on the idea for about a decade and says he's pleased it's finally gaining traction, "We're just trying to get another access, and we want it to be a good access to where we can divert traffic, and actually change the traffic flow all the way through town." He says residents seem on-board with the project, but he's looking for a lot of input as things move forward, "One of the things we want to do, when we get the information back from ODOT, is to set down and figure out what the cost is going to be, and then start holding meetings in the Juniper Canyon area and just get some public input." He's working with the Oregon Department of Transportation to draw plans, and a meeting with local leaders is scheduled for mid-March. They hope to move forward with engineering work and procuring rights-of-way while they apply for grants and seek additional sources of funding.

Pre-Teen Girl Charged For Alleged La Pine Threat

LA PINE, OR -- A pre-teen girl was arrested this week, after reportedly posting a video to the social media site Snapchat where she appears to encourage a shooting at La Pine Middle School. Deschutes County Sheriff's Sergeant William Bailey says the investigation began Tuesday evening when deputies were told about the video, "Parents and students at La Pine schools were concerned about this social media post that was spreading through the community. And so, deputies began investigating, and took into custody a 12-year-old female on a count of Disorderly Conduct in the first degree."


Sgt. Bailey says school safety is a top priority, and threatening violence at a school should lead to serious consequences, "Anyone that shares or says anything that first, jeopardizes the safety of the students, but then it brings alarm to the students and faculty, is enough to bring a charge." He tells KBND News, "In today's day and age, threatening violence at a school, there has to be some action and consequence for that because it scares a lot of people. we want parents to be able to send their kids to school and know they're going to be okay. We have school resource deputies in the schools, particularly in La Pine, and then we'll also have an increased presence any time we feel that the students or faculty need to feel safe."

An increased law enforcement presence was seen at area schools Wednesday. Sgt. Bailey says the investigation is ongoing and asks that anyone with information in the case or knows of other potential threats, contacts the Sheriff's Office. 

Bend Man Accused of Internet Child Porn

BEND, OR -- A 36-year-old Bend man is accused of encouraging child sex abuse, after a federal task force linked his address to at least one internet post.  


The Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force says the image depicted a child engaged in an explicit act. They tracked the upload to a space at the Scandia Mobile Park on South Highway 97 and passed that along to the Bend Police Department Investigative Unit. Officers executed a search warrant and arrested Joshua James Murray, after finding more images. He's charged with three counts of First Degree Encouraging Child Sex Abuse. 


ICAC is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing over 4,500 federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. 


D.A. Drops Charges Against Stabbing Suspect

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County District Attorney says he will not pursue charges against a woman who allegedly stabbed her husband, Tuesday evening. Jeannie Dallas was arrested after the attack, which sent her husband to the hospital. 


After John Dallas was treated and released, he was also arrested for a probation violation, as well as assault and strangulation charges related to previous incidents involving his wife. 

D.A. John Hummel reviewed the evidence and says after enduring assaults for years, including that day, she acted in self-defense to prevent further abuse. In a statement released Wednesday, Hummel said, "Jeannie Dallas fought for her life last night. She endured repeated assaults from her husband over ten plus years and decided that she would endure no more. After he violently smacked [her] early in the evening, and then physically threatened her later in the evening, she stabbed him with a kitchen knife to defend herself. her decision to stab her husband was righteous and authorized by Oregon's self-defense law. Consequently, today I declined to file criminal charges against her and asked that she be released from jail."

He encourages anyone who does not feel safe around a loved one to call 911 or the Saving Grace hotline at 541-389-7021. 

Hwy 97 Proposals Rile Terrebonne Residents

TERREBONNE, OR -- A plan to change Highway 97 in Terrebonne is drawing criticism from area residents and business owners. Peter Murphy, with the Oregon Department of Transportation, says money was allocated in the 2017 transportation package to address Terrebonne congestion, and a project must be on the books by 2021. "Now, it’s time for us to do something about it, present that to the community, hear what they have to say and go from there," Murphy tells KBND News, "And, that’s kind of where we’re at." After a number of community meetings, Murphy says ODOT is leaning toward a couplet where existing 97 would convert to two lanes southbound and 11th street would turn into northbound 97, "We heard what people had to say. And no, not everyone is supportive of the idea." The other option under consideration would widen existing 97 to five lanes; two northbound and two southbound lanes, along with a center turn lane. "These are kind of the options that we come up with, neither of which is perfect. So, we’re left with a choice to make of the lesser of two evils." says Murphy.


Drivers through the area can’t miss the “Stop ODOT” and “Save Historical Terrebonne” signs posted along the highway. Randy Lunsford, owner of Ferguson’s Market, says the community is frustrated that ODOT isn't addressing the biggest problems, "The issue here isn’t ‘is a couplet good for Terrebonne or is it not?’, ‘is five lanes good for Terrebonne or is it not?’ There are so other many things that are being touched here." Lunsford tells KBND News he served on ODOT's advisory committee and says many are frustrated with the entire process, "Smith Rock is a problem; Lower Bridge interchange is a problem; getting access to the post office is a problem; getting southbound out of Terrebonne is a problem. Those things, though the advisory committee brought those up in the first meeting, they were never addressed in any of the meetings beyond that." He says, "The number one stance of the majority of the blowback that ODOT is getting from the community is, ‘you need to address the Lower Bridge interchange, first and foremost.’ And it needs to accommodate everybody in movement of all directions." He adds, "We are in complete favor and will do whatever we can to help resolve the Lower Bridge interchange, first and foremost. Moving from there, it’s let’s get some safety in this town with regards to crossing roads, speeds and an easier flow for people in different directions."


Lunsford says neither plan addresses the big issues, and could lead to access and parking problems for businesses. He and other business leaders host a community meeting every Wednesday at 1 p.m. at the Pump House restaurant, which he says ODOT has attended in the past. Murphy says the agency continues to meet with the community to find solutions. 

D.A. Closes Retired Firefighter Death Investigation

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County District Attorney says the death of a retired firefighter was not due to foul play. John Love's body was found in a large hole at a northeast Bend construction site on February 11, covered in snow. While the exact cause of death has not yet been determined by the state Medical Examiner, D.A. John Hummel says the local investigation is now closed. 


Hummel released a statement Wednesday saying that he and all local first responders extend sympathies to Love's family and friends, "His impact on our community carries forward through the lives of the people he literally helped save during his service as a firefighter."


Love was reported missing February ninth. He was last seen alive several days earlier, when a taxi dropped him off in front of his northeast Bend home.   

Voting Opens for Blazers Contest, Prineville is Finalist

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Voting is now open for a contest that could net Prineville thousands of dollars to create an all-abilities playground. Old Stryker Field is competing against a park in Baker City and one in Independence for funds provided by the Portland Trail Blazers Moda Assist Program. Moda Health's Karis Stoudamire-Phillips tells KBND News, "We selected cities that had about a 10,000 people population, and we invited those cities to submit an application. Those cities submitted applications and then our review committee reviewed those applications, and we were really excited that Prineville decided to submit." She says the Blazers and Moda Health visited Prineville in September during the Rip City Relay and loved the community's fans. 


Prineville Park Competes for Blazers Grant (01/24/2019)


More money is available this time around, compared to last year when Redmond's Baker Park won $10 per on-court assist made by the Blazers in a game, "This year, we have actually upped that to $20," says Stoudamire-Phillips, "We decided that we've been doing this program for awhile, let's go ahead and increase it and the competition has been excellent over the last few years and we just really wanted to reward cities for their hard work and commitment to this project." Construction of the new playground at Baker Park begins this spring.


The winning park is determined by online vote, at the Blazers website. Click HERE to go straight to the voting page. Stoudamire-Phillips says people can vote once per day, "Folks can start voting right away and the voting goes for four weeks, and ends on March 20. Whoever has the most votes at the end of that four-week voting period will win the monies that are being raised through the assists throughout the season." That winning city will be presented a check at the final home game of the season, by Blazers Point Guard Damian Lillard, who is the program's ambassador.

DUII Driver Sentenced for Manslaughter

BEND, OR -- The woman convicted of killing a local dentist with her car was sentenced Wednesday to more than 12 years in prison. Prosecutors say Shantel Witt has never shown remorse for running down Marika Stone while she biked on the side of Dodds Road in December 2017. Witt was convicted earlier this month of Manslaughter, DUII, Possession of a Controlled Substance and Recklessly Endangering.


At Tuesday's hearing, Witt cried while addressing Stone’s family, "I’m truly sorry. That person is not who I am, ever. And I hope one day you can forgive me; and I wish it was me."

Stone’s twin sister and father also spoke at the sentencing. Greg Middag, told the court, "When my daughter Tansy called me and told me Marika had been killed by an intoxicated driver, it became one of the most horrific events I’ve ever experienced in my 70 years. Marika’s death was caused by the defendant’s total disregard for herself and those around her. She ingested dangerous drugs, including one for her dog, on December 30th. And she did so without considering the possible effects on anyone, including herself." Turning to Witt, Middag said, "Ms. Witt, you’ve stolen my daughter and the hopes and dreams of a lifetime. Marika’s dead. And after you killed her, Shantel, you backed your truck up after dragging her body down the road, then yelled obscenities at her." He also expressed frustration that a previous DUII conviction and diversion program didn't seem to have any impact on Witt. She was highly intoxicated at the time of the crash. Prosecutors say she had multiple drugs in her system, including Xanax prescribed to her dog. 


Witt was sentenced to 146 months in prison, and ordered to pay restitution to Stone's father, twin sister and ex-husband, for care of their children. 

School Threat Leads to Arrest

LA PINE, OR -- A social media post threatening violence at a local school quickly went viral, Tuesday, leading to an arrest. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office says the video post referenced a possible shooting and was originated by a student at La Pine Middle School.


The agency was notified just before 9 p.m. Deputies talked with several students and took one person into custody, although they have not said whether that suspect is a student at the school.

The investigation continues and families will see an increased law enforcement presence at area schools Wednesday.


Alleged Suspect and Victim In Custody After Assault

BEND, OR -- A northeast Bend woman was arrested Tuesday for allegedly stabbing her husband. But, Bend Police say the alleged victim is also now in custody.


Officers responded to Watt Way on a report of a domestic dispute between the two transients, just before 6 p.m. They say 53-year-old Jeannie Dallas was armed with a knife and 55-year-old John Dallas was taken to the hospital with what appeared to be knife wounds.


She is charged with assault. Her husband was treated and released from St. Charles Bend. He was later arrested for a probation violation, as well as assault and strangulation charges related to previous incidents involving his wife.

County OSU-Extension Expanding in Redmond

REDMOND, OR -- Deschutes County's Oregon State University Extension Service is expanding. A ceremonial groundbreaking takes place Tuesday afternoon on a new 5,188 square-foot building, next to the current OSU-Extension facility at the county fairgrounds in Redmond. 


County leader Candy Bothum says the project includes a horticulture lab, conference room, teaching kitchen and classrooms, "We are really short on classroom space, and we also have several staff members that are farmed out, if you will, to other locations on the fairgrounds, and other places; and so this is a way to be more efficient, and also meet our space needs that we're lacking." Bothum tells KBND News, "This is a project that's been going on for about 10 years."


The groundbreaking ceremony starts at 3 p.m. near Building Four. "We'll go out and turn over a little dirt as we break ground, and then just an opportunity to visit, and be able to answer some questions about the project, and just be a part of the beginning." She says attendees will be able to view plans for the building at the event. "We're going to start construction here very soon and so the [community] input will be questions and answers about either what extension does and what now we're more capable of doing, or just about the facility itself." She expects construction will take about seven months. 


COCC Prepares To Choose New President

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College is close to naming its next President to replace Dr. Shirley Metcalf, who retires in June. The top three candidates - Dr. Kimberlee Messina (above, left), Dr. Tod Treat (above, center) and Dr. Laurie Chesley - completed campus visits and on-site interviews over the past two weeks. The Board of Directors met last weekend to get feedback from faculty and staff. 


COCC’s Ron Paradis says the process is very different compared to the last Presidential search, when only one candidate rose to the top. "This one, all three candidates are very strong. Every person that came in to talk to the Board representing their employee group said, ‘you have three strong candidates.’ That was the best news. Then, the different people talked through what they liked about the different candidates; what they might have had some concerns about." He tells KBND News many of those concerns involve work experience, "Both Dr. Treat and Dr. Chesley have been vice presidents at bigger colleges but it would still be a step up. They’ve ‘never been a president.’ I know in Madras it was discussed – because we do a lot of work in Madras with Deer Ridge Correctional Institute – only one of the candidates has ever worked with a prison population. There were things in some of their pasts where jobs may not have worked out well in the long run. But, you know, those have happened to all of us. So, who’s ready to step in and do the job right now?"


Paradis says the Board is aware their decision needs to be made fairly quickly, "A couple of [the candidates] are finalists at another college in Oregon. They haven’t done their interviews yet; we have. So, we’re a little bit ahead in that way. But, it’s important that we’re able to compete." And, he says, COCC has a leg up because living in Central Oregon is such an enticing benefit.

According to Paradis, the next step is to zero in on a top choice, "Second, it would be the contract negotiations. And, the third would be, we do plan on doing a site visit to a campus of, at least the one person, if not two people who are the finalists." He expects they’ll name their top choice before the end of the month. 

Volunteers Improve Old Mill Duck Habitat

BEND, OR -- A group of volunteers installed duck nesting tubes in the Old Mill District, Monday afternoon. Chris Dittman, area chairman for Ducks Unlimited Oregon, says mallards nest on the ground, and the hay-covered wire units will protect eggs until they hatch, "A lot of predators, like raccoons and skunks, and stuff like that, will eat those eggs. And so, the success rate, typically, for a ground nest will be about 20%. And, if we can get these ducks to use these tubes, or they decide they want to use these tubes, the success rate should go up to 80% or higher."


Waterfowl experts and 10 students with the Bend chapter of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) worked on the project, to create more habitat for mallards, "What they are is basically wire that’s been wrapped with hay. And then, on top of these tubes that we’ve hammered into the ground, we have cradles for us to zip-tie these tubes with hay into it," Dittman tells KBND News, "There’s going to be hay on the inside and insulation around the tube, as well, with hay in it, to be able to keep the ducks warm in there and the babies warm, as well."


The group installed nine tubes in the wetlands across from the Old Mill shopping area; two below the Colorado Bridge and seven above. Dittman says, "The mallards, you can see, are using this area already and so, it’s just a really good area that’s away from the public. There’s lots of area for them to be able to build these nests and not be disturbed in those areas; that’s really where we’re trying to get them. And, far enough back off the river where, in the summer, the floaters aren’t going to be able to reach out and grab them, either."

The project was paid for by the nonprofit Ducks Unlimited Oregon.

Redmond Lawmaker Gets First Legislative Win

SALEM, OR -- An affordable housing bill that would allow Redmond to join Bend in a state affordable housing pilot program unanimously passed out of a House committee, Monday. It’s the first bill for freshman State Representative Jack Zika (R-Redmond). Central Oregon leaders testified last week in support of the proposal


Zika told the House Committee on Human Services and Housing it would correct a flaw in the original 2016 bill that created the pilot, which streamlines the UGB expansion process for affordable housing. "This is going to be a great project to include Redmond in, to the pilot project. This basically fixes and helps us have two sets of data, to allow Bend and Redmond to both have these pilot projects." Bend and Redmond were the only two cities to apply for the program, last year; Bend was chosen. Zika added, "The two sets of data will be different because the [Redmond] land is going to be coming from the county, which is Deschutes County land. So, hopefully we can get it for a good price; and the big cost-driver of housing is the land cost. There are seven developers that are interested so this is going to be a popular program, and so it will be built out." Zika says if the bill passes, it would allow Redmond to create hundreds of new options for low-income families, on the eastern edge of the city. "Redmond is planned to have 485 units built into this 40 acre area, that half of them will be deed-restricted to be 80% AMI [Area Median Income]."


With the committee's "do pass" recommendation, HB-2336 now heads to the full House for approval. 

Suspect Arrested for Threatening with Gun

BEND, OR -- A 21-year-old Bend man was arrested early Monday morning for allegedly using a gun to threaten a 19-year-old during a weekend altercation. Police were initially called to a home on Brentwood Avenue, late Saturday night. But, when officers arrived, those involved in the dispute were gone. A short time later, the victim contacted police and reported that a man, later identified as Dahnte Cegers, had a handgun and threatened him at the house.


Officers obtained a search warrant for Cegers apartment at the Stonebriar complex in northeast Bend. Detectives and members of the Central Oregon Emergency Response Team (CERT) served the warrant at 2 a.m. Monday, arresting Cegers. Although they found some evidence, they did not locate the gun allegedly used in the Saturday night fight.

Grazing Rights Restored for Harney County Family

BURNS, OR --  The Bureau of Land Management officially restored grazing rights, last week, to the Hammond family, whose dispute with the agency was was the impetus for the Harney County occupation. Dwight Hammond, and his son Steven were found guilty in 2012 of arson on the public land where they had grazing rights. That conviction was used by the BLM to deny renewal of their grazing rights in 2014. They were ordered to prison in early 2016, inciting the 41-day armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.


When the pair was pardoned by the President in July, the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association (OCA), Oregon Farm Bureau (OFB) and Harney County Stock Growers Association began working to reinstate their permit. It really was a precedent-setting case and situation," says Jerome Rosa, with the OCA. "They’re very excited to be back on the ground, back having their permits. They’re wanting to just kind of get their lives back to normal and get out of the public eye. But, they are extremely grateful for all of the folks that helped." He adds, "First time they’ll be back out on that land in many, many years. So, it was a huge win for not only OCA but the Harney County Stock Growers, along with the Oregon Farm Bureau. So, we were really happy about the outcome of this and glad that we could be a small part of it."


The Trump Administration ordered the BLM to reissue the permits in early January, "This was one of the final acts that former Interior Secretary Zinke did before he left office. And, apparently, the reason why it took a while to come out was because of the government shutdown," says Rosa. The BLM signed documents reissuing the grazing permit on February 13, five years - almost to the day - from when it was revoked. 


The Oregon Farm Bureau issued a statement saying, in part, "This reissued grazing permit signals that justice has finally been achieved for this rural family. While nobody can restore what the Hammonds have lost to years of prosecutorial overreach and bureaucratic vendetta, we are grateful this awful chapter is closed."

Exclusion Day Draws Attention to Vaccination Rate

BEND, OR -- Oregon Exclusion day is Wednesday, when students must have all their shots up to date. "Children are required to have an up-to-date immunization record or evidence of an exemption," says Deschutes County Immunization Coordinator Jill Johnson, "It’s always the third Wednesday in February that children are not allowed to attend school if they don’t have either an up-to-date record or an exemption. So, parents need to provide those updates to their children’s school to clear them for exemption." The law applies to public and private schools, preschools, Head Start and certified day care facilities. 

Johnson says her office sends letters each January to remind families who are not yet in compliance, "We did send about a thousand letters, this year, to parents that have children with incomplete records on file at their children’s school." But, she tells KBND News, kids haven’t been walking the halls since September completely unprotected, "By state law, they are required to have one of all their required vaccines to start. So, it’s not like they’re completely unvaccinated. The school nurses and the office staff in schools work really hard to get those kids up to date." 


She acknowledges not immunizing is a conscious choice for some families, "Some parents choose not to vaccinate for a variety of reasons and some can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons. We do have a pretty high exemption rate, here in Deschutes County. And, that is the issue at some of the schools that we worry about, from a public health standpoint." Dr. Paul Seislack, with the Oregon Health Authority, says the Clark County Measles outbreak highlights the need for children to be vaccinated, "It's contagious enough that it will find the few percentage of people out there, unless you have really high population-immunity rates." He says a growing number of Oregon parents choose not to vaccinate, "We are the highest in the nation, among kindergartners who are claiming exemptions to vaccination." 

Families needing immunizations can contact their healthcare provider, county public health office or school-based health clinic. Click HERE for more information on Deschutes County locations.

Outdoor Groups Oppose Wilderness Permitting Plan

BEND, OR -- Outdoor enthusiasts are protesting a plan to limit access to local wilderness areas. Several groups filed 96 objections with the U.S. Forest Service over a plan to impose additional fees or restrictions to popular sections of the Sisters and Mount Jefferson Wilderness Areas. 

Executive Director for the outdoor group the Mazamas, Sarah Bradham, says the drastic restrictions proposed by the Forest Service would limit both day use and overnight camping access to popular trails, "There'll be a fee-based system, which has the potential to be an equity issue, favoring people who can afford permits versus those who can't."


Walden Discusses Wilderness Permits in Bend (08/09/2017)


The Forest Service claims an increase in visitors has caused environmental damage to more than 450,000 acres in these wilderness areas over the last decade. But Bradham says they worked with limited data to justify making it more difficult for people to experience the great outdoors. She attended a Friday meeting with other groups and the Forest Service, where she expressed concerns about access. She tells KBND News, "We were wondering if they could have tried a different solution, different measures, such as education measures, and different levels of restriction, instead of going to a highly restrictive, fee-based permit for such a significant portion of the wilderness area." She adds, "There's a potential impact on the locals, would they be required to get permits to recreate on trails that are in their backyards?"

A formal public hearing is expected at the end of this month. Bradham expects the Forest Service will have a finalized plan at that time, which would likely go into effect in 2020.

Suspected SW Bend Car Prowler Arrested

BEND, OR -- A local transient is accused of breaking into at least one car in southwest Bend, over the weekend. A witness saw someone taking items from inside a car near SW Roosevelt and Silver Lake Boulevard, early Saturday morning. The prowler was gone by the time police arrived but a victim's purse was found in the road. 


The victim’s credit cards were later used at two area stores and surveillance video provided investigators with a look at the suspect. Police canvassed the area and spotted a driver matching the suspect description. An officer pulled over the car and arrested 32-year-old Derek Chamberlain for theft, drug possession, an outstanding warrant and other charges. They also recovered stolen property during the stop.

Congressman Walden Opposes Trump Declaration

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Oregon's Second Congressional District Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) opposes the President's plan to use an emergency declaration to fund construction of a wall at the southern U.S. border. Friday morning, President Trump announced he would sign the funding bill to keep the government in operation but is declaring an emergency because lawmakers failed to approve the necessary money for border wall construction.


Shortly after the President's speech, Congressman Walden tweeted, "Congress has granted the executive branch certain spending authorities. I strongly object to any president acting outside of those explicit authorities to spend money that Congress has not appropriated for specific initiatives." He followed up with two more posts explaining that he continues to support strengthened border security, including a wall, but says he's concerned about the precedent Trump's move sets. Walden, who represents Oregon's largest district, including Central Oregon, is the state's only Republican in Congress. 



Speed Limit Changes Coming to Neff/Penn in Bend

BEND, OR -- Speed limits are being reduced this month, on a portion of Penn Avenue and Neff Road. Bend officials say the changes are in response to community input and new engineering analysis, given changing traffic and development in the area.


Penn, which turns into Neff, goes from 35 to 25-miles an hour, between Northeast Eighth and Eastwood Drive. Then, from Eastwood to Eagle Road, the speed limit is reduced from 35 to 30 miles an hour.


New speed signs have orange flags to draw attention to the change.

Forestry Snow Tours Restart After Shutdown

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes National Forest, along with Discover Your Forest, has restarted Interpretive Snow Tours at Mount Bachelor. Jean Nelson Dean, with the Forest Service, says they weren't sure they'd get to offer the educational tours this year. "During the government shutdown, because they are run by our volunteers, we were not able to carry those programs on." But, she tells KBND News, "Now that the Government is back up and running, those programs are up and running on the weekends, and our visitors and people here can still go and have a great experience up at Mt. Bachelor, with our Forest Service volunteers."


But, she says it will be an abbreviated season, due to the delay, "We just really want to encourage folks. We know things have been a little slow with having to stop and start again. And, we just want folks to get out there and enjoy these snow programs, the snowshoe tours, and skiing/snowboarding with a ranger, while they still can." Nelson Dean adds, "If people want to take advantage of the snowshoe tours, those snow tours happen on the weekends at 10 a.m. and 1:30. And, snowshoes are provided for everyone that comes. No prior experience needed, but people should dress appropriately for cold weather."

To sign up for a snowshoe, ski, or snowboard with a ranger tour, visit the Discover Your Forest website. The season stretches through March 31. 

Sisters Summer Events to Return After Hiatus

SISTERS, OR -- Many summer events in Sisters Country were canceled last year, but the Sisters Park and Recreation District plans to bring them all back for 2019. Event Coordinator Shannon Rackowski says excitement for the fun and popular gatherings is definitely growing, "People in the community really love the events. The last three weeks, we started getting phone calls asking, 'Is there going to be the Glory Daze (pictured) car show?', 'Is the luau back on?', 'Is the home brew [festival] going to happen?', 'What about the GNW Running camps?', and when can they register? So that's really exciting for me." She says the District's previous Executive Director opted out of the events, much to the disappointment of the community.


In addition to the annual favorites, Rackowski tells KBND News, there will be a new event this year, "The first Sisters Senior Fitness Games. It's kind of a takeoff of the international Senior Olympics. We will have four-man relays, we will have a pickleball tournament, tennis, three-on-three basketball, horseshoes, a jog, a wheelchair relay; and this will be for anyone 62 years old, and older."

Rackowski says these events can't happen without help, "[We] Can't do these events without volunteers. No one ever gets turned away from volunteering. In fact, they get to choose, and sometimes we have people that do more than one, which is always really appreciated." To learn more, go to the Sisters Park and Recreation website, or stop by the district office on McKinney Butte Road and ask for Shannon.

Bend Council Sets Goals for City Budget

BEND, OR -- Bend City staff are narrowing down on the City Council’s priorities for the next two years, in advance of this spring’s budget discussions. Councilors took part in two days of goal setting, last week. Mayor Sally Russell says they focused several main themes, "Clearly, housing, transportation mobility, safety, economic vitality and, the underlying is always effective and efficient city operations. And, a lot of those goals were really informed by a statistically valid poll that the city did in early December."


Mayor Russell tells KBND News it's difficult to pick one top priority, "I look at this messy board that we created during goal-setting. I mean, there are so many different issues that we are paying attention to, right now, as a city. And, each one of them, in its own way, is absolutely vital to get right, as we move through these next two years, which is the short-term planning window." She adds, "We recognize that our biggest need in this community is the people who are 100% of the area median income and lower. We really have a need for lower cost housing and there are a lot of ways to get there, but we’ve got to bring partners in. I’m looking at a public-private partnership to really bring our next housing idea out and just accelerate this."

Bend's City Manager and staff are now refining the goals and will work with Council over the next month, with plans for a Council vote on their formal goals and a work plan, including measurable outcomes, by March 20. Those priorities will be used during budget planning discussions, which begin in May. 

Oregon Celebrates 160th Birthday

BEND, OR -- Oregon is 160 years old this Valentine's Day. Deschutes Historical Museum Executive Director Kelly Cannon-Miller says Oregon joined the union as a free state just before the Civil War, and the state's history is marked by adventure, innovation, and a clear sense of identity. "Oregon is actually, this incredibly diverse place in terms of its resources, and it's a part of the country - along the whole continent of North America - that's rewriting history." 


From the westward expansion and the Oregon Trail, our state has a storied past that's richer than many may realize. Oregon claims the oldest American settlement west of the Mississippi and two archeological dig sites appear to prove people lived in the area even longer than originally thought, "Oregon has a tremendous amount of myth and legend around it in American history. There's this tremendous amount of romantic notion of how the west was settled," Cannon-Miller tells KBND News, "And it all happens under Oregon's name." She adds, "One of the other fantastic things about our state is how different it is from the eastern edge to the western edge. You've got a little bit of everything from the Alvord Desert on one side, to the beaches at Tillamook on the other side."


Cannon-Miller suggests learning a few fun facts about our state, on its birthday. OregonEncyclopedia.org has thousands of pieces of information, ranging from the obscure to the historical, the famous, and the infamous. For example, Bobbie the Wonder Dog hails from Silverton, one of the richest men in history - John Jacob Astor - lived on the coast, and one of the state's most popular Governors - Tom McCall - is from Central Oregon. 

Local Health Officials Continue to Watch for Measles

BEND, OR -- Local health officials continue to keep a close eye on the Measles outbreak traced to Clark County, Washington, just north of Portland. The number of confirmed cases is now up to 53.


One of those patients visited Bend while contagious but before testing positive. Deschutes County Immunization Coordinator Jill Johnson says exposures at Juniper Swim and Fitness and Mountain Air trampoline park did not result in any new cases. And, she says if someone was going to get sick, they would have shown symptoms by now, "We were monitoring people that were at those locations and unvaccinated. And then, on February 10th was the 21 days, so now we’re in the clear as far as those exposures." But, she tells KBND News the region shouldn't let down its guard, "We have a good-sized outbreak going on, not that far from us and we’re just a car-ride away. So, we need to make sure to remain vigilant that our vaccination rate is high enough in our community to keep Measles at bay."


She says some in Central Oregon wrongly claimed there were new cases of Measles here, and that isn't the only rumor the County Health Department is fighting, "There’s a lot of misinformation on social media and the internet around vaccines," says Johnson, "And it’s important that people be sure that they’re looking at reliable sources of information." A local mom says that misinformation is dangerous. Sally lives just east of Bend. Her son, now in his 50s, was born before the vaccine was available. "My son was just a little toddler, baby, when he had them; and he had fevers of 104, 105, 106. He suffered for two weeks, severely." She says he’s still dealing with the repercussions, "He’s lived his life with brain damage and when young people – young mommies – don’t get their children vaccinated, my heart hurts for those babies, because they too could be like my son."

The CDC declared Measles eradicated in the U.S. in 2000. The agency reports the vast majority of people who get the disease now, are unvaccinated. Of the 53 people linked to the Clark County outbreak, 47 were unvaccinated; the immunization status of five others could not be confirmed. 

Bend Lawmaker Opposes Rent Control Bill

SALEM, OR -- A controversial rent control bill that passed the Oregon Senate this week would hurt rental tenants, according to one local lawmaker. State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) says SB 608 will not improve the affordable housing crisis, "This bill, I don't think actually solves the problem. I think, in several ways, I think it's going to make the problem worse for the very people that the proponents are trying to help."


The bill passed 17-11, with Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) joining Republicans in opposition. Knopp says it was rushed through with no discussion of possible changes. Housing Committee Vice Chair Fred Girod (R-Stayton) offered five amendments, one of which would have allowed property owners time to prepare before the legislation takes effect; but none was considered. Knopp tells KBND News, "This bill doesn't do anything to add supply of new units to the mix, and it was done by special interests on both sides who agreed on the bill before the hearing even happened, and they wouldn't allow any changes to the bill and I think that's a disturbing trend that every Oregonian should be concerned about."

Under SB 608 rent increases would be limited to 7%, plus the cost of living increase. And, no-cause evictions could would have to meet certain criteria if a tenant has lived there longer than a year. That criteria includes moving a close family into a unit, making major repairs, turning it into a primary residence or demolition. Senator Knopp believes rents could increase as much as 10% a year, if the bill passes. Also, "I expect many rentals will be sold, especially single family homes. I've already been contacted by multiple investors who've said that they're just getting out of the industry altogether, because they just don't like what's coming and they want to be able to manage their own property." He adds, "There will likely be dozens if not hundreds of people who will receive eviction notices."


The bill is now in the state House; Governor Kate Brown has said she supports it. 

Final COCC Presidential Candidate Visits Campuses

BEND, OR -- The third and final candidate for President of Central Oregon Community College is in town. Dr. Laurie Chesley met with students, faculty and staff at the Bend campus on Wednesday, "I’ve been very impressed by the number of questions and the quality of questions." She tells KBND News she was struck by one clear theme, "That people who come here want to stay here for a long time; and that always says a lot to me about an institution. People have expressed a great deal of affection, not only for this college but for the community." She says that makes the job at COCC even more appealing. 

Dr. Chesley is currently the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan. "I bring a passion for higher education, lifelong commitment to higher education, an absolute passion for community colleges and a lot of years of experience, frankly."

She’ll visit the Prineville Campus Thursday, from 1:45-2:15, the Madras campus from 3:15-3:45, and the Redmond Campus from 4:30-5:30, in room 306 of Building Three. She says she has experience with multi-site schools; Grand Rapids Community College also has multiple locations, "The key difference is the geography. Those are not as far apart as the different sites are here. The geography is certainly much more extensive but the concept of multiple sites is not new to me."

The other two candidates, Dr. Tod Treat and Dr. Kimberlee Messina, visited separately over the last two weeks. Current President Dr. Shirley Metcalf retires in June. COCC's Board will discuss the search effort at a special meeting, Saturday morning. 

Elderly Driver Dies After Serious Crash

BEND, OR -- It's been a deadly week on Central Oregon highways. An 84-year-old man was killed Tuesday morning when his SUV drove off Old Bend Redmond Highway. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office says Frank Farey was northbound just before 10:30 a.m., when he failed to negotiate a curve, drove off the road through a fence and hit a large juniper tree. 
He was taken to St. Charles Bend where he later died. Investigators don’t believe slick roads, speed, drugs or alcohol were factors in the crash. 

A Redmond woman involved in a crash, last week, has died of her injuries. Oregon State Police say 75-year-old Anita Johnson was slowing for traffic on Highway 97, last Thursday, when her car was hit from behind by a semi loaded with gravel. Her vehicle was pushed off the road and into a tree. OSP learned she passed away over the weekend. 

Deschutes Co. Homicides Hit Record Level

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County prosecutors are currently working 10 open homicide cases, "It’s the highest number of pending homicide cases in Deschutes County’s history," says District Attorney John Hummel, "It’s too much; it’s far too much. We’re at a crisis point [and] my office is struggling to keep up."  Even with last week’s conviction of Shantel Witt for DUII and Manslaughter, prosecutors are still working cases against 10 other defendants. including a husband and wife accused of starving their child in 2017 and a man who allegedly shot a woman at his Bend apartment on their first date, last month.


Hummel says the backlog can only partly be blamed on the region's growing population, "When you overlay that with too few judges and too few prosecutors, what happens is the cases take longer to resolve." Insufficient staffing at the D.A.'s office is his foremost concern, "We’re now at risk of not being able to well represent the state in serious cases of homicide, sexual assault, domestic violence cases. Something needs to change. I’ll be talking to the Board of County Commissioners about that during upcoming budget hearings, in May." Hummel tells KBND News if funding doesn't increase, he’ll have to cut services… that could include choosing not to prosecute some misdemeanors.

He’s also lobbying the Legislature to approve funding for an eighth Circuit Court Judge to create more room on the docket. The request has been made before, but was denied in favor of other counties. Hummel says it’s now Deschutes County's turn. 

Bend Releases Phase One of Transportation Plan

BEND, OR -- Phase one of Bend's transportation plan update was released Tuesday. It contains a list of citywide transportation projects and a preliminary look at ways to fund them. Senior Planner Karen Swirsky tells KBND News, "It's time to bring it up to speed and also to make it in step with the changes that we made a couple years ago to the Urban Growth Boundary." She says, "The transportation plan that we've been working off of is about 20 years old. It's been amended here and there over the years, but it's from a different time; Bend was a different place 20 years ago. So, there's a lot that's changed in terms of technology, the tools that we have for planning. So, it should be a much more modern and up-to-date report."

Swirsky says the Transportation Plan Advisory Committee, made up of citizens appointed by City Council, developed goals, determined the framework, and created a funding assessment for the plan update. Over the next year, as part of phase two, the Growth Management Department will compile all the data, prioritize projects, and match ideas with funding. 


Over the next 20 years, Swirsky says, it's important that residents have easy, uninterrupted service, "We know, roughly, how many people, how many jobs, how many houses, so how do we make sure that all of our systems, transportation, water and sewer, support that." She adds, "There's a lot of change happening in Bend, and it's both challenging and exciting to figure out how best to accommodate it."


Click HERE to view the full Phase One report; you'll find other materials from Phase One HERE

Madras Woman Guilty of Theft From Disabled Clients

EUGENE, OR -- a Madras woman was convicted in federal court, Tuesday, of stealing from people she was supposed to be helping. Tayva Tucker pleaded guilty to one count of Theft of Government Funds, for stealing nearly $40,000 dollars in Social Security benefits from 10 mentally disabled adults.

Tucker began working for a Madras social services organization in March of 2014. Part of her job was to use her clients' Social Security benefits to pay for their current and future care. As the "representative payee" on their bank accounts, she had access to their funds because they were deemed  unable to manage their own finances. A 2016 organizational audit revealed funds transfers from her clients' accounts to her own. When confronted, Tucker admitted to taking the money for her own personal use. 

Her plea deal requires restitution of the $39.277 she stole. She also faces up to 10 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of post-prison supervision. Sentencing is scheduled in U.S. District Court in Eugene April 25.

COCC Board To Get Update on Lake Co. Petition

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College continues to work through a request by a group in northern Lake County to redraw the school’s boundaries. COCC's Board will get an update at Wednesday's 4:30 p.m. board meeting. 


Matt McCoy, COCC’s Vice President for Administration, says the school is putting together a report for the state Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC). "We’re inventorying what services we do currently provide to north Lake County and also working with Klamath Community College to identify the services they’re providing to north Lake County, and to much of Lake County; and we’re taking a look at whether or not it’s feasibly for us to provide additional services that might be of interest." He tells KBND News, "We’ll identify what we currently do and then consider the wants and needs of the community and how those might be met if they’re looking for additional services. Also, taking a look at what Klamath Community College is offering, what other community colleges might be offering." He says they're considering all options, "With a small community, like north Lake County, and with other services being provided by other community colleges, sometimes there’s a better way forward than just simply the same as what we’ve been doing."


Last summer, a group petitioned the state commission to remove northern Lake County from COCC’s district, saying there is little demand for the school’s services. In December HECC delayed their decision to allow COCC time to evaluate its presence in the region. The school will present findings to HECC in the next few months. The commission will then make a recommendation on whether the district's boundaries should exclude Lake County. That decision is expected in May or June. Any district boundary changes must be formally approved by the Legislature. 


Graphic: COCC's current district boundaries include all of Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties, as well as portions of Wasco, Klamath and Lake counties. 

Two Arrested in La Pine Pot Bust

LA PINE, OR -- The Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) team raided a large illegal marijuana grow in La Pine, Tuesday morning; following an investigation into numerous complaints from neighbors. Detectives say owners were not licensed to grow hemp, medical marijuana or recreational pot. 

They say the operation on Wayside Loop appears to have been around for a few years and included a converted four-car garage, two outbuildings and two metal transport containers. The house was retrofitted for the grow, with a self-contained watering system and climate control equipment. 

CODE seized nearly 2,000 pot plants, along with 350 pounds of dried product and Butane Honey Oil. They also found evidence of a money laundering operation, including a substantial amount of currency and a money counting machine.


Detectives arrested 51-year-old Sam Onat (top, left) and 41-year-old Christopher Fleming (top, right). Both are charged with Delivery, Manufacture and Possession of Marijuana and Criminal Conspiracy; Onat also faces a charge of Monday Laundering. 

South Redmond Tract Focus of Joint City/County Mtg

REDMOND, OR -- Plans continue to move forward to develop of about 950 acres known as the South Redmond Tract. The parcel needs to be incorporated into Redmond's Urban Growth Boundary before infrastructure can be developed. Deputy City Manager John Roberts says the project has been in the works for about a decade, "Expanding the Urban Growth Boundary is one of the more prescriptive components of the statewide planning program and Goal 14. So, to comply with all those provisions, it’s not unusual for a UGB expansion of this size to take this much time to do it correctly." A land swap with the state, last year, gave the proposal a big boost. But, expanding the UGB still needs state approval.  


Redmond's City Council and Deschutes County Commissioners will discuss code changes and revising the property's master plan in a joint meeting Tuesday evening. "The county needs to amend their comprehensive plan to acknowledge these changes. It’s actually the first part of the process," Roberts tells KBND News, "And, just to give you an idea of the complexity of this, the first staff report has 55 pages of findings and the second staff report has upwards of 65 pages of findings."


Roberts believes it'll still be two more years before work could begin at the property. But, once it's ready, he says the lot will be divided into three sections, "140 acres is place marked for expansion of the fairgrounds." Another 20 acres will be sold to the Oregon Military Department to relocate its readiness center, "And then the third is to rezone 789 acres of that for large lot industrial. And, large lot industrial means parcel size of 50 acres or greater."


Tuesday's joint meeting begins at 6 p.m. at Redmond's City Hall. 

Local Officials Lobby for Affordable Housing Bill


SALEM, OR -- Representatives from the cities of Bend and Redmond, as well as Deschutes County, were in Salem Monday to lobby lawmakers to expand an affordable housing pilot project. Redmond and Bend were the only two cities to apply for the program, which was initially approved by the 2016 Legislature. It streamlines and fast-tracks the Urban Growth Boundary expansion process to allow for development of more affordable housing projects. The initial program only allowed for one city in each of two population categories. Bend and Redmond competed for the same slot and Bend was awarded the position in November.

State Representative Cheri Helt (R-Bend) testified in Monday's hearing (right) that Redmond should be allowed in, too, "You can't have mental health stability without housing and we have a housing crisis. We have a shortage, and we desperately need workforce housing." Helt says until there's more housing across Deschutes County, there is no way for people to live in the cities where they work. "The issue that we're facing is a supply issue. We've heard the number of 155,000 units we're short in our state, and this would move the needle." She has joined fellow local lawmakers State Rep. Jack Zika (R-Redmond) and State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) in supporting HB 2336, which would allow both Bend and Redmond to take part in the pilot project. 

Redmond Mayor George Endicott (pictured, top) also testified at Monday's public hearing, in support of HB 2336. He told lawmakers affordable housing is much needed for smaller cities, "The price of housing far outpaces wages. Over the last few years, our housing prices have increased 52%, while we've watched wages go up an average of 2 to 3%." He says the average home price in Redmond is $289,000 dollars; whereas the average wage is about $40,000. The city already has a proposal ready to push forward, if HB 2336 is approved, "Our project has 50% affordable, 50% market rate, and it will be in a mixed income, mixed use setting." Endicott says the 485 unit development not only meets but exceeds requirements for the pilot program. Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Henderson addressed the committee and explained how increasing Redmond's affordable housing inventory benefits the entire area, "From a perspective of the growth and development of our region, we really are kind of housing-cost challenged throughout the county. It's not just a Bend problem, but Redmond and Sisters; it's everywhere. So, this will add another option."


Redmond's proposal is for a 40-acre parcel owned by Deschutes County, on the eastern edge of the city, near NE Kingwood. Bend's winning proposal will reportedly bring nearly 400 homes to 35 acres in the southeast corner of Bend, near Highway 20. 

Bend City Council Considers More Charter Changes

BEND, OR -- More changes may be coming to Bend's city charter. Some want it to include language forcing elections for all City Councilors, instead of appointing new members to mid-term vacancies.

The issue arose during the process of filling the Council seat vacated when Sally Russell was elected Mayor in 2018. Several applicants were considered. But, in the end, Chris Piper was appointed to Position Three; he was sworn in last month amid protests. Some who opposed the decision were upset over what they saw as back-room deals. Councilor Bill Moseley says some even claimed racism, "it's kind of a complex issue. The assertion was that during our evaluation process, that there was another candidate who was an opportunity to create more diversity within the Council. For myself, I just fundamentally reject that you should evaluate any person based on their race or gender as a qualification." He believes Piper was the only candidate whose centrist views more closely represented the community and, Moseley tells KBND News, he was willing to take a drastic step if Piper didn't get the job. "My intention was to resign from the Council. Really, the logic behind it: if we're going to go this direction, then I'm going to make sure that we have a full understanding of where we're going, and we can see that it's not in the community's best interests to go far, far left."

Moseley says Mayor Russell asked him to stay on, agreeing to vote for Piper instead of another more progressive candidate. He calls it a brave move, "They basically preserved a council that is going to be pretty focused and centrist on solving the community's problems."

Despite his support of Piper, Moseley supports a movement to see all Councilors elected by voters. One proposal would force a sitting Councilor to resign if they want to run for Mayor before the end of their term. Voters would then select that seat's replacement at the same time the Mayor is elected. But Moseley says that's not all that should be considered, "If we're going to open up the charter again, I think we need to have a fuller discussion about the kinds of City Councilors we have. Bend is really just growing and changing too fast to have basically very, very part-time volunteer Councilors."


UPDATE (02/13/19): Mayor Sally Russell says she and Councilor Moseley never spoke directly about who would better serve Council, prior to the public vote in Council Chambers. During Moseley's original interview with KBND News, he said he was concerned about the future of important city projects if a far-left candidate was selected, and shared those concerns with some in the community. He says other members of Council had to have known he was ready to resign over the issue. "And so, Bruce (Abernethy) and Sally (Russell) took it into consideration and said, 'no, as much as we are a little bit left of center, we don't really want - we can see that it's not in the community's best interest to go left, left of center'," Moseley said, speaking hypothetically. He says he didn't talk with Councilor Abernethy nor Mayor Russell about the appointment process, nor was there a "quid pro quo" agreement in place. 


Mayor Russell tells KBND News, "The reason I turned to Councilor Bill Moseley just prior to the [January 16] vote and asked him whether he was going to vote, was because I was still unclear whether or not he was even going to participate." Moseley agrees, saying the final decision was not made until that vote. Russell adds, "I hope we can not only learn from this event but, as a community, we can focus on the important work we need to do, move on from this and tackle the important issues. In last week's goal setting, Council began to focus on important work for our community. We've made some really tough decisions; now, let's move on and start getting work done. We recognize diversity, equity and inclusion as an area that is important for our community." 



Photo: 2019 Bend City Council (L-R) Justin Livingston, Barb Campbell, Bill Moseley, Mayor Sally Russell, Bruce Abernethy, Gena Goodman-Campbell, Chris Piper

Bend Fire Credits Sprinklers with Saving Apartment

BEND, OR -- Bend Fire says a residential sprinkler system saved an apartment from major damage, Monday. A unit responded to an alarm at the Outlook at Pilot Butte apartments, just before 2:30 p.m. They discovered a resident tried to put out a grease fire by putting a pan in the sink and turning on the faucet; that resulted in a ball of fire, which activated the sprinkler.


The fire was out before the investigator arrived and no fire engines were called to the scene. While the blaze caused about $2,700 in damage, Bend Fire says no one was hurt and it could’ve been much worse had the sprinklers not activated. They also remind you to never put water on a grease fire. Use a lid to cut off the supply of air to the flames.

Suspect Accused of Throwing Knife at Police

BEND, OR -- A 28-year-old Bend man faces charges after allegedly throwing a knife toward officers. Bend Police responded to Butler Market and Wells Acres Monday morning after witnesses reported a man in a bathrobe was acting like he was throwing a knife at passing cars.


When officers contacted Gabriel Richards on Wells Acres, authorities say he was uncooperative and threw the knife. Officers negotiated Richards into custody without further incident and he was taken to the hospital for evaluation. He's charged with Menacing and Disorderly Conduct. 

Bend-Area Couple Runs for Education Boards

BEND, OR -- A Bend-area husband and wife announced Monday they are running for local offices. 

Amy Tatom is vying for Bend-La Pine School Board zone five, currently held by Ron Gallinat, who does not plan to run for re-election. Tatom is a Family Nurse Practitioner who sits on the St. Charles Medical Group Board and is a member of the school district’s budget committee.

Her husband Oliver Tatom is running for the Central Oregon Community College Board, in Zone seven, which encompasses a large area south of Bend. The seat is now held by Vikki Ricks, who also is not seeking re-election. Tatom is a second-year nursing student at COCC. He's a paramedic currently employed by Jefferson County EMS.

The couple has two young children and live in rural Deschutes County, southeast of Bend. Both elections are May 21. 

Road Crews Were Ready, Waiting for Snow

BEND, OR -- With several inches of new snow in recent days, it seems winter has finally hit the High Desert. Peter Murphy, with the Oregon Department of Transportation, says plows and de-icing trucks are out in full force. In fact, he says, they’ve been ready for a while, "We did have January to kind of get ready for it because January was a little slow, from a weather perspective. We had our mag brought in, we had our cinders piled up and we had our crews on winter duty. Well, it finally hit and now we’re putting our crews to the maximum 24/7." He tells KBND News, "We’re ordering more magnesium chloride to help us with deicing the highway and our stockpile of cinders looked like Mt. St. Helens, there, for a while, and now it’s starting to get a little bit smaller. So, the resources that we were putting to work had been sort of kept aside because January was nice and now we’re putting them on the highway everywhere we can."


While our snow began melting off with warmer temperatures on Monday, Murphy says other parts of the state are still buried. ODOT sent heavy equipment from Bend to clear Highway 206, between Wasco and Condon, near the Gorge, "There are big drifts of six-foot high snow and we can’t really get a handle on it with the wind that’s blowing. So, we’ve got to pull out our big gun, which is a blower, and ship it up to basically Wasco." Several sections of Interstate 84 were closed Tuesday morning due to icy crashes between Mosier and Troutdale. For the latest closures and restrictions, visit Tripcheck.com

The excellent conditions at Mt. Bachelor are attracting more visitors and impatient drivers. "We know there’s been a big dump up there; it’s great skiing conditions," Murphy tells KBND News, "So people turn out en masse to get up to Mt. Bachelor. What folks have to keep in mind is that 6,000 of their good friends are trying to share that same road and so it requires people to be patient and stay in line." He's heard reports of people driving the wrong way in the Mt. Washington roundabout in an effort to beat the crowd. "Please don’t do that. You know, that just makes things worse: you’re going to end up in a crash and in reality, you’re not going to get further up the hill because it’s still a line from the Mt. Washington circle all the way up to the mountain."

More snow is in the forecast through this week. 

Retired Bend Firefighter Reported Missing

BEND, OR -- Bend Police are asking for the public's help to find a 60-year-old man missing since last week. According to investigators, a cab dropped off John Love in front of his house on St. Cloud Court, near Boyd Acres Road, between 2:30 and 3:30 a.m., Wednesday. He hasn't seen or heard from since. A family member reported him missing Saturday morning. He was last seen wearing a green jacket, blue jeans and tennis shoes.


Love is a retired Bend Fire engineer who worked for the agency from 1996 to 2002; he also served as a volunteer coordinator, from 2014 to 2016. Anyone with information on his location is asked to call non-emergency police dispatch at 541-693-6911.


UPDATE: Bend Police say the body of John Love was discovered Monday afternoon. Deschutes County Search and Rescue deployed 27 searchers and Sheriff’s Office personnel to help Bend Police look for Love, at about 2 p.m. After about 2.5 hours of searching, two human-scent K9 teams found Love’s body near 18th and Cooley, inside a large hole in a construction site; his body was covered in snow. 


Bend PD is working with the District Attorney’s Office and Medical Examiner to determine cause of death. 


Local Nonprofit Promotes Veteran Home Ownership

BEND, OR -- A national non-profit promoting veteran homeownership is coming to Central Oregon. Local chapter president John Harsh says the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP) works with agents, mortgage brokers, home inspectors and vets to understand the VA Loan process, "There is very little education, within the military or after the military, veterans receive in regards to the VA loan – how to qualify for the VA loan, how to become a homeowner, things like that. The transition from military life to civilian life, in most cases, is very inadequate and veterans just don’t have the resources they need to understand it."


Veterans are plagued by high rates of unemployment, homelessness, divorce and suicide. But, Harsh says VAREP has helped reduce those rates in other communities, "All we do is promote veteran homeownership. And, when a veteran becomes a homeowner, all those statistics go down. Veteran homeowners are less likely to become unemployed, they’re less likely to get divorced, they are less likely to become homeless at some point and they’re less likely to commit suicide." Since 2015, VAREP has helped over 6,000 veterans become homeowners in 29 states. The Bend chapter is its first in Oregon. 


Harsh, who is also a vet, officially launches the Bend chapter on Tuesday at Liberty Gallery, 4-6 p.m. "We get to come alongside other veteran services organizations like Central Oregon Veterans Outreach –J.W. Terry is going to be one of the folks speaking at our launch, Tuesday – we get to come alongside organizations like that and really dig into the veteran community and help in tangible, real ways that have a ripple effect well beyond helping veterans buy a house." District Attorney John Hummel is also scheduled to speak at the Liberty Gallery, to help shed light on the needs of local veterans.


VAREP is open to anyone working in the real estate industry; membership is $99. Services are provided at no cost to veterans

Central Oregon Snowpack Remains Low

BEND, OR -- According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Central Oregon hasn't had a month with normal levels of precipitation since October, and that has them concerned we won't have enough water for the approaching irrigation season. 


January was generally warm and dry, and NRCS Hydrologist Julie Koeberle says the overall weather story is complicated. She says the west side of the state is considered very dry, while Eastern Oregon has a near normal snowpack. Central Oregon's snowpack was just 73% of normal, last month, but she says that's better than a year ago, when we were at just 40% of normal. "We are, at least, better, in terms of snowpack over the last year," Koeberle tells KBND News. "The one problem we've seen this year is it's just been drier, overall. And, that's really why the mountains have just not really received the normal amount of precipitation that we normally get for the season."


Central Oregon rivers and streams have some catching up to do before spring, but weekend snow is already helping. As of Monday, Central Oregon snowpack was up to 78% of normal. Koeberle says, "We've kind of got to cross our fingers. And, at least we have this forecast ahead of us for this next week; we're at least going to get some snow and that's going to make a difference and some improvement. It's better than a forecast of what we've been seeing, which is a lot of dry weather." She adds, "It looks very promising to pick up several possibly new feet of snow in the mountains. That would do wonders for the snowpack. We really need to make up for some lost time since we're lagging behind. So, hopefully this will at least see some improvement and make a little bit of difference."

Tumalo Pot Shop Proposal Opposed by Neighbor

BEND, OR -- A Tumalo property owner wants to open a retail marijuana shop on 8th Street in the Tumalo Commercial District, near Highway 20 and Cook Avenue. A hearings officer approved the initial application. County Commissioners were scheduled to make a final decision on the proposal during a special meeting, Friday. But, Community Development Director Nick Lelack, says they were forced to postpone, "We received an appeal from a neighboring property owner, so the Board of Commissioners first discussed the appeal and agreed to hear that appeal." He tells KBND News, "They reviewed the records from the hearings officer, and wanted to continue the public process regarding this application, recognizing there are a lot of interested parties, and complex issues, and a very prominent location in Deschutes County."

The appeal states that the store shouldn't be allowed on several grounds: marijuana is illegal on the federal level, there's both a school and a park inside the setback limits, and a conflict over access. Lelack says a public meeting will be held in early March, "Because the board agreed to hear this appeal, what's called 'de novo' - which means it's an open, public hearing - any issue can be raised on appeal, in this case."

DUII Driver Convicted of 2017 Death of Local Cyclist

BEND, OR -- The Alfalfa woman accused of killing a cyclist over a year ago, was found guilty of first degree manslaughter. Prosecutors say Shantel Witt was driving under the influence when she drove her truck into a group of bicyclists on Dodds Road, December 30, 2017. Marika Stone, a local dentist and mother of two, died at the scene


Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says Witt chose a bench trial rather than have a jury hear her case, "This is a case where the defendant opted to have the judge make the decision on guilt or innocence." He tells KBND News, "We felt we delivered justice by presenting all the evidence, Once we rested, we felt justice was done, whatever the verdict would've been." On Friday, Judge Michael Adler found Witt guilty of all charges, "That was manslaughter in the first degree, one count of drugged driving, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, and two counts of recklessly endangering another person," says Hummel, "That was the verdict we asked for, and the Judge agreed with the legal arguments we made, and it's not going to bring back Dr. Marika Stone, but we feel that justice was done." Witt also plead guilty to possession of Oxycodone before her trial began.

Witt returns to court for sentencing February 19. Hummel says she faces more than a decade in prison, "On the manslaughter in the first degree, there's a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. So, we'll be asking for that. But, then, the other charges, we have to decide what we're going to ask for for those crimes."


Photo: Witt was re-booked in to the Deschutes County Jail Friday morning, following the guilty verdict. 

Cougar Confirmed in SW Bend

BEND, OR (02/07/19) -- State wildlife officials confirm a cougar is roaming southwest Bend. Tracks were discovered along the rim near River Canyon Estates and in one residential backyard. ODFW believes the cougar was in the area between Monday and Tuesday.

Authorities notified area schools and homeowner associations, and have posted warning signs in neighborhoods. Oregon Fish and Wildlife personnel will continue to monitor the area for signs of the cougar. 


People with questions or concerns can visit ODFW’s website and search “Living with wildlife-Cougars” or click HERE.  


UPDATE (02/09/19): Wildlife officials say the cougar that left tracks in a southwest Bend backyard has been killed. Oregon Fish and Wildlife and Bend Police tracked the animal into Deschutes River Woods, Saturday morning, and killed it at about 8:30 a.m. The male cougar’s paw prints match tracks found late last week in a residential area near the deschutes river canyon. It weighed 135 pounds and authorities say posed a threat to humans, due to the territorial nature of male cougars. 

Rollover Crash Leads to Arrest for Theft

BEND, OR -- A 23-year-old man suspected in a string of car break-ins in northwest Bend, is scheduled to be arraigned Friday afternoon. Deschutes County deputies say they connected Thomas Watson to the car clouts after he rolled his car near the thefts.


Deputies first responded to a report of one car break-in, in a neighborhood off Skyliners Road at about 9:40 Thursday morning. While canvassing the area, they found half a dozen more victims, along with footprints in the snow leading to and from each car. During the investigation, a rollover accident was reported near Skyliners Road and Forest Service Road 4606. Responding deputies saw two men who appeared to be walking away from the crash scene; one was wearing shoes that left prints similar to what was found near the break-ins.


Deputies say, upon further investigation, they found stolen items like sunglasses and cologne inside the crashed vehicle. Watson was arrested on seven counts of Unauthorized Entry Into a Motor Vehicle, Theft, Heroin Possession and a probation violation. 

COCC Continues to Meet Presidential Candidates

BEND, OR -- With Dr. Shirley Metcalf's retirement at the end of the school year, Central Oregon Community College continues to search for its next President. Three finalists are visiting the area for on-campus interviews. Dr. Kimberlee Messina, of California's Foothill College, was in Central Oregon earlier this week. Now it's Dr. Tod Treat, from Wanatchee Valley College, in Washington. 

Dr. Treat grew up in Illinois, but says the Pacific Northwest has been his home for the last 6 years. He's intrigued by the idea of moving to the High Desert, "It's a region of the country that we've really enjoyed; we've camped here before, and there are a lot of great programs going on. There's a storied history of service to this community that's really demonstrated by the depth of the community's investment in the college, and it would just be a really wonderful opportunity to be President." He tells KBND News, "There is a sense of reverence for the position that I really appreciate, and you feel that when you interview. The idea that there's the opportunity to be an individual who can influence the future of the college the way a President can is truly humbling. I appreciate the opportunity."


Treat toured the Bend campus Thursday and visits the other three campuses Friday. He'll be in Prineville from 11:30 to noon, the Madras campus from 1-1:30 p.m. and at the Redmond campus from 2:15 to 3 p.m., in Building 3, Room 306. Treat says he's no stranger to colleges spread out with multiple campuses, after serving as Vice President for instruction at Wenatchee Valley, "I'm familiar with the necessity of getting out in the community and being visible, and I'm also very familiar with this idea that each campus has to develop its own unique characteristics to serve the community in which it happens to reside."


Next week, the third and final candidate visits all four campuses. Dr. Laurie Chesley, of Michigan, will be here February 13 and 14. 

Crook Co. Leaders Take Pro-2nd Amendment Stance

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County Court plans to send a letter to pro-Second Amendment groups across the country, calling for action and assistance. Judge Seth Crawford says he and County Commissioners are concerned about the potential impacts of several bills proposed, or expected to be proposed, in Salem this session, which he says could severely limit the rights of gun owners. Crawford says one piece of legislation would prohibit ownership of any firearm that carries more than five bullets. Senate Bill 501 would also limit rights to buy and store ammunition. 


Judge Crawford says they're now asking for reinforcements, "A letter that we plan to send, to ask them to come to the state of Oregon and help protect Crook County citizens' Second Amendment rights, as well as all the citizens in the state of Oregon." He tells KBND News, "First, I would like to have them work with the legislature, alongside us, to try and stop these laws from moving forward, but I think if they do pass, I would really hope they would come in and help us take these to the Oregon and then US supreme court to show that they're unconstitutional." The County Court approved the verbiage of the letter, this week. Read it in full, below. Crawford plans to also send it to government officials and every county's leadership.


"I agree with both sides of the legislature that it's never good with gun violence is used to kill innocent people," says Crawford, "But I think, when you add laws like this, all you're doing is hurting the law-abiding citizens, and putting them in a precarious situation." He's also calling on gun owners to write to elected leaders and get involved in the fight. Crawford is also working with leaders in neighboring counties, and he says he's gotten positive feedback regarding the letter. Crawford believes unless Oregon residents band together, they could lose their rights.


Full text of the letter approved Wednesday:

My name is Seth Crawford and I serve as the Crook County Judge.  Jerry Brummer and Brian Barney are Commissioners and the three of us make up the elected body responsible for managing the County government.  While we are a traditional rural county, we are also home to multiple large data centers.  Many of our residents’ livelihoods require access to firearms.  Caring for their livestock and crops, feeding their families, and protecting themselves and their families are just some of the reasons that firearms are important to our residents.


We agree with legislators of both parties that innocent people being killed or injured by gun violence is unacceptable.  However, legislation being proposed will likely have unintended consequences for the County’s residents and their way of life.  Many of our ranchers have gun racks in their trucks, just like other tools.  To hold them liable if someone steals a gun out of their truck and uses it to commit a crime will have a devastating impact on their ranches and families.  There are many differences between the needs of urban and rural areas, and these proposed laws are written from the urban point of view.


In this region of Oregon, firearms are not a luxury.  For the people of Crook County they are considered a necessity.  We are aware of multiple examples of legislation being proposed this legislative session that could have grave impacts on gun owner's rights. While we believe that these laws infringe on our citizens’ constitutional rights, we do not have the authority to decide if these laws are constitutional, or the expertise to make that judgment.  That power rests in the hands of the Oregon and U.S. Supreme Courts.


As the highest elected officials in Crook County, it is critically important to safeguard our citizens’ constitutional rights.  As a rural county, with a small population and many pressing issues, finding adequate resources is a constant challenge.  California and Washington have recently enacted sweeping laws regulating firearms, and we fear that similar laws in Oregon could jeopardize our citizens’ constitutional rights and way of life.  Many rural counties in Oregon with similar concerns, and have reached out to us for support.


We are willing to help lead on these issues, but we need the outside legal and advocacy expertise that your organization offers. Urban legislators have not taken the time to understand the need/use of firearms on rural ranches and farms. Crook County and the state of Oregon need your help.  We seek your advice and resources to help us educate our community and the legislature regarding this important issue. Please let us know if we can count on your help?


We look forward to your response



Seven Arrested in Prineville CODE Bust

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Seven people were arrested this week, after a short investigation by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team. CODE detectives served a search warrant Wednesday morning, at a home on SE Sixth, in Prineville. They discovered two firearms; one, they say, had the serial number "obliterated." The guns were seized from 59-year-old Rudy Parras (above, left), who is a convicted felon. He faces several drug and weapons charges. Based on evidence found, investigators believe drugs were frequently being sold from the home, including Heroin and Meth. 


While executing the warrant, detectives say 31-year-old Rhonda Parras (above, right) swallowed heroin and was taken to the Prineville hospital. She later tried to escape custody but was caught a short time later by Crook County deputies. She was evaluated at St. Charles Prineville before getting booked at the Crook County Jail. She is charged with Manufacture, Delivery and Possession of Heroin, and two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Minor. 


Rhonda Parras, Rudy Parras and 33-year-old Devon Miles (right) live at the location. Miles was arrested for allegedly violating his probation. DHS assisted with the investigation to protect the welfare of children living with them.


Visitors at the house at the time of the warrant were also arrested: 29-year-old Ashley Luna and 21-year-old Austen Minor are charged with Possession of Heroin, 50-year-old Shannon Smith is accused of Frequenting a Place where Controlled Substances are Used, and 21-year-old Aleah Carter was arrested on a warrant for a Probation Violation. 

Planning For the Possibility of Another Shutdown

BEND, OR -- Congress needs to approve a continuing resolution by the 15th, to avoid another government shutdown. Kevin Cole says Mid Oregon Credit Union is ready to help furloughed federal workers again; although, he hopes it doesn’t come to that. 

Mid Oregon has offered assistance during past shutdowns but, Cole says last month was the first time employees accepted, "We were able to do 23 loans to people, to keep their income coming in. And then, we worked with about 36 others on adjusting their loan payments, so they didn’t have to have as much expense, during the time they didn’t have a paycheck." Cole tells KBND News Mid Oregon Credit Union was one of the first to offer no- or low-interest loans to federal employees, "This time, it seemed to – perhaps because it lasted so long – it seemed to kind of catch on with credit unions, nationwide, which was really great. Literally thousands of credit unions across the country offering interest free loans." He adds, "We started talking about our Furlough Assistance Programs on the first day after the shutdown started. We actually saw the most activity on the day when employees actually missed their first paycheck. So, they didn’t really take advantage of it until their direct deposit just didn’t show up."

The 35-day partial government shutdown that ended January 25 was the longest in U.S. history. It ended when President Trump signed a temporary spending bill that expires next Friday, if a new deal isn't made. 

One Seriously Hurt in Crash North of Bend

BEND, OR -- One person was seriously hurt in a crash that impacted traffic just north of Bend for several hours, Thursday.  
According to Oregon State Police, a Ford SUV was southbound on Highway 97, at about 11:40 a.m., and slowed for another car. A semi truck loaded with gravel then rear-ended the SUV sending it off the right shoulder and into a tree. 

The driver of the SUV sustained life-threatening injuries and was taken to St. Charles Bend. The semi driver received minor injuries.


Highway 97 was reduced to one lane in each direction for about four hours to allow for the investigation and clean-up. 

Dead Hwy 20 Trees To Be Removed in Spring

SISTERS, OR -- The Deschutes National Forest is moving forward with plans to remove dead and dying trees from along Highway 20, west of Sisters. They were killed by an herbicide used by the Department of Transportation between 2013 an 2015.

Jean Nelson Dean, with the Forest Service, says the project is a top priority. "We want to get all of the NEPA, all of our planning wrapped up so we can complete that project this spring. And, I think we’re on track to do that. It’s critical that we get it done as soon as possible. We don’t want to risk anybody having a tree fall on them," she tells KBND News, "I don’t want to scare anybody; we’re on top of it. But, it is a real priority to get all that work completed this spring." ODOT brought down nearly 90 of the most dangerous trees last fall. Nelson Dean admits the Forest Service still needs to remove around 2,000 more from along the side of the scenic highway, "It is a lot. I think, as you see that spread out through the corridor, it will still be beautiful." 


Oregon’s Department of Agriculture is considering a permanent ban on the use of the herbicide at fault, in rights of way. A public hearing on that proposal is scheduled for Bend on February 15 at 6 p.m., at the Deschutes County Road Department. 


Photo of dead trees on Highway 20 west of Sisters, April 2018.

Bend Lawmaker Wants School Funding Reforms

SALEM, OR -- State Representative Cheri Helt (R-Bend) introduced a package of bills Wednesday she says would improve Oregon’s K-12 education system. One would fully fund Measure 98 programs; an issue she campaigned on in 2018. Oregon voters approved spending more on dropout prevention and career-technical education (CTE) programs in 2016, but lawmakers have, so far, failed to provide enough money. Helt has proposed HB 2905, which seeks to pay for and expand M98 programs and improve graduation rates. "I believe with career and technical education, we can also lower the cost of housing, if we can get a larger workforce to work in there," says Helt, "Our students need living wage jobs and it’s just a win-win on all fronts."


A second bill would extend Oregon’s open enrollment law, which allows kids to attend school outside their home district. The current law is set to expire this year. Helt tells KBND News her HB 2906 is important because, "The location of a child’s home should not determine the quality level of education that they get. And, options are super important to kids."


The Bend Republican is also the chief sponsor of a resolution to re-prioritize the state budget, "To fully fund education and fund it first before the rest of the budgets, so that it can align with the processes that we already do. And, I also think it’s the biggest investment that we make in our state and it’s the biggest return on investment that we have. So, we should make sure it’s fully funded and funded first." Helt, a former member of the Bend-La Pine School Board, says currently, districts are forced to create their budget before the Legislature decides how much state money will be allocated to K-12 public schools. "This bill would correct a huge problem with funding education after it’s been budgeted for," says Helt. Her resolution would send a constitutional amendment to voters requiring lawmakers to fund schools first in the budgeting process. 


Helt says all three proposals have bipartisan support. 

Prineville Woman Convicted of Domestic Violence

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A 49-year-old Prineville woman has been convicted of stabbing her boyfriend in November 2017. Larisa Rollins was sentenced this week to nearly six years in prison. 


Crook County D.A. Wade Whiting says Rollins had been drinking much of the day, before accusing her roommate and boyfriend of having a romantic relationship. Over the course of several hours, she destroyed property, yelled at the two and locked them out. Shortly after the got back into the house, investigators say she ran at the victim with a steak knife, stabbing him in the back and striking him a total of eight times. He was hospitalized several days and required surgery, but survived. 

Rollins claimed self-defense. But, after a two-day trial, she was found guilty on all counts. Rollins was convicted of Assault and Unlawful Use of a weapon; Whiting says both offenses constitute Domestic Violence. She was sentenced Tuesday to 70 months in prison without the possibility of early release. She was also ordered to serve three years post-prison supervision. 

Pig Unharmed in Early Morning CRR Fire

CROOKED RIVER RANCH, OR -- An out-building was destroyed by an early morning fire, Thursday, but the pig that lived inside was spared. A passerby called 911, just before 2:30 a.m. to report the blaze on SW Sisters View Place. Fire crews arrived to find the building fully involved. 


They began extinguishing the flames and contacted the property owner, who notified firefighters that the structure was used as a shelter for a pig. They located the pig in the pen just outside the shelter and it was moved to a safe location.


The fire was fully extinguished and overhaul completed by 3:45 a.m. CRR Fire says the blaze was likely caused by a heat lamp igniting combustible material. 

Jefferson County Voters to Decide Jail Bond in May

MADRAS, OR -- Jefferson County voters will again decide the future of jail funding. County Commissioners formally approved a request, Wednesday, to send a three-year local option tax levy to the May 21 ballot. It asks voters to decide on a property tax of $1.39 per thousand dollars of assessed value. The request is 15-cents more than the current levy, and about 30-cents less and for a shorter term than a bond measure defeated last November

Sheriff Jim Adkins says the money is needed to continue operations at current service and staffing levels. For years, Jefferson County received additional money through a lease agreement with Crook County. But, that revenue source is drying up because that county is nearly ready to open its new, larger facility and will no longer need to send inmates to Madras. 

Woman Allegedly Assaults Officers After Crash

BEND, OR -- A 39-year-old woman is accused of eluding Bend Police, crashing into a yard and assaulting officers as they tried to arrest her, Wednesday. An officer tried to pull Kristen Adams over, at about 10:45 a.m., knowing she was wanted in connection with a Redmond case. She sped off and wasn’t pursued due to safety concerns. 

A few minutes later, a man reported a car had crashed into his yard on Eastview Drive, and was now stuck with a woman inside. Dispatchers ran the license plate and discovered the vehicle matched the description of Adams' car. Officers arrived and attempted to take Adams into custody. She became combative and fought with them, injuring two officers. 

She was taken to the hospital for evaluation of minor injuries sustained in the crash. Adams faces several charges including Reckless Driving, Assault on a Public Safety Officer and Resisting Arrest. 

Local Man Accused of Threatening PA Police Chief

BEND, OR -- A Bend man faces federal charges for allegedly threatening a police chief in Pennsylvania. According to the FBI, 43-year-old Gregory Truchanowicz said in a January email, "It IS my job to kill you and any/all of your subordinates as I swore an oath to defend America from you, domestic enemies of the constitution. I_must_stand by this oath."  

Investigators say he submitted two tips to the FBI, last fall, saying Pennsylvania authorities arranged for skinheads to assault him, forcing him to flee that state. He wrote, "I've decided to declare civil war against police for their crimes."

Truchanowicz allegedly tried to buy a gun in Oregon but the sale was blocked by a protective order issued by Pennsylvania officials. He was arrested by the FBI Monday, without incident. On Tuesday, he appeared before a federal magistrate judge in Eugene, who ordered him detained pending future court proceedings. 

Sisters High Addresses Rise in Vaping

SISTERS, OR -- Like many of their peers across the state, teens in Sisters are turning to vaping at an alarming rate. But one Sisters High School teacher is trying to curb the growing epidemic. 


"We are noticing just a high number of students who are curious and trying vaping, and so what happens from that is, 'Uh-oh! Now I don't know how to get out of this, or off of this'," Heather Johnson tells KBND News. She says many don't realize an e-cigarette vaping cartridge has the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of traditional cigarettes. "This misnomer, even for the students, that this is safer than cigarettes. But, when you look at the actual ingredients of what is in these vaping pods, we're looking at an equally - if not more - damaging animal, here."


Among her students, Johnson says, the idea of vaping is considered an acceptable coping mechanism for the stress and anxiety the face, "'I'm attempting to try a substance that I know is harmful to my body and is highly addictive, but here I am at this crossroad. What tools do I have to empower myself to work through this?'" She's now working to help teens learn better strategies. 


She says Sisters Country is banding together to help, too. They're working to educate parents on what nicotine addiction looks like and how to combat it with their kids. Johnson also suggests parents conduct random, at-home drug tests of their kids, "It allows students an opportunity to have an 'out' with their friends and that peer pressure. So it takes that pressure off of them, but it also holds them very accountable." 


Nicotine is considered one of the top five most addictive substances, but e-cigarettes can also be used with marijuana or other substances, "We need to really wrap our arms around these kids," says Johnson, "So that we do our best to help to guide and empower them to make the best decisions possible."

Report Reveals Attitudes Towards Bend Growth

BEND, OR -- A new study reveals deeply engrained negative attitudes surrounding the growth of Bend. Ward Hubbell, President of Hubbell Communications, says that wasn’t always the case. "There was a study done in 2013 where people were really excited about the growth of Bend. And, that was coming off the heels of a recession and it would be expected that that would be the case." But, he tells KBND News, now that's changed, "We found in our study that 58% of the people in Bend view growth negatively."


Hubbell says it’s the result of growth most people have a problem with. "Growth is an inevitability and people have accepted that. And, what they want Bend’s leaders to do is to really prepare for and manage growth, and that means addressing things like congestion and affordability." He unveiled his report “It’s Not About Growth: Shifting the Conversation in Bend” at Tuesday night’s Chamber of Commerce What’s Brewing? event. Click HERE to read his full report.


Hubbell Communications spent six months on the research project, in partnership with the Bend Chamber. Based on the results of focus groups and statistically valid surveys, Hubbell says, people's attitudes improve when presented with positive aspects of growth, "If you tell people that $640 million a year is dumped into the Bend economy from tourism, every year, 70+% of the people say, ‘oh, I feel a little bit better about growth.’ If you tell them that 38% of the new businesses that have been formed in Bend in the last 10 years or so were started by relative newcomers to Bend, 70+% feel better about it." He adds, "If you tell them that the population has doubled, but the crime rate has stayed the same, about 50% view growth more favorably."

The study is part of Hubbell's larger “Better Communities” initiative that aims to help city leaders find real solutions for community concerns. He says 80% of Bend's residents want officials to take action on addressing growth-related problems, "I think the expectation is there’s going to be an infrastructure to accommodate it. And, there’s going to be a way for people in the middle class to enjoy Bend as much as people at the upper reaches of the economic scale."


Click HERE to listen to our full conversation with Ward Hubbell. 

Bend Transient Eludes Police During Chase

BEND, OR -- A Bend transient remains at large, after running from Police Tuesday morning. Officers responded to a home near Hollinshead Park, after a woman reported her estranged husband was there, in violation of his probation. Isaiah Marcy allegedly attempted to take her phone when she tried to call 911.

He left before police arrived but officers tracked him to Boyd Acres, where they tried to pull over his car. They say he quickly sped away, driving on the sidewalk at times and hitting a power box. He also damaged landscaping in front of an apartment complex on Empire Ave. Officers chose not to chase him, due to his erratic driving. His vehicle was last seen in the area of East View Lane.


They learned 31-year-old Marcy may be living in a camp near Juniper Ridge and searched the area on foot and with police drones, but he wasn't found. 


Photo courtesy of Facebook

Bend Firefighters Respond to More Gas Leaks

BEND, OR -- It was another busy day responding to gas leaks for Bend Firefighters, Tuesday. Crews were first called to a construction site at Northwest Wall and Portland (above) just before 9:30 a.m., after a backhoe severed a 2" plastic line. They say the line was difficult to locate and utility crews had been looking for it for several days. Cascade Natural Gas shut down the line within an hour. It was the second intermediate-pressure gas line strike in Bend, within a week.

About 90 minutes after that call, employees inside the Deschutes County warehouse on NW Kearney reported a broken overhead gas line supplying a heater suspended from the ceiling (pictured, right). staff evacuated and shut off the gas at the meter before crews arrived. Firefighters made sure there was no threat of explosion. 



Photos courtesy Bend Fire.

Convicted Rapist Re-Sentenced After Appeal

BEND, OR -- A former anesthesiologist and part time anatomy instructor at Central Oregon Community College was sentenced again, this week, for a sexual assault that occurred eight years ago. Prosecutors believe 45-year-old Thomas Bray met the victim for drinks in downtown Bend, in 2011. They walked to his apartment where he mixed her another drink, which made her feel lightheaded. Authorities say she was assaulted over an extended period of time, leaving her with visible injuries to her jaw, eye, neck, shoulder and upper back.

The 45-year-old was convicted in 2012 of Rape in the First Degree, Sodomy in the First Degree, Strangulation and Assault; he was sentenced to 28 years in prison. Bray appealed, claiming he should’ve been provided information from the victim’s hard drive to aid in his defense. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says the state Supreme Court got involved last year. "They said, ‘alright; we’re going to put this conviction on hold, just temporarily, and we’re going to send it back to the judge to look at this one question of the hard drive'." Hummel tells KBND News, "We were litigating that issue and in the midst of that, it just came up, ‘maybe we can resolve the underlying case; maybe we can just take a bigger look at this.’ And, so we had a settlement conference, a full day of discussions that culminated with Mr. Bray accepting responsibility for his acts and agreeing that his convictions that were vacated by the Supreme Court, they could be reinstated."


The deal knocks 13 years off Bray's original sentence, but Hummel says it wouldn't have happened without approval from the victim, "She doesn’t live in Oregon anymore, but we flew her in for this settlement conference. We wanted her to be a part of this; we were not going to agree to anything that she was not comfortable with." He adds, "This is a good result. 15 years is a decent sentence. It’s Measure 11 time; he’s not going to get out early." 


Hummel issued a statement Tuesday: “Eight years ago a woman was brutally assaulted in downtown Bend by a wealthy and powerful man.  She had the courage to come forward to hold him accountable.  I’m sure she never imagined it would take eight years for justice to prevail but unfortunately, the wheels of justice sometimes grind slowly.  She impressed everyone she met with her laser like focus on one thing: telling the truth every step of the way to ensure that the defendant never again hurt someone like he hurt her.  Yesterday, she achieved her goal. Our community owes her our gratitude.”

Central Electric Plans Rate Changes

REDMOND, OR -- Central Electric Cooperative members will likely pay more next year, as the utility works to expand and update its system. CEC's Jeff Beaman says raising rates would accommodate wholesale rate increases expected by the Bonneville Power Administration. And, he tells KBND News, it would cover the cost of infrastructure improvements, "We need to increase the amount of funding we are investing in our electrical system in order to keep it robust, reliable, and expanded where necessary for growth; and to replace outmoded components where necessary in order to maintain the reliability of the system."


CEC plans about $113 million in capital expenditures between 2020 and 2030. That's a more than 80% increase compared to the previous 10 years. "As the system grows and more people join it, it adds up to the kind of funding necessary to make the major system improvements to not only maintain the reliability of it today, but also to ensure that we're expanding it, as well," says Beaman. "People are going to move here. If you don't expand the system appropriately, you'll have unreliable service for everybody here, regardless of when they arrived. So, decisions have to be made to expand infrastructure in order to accommodate that growth."


Members will also see changes to billing, this month, as CEC rolls out Phase Two of a rate redesign. Beaman says it's a separate but related issue. Service charges are going up, but Kilowatt Hour charges are going down, "What we're moving toward is the point where you will see more of an even split, so that we have clear separation between the cost of maintaining and operating the system, and the amount of energy you use." He says it's necessary because as people use less electricity, the cost of running the system remains. The rate redesign project began in 2016. Changes were approved by a committee made up of co-op members. There are five phases, which should be complete by 2025. 

COCC Presidential Finalist Visits Campuses

BEND, OR -- The first of three finalists for president of Central Oregon Community College is in town, taking part in interviews with students, staff and the community. Dr. Kimberlee Messina visited the Bend campus on Monday. She meets with the three other campuses Tuesday. In Bend, she heard a lot about the school's technological advances, "There’s been a lot of questions about online education, which I find really interesting and tells me there’s a lot happening in that area. There’s a lot of dialog, a lot of, perhaps, evaluating ‘where do we go from here with that?’ Sounds like kind of a hot topic."


Dr. Messina is the interim President of Foothill College, but says she’s ready to move out of California to a school that stands out in its community. "I would like to be somewhere that was more open to collaboration between the different colleges in the systems, and not so regimented and regulated like California has become. And, frankly, it’s just so congested that, being at a community college and trying to work with the community, there’s so many colleges that there’s not a clear definition of who your community is."


She'll visit the Prineville campus Tuesday, 1:45-2:15 p.m. Then the Madras campus, from 3:15 to 3:45; and the Redmond campus at 4:30. She'll be in Room 306 of Building Three from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Dr. Messina tells KBND News multi-campus schools aren’t new to her, "I started my career at Santa Rosa Junior College, which was a college very much like COCC that had a single college but we also had campuses extended outside. So, it’s something that I’m very familiar with. There are challenges with that, for sure. You want to make sure that you’re offering the most that you can in a very accessible way for students. But, I think it’s just evidence of the commitment of the college to the entire community."

Dr. Tod Treat, from Washington, will be here later this week, visiting Bend's Boyle Education Center from 5-6 p.m. Thursday, and the other three campuses on Friday. Dr. Laurie Chesley, from Michigan, is in town, next week. Current President Dr. Shirley Metcalf retires at the end of the school year.

Suspected DUII Driver Accused of Hit & Run

BEND, OR -- A Bend man appeared in Deschutes County Court Monday on multiple charges relating to a weekend hit and run. Bend Police say 29-year-old Kevin Jackson crashed into seven parked cars before hitting a tree in front of Ensworth Elementary, late Saturday night. 

Witnesses reported seeing the driver take off on foot. Responding officers found Jackson running through a nearby apartment complex parking lot. He was taken to the hospital with minor injuries and arrested for DUII, cocaine possession, hit and run, reckless driving and a parole violation. 

Sisters Shelter Wants to Work with Neighbors

SISTERS, OR -- Concerned neighbors will meet with staff from the Sisters Cold Weather Shelter, Monday evening, to discuss concerns and share information. Shelter Director Gary Eidsmoe says three churches in residential areas provide shelter for the homeless, but they're locations cause problems for nearby residents, "Some of the folks around the neighborhood are a little concerned about some of the homeless people that are around our community." He understands their fear. A recent incident in front of the cold weather shelter was frightening for some. But, he says, they don't have a lot of options, "Their proximity to the neighborhoods is what we cannot fix. Other than making a permanent shelter somewhere."


Eidsmoe tells KBND News they take in eight to 10 people each night; that number can grow to 20 or 25, during extreme cold. He hopes Monday's meeting will help settle down the controversy, "We'll try to let the neighbors know how we work, what we do, how some of the guests are. This is probably not going to remedy a lot of the stuff, but hopefully, it'll calm some of the folks down." The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Sisters Fire Hall Community Room. "Hopefully, each person in the audience will get at least 2-3 minutes to voice their opinion, or ask a question, or make a suggestion."  

Gov. Brown Talks Priorities with City Club

BEND, OR -- Governor Kate Brown outlined priorities for her last term in office during a speech at the City Club of Central Oregon, Friday. She says one thing she's focused on is making sure everyone has access to healthcare, "This last Legislative session, we were able to get bipartisan support to make sure that every single child in this state has access to healthcare; and that's really great." She told Central Oregon Daily it's very important that reasonable voices from across the state weigh in on important issues, "Rural and urban Oregon, Democrats and Republicans, and Independents at the table, helping us craft policy. Policy that's crafted with the diversity of voices is more respectful, it's more resilient, and more reflective of our communities."


During her City Club presentation, Brown outlined ideas she says will preserve Oregon's beauty and bounty by tackling climate change through transportation and renewable energy, "We're seeing the impacts of climate change every single day in this state. We have had the warmest year since 1895. Not 1985, but 1895. So, it is a moral, and frankly economic, imperative that we move forward on clean energy jobs legislation."


She also talked about successes, "Our economy is doing quite well in many parts of the state. We have the lowest unemployment rate on record in Oregon's history, which is very good news." Oregon has one of the fastest job growth rates in the country, but Brown says it hasn't been entirely equitable growth. She wants to work to increase opportunity in rural areas, as well as among under-served populations. Brown says Children can't learn in school if they don't know where they're going to sleep at night, "Every Oregonian should have access to a safe, warm, dry place to call home, and it should be affordable and accessible." She says she wants to focus on helping three groups find safe housing: children, the chronically homeless, and veterans. She says that starts with the Legislature agreeing to her plan to invest $400 Million dollars in housing.

Cracker Barrel Opens Today in Bend

BEND, OR -- After months of construction and anticipation, Central Oregon’s first Cracker Barrel opened Monday morning on the north end of Bend. Steve Rudd, General Manager of the Bend location, says Friday’s ribbon cutting and “soft opening” was a chance to highlight their home-style southern cuisine and unique atmosphere, "We executed as if we’re opened, and fed the general public, which was good. And, we’re ready to open on Monday. We’re open every day 6 in the morning to 10 at night, 11 o’clock on Friday and Saturday, and we serve breakfast all day."


Rudd says the new location is part of the Tennessee-based company's westward growth, "It’s just been in recent years that we’ve started expanding toward the western part of the country," he tells KBND News, "It just seemed like a natural match between our great company’s brand and this really cool, unique community that there is here in Bend. We feel like we’ve got a great location on 97; we expect to be pretty busy." Cracker Barrel will employ about 175 people at the local restaurant and country store, which is its fifth location in Oregon. "Cracker Barrel’s got a great niche in the family dining segment," says Rudd. "So, come into Cracker Barrel and you can expect a warm welcome, a great shopping experience, a great dining experience and then hang out on the front porch in our rocking chairs and play checkers or do whatever you want."


Suspect Escapes Capture Despite Search

REDMOND, OR -- Despite help from multiple agencies, a driver that led law enforcement on a pursuit northwest of Redmond, Friday morning, was able to evade capture. According to the Sheriff’s Office, deputies caught up with a 2001 Lexus with Washington plates just before 9 a.m., near Helmholtz and Wickiup. They say it was the same vehicle involved in a pursuit with Redmond Police, a few minutes earlier, when an officer tried to conduct a traffic stop. 

Deputies say during their pursuit, the suspect vehicle reached speeds of 90 miles per hour, going off-road at one point, near NW Easton Court. Near 62nd and Griffith, the driver ran from the car. Several Sheriff's units, as well as Redmond PD, Bend PD and State Police responded and set up a perimeter. But, after a three-hour search, the man wasn't found.

Bend Walmart Temporarily Closed After Crime Spree

BEND, OR -- A Bend man remains in jail after a weekend spree that led to the temporary closure of Walmart. Police say late Saturday night, 33-year-old Jared Lake forced his way into a man’s car as he left Shari’s on the north end of town. The driver complied with his demands to be taken downtown, then called 911 after dropping him off. 

A short time later, a cab driver reported he was robbed at knife-point by a man he picked up from a downtown motel, later identified as Lake. The driver texted his dispatcher that he needed help and when police finally reached him, he said the suspect took an undisclosed amount of cash and got out of the cab at Walmart.

Lake allegedly then went into Walmart, took an airsoft gun off the shelf and used it to strike a shopper. After midnight, as officers arrived at the store, Lake allegedly hid in a maintenance area and broke water lines, causing substantial flooding. The store was immediately closed but reopened Sunday afternoon.


The suspect was arrested and faces a long list of charges, including Assault, Theft, Robbery and Menacing. Drugs and alcohol are believed to be factors in his alleged actions. 

Bend Polar Plunge Benefits Special Olympics

BEND, OR -- Teams of adventurous people can plunge into icy water for charity, next weekend. Bend Police Officer Kecia Weaver organizes the annual Bend Polar Plunge and says similar events are held across the state, to benefit Oregon Special Olympics, "There's five total; but Bend is the original and the best."


Officer Tommy Charles says takes the plunge with his rugby team. Last year, they raised more than $1,200 for Special Olympics. Charles says he doesn't feel brave; he's glad to give back, "I gotta tell you, these kids - Being rugby players ourselves, we kind of pride ourselves on our toughness and everything. We jump at the chance to dive in some cold water. But, looking at these kids and these athletes that participate, they're way tougher than any of us. They're pretty incredible people, so we're very privileged to do it for them."


Officer Weaver says there's still time to get involved in the February ninth event, "We still have lots of room for more teams, and more plungers. It's always such a fun event. We just need it to get colder here in Bend! We just want more of our community members to come out and join in, and those that haven't done it before, come take the plunge." Register at the Oregon Polar Plunge website. "The morning of the plunge, show up around 10 a.m. at Riverbend Park," says Weaver, "Get with your groups, and then take the plunge; get some cool photos, and warm up, and have a great rest of the weekend."

Man Found Dead at Smith Rock

TERREBONNE, OR -- A 21-year-old man was found dead at the base of "Monkey Face," inside Smith Rock State Park, Thursday afternoon. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office says it appears to have been a suicide.


The man was discovered by a group of hikers, at about 2:30 p.m. They called 911 and reported that it appeared he'd fallen from a higher elevation. A Deschutes County Search and Rescue volunteer responded to the area and confirmed the man was deceased. 

Childcare Pilot Program to Launch in C.O.

REDMOND, OR -- A new state pilot program launching in Central Oregon aims to address the region’s lack of sufficient childcare. The Oregon Department of Education awarded grants for the Baby Promise program to three organizations in six counties, including NeighborImpact in Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties. About a dozen agencies applied.  


Rachel Haakenson, with NeighborImpact, says they'll work with a handful of local childcare providers. "We’ll be providing professional development, equipment, materials and curriculum," she explains, "As well as fully fund 109 childcare slots in Central Oregon through multiple childcare providers that have not yet been selected, but we’re guessing somewhere around 14." Haakenson tells KBND News, "The idea here is not just to increase childcare slots in the area, but also to make sure those are quality childcare providers."


Bend Childcare Task Force Seeks Solutions (07/13/2018)


The slots paid for by NeighborImpact will be reserved for infants or toddlers in families at or below 185% of the federal poverty level. The grant package, valued at around $2.3 million was just announced this week, and Haakenson says there's still a lot of planning that needs to happen, "It’s a lot, kind of, on the horizon. A lot of the details of the program are still being worked out.  We’re anticipating – we hope to identify and fill these slots sometime between April and July, possibly."  


Haakenson hopes to see Baby Promise eventually roll out statewide. 

Helt's Bill Aims to Combat Mental Health Crisis

SALEM, OR -- A new bill introduced Thursday in Salem would mandate that every county in Oregon create a mental health action plan. The proposal, from Representative Cheri Helt (R-Bend), lays out how various agencies should work together to reduce suicide rates, combat domestic violence and better address homelessness.

Helt tells KBND News addressing the state’s mental health crisis can only happen through collaboration, "We have our police departments, we have our school districts, we have our veterans outreach programs, we have our CCOs, we have our hospitals, we have our counties – and they all touch mental health. But, they touch it individually and I think if we bring them together, there’s much more power."


If passed, counties would need to submit a Community Mental Health Action Plan by 2021. Plans would be developed through working with local law enforcement, health care and tribal agencies, schools and other relevant agencies, and would need to include measurable goals to help all segments of the population. Helt says the idea draws on her school board experience, "We’ve had so many struggles with kids and mental health and, it’s been a topic that I’ve been passionate about. I don’t think our youth should have to struggle as much as they do. It’s really, really important that we work together and we get things done and move the needle for the people that need help in our state." 


House Bill 2843 is the first created by the freshman lawmaker. It received a first reading on the House floor, Thursday, "That was really exciting to see the first read and it had, I think, the most collaboration on a bill that I’ve seen yet." She says it already has broad bi-partisan support with more than 30 co-sponsors, "I’m just really proud to introduce a bill with such bipartisan support in such polarized times."

Tumalo-Area Shop Destroyed By Fire

BEND, OR -- A Tumalo-area shop was destroyed by an early morning fire, Friday. Bend Fire crews responded to Tweed Road at about 3:40 a.m. and found the detached garage fully involved, with flames threatening the nearby home. Firefighters knocked down the flames and prevented the blaze from spreading. 


The residents told first responders they heard a noise at went to investigate. They discovered the fire, evacuated everyone from the home and called 911. The garage was used for woodworking and storage. Losses are estimated at around $40,000. The cause of the fire was undetermined, due to the extent fo the damage. 

Work Resumes on Purcell Roundabout

BEND, OR -- Construction resumes Monday on the new roundabout at Empire and Purcell, in northeast Bend. Road crews plan to maintain two-way travel on Purcell, but drivers should expect minor delays, at times, with flaggers in place.


The roundabout should be complete in June, and is part of a larger project to eventually connect Empire to Butler Market Road near 27th Street. The work was funded in the city's 2017 budget. Also part of the Empire Corridor Improvement Project, landscaping work continues between 18th and Purcell.


Prineville Man Pleads to Child Sex Abuse

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man will serve more than six years in prison, with no possibility of early release, for sexually abusing a young child he helped care for. The case against Randy Lang began December 7, with a report to DHS that a child made a troubling disclosure during a medical appointment. Police immediately notified the family to ensure Lang didn’t continue to have access to the victim; the 36-year-old was arrested a few days later. 

He agreed to plead guilty to Sexual Abuse in the first degree. During Thursday's sentencing in Crook County, Lang admitted to touching the child in a sexual manner, and expressed remorse for the pain caused to both the victim and his own family.


After his release, Lang must register as a sex offender and serve 10 year’s post-prison supervision. 

Suspicious Device Found North of Bend

BEND, OR -- A suspicious device found northeast of Bend on Thursday, prompted a response by the Oregon State Police bomb squad. 

Deschutes County dispatch received a report that a suspicious item was discovered along Deschutes Market Road near Pioneer Loop. OSP’s bomb disposal unit arrived from Salem and took the device. 


Authorities have not released any other information, citing the ongoing investigation. 


File Photo


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