BEND, OR -- Two Bend Parks and Recreation Board candidates will answer questions from voters at the League of Women Voters forum Wednesday. That event begins at 5:15 p.m. at the Deschutes County Services building at 1300 NW Wall, in Bend. Position One is the only opposed parks board race, with Ariel Mendez facing Travis Davis. During the debate, they'll outline their platforms, and take questions from both a moderator and attendees.
Davis, the self-purported 'east side candidate,' says the current Parks and Rec board doesn't take the lower incomes of most east side residents into account when deciding on park infrastructure. "The budget has just continued to increase, and it seems that the Board is interested in maximizing their revenue opportunities and spending that revenue versus, potentially, looking at the community at large." Davis is a businessman who says he's looking at the bigger picture. He believes a lot of people want to serve on the parks board because they want to champion specific types of recreation, "When what we get on the parks board is advocates versus community-wide decision makers, you just end up adding to the list of projects you're trying to fund." He tells KBND News things like transportation and affordable housing are more important than specific recreation opportunities, "There's decisions being made at the park board level that, I guess, a more community-minded voice could help with."
Mendez wants the district to think more broadly when it comes to making better connections for residents, "The parks district touches peoples lives, and I think there's an opportunity there to make sure that we're really supporting people's individual lives, and spending our public treasure in a way that reflects the community's values." Mendez is the Board President for Bend Bikes and is a proponent of using trails as avenues, not just for fun, "The parks district has thought of trails purely in terms of recreation, and I think there's an opportunity to think of them as also a way of getting somewhere. I think a lot of people would support that." He says as Bend grows, the city needs local leaders with foresight, "I think that the parks district has a unique opportunity to provide recreational opportunities that are high quality and affordable."
LA PINE, OR -- Two weeks after thieves broke in to the La Pine Community Kitchen, the nonprofit is bouncing back, thanks to an outpouring of support. Director Stacie Derhak says on April 16, they discovered a thousand dollars’ worth of food missing from its produce stand. But, the financial loss goes beyond the stolen goods, "We had to drive to Bend with our box truck twice, to get that food. And that takes a lot of gas, as well as the wages that we would pay our driver for that. And then, there was damage to our building, which we have to get repaired. The food was donated, but they’re not going to donate that back, so we needed to supplement the food, as well."
The burglary occurred right after the community kitchen had received a load of food from NeighorImpact. Derhak says no arrests have been made in the case, but she suspects it was someone connected to the kitchen, "The way that we were broken into – knowing where our cameras where, knowing when we had the biggest supply of food in the produce stand, and knowing how to get in and out as quickly as they did – it just seems logical that it was someone familiar to our organization."
Since the break-in, several people and groups have stepped up with cash and food donations. On Monday, the La Pine Professional Firefighters Union gave the Community Kitchen a thousand dollars, to help. "It’s really helping us," Derhak tells KBND News, "We’ll be able to recoup the food and we’ll be able to recoup the financial loss. But, on top it now, we’ll be able to make some improvements to this building, which was an old chicken coop that was donated to us that we’ve been trying to convert into a secure building."
The La Pine Community Kitchen provides about 265,000 pounds of food per year to needy families from Bend to Klamath Falls and Lakeview.
BEND, OR -- At least two, but perhaps as many as four, adult cougars have been spotted in residential areas in both Bend and Redmond in recent days. Michelle Dennehy, with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, admits there has been an uptick in sightings, "It does seem like a lot to have, potentially two in Redmond, and then one or two in the Bend area, too. But, it's a little bit par for the course. I mean, we definitely do get cougar sightings in Central Oregon." Another cougar was euthanized in February after it was seen hunting in a southwest Bend neighborhood.
She tells KBND News, "We have a very healthy cougar population; that's certainly grown over the last few decades. But then the other issue is just that we have more people" Dennehy says, "Obviously, people are there because it's beautiful, because there is a lot of forested habitat around, and all that's cougar country."
According to the Oregon Cattlemen's Association, wolves are pushing elk herds down the mountain, causing problems for farmers in nearby counties. Dennehy says cougars always follow their prey, "They will definitely follow deer and elk as they migrate. So, if you're in an area where there's a lot of deer or elk, it's potentially, going to bring in cougars. Know your neighborhood and know the areas, for example, where you might find a lot of deer together because that's an area where there could be a cougar, too."
She also suggests feeding pets indoors and keeping them inside at night to keep them safe during a cougar's most active hunting time. If you encounter a cougar, make noise, seem as big as possible, and whatever you do, don't run. And, "If you're in town and see a cougar, call 911," says Dennehy. For more tips, visit the ODFW's "Living with Cougars" webpage.
BEND, OR -- Bend-based Partners In Care says an employee’s email account was compromised, late last year, and may have put some patients’ personal information at risk.
An investigation led to the discovery, last month, that the employee had fallen victim to an email phishing attack, allowing access to the account between November 17 and December 12, 2018. Compromised information could include patient names, dates of birth and sensitive medical information.
Partners In Care is notifying those affected by the breach and says there’s no evidence the information has been misused.
SISTERS, OR -- A developer has purchased the first of three parcels that make up the administrative site for the Sisters Ranger District. Jean Nelson Dean, with the Deschutes National Forest, says money from the sales will be re-invested in a new facility elsewhere in the Sisters area, "So that we can build a new District Ranger office that will better meet the needs of our employees, in terms of housing them all in one office, be more energy efficient and cut down on operating costs, and also be better for visitor services. Right now, we’re not exactly ADA compliant in all of our buildings." She tells KBND News the Forest Service isn't fully utilizing the 80-acre site and there could be long-term savings from improving technology and efficiency, "Right now, a lot of items need to be repaired at our current facility that would cost more almost than building a new building. We consistently have some issues with our phones at this Ranger District, and it’s not exactly energy efficient," she says, "So, really trying to reduce our overall operating costs when we build a new building."
The $1.5 million sale announced this week involves an 18-acre parcel, just north of Barclay Drive. The buyer is affiliated with Empire Construction and Development and plans to subdivide it into 2.5-acre industrial lots. Nelson Dean says the transaction is a win for the agency, the buyer and the city of Sisters. "That property will move into their Urban Growth Boundary and we will get a new facility out of it. So, we’re still looking at selling the next two parcels. And then, depending on what we get overall, evaluating where we can go and what we can build." A 47-acre parcel and another that’s just under 15 acres, remain available.
REDMOND, OR -- A 28-year-old woman is finally in custody after allegedly escaping the back of a Redmond Police patrol car, over the weekend. An officer conducted a traffic stop at NW Sixth and Hemlock, Saturday afternoon, and detained the driver because she gave a false name. Redmond Police say she managed to free herself from handcuffs, get out of the car and run from the scene.
Several bystanders provided information on her direction of travel. But, despite a broad search effort, she wasn’t found. They later identified the suspect as Citali Hernandez. She was contacted at her job in Redmond on Monday, and arrested for several outstanding warrants. She also faces new charges stemming from the Saturday incident, including Theft, because she allegedly took the officer's handcuffs when she ran.
Redmond PD says an investigation is underway in to how she was able to escape the back of the patrol car.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Nearly two years after purchasing raw land on Barnes Butte, the city of Prineville is asking the public what to do with it. City Engineer Eric Klann says there are 460 acres, with plans to soon purchase the final 160 acres at the very top of the butte from the BLM. "Now we have over 620 acres of open space. We’re really working with our community to get them out there, to get them excited about the project. The city knows that this is a very valuable opportunity for our citizens today and long into the future and so we’re working on the beginning plannings of what this site will be."
A citizen committee began last week talking about the future Master Plan for the area, which currently includes nine miles of roughed-out trails. "We don’t want to pre-determine the outcome of that master planning event," Klann tells KBND News, "But, very much, at our kickoff meeting, the louder voices were calling for protecting that natural environment that’s just out the back door of everyone’s home in Prineville. So, people [are] very much appreciating the natural trail surfaces and the ability just to be able to get out on their own."
Aside from the formal committee, Klann also recruited a hundred first graders from neighboring Barnes Butte Elementary as "junior planners" for the open space. "They went out and identified seven unique features; those include some bat caves that they got to go look at, and a horse racing track. It’s real interesting," he says, "When I first spoke with them, they were talking about soccer fields and baseball fields, and things like that. Now that they’ve been out on the property experiencing, they really appreciate the natural environment and they’re using words like ‘protection’ and ‘accessibility'."
Klann says a Master Plan isn’t likely to be adopted until early next year. It will then be used to secure funding for any work deemed necessary.
CULVER, OR -- A water skills training starts Monday, hosted by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and State Marine Board. New and seasonal law enforcement officers will learn new skills in water safety and boat handling on Lake Billy Chinook. The Oregon Marine Board's Ashley Massey says this annual training is held in a different county each year, "We have 26 students that are signed up to attend, and then we've got about half as many career law enforcement that have been amazing instructors with a ton of knowledge and skill to pass along."
The nine-day training starts in the classroom, followed by working in a pool environment, before actually starting on-the-water drills, focusing on water safety fundamentals. "What makes this academy challenging is, they're going to get to understand their own threat response, front and center," says Massey, "They're going to get to live it. And how are they responding, not only to the pressure, but under threat, when they've got to keep their own head above the water? It can be very scary. So, we want to develop a comfort level where they can do self rescue, and then help other people." She tells KBND News, "They're not only learning about how to keep boaters and other water recreationists safe around the water, it also involves their own safety, having to jump into the water in full utility gear, are they comfortable in a life jacket, and how calm are they able to be under pressure? Those are the kinds of things that are really fine-tuned during this academy, because if a student isn't comfortable in the water themselves, they're not going to be very effective helping others."
The Marine Training Academy wraps up just in time for National Safe Boating Week, which runs May 18-24.
BEND, OR -- Firefighters plan more prescribed burns Monday, after two others were conducted over the weekend. Ignitions are planned for two miles southwest of Sisters, later this morning. The operation could lead to brief trail closures along the Metolius-Windogo Trail, north of Cow Camp.
Crews also plan to ignite a 286-acre unit south of Bend, adjacent to Lost Tracks Golf Course and China Hat Road. The Deschutes National Forest is partnering with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for the operation, which is designed to improve wildlife habitat.
Both operations should begin around 10 a.m. are expected to send smoke in to the area.
UPDATE: If conditions remain favorable on Tuesday, crews will ignite 234 acres west of Bend, within the Phil's Trailhead system. It includes a portion of Marvin's Garden, which will likely close for a few days while firefighters cool hot spots. Also Tuesday, they continue working an operation on the Sisters Ranger District, about 2.5 miles southwest of Sisters.
MADRAS, OR -- One person was hurt and a dog remains missing after a Sunday morning crash, east of Madras. According to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, a 74-year-old man was driving from Prineville to Portland on Highway 26, when he drifted on to the shoulder at about 7 a.m. He over-corrected, skidded across the highway, went over an embankment and rolled the car several times, through a barbed wire fence.
When first responders arrived, he was hanging from his seatbelt, which they say likely saved his life. The driver was taken to St. Charles Madras, but his dog Roxy ran from the crash and has not been caught. A deputy and tow truck driver remained on scene for several hours, trying to entice her with water and treats, but were unsuccessful.
UPDATE (05/06/2019) Roxy was reunited with her family at the Three Rivers Humane Society. Vet techs removed numerous ticks from the dog and provided medical treatment prior to the reunion.
BEND, OR -- Bend Fire says smoke detectors likely saved the lives of a northwest Bend family, early Sunday morning. They woke up to alarms sounding, just after midnight, and found smoke filling their home on Northwest Nordeen Way.
Firefighters discovered the blaze in the fireplace chase behind the wood burning fireplace, which was equipped with a natural gas burner. Officials say it was properly installed and permitted at the time of construction, and was recently cleaned by a certified chimney sweep. They aren’t sure why it malfunctioned.
The fire caused about $80,0000 in damage, but the family safely evacuated and there were no injuries.
BEND, OR -- A day after a suspected cougar attack in southwest Redmond that left a dog injured, a cougar was spotted in Deschutes River Woods. Deputies responded to Agate Road, near the lava flow, at about 9:15 Saturday morning, after a neighbor saw the big cat bedded down in some bushes.
Despite an extensive search, they didn’t find the animal but the Sheriff’s Office is in contact with Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife regarding the sighting.
If you encounter a cougar, the Sheriff's office says don't run. Move slowly, keeping the animal in view as you get away from the area. If you live in an area where a cougar has been spotted, don't walk your dog at night, and supervise pets and kids while outside. Click HERE for more information.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police are searching for a man accused of firing a gun in a parking lot at Third and Reed Market. They say it started at about 10:30 Saturday morning, as a verbal altercation between Tim Brown and an unidentified man. But, when Franklin Smalley, a 65-year-old transient, showed up, he pointed a gun at Brown, then shot out the drivers side rear tire on Brown's car. A woman was sitting in the car at the time.
Smalley took off prior to police arrival. He was last seen driving a dark green 2002 Chevy Astro van with Oregon plates 997-FDL. The second suspect, who remains unidentified, took off on foot.
Anyone with information on their whereabouts is asked to call police immediately. Smalley is believed to be armed and should not be approached.
UPDATE (11:30 a.m.) Bend Police located Smalley's vehicle at about 2 a.m., in the Walmart parking lot. They conducted a "high risk" stop and arrested the suspect, who was the only one in the van. Investigators say they found evidence from the Saturday morning incident and took him to jail on suspicion of Unlawful Use of a Firearm, Menacing, Reckless Endangering and Criminal Mischief.
2019-04-26 09:58:00 by Heather Roberts, Danise Lee
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond's Ridgeview High School went in to lock-out Friday morning, over fears a cougar may be in the area. Redmond Police say a small dog was killed in front of a residence near the school. They've since determined the culprit was likely a coyote, not a cougar. However, as of 10 a.m., RVHS remains in lock-out as a precaution.
At about 9:30 a.m., Friday, Redmond High went in to lock-out as police searched for a suspect in the area. That incident lasted about 15 minutes and the RHS lock-out was lifted when officers gave the "all clear."
Schools in "lock out" do not allow anyone in or out of the building, but classes continue as usual.
This is a developing story and more information will follow, as it becomes available.
UPDATE (11 a.m.) The lockout at Ridgeview High is lifted. According to Redmond Police, the Department of Fish and Wildlife found cougar tracks in the area, but not in the immediate vacinity of the yard where the dog was attacked. They still do not know what killed the dog. RPD is working closely with ODFW in the case.
UPDATE (2 p.m.) Redmond Police Sgt. Ryan Fraker, says the RHS lockout was due to an altercation in a nearby neighborhood. Two men were involved, and one thought the other had a weapon, but it was soon judged by officers to be a mental health issue and not an active threat situation.
In the Ridgeview High incident, ODFW's Mike Harrington says authorities believe it was likely a cougar, "The woman said she had heard something outside. She went out to investigate, and saw her dog in the mouth of an animal that was tall and skinny, and she said it was a cougar. When she screamed, the animal dropped her dog and ran off." The dog is expected to fully recover. Harrington tells KBND News, "Our wildlife biologists did find two tracks in the dirt that looked a lot like cougar tracks to them. However, that was the first report we'd had that there was a cougar in the area, so they assumed that the cat was most likely moving through." But, as the investigation continued, that opinion changed. "We talked to the Deschutes County Sheriff and told let them know what we had found, and received another call that a person had seen a cougar in a field not too far from the location where the dog was taken off the porch in the last few days, during daylight hours." This prompted DCSO to consider the big cat a public safety issue and they are actively tracking it. Despite lifting the lockout, RVHS canceled outdoor activities on Friday, as a precaution.
BEND, OR -- A statewide “Day of Action” is planned for May eighth, to protest what educators say is the state’s failure to provide adequate and stable funding for public schools. At least four Portland-area districts have been forced to cancel school over concerns they wouldn’t have enough staff to safely open that day.
But, Redmond and Bend-La Pine Schools will stay open. Bend-La Pine School Board Chair Andy High says events are planned for after school, that day, "We’re going to have kind of a student rally – a march for student success – after the school day, instead of interrupting the school day. I think that’s attributable to our relationship with our union; the work we do on a daily basis to make sure that they’re included and they’re understanding, not only our challenges, but we understand their challenges." He adds, "It’s better than canceling school. It’s going to be a chance for us to rally as a community; show our support for education."
Fellow board member Peggy Kinkade tells KBND News, "We’re all working toward the same goals. They are feeling, as much as teachers in The Valley are feeling the desire to rise up, to do something, to press for change and improvement in funding education. Our teachers are very much behind that." She says state spending on public schools has not returned to pre-recession levels, despite the improved economy.
The March for Students begins at 2:45 p.m., May eighth. One starts at Troy Field, in downtown Bend, near the district office. Another meets at La Pine Elementary. In both, music and speakers are planned, along with a march through town.
Attendees are encouraged to wear red, in a show of support. "We are hopeful that we will see a lot of people from the community join us downtown in Bend and in La Pine," says Kinkade, "To show support for teachers. They are pushed beyond their limits, at this point. And, it’s stressful and something’s got to give. We’re hopeful that we’re going to get action, this year."
In Redmond, the district invites employees to engage in the "Day of Action" with rallies at each school, also at the conclusion of the school day. Staff in Redmond Schools are also encouraged to wear "red for ed."
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond's Police Department will get two new officers, if the City Council approves the proposed budget. The city's Chief Financial Officer Jason Neff says the budget came together slightly ahead of schedule, "Last year, we went three nights. We always have that as if necessary- that third night; and it was not needed this year."
Neff says the city has higher expenditures this year, "We've had good property tax assessed value growth, so we had that going into this year's budget. But, then we had some headwinds with the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) rates going up, as well as healthcare rates going up; so it made it challenging to bring forward all the priorities that we have." Those priorities include several growth-related projects, "We have the airport; we've got working on a new water facility on the south side of Redmond, and then we're also doing the design for expanding our wastewater treatment facility."
BEND, OR -- The man convicted of killing Kaylee Sawyer received a second life sentence, this week. Edwin Lara pleaded guilty and was sentenced in a Eugene federal courtroom, Thursday, for kidnapping and carjacking a Salem woman at gunpoint, during the July 2016 crime spree that started with Sawyer's murder in Bend.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says Aundreah Maes deserved to tell her story in court, "Aundreah Maes was put through holy heck at the hands of Edwin Lara. She was Terrorized." He tells KBND News, "Fortunately for everyone, she is still with us today. She was not killed like Kaylee Sawyer. And, it's certainly appropriate that Lara was sentenced separately; that was a distinct crime." Hummel says, "Whenever there's multiple victims in a crime spree, it's important that each victim's voice be heard, respected, and valued. This was for Aundreah Maes, and she spoke loud and clear."
Federal prosecutors say that after kidnapping Maes, she and Lara drove to Yreka, California where he demanded an elderly man give up his car. When he didn't, Lara shot him in the stomach. Lara then carjacked a vehicle and threatened to kill a family, before leaving them on the side of the road. Lara said he had an urge to kill. He was eventually arrested in California. Hummel says, "A life sentence is appropriate for Edwin Lara, and so he'll spend the rest of his life behind bars." And, faces more punishment in California, "For life sentences, you know, you can't effectively run life sentences consecutive. But, for the victims in the other communities, it's important that we hold these sentencing hearings so their voices can be heard." He adds, "The victims will have the opportunity to tell the court what the impact was on their lives from Mr. Lara's reprehensible actions."
Lara's 2016 crime spree inspired Kaylee's Law, a bill outlining strict regulations for community college public safety agencies. Investigators believe his position with COCC's security force allowed him to take advantage of Sawyer. The bill unanimously passed the Oregon Senate this week. It's now being considered in the House.
REDMOND, OR -- Crook County Middle School computer science students spent Thursday at COCC-Redmond, learning to make a stick figure dance to the song "Gangnam Style." They worked with Western Oregon University’s iLumiDance team to code lights on a life-sized stick man, to flash with the beat of the song. The 34 kids were divided into six teams and also learned a dance, moving the limbs of the stick figure along with the music.
Central Oregon STEM Hub Executive Director Angie Mason-Smith says the goal was to teach kids fun and unique applications for computer coding, "They tie in learning the choreography because, as Daryl, the instructor said, computer science and coding is really the same as dance and choreography. You’re learning the steps; you’re telling your body, ‘these are the things you need to do.’ And so, merging the two together, it’s really been fun to see, today."
Eighth grader McKenna Johnson tells KBND News, "I really was expecting us to do some normal coding, like we do at school. But, this was totally different. It’s more hands-on. And, I think if we did more of this, more girls would take coding." Seventh Grader Aiden Bonner says he never knew coding could be so entertaining. "They put dance in there. I’m really surprised they could do that. But, it all turned out great and was a lot of fun, actually."
The STEM Hub is run through the High Desert Education Service District and works with schools across the tri-county area. Mason-Smith says this was the first time they've brought WOU in to offer such a unique program. But, she says they'll definitely do it again, "We do these Ignite events, which just spark curiosity and interest with kids. And then provide resources to teachers to show, ‘you don’t have to be the expert in the room. You just have to create these conditions'."
BEND, OR -- Embrace Bend is talking diversity during this election season. The new community organization formed in November, to "embrace all cultures, races religions, genders, socio economic groups, and sexual orientations in Bend," according to the group's website. They'll host a candidate forum, Thursday evening, so voters can learn more about where those running for local office stand on the issues of inclusion and equity.
Megan Perkins, with Embrace Bend, tells KBND News equality is important in all aspects of living in Bend, "We need to make sure that the people that want to be on the school board, and the COCC board, and the Parks and Recreation board understand that all kids need to be treated the same way at school and our kids need to be given the support that they need to succeed." She believes most inequality in Bend is inadvertent; but it does happen. Perkins tells KBND News those who serve in positions of power, like the school board, have the power to change things, "We really need to start making an effort for teachers to get the training they need and to educate students, and just diversify our curriculum. We want to work on moving forward."
Thursday's forum starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Bend Environmental Center on Kansas Ave. Click HERE for details. Perkins wants people to be ready to participate, "We're hoping that people will ask some really tough questions to make sure that these candidates understand that this is something they can't really ignore anymore, and that they really need to focus on if they do get elected." She adds, "Feel free to come and listen, and if a question strikes you, we will make sure you get to ask that question. Obviously, we're trying to keep all the questions in the realm of inclusion and diversity in Bend and the surrounding areas."
This candidate forum is co-hosted by the Restorative Justice and Equity Group.
MADRAS, OR -- Madras continues to grow, but the city lacks affordable housing. Officials hope a three-pronged approach will provide enough incentive for builders to develop more inventory.
Public Works Director Jeff Hurd says one part of the plan is create a Housing Urban Renewal District (HURD) that will lower costs and barriers for new housing by redistributing tax dollars where they're needed, "The urban renewal district is a very complex thing. But, for the most part, picture it taking all the district's taxes and then we use it; and then at the end, they're going to get more back." Hurd says other taxing districts would benefit later by increased property values. "It's a redistribution. The city ends up collecting all the taxes that those other taxing districts would get, and then we use that to fund building infrastructure."
City Council also recently approved a plan to discount System Development Charges (SDCs) based on a sliding scale for single- and multi-family housing. And, Hurd says, they're looking at ways to reinstate expired building permits for subdivisions that were previously approved, "Everybody's big fear is, subdivision expires; and that just opens the door for all new requirements, right? We're trying to message: we're not going to do that." He tells KBND News, "We're going to do whatever we can to try and help you get through the process so we can re-up your land use decision so you can go ahead and move forward with these ones that have expired. And, oh by the way, we'll have this Housing Urban Renewal District that will help. And, oh by the way, we're doing an SDC reduction to try and get you to build homes. Three things at once we're really trying to throw out there to incentivize developers to come to town."
Hurd hopes that over the next five years, these ideas help Madras get past its serious housing shortage.
SISTERS, OR -- Prescribed burn season opens today, in the Deschutes National Forest. If conditions remain favorable, firefighters will ignite two burns Thursday.
The first is a 62-acre project, three miles southwest of Sisters. The other is a 350-acre unit about 25 miles southeast of La Pine.
On Friday, they plan to conduct a 286-acre burn south of Bend, near Lost Tracks Golf Course. Forest Service officials say that area, off China Hat Road, has a significant amount of trash. An inmate work crew will clean out the trash, Thursday, and Bend Towing is hauling off large abandoned campers.
All burn operations are scheduled to begin around 10 a.m.
BEND, OR -- A popular scam is making a resurgence in Central Oregon. Several people have reported receiving calls, recently, from a man claiming to be “Deputy Brian Moore, with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.” He asks for money to clear up a warrant issued after missing jury duty. In at least one instance, the caller claims the warrant was signed by the Honorable Judge Jones. There is no Judge Jones in Deschutes County. Some have also been asked to "self-report" to the Sheriff's Office and pay the fine/bail at a kiosk in the lobby.
The Sheriff's Office reminds everyone law enforcement does not call and ask for money to clear up a legal matter. If someone has a warrant, law enforcement typically contacts them in person, with proper credentials to identify themselves. DCSO says people have fallen for the scam in the past.
Anyone who receives a similar call should contact non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911 and ask to talk with a deputy.
SALEM, OR -- Several Central Oregonians testified in Salem, Wednesday, on both sides of the childhood vaccination issue. A controversial bill, sponsored by State Representative Cheri Helt (R-Bend), would do away with non-medical exemptions for school and day-care. The Subcommittee on Human Services took testimony on HB 3063-A during a public hearing.
Bend mom Amanda Larkin urged lawmakers to vote against it. "The idea that the government thinks that they have any place to mandate toxic injections into our children’s bodies is scary." She asked that if lawmakers feel they have to approve HB 3063-A, that they consider proposed amendments creating some exceptions, "Specifically, exempting private schools. Our kid is at the Waldorf School of Bend and that school would be shut down if this passes."
Deschutes County Public Health Nurse Jill Johnson joined several other health care professionals in support of the bill. She told the subcommittee a recent measles exposure in Bend was scary for families and expensive for the agency, "Our staff spent 330 hours to do this investigation, which cost our local health department about $20,000." For Whooping Cough, Johnson said, it's an ongoing expense, "The cost for local public health to [investigate] one case of Pertussis and prevent further spread is about $2,200. And, we had about 140 cases in Deschutes County over the past ten years." She added, "Children should not have to suffer the effects of preventable disease when the current vaccine supply is the safest and most effective in U.S. history."
BEND, OR -- Over the next several weeks, Central Oregonians can get rid of residential yard debris for free, through Project Wildfire. "Each spring, we ask people to create what we call defensible space, which is the area right around their space being cleared of all that flammable vegetation that’s built up over winter," says Deschutes County Forester Ed Keith, "The pine needles out of the gutters, flammable brush, pruning the trees, all that is really important, right next to the home."
But, he says all that spring cleaning can result in a pile of debris. Keith says Project Wildfire's “Fire Free” events provide a safe way to dispose of it. "There’s lots of dates on there for people that live all across the tri-county area, to look at and get their debris ready to take. We host Fire Free because we realize that doing this work creates a lot of that debris. And, it gives people an alternative to burning those fuels in their backyards." He tells KBND News, "Debris burning is really the number one cause of human-caused fires in the spring and the fall. To prevent that, but also to encourage people to be prepared for fire season, we offer these dates at the landfill and all the transfer stations to encourage people to drop that off, free of charge."
“Fire Free” kicks off this weekend, with events at the Crook County Landfill in Prineville on Saturday, and at Box Canyon Transfer Site in Madras on Saturday and Sunday. They’ll also be available in Bend, Sunriver and Redmond over the next couple of weeks. Click HERE for a full schedule.
For the latest information on prescribed burns and wildfires, visit CentralOregonFire.org. Sign up for text alerts on prescribed burns by texting "COfire" to 888777.
File Photo: A home is saved from fire by defensible space.
BEND, OR -- Unemployment across the tri-county area held relatively steady in March. Deschutes County’s jobless rate bumped up a tenth of a point last month, to 4.7%. Jefferson County rose two-tenths of a point, landing at 6.2%; Crook County also ticked up two-tenths of a point, to 6.5%.
Regional Economist Damon Runberg calls the slight uptick “statistically insignificant" and says numbers are rebounding from last year's historic lows, "We reached historically low rates of unemployment, they kicked up ever so slightly, and they’ve sort of been stable there; so we are still at very low rates of unemployment." He tells KBND News, "The fact that we’ve sort of slowed down into this 3% realm, year over year, for our job growth, it sort of feels anticlimactic. It’s like, we’re so used to the craziness, that when it just sort of settles into a nice steady level of growth, we almost think of it as a negative thing." But, he says, this current rate of growth is much more sustainable over the long term.
Deschutes County’s added 260 jobs in March, and 2,440 jobs In the past year. Runberg says the largest gains were in the Accommodations and Food Services industry, at nearly 9%, "Most of that is still just the fact that we’re having these new hotels that have been built, staffing up. So, it’s sort of looking like the industry is growing like gang-busters. And, it is. But it’s not from existing firms; it’s from new firms." The second fastest growing industry in Deschutes County bucks a national trend, "Manufacturing has done really, really well over the last year; in Deschutes County it’s up over 6%. And that’s an uncommon trend, nationally, I’ll say that," says Runberg, "We’ve had a sustained run of our manufacturing sector, across Central Oregon. [It’s] just continuing to add job, and do well and lots of different types of manufacturing jobs have been added; not our traditional wood products."
BEND, OR -- A cougar has been spotted near homes in Southwest Bend. Michelle Dennehy, with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, says the big cat was seen twice this week but hasn't appeared aggressive, "It really doesn't rise to the level of an immediate human safety threat or a situation where we would pursue the cougar and kill it. But we are concerned, and we want to reduce the risk of any encounter," She tells KBND News, "So, we are advising people not to use this area, which is basically upstream of the Bill Healy bridge. We have trail cameras in the area, so we'll be monitoring it for more cougar activity, but hopefully this cougar just moves on."
Dennehy says this cougar is in the same general area of the Deschutes River Canyon where another was euthanized in February, because it was hunting in backyards and had became a public safety threat.
There are ways neighbors can protect themselves, "Keep your pets indoors at night and feed them inside," says Dennehy, "Be aware of any wildlife corridors or places where deer tend to concentrate, or elk tend to concentrate. And, if you do see a cougar, please call us, or you can also call the police, or if it's an emergency situation, call 911." For more, visit ODFW's "Living with cougars" webpage.
SALEM, OR -- Kaylee’s Law unanimously passed out of the State Senate, Tuesday. "Among other things, this bill would require campus security to take off their cars the red and blue lights that look like police cars," said State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) prior to the vote, "Remove specialized bumpers, and - perhaps most important - do away with internal plexiglass cages." Knopp is the bill's chief sponsor, and says it will improve safety on community college campuses.
The bill is named for Kaylee Sawyer, who was killed by a Central Oregon Community College campus security guard in 2016. In a rare rule-bending, her family was allowed on the floor during Tuesday's vote. They watched as Knopp gave an emotional speech on Sawyer's life and explained why the bill is necessary, "In the end, we are all powerless to turn back time. Instead, we must face the loss and resolve together: Never again." Knopp tells KBND News, "It was very emotional. They're obviously still hurting. And, even though it was a good day and we did some good things, we can't undo the past and we can't bring Kaylee back. It's hard to lose somebody, and it's hard to lose somebody in such a tragic and violent way."
SB 576 creates rules for campus public safety agencies so security guards aren't confused with police. Investigators believe Sawyer trusted her killer and got into his patrol car because he looked and acted like a police officer. "I don't think anybody can know the intent of an individual, but clearly, the safeguards need to be put in place so we don't have this happen to any other student," says Knopp. Kaylee's Law is backed by Central Oregon law enforcement officials, and Knopp is pleased with the support shown Tuesday by his colleagues, "They believe that there was a problem with the way campus security has been handled on some of our college campuses, and they wanted to fix that problem, and send a very strong message that it's important that it gets fixed."
The bill now heads to the House and is scheduled for a first reading in that chamber on Wednesday. Knopp calls Tuesday's event "the halfway point."
Photo: Kaylee Sawyer's father Jamie Sawyer on the Senate floor as Sen. Tim Knopp talked about the importance of passing "Kaylee's Law."
MILLICAN, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a wanted man they say ran from deputies, near Millican, Tuesday. Deputies were responding to a civil disturbance on Fort Rock Road when they learned 52-year-old Stanley Heden, of Bend, had a felony warrant and was leaving the house.
They stopped just off Highway 20, around noon, to watch for the suspect. When Heden saw law enforcement, they say he sped from the area and led deputies on a chase down several forest service roads and an unmarked OHV trail. During the chase, metal debris from his truck fell into the road, hampering deputies' efforts to keep up with him.
His truck was found abandoned on the trail and searchers tracked his foot prints. Despite an extensive search involving an OSP plane and two K-9 units, Heden was not found. Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office through non-emergency dispatch, at 541-693-6911.
SALEM, OR -- There are a variety of resources available, designed to help Oregon veterans facing foreclosure. But, not every vet knows how to access help. A bill working through Salem aims to change that.
District 53 State Representative Jack Zika (R-Redmond) sponsored HB 2530 to provide important information to veterans, "If, for some reason, something happens and they are starting to get behind, then they get the notice of default. They [will] also get this piece of paper that says there are all these nonprofits that are willing to help, that there's help out there." Zika tells KBND News, "This is one of those that I think we'll accomplish something good with it and hopefully stop somebody that would otherwise become homeless."
Zika says there is one concern: making sure banks know whether a homeowner facing foreclosure is a veteran, especially if they didn't purchase the home with a VA loan. But he believes a secondary form could be made available to financial institutions, to make sure veterans are given that extra level of protection and assistance.
The bill would also create a task force to receive reports on veterans housing programs, from the Oregon Department of Veteran's Affairs and the Housing and Community Services Department. Zika says it will help with the "implementation of veterans and housing programs like Operation Welcome Home, training and coordination, and identifying veterans who may become homeless."
HB 2530 passed the House unanimously on Monday, and heads to the Senate.
BEND, OR -- The League of Women voters of Deschutes County will host a candidate forum on Monday, featuring those running for Bend-La Pine School Board on the May 21st ballot. Candidates will each give short speeches and take questions from the audience. The event starts at 5 p.m. at the Deschutes County Services Building (1300 NW Wall St., Bend), April 29. Click HERE for full details.
Vying for Zone One are speech and language therapist Caroline Skidmore, Chet Liew, with TDS Solutions, and owner of CMIT Solutions Mark Capell. Capell tells KBND News, "I think the biggest issue really is funding. And that's something we have to figure out because right now, there are too many students per teacher in each classroom." He says his depth of experience makes him the best choice, "I spent eight years on the [Bend] City Council working mostly on infrastructure and public safety; and the third thing the government is supposed to supply for all of us is education, and so I want to work on that. I want to see if I can help."
Zone Three incumbent and Thompson Pump and Irrigation owner Andy High is being challenged by Pastor for Justice and Mission Shimiko Montgomery.
Three candidates are running for Zone Six: Melissa Barnes Dholakia is the founder and Executive Director of MBD Partners, which supports charter schools; Richard Asadoorian is a former teacher, counselor, and principal; and Dr. Mike Way is a retired educator. Way says, "I taught for 33 years. I taught computer science, I ran the Computer science department at the college level. I think that I've got a pretty good feel for tech and how we need to start approaching it better." He would like to see robotics training expanded in schools, "Everybody should have a shot at that; and if everybody doesn't want to do it, we need to figure out why they don't want to, because that's the future."
KBND News requested interviews with each candidate, but did not receive responses from the others prior to deadline.
BEND, OR -- The Central Oregon Community College Board Chair is going straight to the public to talk campus safety. The school’s most recent newsletter includes a personal message addressed to “COCC Friends and Neighbors,” from Laura Craska Cooper. She tells KBND News, "There have been statements that COCC has not been cooperative with law enforcement officials and that COCC has not made requested changes. That’s not accurate. There have been a number of ways that we’ve cooperated and made changes to reflect suggestions we’ve received from coordinating our partner law enforcement agencies." She adds, "But, I think that maybe that message has not always gotten out in maybe the last six months, in statements made to the Legislature and in statements made in public." She says those changes include redesigning campus patrol vehicles and prohibiting campus security from initiating arrests or traffic stops.
Craska Cooper says COCC also purchased new public safety uniforms in September 2017, with approval from Bend Police Chief Jim Porter, who serves on COCC's Campus Public Safety Working Group. Chief Porter tells KBND News he only approved a new color scheme, and he remains concerned about the style, which resembles uniforms worn by sworn police. Craska Cooper disagrees, "He did indicate that they were okay. He met with our lawyer and also former Senator Neil Bryant was in the room, and they both confirmed that he did approve them. I think there might have been some confusion over what he was approving. He may not have thought he was approving the whole uniforms; but that’s certainly what both of them believed." But, she says, talks are ongoing, "We are going to continue to look at uniforms and we will change the uniforms." For more on changes COCC says it's made in the past three years, click HERE.
Chief Porter and Craska Cooper are working on a joint resolution that would bring a Bend Police officer to the school, as a sort of liaison between campus public safety and Bend PD. Craska Cooper says, "What the police chief and I have talked about, with Dr. Metcalf, is the campus resource officer would be on our campus very much in the same way they as they are on K-12 campuses. And, they would work with our campus public safety, would be a full time officer who would be on campus on a daily basis when classes are in session, and would coordinate communication with the campus public safety." The board is expected to vote on that agreement, next month. We are all working collaboratively and we all have the same goal: We want a safe community on campus and off campus and we think that it’s in the best interest of the community if we’re all on the same page."
Oregon’s Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a bill named for a woman murdered by a COCC public safety officer in July 2016. Kaylee’s Law would create more specific guidelines for community college campus safety agencies. The bill is sponsored by Bend Senator Tim Knopp and supported by Bend’s Police Chief and Deschutes County’s District Attorney. Craska Cooper admits Community college campus safety departments fall into a gray area under current law, "There’s not as much of clarity in the statute, with respect to community colleges, as there is with respect to four-year institutions. And so, we at COCC, are very much in favor of anything that’s going to provide a little bit more clarity; and, of course, we will comply with the law." She adds, "The important thing to us is any clarity that can be provided, any guidance and anything that’ll make campuses safer, we are in favor of." While the bill is in direct response to the murder at COCC, school officials chose not to testify during committee hearings for the legislation.
TERREBONNE, OR -- A 24-year-old rock climber was taken to the hospital after falling about 20 feet at Smith Rock State Park, Monday morning.
Redmond Fire and Deschutes County Search and Rescue personnel responded to the area, just after 9:30 a.m. They treated the patient at the bottom of the “Forever I May Roam” climbing route, near Asterisk Pass.
The rescue operation took about three hours and involved a rope lowering system, before the climber was taken by wheeled litter to a waiting ambulance.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man suspected of fleeing from a Monday traffic stop arrested - twice - after a wild chase. It started Just before 6 p.m., when a deputy tried to pull over a pickup on Highway 97 for expired tags, north of Bend. But, authorities say, the truck went off-road, turned around, got back on the highway and drove back toward town; eventually going east on Cooley.
A detective found the truck abandoned in a vacant lot near NE 18th, and a K-9 deputy was deployed to track the suspect. He was seen jumping into a canal, swimming to the other side and running near Scottsdale Road and Old Deschutes Road. Using a drone and other deputies, they eventually found 43-year-old Jason Walter hiding in a residential pond on Overtree Road. The Sheriff's Office says he had trouble getting out of the water because he was so cold. He was detained at about 7:15 p.m. and evaluated by medics, who took him to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
More than three hours later, wearing scrubs and handcuffed behind his back, Walter allegedly ran from the hospital parking lot and was tackled in the grass by the same deputy who arrested him the first time.
He's now at the Deschutes County Jail facing numerous charges, including violating probation, driving while revoked and escape.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon will be home to the California Tortoiseshell butterfly for the next four to six weeks. The distinctive yellow wings with the black borders have been spotted around the region in the past week, as they begin their migration from the deserts of California and Arizona.
Ralph Berry is a retired Professor Emeritus of Entomology for Oregon state University tells KBND News, "The numbers depend on the flowers in Arizona and California, to build up that population, that turn into adults that then, migrate northward. It's a good year for flowering plants in the desert area, and so that stimulates the production of a lot more adults." He adds, "It's been awhile since we've seen this number, we always have some. Primarily, keyed with the host plant. The adults need to feed on nectar, from the flowers from different plants, and then of course, they lay their eggs on snowbrush or buckbrush."
He says Central Oregon native plants play a crucial role in the species' life-cycle, "The adults will lay eggs on snowbrush, and then the caterpillars will feed on the leaves, and then they'll drop to the ground and they'll form a pupa stage, the adults will emerge, and they'll lay eggs back on the snowbrush."
Berry says the migration always starts in April, and it's common to see them flying together in a kaleidoscope.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County's District Attorney wants to expand diversion programs, to help keep low-level criminals from re-offending. D.A. John Hummel and three of his staff took a fact-finding trip, last week, to Wisconsin. Hummel met with Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, known nationwide for his diversion programs. "They have a big volume in Milwaukee, as you might expect, in a city of that size," Hummel tells KBND News, "And, they want to focus their resources to the greatest extent possible on prosecuting the people who need to be prosecuted, while getting the people who would benefit from community services, out of the system early."
In 2017, Hummel launched the "Goldilocks" program, which gives eligible drug offenders the option to participate in a diversion program, in exchange for dropping criminal charges. In some cases, they receive addiction treatment at a local community health center. Based on what he observed in Milwaukee, Hummel believes Goldilocks could be expanded over the next year, beyond drug offenses, and would result in lowered recidivism rates for low-level offenders. "This isn't something that's going to change in a day, or week, or month," says Hummel, "But it is something that we need to look at. I'm proud of what we're doing in this office now, but I'm always looking for ways that we can improve. Over the next year, I'd like to think that we can expand our diversion offerings, and that's going to make for a safer community."
Hummel contends, "We're safe." But, he says, "I want us to continue to be safe, and I want us to be even safer. Why shouldn't we be the safest in the country? That's my goal. So, maybe we're in the 90th or 95th percentile on safeness, I want us to be in the 99th percentile." He says he plans to do more to communicate how he's working to improve safety, and make sure there's access to data that shows residents what's happening in their communities.
BEND, OR -- Kor Community Land Trust broke ground Friday on its first affordable housing project in Central Oregon. Executive Director Amy Warren says they’re subdividing a half-acre lot into five parcels, near SE 27th and Reed Market. Each will have a two bedroom, two-bath sustainable cottage built to use as much energy as it produces, thanks to some special features, "Upgraded windows, upgraded insulation, different wall framing methods; and then, topped off with active solar."
The 1,100-square foot cottages will share a common area, to promote community, "That’s one of Kor’s values is that we are not creating stand-alone homes," Warren tells KBND News, "We’re creating communities." She says crews have quite a bit of work ahead, to prepare the site for construction. "It’ll take them, I believe, about 10-12 weeks to subdivide the single parcel in to five parcels, plus the common space. And then, we have a few more hoops to jump through with the city, inspecting all that and approving it. So, we anticipate breaking ground on the actual homes, building the homes, sometime in July." She expects they’ll be ready for residents in early 2020.
The project on Hurita Place is a partnership between the land trust and Housing Works. Warren says homes will be sold to qualified low-income families, determined by a lottery process; the trust maintains ownership of the land. Warren says that keeps the cost down for the resident and ensures the property remains deed restricted for low-income families even as the home is bought and sold. Because of the unique model, they require potential residents to attend a pre-application orientation, "It’s really important that folks understand that they’re only going to own their home and they’re going to have a long-term ground lease on the property it sits on. Some people might not be interested in that. So, before asking them to go through the whole application process for the lottery, we want to make sure they understand the program, first." The lottery will take place later this year.
REDMOND, OR -- A Driver from Damascus, OR was arrested late Saturday night on suspicion of DUII, after a crash just north of Redmond.
According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, 56-year-old Jeffrey Lenhardt was westbound on O’Neil Highway when he failed to negotiate a 90-degree curve at Northeast Fifth. Just before 11:30 p.m., his pickup went off the road, hit concrete barriers and flipped onto its side.
He and his passenger, 21-year-old Jake Lenhardt got out on their own, and were not hurt. The elder Lenhardt was booked into the Deschutes County Jail. NE Fifth was closed for over an hour while a tow truck removed the pickup from the scene.
The collision occurred at about 6:45 a.m. Thursday, March 21. Investigators say Sara Edwards was southbound on Highway 97 when she tried to avoid a car entering the highway from the Desert Terrace Mobile Estates. She lost control and her car slid into the path of a northbound concrete pumping truck. Edwards was killed; the truck driver suffered minor injuries.
Anyone who saw the crash or has any information, is asked to call the OSP Dispatch Center at 800-442-0776, or dial *OSP on a cell phone. Refer to case #SP19-099917.
REDMOND, OR -- Ridgeview High School Principal Lee Loving is Oregon’s 2019 Principal of the Year. He was honored at a surprise school assembly Thursday by the Oregon Association of Secondary School Administrators (OASSA) and the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA).
Loving has served as Ridgeview’s Principal since the school opened in 2012. He was nominated for the award by Assistant Principals Jensine Peterson and Kelly Hicks, who say he has built partnerships that expand opportunities for students and believes student success comes from positive, supportive relationships. "Lee Loving is an amazing 'people person' and relationships matter," Superintendent Mike McIntosh said in a statement. "The Ridgeview High School community is the beneficiary of his enthusiasm and dedication in making Ridgeview an incredible place to learn. The school feels like a huge family that takes pride in both individual and schoolwide accomplishments."
Aside from McIntosh, Loving's family, staff and students, COSA Executive Director Craig Hawkins was also on hand to present the award, Thursday. Loving will also be honored in June at COSA's annual conference in Seaside, and in July at the National Association for Secondary School Principals Conference in Boston. And, in October, he will receive additional honors at the High School Principals Conference in Bend.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors must decide whether the city should chip in money to dredge Mirror Pond. They'll host a public listening session Monday to get feedback on what the community wants. City Manager Eric King says dealing with silt build-up is a controversial issue made more complicated by the city’s lack of control over the iconic downtown pond, "This is not city right of way, it’s not a road or anything the city has any jurisdiction over. There’s been a request to have the city contribute to a dredging project – financially contribute. So, Council has been pondering that. This listening session, I think, will help determine what direction the Council will go in."
King says the city would have to work with others, like Pacific-Corp, which owns the dam that forms the pond, and the Parks District. "It would be just more of a partnership to help provide a solution to Mirror Pond, that’s kind of how we see it. We don’t have a city department that does dredging or siltation removal or any kind of river restoration; that’s just not what we do." There is precedent for such a project, "In 1984, the pond was dredged and there was a partnership. Back then, there was a significant contribution from the federal government," King tells KBND News. "Part of that storage and release of water that creates erosion and then the siltation build-up is done by the Bureau of Reclamation; the federal government. They kicked in money and then the city, Parks District, property owners all came together to get it dredged."
Monday’s listening session will start with a Q & A session on topics like the history of the problem, long term plans for the Mirror Pond Dam and environmental impacts. A full agenda is available at the city's website, HERE. It begins at 5 p.m., at the County Services building (1300 NW Wall Street).
BEND, OR -- The results of a community survey evaluating Bend Police are in, and it shows the majority of residents believe the department is doing a good job. Although, Chief Jim Porter says there were concerns, "The downtown area is a concern, traffic is a concern, there's a perception out of there of an increase in violent crimes and in property crimes."
Porter isn't surprised to see traffic on the list. He recently expanded the traffic patrol to six members. "Now, we're going to start focusing them on areas that we believe are important - the reduction of crashes, the interdiction and arrest of drunk drivers." He says the traffic patrol will focus on the three 'E's of traffic: Enforcement, Education and Engineering. "Our struggle right now is that Bend's a growing city. Our piece is going to be conducting special enforcement details twice a month to bring people's perception of danger down, and their perception of the quality of service they're getting from the police department to reduce traffic issues, up."
Another major issue listed by survey respondents is homelessness. Chief Porter believes three new positions would have a major impact, "The first position we've asked for is a liaison with the homeless community, for homeless who are having issues, and to align them with needed services. This is a significant problem in the downtown area." Porter also wants additional resource officers for COCC and Bend La Pine Schools, who would patrol downtown during the summer.
Porter tells KBND News statewide stats show Bend is the safest city over 60,000 people, and it's well below national crime averages. But, he acknowledges not every resident feels safe, "We're trying to align this perception that there's increasing crime with what we know to be documented data that says the opposite direction. So, that means we need to do a better job in the police department of actually advertising or getting out there and letting the public know what's going on." Survey results will be presented to city leaders during the budgeting process, to justify spending requests by the department. Click HERE to view the full report compiled by Portland State University researchers.
BEND, OR -- A Sisters man was arrested Thursday for allegedly seeking a sexual relationship with a Bend juvenile. Bend Police say investigators were provided information in the case this week and, using several techniques, identified 32-year-old Jon Beavert as the suspect.
During his arrest in Sisters, police gathered additional evidence they say substantiates the initial allegations, as well as other crimes. He’s charged with six counts each of Online Sexual Corruption of a Child and Luring a Minor, as well as one count of Child Sex Abuse.
LA PINE, OR -- A debris burn in La Pine got out of control, Thursday afternoon, scorching about half an acre before firefighters contained it. The blaze destroyed a pickup and a utility trailer, as well as grass and trees at the property on Contorta Place.
Investigators say the owner turned his back on the debris burn for just a few moments allowing it to escape. He did not have a permit, nor did he have water at the site. Fire officials say, despite our wet spring, just one day of sunny weather and a little wind dramatically increases the potential for fire.
REDMOND, OR -- Deschutes County must decide how to spend the money it’ll receive over the next three years through the 0.1% payroll tax created in the 2017 state transportation package. The money must be used on local transit projects.
Redmond City Manager Keith Witcosky says $910,000 could be used to create a fixed-route transit system in Redmond. "Deschutes County has the opportunity to invest $7.6 million across the county for transit; it comes through a payroll tax and is administered through ODOT. And, we’ve had Councilor John Bullock and our Airport Manager Zach Bass on a county committee prioritizing transit." That committee is considering 35 projects. Witcosky hopes the two Redmond members of that committee will help the others understand why a fixed route system is important to address congestion in a city of 30,000 that’s growing by nearly a thousand people a year.
Cascades East Transit runs a "Community Connector" service in Redmond, with buses providing rides to other Central Oregon cities through the transit hub near Fred Meyer. The agency also offers Dial-A-Ride service. "If we get the funding that we’re asking for, this summer, then we will have two fixed-route systems," Witcosky tells KBND News, "We’ll have two buses on each one, and 30-minute headways." That means a bus-stop would see a bus every 30 minutes. "That’s critical because if you’re trying to have people move from an automobile to transit, there’s got to be reliability and certainty that if you stand on a corner at a bus stop, something’s going to come and it’s not going to take that long."
Witcosky acknowledges it’ll be tough to get Redmond residents to give up their cars, "It takes some early adopters, and a lot of times that’s word of mouth. So, if you’re taking transit all the time within Redmond, and you tell your friends how convenient it is and to start thinking about it, then they’ll start to do it and we’ll start to get more and more people. We don’t expect it to happen overnight, but it’s the right first step."
REDMOND, OR -- Only a handful of school districts in Oregon have an equity policy in place to promote belonging and inclusion of students and staff. Bend-La Pine Schools approved one last June. The High Desert Education Service District (ESD) Board unanimously approved its policy this week.
High Desert ESD Superintendent Paul Andrews says they’ve always followed anti-discrimination laws, "But when we did a look at our policies, that’s all we had. We didn’t speak to truly validating and celebrating differences between people. We didn’t look at, ‘are there gaps in the outcomes based on those?’ While we may not be actively discriminating against, or breaking the law in that sense, are we truly serving the needs of all kids?" He tells KBND News the district started creating the equity policy two years ago, "It solidifies that we do look at equity as something different than equality. Equality means we treat everyone exactly the same way, frankly, whether they need it or not. Equity is more about treating each student [and] each employee based on who they are and what they bring to the table as a whole person, and validating that and celebrating that." Click HERE to view the full policy.
The Education Service District works with all school districts in the region to provide special programs, in some cases, working with Central Oregon’s most vulnerable and fragile students.
Andrews says the goal is to make sure students have what they need to succeed, regardless of potential barriers like socioeconomic status, language, gender identity, disability, or race, "There is a great deal of research that says, for example - children of color are much more likely to succeed if they have a teacher who looks like them. How are we doing at making sure the children we serve will experience a teacher who looks like them, has experiences like them? We haven't actively asked those questions at a policy level, before." High Desert ESD is now looking at how to work the concepts identified in the policy in to hiring, training and advocacy efforts.
BEND, OR -- A popular Deschutes River access point has been refurbished to combat erosion and improve the riparian area. Bend Parks and Recreation District Natural Resources Manager Jeff Amaral says frequent use by paddle boarders and kayakers was undermining the shore material at Riverbend Park, "With such high use, there was some erosion along the river. Now, the more stable surface there will prevent sand and other fine material from entering the river during heavy times of use."
He tells KBND News, "Along the river, we placed 4" rock, and then capped that with 2". and then farther up, towards the park, we used a finer material, slightly larger than sand, almost like a pea gravel, to stabilize the river put-in. And, this larger material than the sand that used to be there, is going to be more effective at staying put on the beach during heavy use." And, he says, the rock will improve fish habitat. Amaral adds, "We evened the grade on the beach down to the river to prevent migration of material down to the river, so it's going to help stabilize that beach. It'll be a bit of a change from the sand that used to be there, so we encourage proper footwear when floating the river."
The project cost roughly $7,000. Bend Parks and Rec will continue to improve areas along the river to keep its banks healthy.
Council agreed the roundabout is needed to manage traffic increases anticipated with a 192-unit apartment complex planned for nearby. But, possible conflicts with utilities and phased development of that complex reduced the urgency for the roundabout.
City Engineer Mike Caccavano tells KBND News the delay also allows the city to competitively bid the project to ensure the best price, and develop a plan to minimize traffic impacts during the work.
BEND, OR -- A Redmond man was arrested Wednesday, following a chase east of Bend. In response to complaints from nearby residents, Deputies were watching for speeders near the roundabout at Powell Butte Highway and Neff. At about 3 p.m. they say they caught a car on radar going 76 in a 35 mile per hour zone.
According to the Sheriff's Office, the driver refused to pull over, leading deputies on a pursuit down Alfalfa Market Road. He eventually pulled on to a dirt road and ran from the car, but surrendered a short time later.
No one was injured during the pursuit and the agency says the maximum speed was 60 mph.
On top of Reckless Driving, 40-year-old William Swanson is accused of Driving Under the influence of Drugs and Meth Possession and Possession of a Schedule II Controlled Substance.
Based on the Sheriff's Office's initial contact with Swanson, he was taken to St. Charles Bend for examination.
UPDATE: (04/18/19 4 p.m.) A family friend called Bend Police at 1:20 p.m. to report they had located Michael Shameklis in Wilsonville. His family made contact with the man and confirmed he is in good condition. Shameklis told his family he was camping and unable to stay in contact.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police are searching for a missing Lake Oswego man last seen in Bend a week ago. Lt. Brian Beekman says 43-year-old Michael Shameklis was house sitting for a friend in Bend, until April 11. "His friend, who he was house sitting for, came back into the area. Michael had left. But, his friends and family in Lake Oswego have told us he never returned home, up there."
Lt. Beekman says family and friends conducted their own search before calling police on Monday to report Shameklis missing. "He also has friends in Crescent City, California and so, at this point, we’re at a loss as to where Michael is at. But, certainly, his friends and family in those areas are very concerned about him." He tells KBND News, "We’ve spoken with friends and family in both of those areas; they have not seen him. So, somewhere between Bend and Crescent City and Lake Oswego, after April 11th, is kind of a question mark for us. We’re not sure what happened."
Shameklis is a 6' tall white male, about 200 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. He drives a black 2005 GMC Denali with Oregon plates 582-BZM.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Bend Police through non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.
SALEM, OR -- Governor Kate Brown signed the Redmond Housing bill in to law, Tuesday. House Bill 2336 will allow the city to bring an additional 485 new homes to the east side of town, in a development known as Skyline Village. Half of those homes will be deed restricted for low-income households.
"As one of the fastest growing cities in the state, Redmond has a severe need of more affordable housing," Rep. Jack Zika (R-Redmond), chief sponsor of the bill, said in a statement, "Our bill will help by adding hundreds of new affordable housing units. Redmond families are desperate for a place to live that they can afford."
HB 2336 allows Redmond to join a state pilot program created in HB 4079, passed in 2016, intended to expedite development of affordable housing outside urban growth boundaries, by "fast tracking" the land use process. Prior to the bill's passage, only Bend had been approved for the project.
To hear reaction from Redmond City Manager Keith Witcosky, along with an explanation of what's next, click HERE or visit our podcast page.
BEND, OR -- The Bend Fire Department has a new mobile education center powered by the sun. Volunteer Coordinator George Fox spearheaded the project to convert a decommissioned fire engine into a resource for fire prevention and safety. Solar panels power its media displays. "We wanted to make this a better operational system. We wanted to make sure it was a prevention device that we can take to anyone and teach any type of prevention message possible. The idea that we can now take this anywhere, and not have to drag a power cord, we can now pull up and have it fully operational and on its own."
Fox tells KBND News one of the best things about the community engine is that everyone can check it out, "It's a working operational opportunity for kids to be able to sit on the engine, sit in the driver's seat, sit in back where the firefighters work, and point and look at the gauges and ask questions about how we operate it on the fire ground." He adds, "Anybody that comes up with ADA requirements can now visualize everything that goes on in the cab. We can now turn that program around. And, instead of playing a safety message, it will simulate driving the engine down the street. So they can see what it's like, hear the siren, and hear the radios and see what it's like to drive through traffic."
The community engine makes its debut at the Environmental Center Earth Day parade and celebration Saturday. Fox says it's come full circle, as it was at the same event last year when the idea was born. Money for the project was raised over the last year, through a grant and donations.
BEND, OR -- U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) toured Bend’s Marshall High School, Tuesday, to see how the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), passed in 2015, is helping students prepare for adulthood. "The law stipulates that if a school has a low graduation rate, they’d be in a position to get some extra help for things like mentorship programs. This school says that every senior has a mentor. They’d be eligible to work with companies; this school is doing that."
Marshall made a big shift this year, dividing into five academies to provide kids hands-on learning in the areas of engineering, construction, STEM, health occupations or liberal arts. Students talked about how they benefit from smaller classes and personal attention. One student told Wyden the school is, "Preparing kids to have high-wage, high-skill and high demand, real-life jobs. That is what the economy really needs." They also told him they want to shake Marshall's reputation as the school for troubled kids, so it's known as a place they take charge of their education.
Principal Sal Cassaro is pleased Senator Wyden is taking notice, "It kind of validates that we’re on the right track." Cassaro tells KBND News this year was a soft launch for the five-academy format and he looks forward to pushing full steam ahead, next fall, "Our one thing that we’re going to focus on, from now for as long as we’re all here together at Marshall High School, is building students’ futures [for] when they’re done with high school."
Senator Wyden met with a teacher who told the Oregon Democrat, "I teach a few different things; I teach robotics. I think, unfortunately, robots are going to take a lot of jobs away, so let’s teach these guys to design them, build them, manufacture them and maintain them." Wyden also visited a construction classroom and fielded questions from a group of students. He told them, "I really feel like now Oregon is headed in the right direction. We’re not going to turn this graduation rate situation around in 15 minutes; but, you guys are on to some really fresh, appealing approaches."
While in Bend Tuesday, he also met with Bend’s Mayor and representatives from several recreation businesses, to talk about how Congress can help the industry. "Recreation is now an enormous economic engine for this area," Wyden says, "But we’ve got some big challenges; in particularly, still, access to capital." He heard from several recreation businesses led by women, who he says have great ideas for the region, but struggle to find investment capital, "This idea that women, who have successful businesses, should have to put everything up - including their house, if it’s their only asset - when men don’t have to do it, isn’t right." Wyden says the discussion could result in legislation, but he wants to see first what can be done administratively to boost the recreation industry.
BEND, OR -- The man accused of leaving his one-year-old baby alone in the woods off China Hat Road last year, was sentenced to nearly three years in prison, Tuesday. Deschutes County Deputy District Attorney Jason Kropf says Brandon Blouin agreed to a plea deal, "Mr. Blouin pled guilty to counts four, five and six on the indictment. Count four was Endangering a Minor; count five was Criminal Mistreatment in the first degree, and count six was Felon in Possession of Body Armor." Kropf tells KBND News the first three counts on the indictment were dismissed, and Blouin submitted an Alford plea on the last three counts, "It's an acceptance that he's going to be found guilty of those charges, without necessarily saying 'I'm Guilty'."
Kropf says the 26-year-old is not allowed any contact with Baby Bradley until he has served his full sentence of 32 months in prison and five years' supervision. "The 'Endangering the Welfare of a Minor,' that's a misdemeanor," says Kropf, "After he serves his time in prison, he'll be what's on post-prison supervision in whatever community he lives in, and part of those conditions being not having contact with the child. So, he's not to have contact with the child for the next five years." Baby Bradley was returned to his custodial grandmother in West Virginia soon after his rescue in May of 2018. Kropf says, "The condition of that probation was to not have contact with the child, the child's grandmother, and the child's mother."
Blouin was initially released on bail, but failed to appear for a court hearing. He was re-arrested in November and held at the Deschutes County Jail, where he remains, as of Wednesday morning.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County Park and Recreation District recently awarded a construction contract for renovations at the Ochoco Creek Skate Park, and construction is set to begin. Dreamland Skate Park is expected to break ground the first part of May. "This whole end of Ochoco Creek Park, we're really focusing on active recreation," says Parks District Executive Director Duane Garner, "We're trying to add some features that lots of different folks will enjoy using and have fun, stay healthy, be active."
The park will stay open as long as possible during construction. Garner says the park needs to be refurbished, "There's old metal ramps and there's concrete abutments they attach to. So, all those metal ramps are going to come off. It'll basically stay somewhat of the same design, but the ramps will all be concrete now. It will more than double in size, and so the old and the new will blend together, you'll never even know that they were two separate things." And, he says, it will be unique, "It's going to be a little different than what you see in Bend or Redmond, in that, it will have a bowl - but the site that we're using is close to Ochoco Creek, we can't dig real deep. But there will be a lot of above-ground features and there will be plenty of ramps, and edges, and half-pipes and quarter-pipes, and all kinds of fun things." The final design came from public input.
Garner says, in addition to revamping the skate park, there are plans to refurbish the nearby tennis courts for pickleball, and expand off-street parking and safety features. The project comes with a $430,000 price tag, 60% of which came from a local government grant awarded by the state; the rest is coming from the Parks and Rec District. Construction of the skate park is expected to be complete by the end of August.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Mayor George Endicott is on his way to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of the Trump Administration. Endicott tells KBND News they'll discuss Opportunity Zones, which were created in the 2017 tax reform bill. "I’ve been invited, I was told, because Redmond has some success stories in that area. We currently have two major efforts underway in Redmond that have taken advantage of the Opportunity Zone. One, is the old hotel." He says renovations at the historic New Redmond Hotel are moving forward because of the program, "The developer, there, needed additional funding just about the time this Opportunity Zone idea came up. And so, he’s got additional investors to help him finish the hotel project."
A 128-townhome project on the south end of Redmond, known as The 21 Canal, is also benefiting from an Opportunity Zone designation, "These projects might not have happened but for the opportunity zone concept to come into play." Opportunity Zones allow investors to receive tax breaks when they reinvest capital gains in to qualifying properties; it's designed to revitalize under-served areas.
Endicott expects to talk with the Secretaries of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development, among other officials, during the Wednesday meeting, "There are about 8,400 opportunity zones around the United States and they’ve apparently, as I understand, invited about 150 people to attend."
SALEM, OR -- Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno has appointed Bend State Representative Cheri Helt to the State Board of Education, as the Secretary’s designee. Clarno cited Helt’s eight years on the Bend-La Pine School Board and professional experience as qualifications for the appointment.
Clarno's office released a statement saying, "Representative Helt is a working mother with three children and is a business owner. She was elected three times to the Bend-La Pine School Board. During her service, high school graduation rates in the district rose 10%. She championed instructional technology to replace outdated textbooks and collaborated with teachers and administrators to create a performance-based compensation system."
“It is an absolute honor to be appointed to the State School Board by Secretary of State Clarno, who is a woman I admire greatly,” Helt said in a statement. “I look forward to further serving the students and teachers of Oregon by drawing upon my eight years of experience as a Bend-La Pine School Board member and as a mother of three children who have attended public schools.”
BEND, OR -- Congressman Greg Walden says he’s supporting a grant request by the Oregon Department of Transportation, to help fund the realignment of Highway 97 at Cooley Road, on the north end of Bend. "We know you’ve got 30,000 Bendites driving to Redmond, and vice versa, every day; and then, another 20,000 visitors coming in the summer, every day," Walden tells KBND News, "And we just don’t have the capacity anymore, on the existing system."
He met Monday with city and county leaders, as well as ODOT, to discuss the project. ODOT Regional Manager Gary Farnsworth says it’s Region Four’s top priority. "It’s the key, really, for long term, in this area, when it comes to transportation. It really reflects a lot of what’s happening here and where we need to stay, in terms of keeping up." Farnsworth told Rep. Walden state and local governments have already committed funding. "To see this much investment commitment by the local jurisdictions speaks volumes to the relative need, from both the county and the city, and even private sector. And, I can tell you, there is a lot waiting in the wings from the private sector perspective that would want to contribute into this to make it work."
Bend Mayor Sally Russell told him the project is long overdue, "That information has been out and has been through the public process for such an extended period of time, so it’s more about waiting and knowing it’s going to happen, and sort of the ‘when?’ question." City Councilor Justin Livingston and County Commissioners Patti Adair and Phil Henderson also took part in the meeting.
Walden says it was important for him to fully understand why the project is so necessary to address congestion, "So that I can articulate this better to the Department of Transportation at every level, including at the secretary level, to explain why this is such a priority."
If ODOT doesn’t get the $67 million INFRA grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Farnsworth says the project could still move forward with money already secured from state and local governments. But, he tells KBND News, it would happen much more slowly and in more phases. This is ODOT's second attempt at securing federal funding for the project. Because environmental impact studies are already complete, he says the project would take about two years, once its fully funded.
MADRAS, OR -- Madras Police arrested half a dozen people during a sting operation late Friday. Officers targeted homes they say are known to be gathering places for people involved in illegal drug activity. They also worked with County corrections to check on those on parole or probation.
At a house on NE 10th, they arrested 20-year-old Tristan Fiscus (top, left) for a probation violation, 44-year-old Erin Joyner (top, center) for an outstanding parole board warrant, and 29-year-old Davis Stwyer, Jr. (top, right) for suspicion of domestic violence. The Stwyer case is being investigated by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.
Two more men were taken into custody at a mobile home on 'B' Street; both 30-year-old John Axsom (bottom, left) and 37-year-old Victor Axsom (bottom, center) are accused of violating probation.
And, in the same area, they arrested 50-year-old Jeffrey Fields (bottom, right) for failing to register as a sex offender. They also contacted Fields' significant other, who gave police false information. Officers didn't discover her identity until later, and say 45-year-old Elaine Severson has an outstanding warrant from Linn County. Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call Madras Police at 541-475-2424 or dispatch at 541-475-2201.
SISTERS, OR -- The Sisters Ranger District is working on a comprehensive plan to rid the Suttle Lake area of diseased and dying trees. District Ranger Ian Reid says they immediately cut down the most dangerous trees near recreation sites or campgrounds, but many others still need to come down in the 250-acre area. "We identify as imminent hazard trees, when we see those out there, we will fell those immediately. We won't wait for the analysis work that we're doing right now, but this is more for trees that are not termed 'imminent hazards,' but certainly have a lot of defects, with predominately mistletoe, so they have dead tops; and there are infrastructure developments underneath those trees."
Reid says what's happening in the forest near Suttle Lake is normal, but the area's popularity makes it a bigger issue, "It's a special area for a lot of people; it gets a lot of public use, so that's what we're trying to do out there, make it safe for our visitors. We've had a couple tree strikes out there, with vehicles. Luckily nobody was seriously hurt." He tells KBND News, "There are a lot of diseased and dying trees that are interspersed among high use recreation areas. It's an older forest that has a fair amount of disease, a lot of it is mistletoe, but also other root rots, and typical tree diseases." In addition to taking out the hazard trees, Reid says he'd like to see planting of more disease-resistant species to keep the forest full and return it to health.
A public open house, last week, allowed people to provide input on the tree removal project, and others. More feedback will be accepted online through Friday, April 19.
BEND, OR -- Another Central Oregon irrigation district is receiving federal funding to pipe open canals, in an effort to conserve water. The Swalley Irrigation District has already piped 45% of its canals; this influx of $11.2 million will allow for piping the remainder. The district’s watershed plan and environmental assessment was recently approved by the NRCS, allowing the work to move forward.
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley helped secure the money from the 150-million dollar Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program. "It started several years ago, when I heard that several folks on the Appropriations Committee were seeking to design a strategy for helping irrigation districts that have endangered species issues. And, I said, ‘wow; that’s us in Oregon.’ So, since that time, I’ve been able to get half that funding to our state." Of the $75 million available to Oregon, $30 million went to Tumalo Irrigation and $11.2 million was just awarded to Swalley. Merkley helped celebrate Tumalo Irrigation’s new piping project, last month. Senator Merkley says bringing the program to the High Desert started with an idea from Central Oregon and North Unit irrigation districts. "They were pondering how they could proceed with piping in their areas and get more water into the Deschutes. As it’s turned out, Tumalo and Swalley got through the process more quickly." He tells KBND News the Klamath Basin may eventually take advantage of the program. But, so far, the money has exclusively come to Central Oregon.
Swalley will use the money to pipe more than 16 miles of open canal over the next seven years. The 16,000' Rogers Lateral Piping project (pictured), on the north end of Bend, is expected to be the first phase. it should be complete early next year.
REDMOND, OR -- Deschutes County has chosen a new Fair and Expo Center Director. County Administrator Tom Anderson says it wasn’t easy to fill the void left by the retiring Dan Despotopulos, "Dan has been our leader at the Fair and Expo Center for a couple decades, so it’s never easy to replace someone like that."
The county selected Geoff Hinds, who grew up in the fair business and has served as the CEO of several fairgrounds and event centers in California. Anderson says Hinds is uniquely qualified because of that experience, "But he’s also, more recently, developed a skill for other kind of events that we think could expand the business model at the Fair and Expo Center; other kinds of events to fill up the facility, particularly in the fall and winter."
Hinds takes over in June, about two months ahead of this year's fair. But, Anderson tells KBND News, Despotopulos will stay on a few weeks to help with the transition, "Geoff certainly brings his own unique skill-set, but with that overlap, we won’t miss anything in terms of sending Geoff out there without the benefit of Dan’s knowledge of the ins and outs of running the facility." And, Anderson says, he’ll benefit from experienced staff, "Geoff doesn’t have any problems to solve or any issues to deal with. That, more than anything else, probably will ensure a smooth transition because all the people, both there in the office and running the facilities, know what they’re doing."
SISTERS, OR -- U.S. Forest Service crews are marking trees along Highway 20, west of Sisters, starting Monday. Officials say they're in danger of falling and need to be removed. Planning for the tree removal project began a year ago. The most dangerous trees were brought down last fall.
Thousands of trees were compromised by exposure to the herbicide Perspective, several years ago. ODOT officials say 2,100 trees will be removed within a 150-food wide path on both sides of the highway, to protect drivers.
Most will be used as wood products; some will be cut and left in place to provide wildlife habitat. The project should be done by late May.
REDMOND, OR -- An Arizona man faces drunken driving charges, following a late-night crash that sent a State Police Trooper to the hospital. According to Redmond Police, the Trooper was southbound on Highway 97, Thursday night, when a northbound vehicle turned left into the path of his patrol car. Investigators say 42-year-old Christopher Luna was attempting to get into the Motel 6 parking lot on the south end of Redmond.
The collision caused the patrol car to roll on to its side, coming to rest on the driver’s side in a nearby vacant lot. The Trooper was taken to the hospital by fellow Troopers, where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Luna was arrested at the scene, accused of DUII, Assault, Reckless Endangering and Reckless Driving. The investigation is ongoing, and Any witnesses to the crash are asked to contact Redmond Police at 541-693-6911.
BEND, OR -- Oregon Housing and Community Services has a five-year plan to create affordable housing across the state. Bend's newest City Councilor, Chris Piper, attended a meeting Thursday to learn about the new plan. He believes its focus on data, research, and customer service will help address this region's pressing need for housing, "This is something that is very top-of-mind with me, and I know, with a lot of residents in Bend, because we're at a place right now where housing production has really failed to keep up with population growth, and to maintain balance between supply and demand."
Experts estimate more than 150,000 additional houses were needed in Oregon between 2000 and 2015 than were actually built, leading to the massive statewide shortage. Piper says he recognizes this isn't just a Bend problem, "It's important for us to look at this and say, 'Hey. it's not a Deschutes County issue.' We have to look at this as also a tri-County Issue. Deschutes, Jefferson, and Crook because there's so many differences between the counties, and so we have to work together." The five-part, five-year plan is in the early stages but Piper tells KBND News is should help more people achieve home-ownership, "Paving a way that's going to create greater ease of process for those in an economic class that we have to be mindful of, so we can ensure that they have a smoother way into a home, not making it more difficult."
The plan will determine what kinds of affordable housing projects will work best for Oregonians, and Piper says he looks forward to applying its concepts to proposed projects in the region, with an emphasis on racial and social justice, homelessness or housing insecurity, and increased access in rural communities.
Graphic courtesy Oregon Housing and Community Services. Full report found HERE.
BEND, OR -- A new wildlife hospital and conservation center opens this summer, after years of planning. "We came out of an old organization that discontinued a wildlife hospital," says Think Wild Executive Director Michelle van Hilten, "And then basically, have spent the last three years planning, preparing, and building a sustainable and strong foundation to serve the community and wildlife here in Central Oregon."
She tells KBND News the facility will eventually be able to care for 250 small mammals, water fowl and raptors each year, "It's set up to provide high quality of care and to keep predator and prey species separated, and then we're also going to be building wildlife enclosures, we're on four acres, so we'll be keeping wildlife throughout the four acres in their own species specific enclosures that are going to be placed with that in mind, as well as, stress reduction." Volunteers for the non-profit have already begun demolition to renovate a house east of Bend; construction is expected to be complete by June.
Think Wild aims to inspire the High Desert community to understand and protect native wildlife. But, van Hilten says you should never approach a wild animal, especially if they're hurt or seem orphaned. "Just call the hotline, it's 541-241-8680, and you can call to get guidance from an expert and we can arrange transport and care for that injured animal. So, we just encourage the community to call the hotline first, before taking any action." For more information, and to get involved, visit ThinkWildCO.org.
2019-04-12 08:01:00 by Kelsey Watts, FOX 12 Oregon
FOREST GROVE, OR (KPTV) -- A young woman in Forest Grove who survived two suicide attempts is sharing her story to encourage other people who may be in crisis to reach out and find help. Kelsey Johnson is now 20-years-old and just over a year into her recovery. She said it hasn’t been easy, but it’s been worth it. “The healing process never ends, but it does get a little bit easier,” she told FOX 12. Click HERE to watch the full story.
From a young age, she was bullied in school and dealt with the issue over the course of several years. She developed serious anxiety, panic attacks and a distorted sense of her self-worth. “I had this mentality that if people are treating me like this and this is happening so often, then I’m unworthy of love and I’m unworthy of being treated right,” she explained.
She was in middle school when she had her first suicidal thought. By the time she was 18, those thoughts turned to action. “I tried to overdose on some prescription pills I had,” Johnson recalled. “…It’s the idea that people are going to be better without me, or the world’s going to be better without me.” After that, her way of ‘coping’ was to pretend it never happened. Rather than addressing the issues that brought her to that point, she simply tried to move on. It didn’t work.
A year later, at the age of 19, she tried taking her own life for the second time. “They told me at the hospital when I actually got to the hospital, the lethal limit was 1,000 mg and I overdosed by 1,500,” she said. “So I totally should have died that day.” It was the turning point in her life that led her to finally find help. “[I realized] I have to face up to what happened because I want to get better for myself,” she said. She moved back in with her parents, started seeing a psychologist every week, dug deeply into her church community and opened-up to her loved ones about her struggles.
Recovery didn’t happen overnight and it’s a process she’s still going through, but she can now honestly say that she values her life and considers it a precious gift. To anyone else who may be in crisis, she says you’re not alone. Reach out and get help, because there are other people who feel what you feel and understand what you’re facing – and life is worth living. “It’s hard,” she said of the recovery process. “But it’s possible and you can do it.”
REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond School District will start sending the most delinquent meal accounts to collections by the end of this school year. Nutrition Services Director Keith Feidler says traditionally, past due meal balances accounted for about half of one-percent of the budget; he thought of it as just the cost of doing business. But, in the past two years, it’s risen to about 7%. "It’s a bit over $200,000. That is a good estimate of an accrual," he tells KBND News, "And I can tell you, it’s rising. So, what we’ve seen is an exponential increase in accounts just not being paid."
He believes the timing is related to a 2017 state bill designed to prevent "lunch shaming." Among other rules, it requires districts to provide meals to students, regardless of whether they have funds in their school meal account, and it prevents staff from telling the child they're overdrawn. Feidler says the district follows the guidelines and notifies parents in writing, as well as providing online account access, "We do have a parent portal system, so any parent who chooses to can set up where they can go in and look at their child’s meal account and meal activity, and see if they had breakfast and lunch, as often as they want to. We also, every approximately two weeks, we send out a negative balance notice with a request to contact us." But, he says, not every parent reads every school notice.
Beginning next week, Redmond Schools will send additional notices to those with the highest balances, "We’re going to send a series of notices out after it’s already over $100, which means, essentially, it’s already past 30 days from the point at which they had the meals." Feidler says the district wants to work with families to create manageable payment plans, when possible, "My target is ‘nobody ever goes to a third party collection agency.’ I mean, that’s my goal. But, at the same time, we feel that it’s the responsible way to treat education dollars." If the debt is not paid off within 60 days, and no payment plan is set up, the district considers it "uncollectible" and it will be turned over to a third party collections agency.
Families who qualify for free or reduced lunch won't go to collections. Feidler says all students who request a meal will be fed, regardless of their account balance or ability to pay. But, when a student isn't approved for meal benefits, their account will be charged.
MADRAS, OR -- A former Madras Police officer was sentenced Thursday to six years in federal prison for the repeated sexual abuse of a minor. According to the US Attorney’s Office, the investigation into 35-year-old John Wallace, Jr. began in January 2018 when the victim and her mother contacted Warm Springs Police to report the abuse. Investigators say it took place over several years at his home on the reservation and on a separate occasion in Madras.
According to the Madras Pioneer, Wallace worked for Warm Springs Police prior to being hired by Madras PD in 2015. He was put on leave when the investigation began in January 2018, and fired a few months later.
Wallace pleaded guilty on January 3, 2019, to three counts of abusive sexual contact with a minor. In a related state matter, a Jefferson County judge found him guilty of attempted sexual abuse in the first degree and official misconduct in the first degree. He'll be sentenced Friday on those counts.
After prison, Wallace will serve a life term of supervised release.
2019-04-11 10:12:00 by Megan Trihey, KATU News
PORTLAND, OR -- A woman, who calls herself a reformed bully, is working to turn her painful past into a positive future for others. Crystal Wilson spent much of her childhood starting fights. "I would slam kids into lockers and laugh,” she said. “I would start fights with girls for just looking my direction; no reason at all, except in my mind, I did have a reason."
She bullied boys, girls, and even teachers. “Pretty much everyone in my path when I was angry,” she said. Click HERE to view her full story. Wilson finally came to terms with it as an adult, and earlier this year read a letter to the Gladstone City Council in the hope of getting city leaders to better understand bullying. “Bullies don’t become bullies for no reason,” Wilson said.
She realized bullying was a reaction created out of pain. "I was hurting, so (I) wanted to hurt others,” she said. “This is usually how bullying starts. Someone's in pain so they focus on hurting others to distract them from their own stress, pain, and problems." Tyson Payne is a behavioral health clinician at Providence. He agreed that kids who bully are often suffering, too. “It’s a symptom of other pain children are feeling and I think one of the reasons why it’s talked about more is there are a lot of things that teachers, systems, and parents can do about it,” said Payne.
Wilson knows she can’t change the effect she had on people while growing up, but now wants to be an advocate for kindness. "Now I want to be known for who I am today,” she said. “I want to be known for standing up for those who are being bullied and to help the bullies who may not have anyone to talk to." She’s promoting involvement and encouraging people in the community to take time and be mentors for kids -- even perpetrators. "The bully needs just as much listening as kid getting bullied," said Wilson. She hopes others learn from her mistakes. "I want them to know the power of kindness and to know kind is better," she said. Payne said it starts with recognition. “The biggest thing is to recognize that it’s bullying and then talk to an adult,” he said.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County and the city of Bend have submitted the state’s first Community Response Plan, to request an exemption from smoke management rules during prescribed burns. "[It] Outlines how we are going to outreach to the public to let them know when and where fire’s happening, and what people can do," says County Forester Ed Keith, "Simple things like: if they’re aware that a fire is going to be planned, going to bed with their windows and doors closed, not planning for their morning run, but maybe taking it at lunchtime or in the afternoon." He tells KBND News that outreach effort is ongoing and got a big boost last year, with the launch of the CentralOregonFire.org website.
Central Oregon isn't the only region in the state to use prescribed burns as a means of protecting residents from future wildfire. But, Keith says Bend's topography creates a unique situation that makes it nearly impossible to keep smoke out of populated areas, "Our challenge here is that the overnight smoke that settles into town, usually for a short period of time – we’re asking if we could be exempt for a short period of time for those air quality standards; the trade-off being that we can conduct those burns closer to town." He says the long-term air quality restrictions, as laid out by federal air pollution guidelines, would still be followed.
Without the exemption, Keith says Bend would continue to violate the state "smoke intrusion" rules during critical burn operations that reduce wildfire fuels, "We’ve had several intrusions in the past, so we’re basically recognizing that we still need to do that work. The trade-off being that we still need to protect our communities from wildfire. So we need to accept a small amount of smoke in the spring, in order for firefighters to have a safe zone to protect town, should a fire be burning towards it." Keith says the state has 30 days to respond to the request. He says it could take the full timeframe since Central Oregon's Community Response Plan is the first to be submitted under the new rules.
BEND, OR -- After two years of testing marketing concepts around “sustainable tourism” and an increased focus on community, Visit Bend Executive Director Kevney Dugan says the strategy shift will be long-term. "It’s formally adopting that way of thinking. I think some of these efforts and campaigns were things we thought we should be doing and really knew we should be doing, but didn’t really know how that would impact the way of thinking across the entire the organization."
Dugan tells KBND News the Bend Pledge, which includes vows to be respectful of nature, responsible with fire and courteous in roundabouts, has been extremely popular since it was released as part of the "Visit Like a Local" campaign in 2017, "We’ve had almost 50,000 people take that or sign up for that. We’ve seen that model sort of replicated in other communities. So, I think there is an appetite, both from our potential visitors, as well as for our community to sort of adopt that way of thinking and also take a breather and say, ‘this is a community we love and we respect’."
During the recession, he says, the focus was on "bringing as many visitors as possible to Bend" to help stimulate the economy. But, that's no longer necessary and Dugan says the new approach is about balance, "We’ve been thinking this way for a while. But, I think myself as well as the board and others, were sort of reluctant to really formally adopt that way of thinking. And, that’s what we’re ready to do now is say, ‘we’ve thought a lot about this, we’ve talked a lot about this, we’ve seen how the community has changed, we’ve listened to the community and this is what we think should be the way we think about this organization and its impact on the community’."
Visit Bend will continue to launch initiatives aimed at conservation, visitor education and sustainability, and reinforce partnerships with land managers and conservation groups.
SISTERS, OR -- As Sisters grows, they city and its surrounding communities need to address the need for affordable housing. In a step in that direction, City Manager Cory Misley presented the final draft of a new affordable housing project to City Council, at Wednesday night's meeting. They unanimously approved the ordinance.
While most cities waive System Development Charges to entice contractors to build affordable housing, Misley says this program is different, "In the past, the city didn't have a set criteria, didn't have a set policy for how it supported affordable housing; and one of the things we're doing with this policy, with this program, is moving away from waiving SDCs and instead taking these dedicated grant dollars for affordable housing and using them in that respect." He tells KBND News, "The grant funds are largely going to be composed of a portion of our transient room tax, but there's a portion that's set aside specifically for affordable housing, and the city has a affordable housing reserve."
The new program outlines an application process and allows for future revisions, "It's part science, part art," says Misley, "This program gives us some flexibility while also having a set process in place, to adjust as we see what the needs are." A Housing Needs Analysis is currently being conducted, and Misley expects that will be done in June. That will provide the city with a more accurate prediction of future demographics to help determine what type of housing units are needed. He hopes construction of the actual projects can begin by next year.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man faces numerous charges after allegedly crashing into two parked cars and running from officers near the Old Mill District, Wednesday afternoon. Bend Police say 32-year-old Darren Graybehl first hit a car near Wilson and Bond, at about 2:30 p.m. then took off, hitting another car two blocks away. They say he then drove through a fence at Scalehouse Loop and ran from the scene.
He’s accused of trying to get into two other cars before allegedly stealing a bike in his attempt to escape. Graybehl was arrested a short time later for DUII, three counts of Hit & Run, seven counts of Reckless Endangering, four counts of Reckless Driving, three counts of Criminal Mischief, two counts of Unlawful Enter into a Motor Vehicle, as well as Theft II and Posession of Controlled Substances.
REDMOND, OR -- Two aircraft emergencies occurred at two Central Oregon airports about an hour apart, Wednesday morning. The first involved a United Express plane at the Redmond Airport. According to a passenger aboard the plane, the pilot said there was a malfunction in the landing system and the crew was forced to apply the emergency brakes. The plane was stopped on the ground by the time first responders arrived. There were 23 passengers on board and everyone deplaned safely; no injuries were reported.
Airport Director Zach Bass says all four tires on the small plane were flat. In his years at Roberts Field, he says it's the first time he's seen that occur with a commercial aircraft. The plane remains disabled on the secondary runway until a mechanic and new tires can be flown in. Bass says it's not impacting airport operations.
About an hour later, at around 10:45 a.m., a small plane flipped on to its top at the Sisters Eagle Airport. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office reports the pilot and passenger were able to get out on their own and were not seriously hurt.
A Black Butte Police Sergeant saw the single engine plane flip while attempting to land and radioed for assistance from the Sheriff's Office and Sisters Fire. Arriving crews found the plane just off the runway, on its top. The runway was closed for about 90 minutes for the investigation. The Sheriff's Office says the pilot, 73-year-old Brian Lansburgh, of Sisters, was attempting to land when a gust of wind caused the plane to flip. Lansburgh and his passenger, 88-year-old John Watson of Bend, were the only two aboard at the time of the incident.
2019-04-10 10:35:00 by Kyle Iboshi, KGW News
SALEM, OR -- The entrance to Sprague High School in Salem is lined with yard signs reading “Don’t Give Up” and “You Matter.” The messages of encouragement sprouted from tragedy after the loss of three Sprague students who died by suicide last year. Now two of their families are sharing their stories, offering advice for parents and the community to help prevent suicide.
“I think the stigma around suicide has got to change,” said Carol McMann. Her son, Ben McMann, is remembered as a bright and popular kid who could light up a room with his smile. He was a history buff who loved to cook. He was passionate about football. “He was happy. He didn’t lead on to any anxiety or depression or anything that we’d have said ‘let’s intervene,’” said Kyle McMann, Ben’s father. Ben died of suicide on September 16, 2018. He was 14 years old.
Seventeen days later, another Sprague student took his own life. Aaron Brown was a junior. “I think it just knocked people for a loop,” said Dr. David Brown, Aaron’s father and longtime choir director at Sprague. Aaron was a good kid. He became an Eagle Scout and had a lot of friends. “He didn’t put on a show and didn’t feel it was necessary to be somebody he wasn’t,” said Dr. Brown. “He was very genuine.” Dr. Brown said the loss of his son proves anyone is vulnerable to suicide. “He had two supportive parents, had a good home life, was doing well in school,” said Dr. Brown. “If a kid like Aaron could get to that point, anybody can.”
The McManns and Dr. Brown agree an important first step to address this crisis is to talk about it. The issue of suicide is especially acute among young people. Suicide was the second leading cause of death among Oregonians age 10 to 34 in 2017, according to the Oregon Health Authority. That same year, 18% of eleventh graders reported seriously considering suicide in the previous year and 6.8 percent reported having attempted suicide one or more times, according to the OHA. Parents need to have an open discussion with their children about how they’re feeling, even if they’re not showing obvious signs of depression of suicidal thoughts.“We have to learn to start asking questions in different ways, open-ended questions instead of closed-ended questions,” explained Dr. Brown. “Tell me about your English class? Then, let them talk.” Both parents suggest you remind your kids, it will be OK. They’ll get past the pressures of high school, even though the stress may feel insurmountable.
Principal Craig Swanson helped guide Sprague students and staff through tragedy with messages of hope and inspiration. “We’ve got to keep talking about this because it is an epidemic,” said Swanson. Swanson believes counseling and suicide prevention programs can help save lives. Swanson said there are countless untold stories of students who got help by speaking up. “To see them successful and happy in life is a great source of pride,” said Swanson.
The parents of Aaron and Ben believe everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide. Family, friends, coaches, teammates and neighbors should be looking for changes in mood and behavior, then ask about it. “It’s everybody looking out because you never know who that person is who they’re going to open up to,” said Kyle McMann.
Photo: Linda McMann holds photos of her son Ben. Ben died by suicide in 2018 when he was 14 years old.
BEND, OR -- As Kaylee’s Law heads to a full floor vote in Oregon’s Senate, Central Oregon Community College appears poised to make the changes laid out in the bill. Bend Police Chief Jim Porter is encouraged by recent talks with the school’s administration, "COCC has continued to engage us at the highest level. Meeting with the Chairman of their Board and meeting with the President, we’ve come to some very agreeable conclusions on this, to make the campus more safe."
Chief Porter tells KBND News, "They’ve agreed to comply with nearly all of the standards which are set forth in Kaylee’s Law: the look of the uniforms, so they don’t look like a police officer; not to 'stop, arrest and detain' people; the removal of the cages from the vehicles, and the removal of the large push bumpers, and also the changing of lights. Now, many of these things they’ve done in incremental fashion, already." Porter says talks continue regarding light bars on top of patrol cars, which he says aren’t allowed on public streets under state law.
He's pleased COCC seems willing to follow through on the recommendations, following months of resistance and conversations, "The President, Shirley Metcalf, has dedicated herself to solving this issue. Our meeting, actually, last week, was something that’s kind of unheard of – we met without attorneys present. Organizations generally don’t do that. She and the Chairman of the Board Laura Cooper want to get this resolved, want to get this behind the college and move forward."
While Chief Porter believes the voluntary compliance is a step in the right direction, he says Kaylee’s Law is still needed because it creates important conduct standards and accountability for campus public safety. The bill, sponsored by Bend State Senator Tim Knopp and named for Kaylee Sawyer, passed out of committee this week and appears to have enough support for approval by the full Senate. Senator Knopp (R-Bend) is optimistic it will be approved and signed by the Governor before the end of the session.
BEND, OR -- Four financial experts debated proposed tax legislation, Tuesday night, at the Bend Chamber What's Brewing? event. Taking part in the panel were Certified Public Accountant Wes Price, of Price Fronk & Co., Jeremy Rogers, with the Oregon Business Council, former Bend State Representative and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Dr. Knute Buehler, and Eileen Kiely, former Democratic candidate for House District 53 and a former operations controller for Daimler Trucks North America.
Price says the state's budget is already more than $76 billion. Rather than just demanding more money in taxes, he believes the budget should undergo a major review. "It just seems like there's a bent to just keep growing everything, without really trying to assess what we're really buying. Do we ever get to weigh in on whether it's really adding value?" Dr. Buehler agrees the state has enough to fund necessary services, "The Oregon state budget has gone up 44% over the last three budget cycles," He told the crowd at 10 Barrel, "I'm sure all of you would like to see that kind of revenue growth in your personal wages or your business. And, it's still not enough."
Kiely countered, saying that failing to increase revenue would lead to cuts to important programs, "Government's job is to allocate those social costs. You can't say that, 'Oh, we'll reduce taxes,' and not expect there to be some increase someplace else in our life." She added, "Either we have to create a whole new special-use tax, or we have to increase our corporate taxes. I'm of the opinion that individuals are carrying quite enough of the load, and it's time for our businesses to share that."
Rogers says one of the main reasons the state wants more money is the PERS liability, and the Legislature must add $1 billion dollars each budget cycle to fund the retirement program. "All jurisdictions in the state will collectively owe about $26 or $27 billion in debt. The way we have it set up is to pay it off over 20 years." Buehler says The PERS deficit should've been solved ages ago. He believes it made sense in the 80s when inflation was high, but says that's no longer the case, "That doesn't mean that's an agreement that is going to exist throughout the next 40 years, but that's what's happened because there has been this assumption that that is the deal going forward forever."
The 5.8 billion dollars worth of tax proposals being considered in the Legislature would fund education, Medicaid, and PERS, and experts say would primarily impact small business owners. Price says the people who find out last about new taxes being considered are those busy running their small businesses. "Now is the time that small business needs to be engaged in the conversation. The only way that we can get the message out is get in front of folks and deal with it; say something."
REDMOND, OR -- A Utah man is accused of speeding through a stop sign near the Redmond Airport, running from a Deputy and prompting a K-9 search. The Sheriff’s Office says a Deputy attempted to stop a speeding Corvette at about 7:45 Tuesday night, near 10th and Veterans Way. When the driver refused to stop, the Deputy initiated a short pursuit but was unable to keep up with the Corvette. It was last seen speeding northbound on Lake Road.
A short time later, a Redmond Police officer found the unoccupied Corvette parked in a lot near Veterans Way. A K-9 unit tracked the suspect northwest of the vehicle, setting up a perimeter around 10th Street and Highway 126/Evergreen.
At about 8:45 p.m., a citizen reported seeing a man run north across Evergreen, near 9th. The perimeter was quickly adjusted and they found the suspect; 47-year-old Eric Halloran was arrested without further incident. The Park City, Utah man is charged with Felony Elude and Reckless Driving.
REDMOND, OR -- High winds fueled a blaze that destroyed a Redmond-area home, Tuesday night. Crews responded to the call on Highway 126, west of Eagle Crest, at about 7:45 p.m. and found the house fully engulfed.
The two residents discovered the fire after they lost their television signal and went to investigate why. A pair of sisters was driving by and helped the two homeowners evacuate.
Firefighters struggled to extinguish the blaze in the wind and remained on scene through the night. The cause is under investigation.
POST, OR -- The fast-moving Crooked River trapped a woman on a small island, Tuesday morning. "Crook County 911 received a distress call from the Bonnieview Ranch in Post," says Crook County Undersheriff James Savage, "It was reported that a female had been thrown from her horse and was stranded on an island in the Crooked River. Due to the warming weather and rain, the Crooked River above the Prineville Reservoir is swollen, creating several islands."
Savage tells KBND News, "Kristine was working on the ranch, she and another male went out to check the cows that were stuck on an island. They crossed two crossings – the first crossing, they made it safely; the second crossing, they both got bucked off their horses. It was much swifter and deeper than the first crossing. The male made it back safely to shore with both horses. However, Kristine, who went under the water was stranded in the middle of the river."
Crook County Deputies, medics and Search and Rescue teams responded to the area, about 20 miles southeast of Prineville, just before 10:30 a.m. They found 31-year-old Kristine Voakes, of Prineville, stuck on the small island. "Crook County Fire and Rescue has some swift water gear on their ambulance," says Savage, "Sheriff’s Deputies and Fire personnel were able to be driven across the first crossing by a ranch tractor. The second crossing was much deeper and swifter. Crook County Fire personnel then deployed into the water and were able to make it to the island where Kristine was at." They helped her into safety equipment and pulled her back across the river. Click HERE for a video of the rescue.
Voakes was checked out by medics; she was cold and wet but otherwise unhurt. Savage says Tuesday's rescue had a good outcome, but he reminds everyone that rivers are running high and everyone needs to use caution. A few miles away from where Voakes was stranded, Paulina Highway was partially closed due to rising water.
BEND, OR -- After several years of local debate, a small section of Central Oregon Canal is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Central Oregon Canal, along with the Pilot Butte Canal, forms the backbone of the project that provided irrigation to tens of thousands of acres of land; its construction began in 1904.
The Central Oregon Canal Historic District comprises 3.4 miles of the 47-mile long canal, bordered by Ward and Gosney Roads in Bend. Oregon's State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation recommended forwarding the historic district's nomination to the National Park Service in November. The National Park Service, which maintains the National Register, accepted the nomination and listed the Central Oregon Canal Historic District in the National Register on March 18. The listing was just announced Tuesday.
BEND, OR -- Oregon Housing and Community Services is awarding nearly $35 million to fund 466 new affordable housing units through the Local Innovation and Fast Track (LIFT) housing program. Nearly $7 million of that is coming to Central Oregon. Housing Works Executive Director David Brandt says the money will pay for 90 new units in Redmond and Madras, "We try to do about 100 units a year because that's the demand; it's pretty crazy in Central Oregon for affordable housing. So, one of them is 23 units in Madras - called Canyon West (pictured: right) - and it's 60% of Area Median Income (AMI) or lower; actually a lot of them are extremely low income, 30% AMI and lower. And then, 67 units in Redmond, near Reindeer."
Those 90 units in Redmond and Madras are the latest Housing Works projects to be funded by the state's LIFT program. Brandt says it also helped pay for 90 units in La Pine and Sisters that are ready to open this week. He tells KBND News, "42 units in the city of La Pine, and then 48 units of apartments in the city of Sisters. All of them affordable to folks making 60% of the Area Median Income or less." He adds, "We're excited. We're trying to meet the demand. It's kind of awesome how much demand there is for these units, and so we build them as fast as we can get them built."
On Friday, Housing Works will host grand opening celebrations for Ponderosa Heights in Sisters (pictured: top), at 10 a.m., and La Pine's Hawks View Estates, at 2 p.m.
Governor Kate Brown says the LIFT program is a critical tool to help solve the housing crisis. She' asking Legislators to increase funding by $130 million over the next two years.
PORTLAND, OR -- There were 15 youth suicides reported in Central Oregon in 2017, and Bend State Representative Cheri Helt believes it’s a crisis that has solutions. She's supporting a bill creating a statewide School Safety and Prevention System to help school districts combat bullying and harassment, prevent suicide and promote student wellness. "It’s getting a lot of support," she told KATU's Steve Dunn on Sunday, "We need to make sure that we implement solutions that are going to work and this is a solution that they’ve looked into; it’s had a lot of eyes on it." She adds, "I sat on the school board and every time we lost a student, it is very personal and it is a very difficult thing, and it is preventable. As a community and as a state, we need to come together and prevent suicides from happening, and it’s a conversation that we have to have."
But, Helt says new legislation is just one approach, "We really need to be looking at our staffing ratios, as well." The Bend Republican says, "For years, in Oregon, we’ve been cutting staff and the crux of the problem is we don’t have enough teachers, we don’t have enough counselors and we don’t have enough people in our buildings. So, it’s also going to take adding back staff. We have not recovered from the recession in Oregon, in our schools, and we have to make sure that we change that trajectory."
Click HERE to watch Steve Dunn's full interview with Rep. Cheri Helt (R-Bend). All this week, KBND and newsrooms across Oregon are shining a light on issues surrounding suicide, and possible solutions. For more "Breaking the Silence" stories, visit BreakingTheSilenceOR.com.
REDMOND, OR -- Direct flights between Redmond and Las Vegas return this fall. "Truthfully, the Central Oregon Air Service Team and airport staff and city staff have really been hearing what customers want," says Redmond Airport Director Zach Bass, "And, the top thing we’ve heard for years is, ‘we want a direct to Vegas.’ We’ve tried our best, over the years, to make that happen and it currently has with Sun Country, coming in in September." Sun Country Airlines is a discount carrier based in Minneapolis, operating in 54 airports. They announced a total of six new routes, including Redmond to Las Vegas, Monday.
Allegiant Air offered nonstop flights from Redmond to Vegas for five years. But, they halted the service in the spring of 2012 and pulled out of Redmond altogether a few months later. Sun Country is the first new carrier to come to Roberts Field since Allegiant, "They [Sun Country] are smaller than some of the main airlines, but they run 95 routes," Bass tells KBND News, "They’re running newer 737-700s and 800s; they have a great reputation. In Oregon, they run out of Portland but we’ll be the first airport outside of Portland that has them."
Tickets are now available for the new Sun Country Service, which will run Thursdays and Sundays, "They will be starting September fifth to the middle of December. So, it will be seasonal to begin with. Like we’ve seen with Chicago, starting in June, we’re hoping that, as it’s used and it shows it’s profitable for the airlines, they’ll keep it year-round."
MADRAS, OR -- Managers of the Madras Warming Shelter are looking back on the long winter. "We had a total of 116 nights open, which are 100 more than we projected," says Director Pat Abernathy. "We had a total of 1,458 dinners, plus we also did breakfasts and brown bag lunches each day for our guests. The total guest nights were 1,164, that means how many beds we filled in the five month period that we were open."
Abernathy says she most celebrates the contributions to the greater community, "We have the guests that secured a job: 16 people; and 19 went into rehab or into housing. We feel like we changed the culture of Jefferson County by loving these people." And, she tells KBND News, they saved lives, "We had six people at once get pneumonia, and this was during the really bad cold storms that we had in February. Thankfully, we had been feeding these people for two months and giving them a warm place to sleep. Had we not been, I think we probably would've lost some of them this year."
The winter shelter rotates between several different churches. It's a joint operation between the Jefferson County Faith Based Network, Shepherd's House Ministries, and Madras Gospel Mission. Abernathy will update the Madras City Council on the season and the shelter's progress, at Tuesday evening's Council meeting.
SALEM, OR -- A bill to allow the creation of more affordable housing in Redmond passed the state Senate Monday on a unanimous vote, and is now ready for the Governor’s signature. It would allow the city to take part in a pilot program intended to expedite development of affordable housing outside Urban Growth Boundaries.
The bill’s chief sponsor, State Representative Jack Zika (R-Redmond), says it will bring an additional 485 homes to his city, half would be designated for low-income families. Skyline Village would be built on the eastern edge of Redmond. Zika says at least seven developers have already expressed interest in the project.
LA PINE, OR -- Two burglars made off with the safe from a La Pine sports bar, early Monday morning. Detectives with the Sheriff’s Office recovered video surveillance that shows two people force their way in to the Wickiup Station Sports Pub just after 4 a.m., remove the safe and take off.
Both were wearing all black; one had white stripes on the sleeves of the jacket. They had backpacks and wore masks and caps to hide their faces.
The Sheriff's Office asks anyone with video surveillance in the area around the pub and Drafter Road to review footage for any people or vehicles seen between 3 and 5 a.m. Monday. Anyone with information in the case is asked to call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon received record snowfall in February. "It kind of brought the season's worth of snow and precipitation in that one short month to catch up the snowpack to near normal," says Julie Koeberle, Hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. But March was drier than normal, "The Upper Deschutes and Crooked River Basins, if you look at all of our weather stations in the area grouped together, it's only 54% of average for the amount of precipitation in March."
While, that decline in precipitation could have caused concern, Koeberle says, "The snowpack, in and around the basin, is really in good shape." On Friday, she told KBND News, "There's a lot of variability, of course, but if you lump all of our sites together in the Upper Deschutes and the Crooked basin today, it's at 107% of normal for snowpack, so in good shape." In fact, due to weekend storms, the Upper Deschutes Basin bumped up to 109% of normal on Monday. However, Koeberle says the long-term forecast calls for a drier than average summer, which could deplete the snowpack too quickly, "A lot of times, when we have these long-term outlooks, you could still get a really cold storm or a really wet storm." She says, if that happens, the region should still have enough water for summer, "When we're talking about a climate outlook that's now calling for warmer and drier conditions for the next three months, you can still get some of these short-term wet storms."
Snowpack is important for maintaining adequate stream flows for fish and reservoir levels for summer irrigation.
REDMOND, OR -- Work on Redmond’s South Canal Boulevard is in the home stretch, after a one-year closure. City Engineer Mike Caccavano says crews have finished sidewalks and, this week, they’ll install signs and mailboxes, and work on grading the base rock for pavement. "The week of the 15th is paving. As long as it doesn’t rain all week, they’ll get it paved; striping at the end of the week, and then opening probably late afternoon on Friday, the 19th." But don't expect any pomp and circumstance, "That is one of our things here in Engineering, we’re like, ‘okay, we’re done with that one; let’s move on to the next.’ We don’t often take the time to celebrate."
He says the stretch of road from Veterans Way to Yew Avenue is a vast improvement over what Canal Boulevard was before, "There was a roadway, but it was substandard pavement and it didn’t have the turn lanes. So, that was the original motivation for the project, bring it up to our standard." After planning for the project began, it became an even higher priority because of its location, "The importance of it as an alternative to 97, particularly with the pretty significant increase we’ve seen all along 97, from Madras through Bend - I think the realization of how important it is has increased." And, he tells KBND News, it was important to improve the street, if and when ODOT takes on a proposed redesign of South Highway 97, which could send even more cars on to SW Canal.
When the rest of Canal reopens, next week, one intersection will remain closed. Caccavano expects construction of a new roundabout at Canal and Pumice will begin by early summer, "The intent is to get it done before school starts. And, it would just effect that one intersection. But, we’re really working hard, trying to come up with an option that at least maintains one-way traffic." Caccavano acknowledges the delay is an inconvenience, but says it’s needed to handle increased traffic volumes expected by an apartment complex planned for nearby.
While the main South Canal Boulevard reconstruction project came in on time and just about 1% over budget, at nearly $7 million, the small roundabout adds another estimated half million dollars.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County families pay more for food, per person, than almost anywhere else in the country, according to Feeding America, partly because residents are spread out and have few grocery store options. But a new pilot program could help. "In Central Oregon, food access is difficult and we’re, as a region, really spread out," says High Desert Food and Farm Alliance Director Katrina Van Dis, "So, the idea was to create a mobile unit where fresh food and food pantry items could be delivered."
She says grants are helping to fund the new “Fresh To You" mobile food truck, in cooperation with NeighborImpact's food bank program. "We're partnering, right now, with Mosaic Medical, and we’re going to park it there at an established date and time. And then, all three organizations are going to try and get the word out to people about coming to the mobile unit." She tells KBND News low-income families will be able to choose which items they want or need, once or twice a month, at the Prineville clinic (375 NW Beaver St.).
The refrigerated truck will be loaded at NeighborImpact’s main office in Redmond, "The food is going to be grown by local farmers and we’re contracting with farmers to grow specifically for this project." Van Dis adds, "The idea was to partner between our organizations because the food bank and High Desert Food and Farm Alliance are both interested in accessibility to fresh, local food and coupling that with pantry staple items."
The Fresh To You mobile food truck is nearly ready to go, but Van Dis says it won't start delivering fresh produce until June, due to Central Oregon's growing season.
BEND, OR -- A 40-year-old Alfalfa woman is accused of driving drunk and distracted after crashing into a parked car in northeast Bend, over the weekend. According to the Sheriff’s Office, Angela Harley was eating a burrito at about 12:30 a.m., Saturday, when she lost control of her Subaru on Locksley Drive and drove on the sidewalk before returning to the road and crashing into a BMW.
No one was in the parked car and Harley was not hurt, but both cars were significantly damaged. She’s one of six people charged with DUII in Deschutes County, over the weekend.
BEND, OR -- A 20-year-old Bend man is accused of breaking in to the Bi-Mart on NE 2nd Street, and stealing medications from the pharmacy. Bend Police say officers responded to a burglary alarm at the store at about 2 a.m. Saturday. When they arrived, they found glass broken out of the front door, then saw a man walking out with a backpack.
They say Daniel Shumney's backpack was full of stolen medication. He reportedly failed to comply with officers' commands and was taken in to custody with the help fo K-9 officer "Kim." Shumney is charged with Burglary, Theft and Criminal Mischief.
UPDATE: A friend of Gagatko's notified the Sheriff's Office at about 6:40 a.m. Monday to report she'd been in contact with the missing woman. Just after 7 a.m. a Deputy located her and confirmed she is alive and well.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help finding a 43-year-old Bend woman who hasn’t been seen since leaving work Thursday night. Katrina Gagatko was reported missing Saturday, after she missed her next shift at Mt. Bachelor Assisted Living. According to her roommate, Gagatko left work at 10 p.m. and said she was going to meet a friend in Sisters. She has since turned off her cell phone.
Gagatko is white, 5’3”, about 150 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes, and may be wearing a black zip-up jacket, blue polo shirt, black scrub-style pants and blue Nike shoes. She was last seen driving her 1988 GMC single-cab Sonoma pickup (pictured); it’s black with red pin striping, and equipped with a black roll bar and flood lights.
Anyone with information is asked to call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.
BEND, OR -- Over the next week, newsrooms across Oregon will highlight the public health crisis of death by suicide in our state. The goal of this unprecedented collaboration is to not only put a spotlight on a problem that claimed the lives of more than 800 people last year, but also examine research into how prevention can, and does, work. And, we want to offer our listeners resources to help if they, or those they know, are in crisis.
KBND News is proud to take part in this broad effort and will air stories from other news outlets to provide a larger statewide context. While we aren't able to broadcast every story produced by various media, you can find them at BreakingTheSilenceOR.com.
One reason journalists tend to shy away from reporting on individual suicides, except in rare circumstances, is the worry that attention could cause a "contagion effect" or cause harm to surviving friends and family. This collaborative reporting project stemmed from a conversation about media coverage of suicide, facilitated by Lines for Life, a regional non-profit focused on suicide prevention. The week-long project recognizes that our silence, while well-intended, does not serve anyone. We can and should do better at addressing this issue, just as we would any public health emergency.
Reporting from each newsroom is independent, guided by local editors and best-suited for their local communities. However, we all hope that by working collaboratively and promoting each other's work, this group effort will allow us to shine a brighter light on this problem.
KBND News begins its coverage Monday morning, April 8, with a look at the unique challenges faced by our rural communities and the resources available to help.
BEND, OR -- Several Forest Service gates west of Bend will remain closed until conditions improve. The gates prevent motorized vehicles from entering critical wildlife habitat, between December and March. But, officials say the late-season snow and wet conditions necessitate a delay to protect resources.
The three gates are across from Widgi Creek Golf Course, at the Forest Road 4604 and 4610 junction, and the gate just past Phil’s Trailhead on FS Rd 4604.
The Forest Service plans to open the gates to vehicles when forest roads are clear of snow and dry. They're open to bikes and pedestrians, year-round.
BEND, OR -- The Arnold Irrigation District plans to convert its open-ditch irrigation canals on the south end of Bend to an underground, closed-pipe system, in the latest irrigation modernization project in Central Oregon. Officials estimate it will reduce water loss through seepage, at a rate of 45.1-cubic feet per second, throughout the entire irrigation season.
The public can weigh in on planning efforts at a scoping meeting scheduled for April 17, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Elk Meadow Elementary (60880 Brookswood Blvd. Bend). That input will be included in a draft watershed plan used to secure funding for the project.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County's County Community Development Department has a plan for the next fiscal year that outlines anticipated projects and goals requested by residents. Director Nick Lelack says the plan serves as a framework to solve major issues, "Our goal is to address affordable housing and a lot of major transportation projects."
Lelack tells KBND News the plan is rewritten every year to address suggestions from residents, "The real key priorities this year are going to be addressing affordable housing, which includes working with the cities of Bend and Redmond on some pilot projects, and hopefully addressing rural accessory dwelling units. There's a whole slew of amendments to the county code that we're going to be talking about, and a lot of major transportation projects occurring in Tumalo, Terrebonne, and all of our cities." They'll also consider changes that could allow rural ADUs, if approved by the Legislature, "What we need to do is look at the avenues available to provide rural Accessory Swelling Units, or what can we do to support the cities of Bend or Redmond expand their urban Growth boundaries?" If state lawmakers clear the way for rural ADUs, zoning changes would be needed, "[There's] A proposal by the county to redesignate six residential areas that are currently zoned farm or forest to what they actually are, which is rural residential, and this will both streamline and lower the permitting costs for people that want to build a home on their properties."
The public is invited to provide input as the plan is finalized at three open houses this month. Then, County Commissioners will vote to adopt the plan before July first. Click HERE to view the full draft plan.
Open houses will be held:
Thursday, April 11, 5:30 p.m. - La Pine Senior Center, 16450 Victory Way, La Pine
Thursday, April 18, 5:30 p.m. - Deschutes Services Center, 1300 NW Wall Street, Bend
Thursday, April 25, 6 p.m. - Sisters City Hall, 520 E Cascade Ave, Sisters
BEND, OR -- Portland tried out electric-scooter sharing last year and officials in that city plan to bring it back this spring. But, Bend City councilors are more hesitant to allow e-scooter sharing companies here.
Jeff Munson, with Commute Options, says he's ridden them several times. He believes e-scooter sharing could be a legitimate transit option for "the last mile" - that distance between where a bus rider is dropped off and their final destination. "They’re fun, they’re easy to park, I’d like to see a program come to Bend, maybe Redmond and other cities." Munson tells KBND News they're another way the city could ease downtown traffic congestion, "There’s questions about how much parking there is downtown and other issues with traffic, and so these e-scooters would make it a lot easier to get around on short trips. And, they’re really inexpensive; we could put e-scooters all around town."
During last year's four-month pilot program in Portland, there were reports of scooters being left on sidewalks and blocking rights of way. Munson thinks problems in Portland were overblown, "There’s rumors about scooters thrown in the river, and I really don’t think that was widespread."
Bend's City Council, this week, agreed to postpone allowing e-scooter sharing companies for at least another year, until regulations are developed. Munson says a similar bike-sharing program has been successful at OSU-Cascades, and he's disappointed scooters will have to wait, "I really don’t want to wait another year to roll these out. But, I guess the summer of 2020 might make sense when maybe there are some upgrades and the city is officially ready to roll these out with proper regulations, and that type of thing." He adds, "To be sure that this gets rolled out in the most correct way." Munson says the technology is constantly improving, along with the scooters themselves, so he thinks they'll be even better by the time they hit Bend streets.
Photo courtesy of Commute Options: Executive Director Jeff Munson rides through Bend on a Lime electric scooter, Thursday.
REDMOND, OR -- Affordable housing continues to be in high demand throughout Central Oregon, and Redmond is working to update is Comprehensive Housing Plan to determine how best to meet future needs.
Redmond Planning Manager Deborah McMahon says the Department of Land Conservation and Development invited cities of about 30,000 people to get a "Housing Needs Analysis." EcoNorthwest is now conducting that analysis, looking at the city's existing development plan, available land inventory and forecasted needs, "When the study is done, we'll know exactly how much acreage is required to accommodate those forecasted housing units," McMahon tells KBND News, "And what does that mean for Redmond? It probably means that some areas that are in the holding zone now need to be rezoned."
It's estimated Redmond will see nearly 17,500 new residents over the next 20 years. McMahon says that translates to a need for nearly 7,000 new homes, "Single family detached homes: we're looking for 4,200 new units there. And then attached housing: so that's like townhomes, duplexes, triplexes, 4-plexes; we need about 1,000 of those units. And then just under 2,000 different types of apartments." Roughly 38% of Redmond's households are considered very or extremely low-income, and about 42% are low- to middle-income families. McMahon says that's why so many different types of homes are being proposed.
The city's housing plan hasn't been updated since 2001, and McMahon says it's overdue. She believes this analysis will help the city do it right, "This is a really good overview of what our housing needs should be, particularly given the forecast in population." Redmond's Planning Commission will get an update on EcoNorthwest's work at its Monday meeting.
BEND, OR -- St. Charles Bend's Emergency department was forced to evacuate, earlier this week, after a small fire was discovered in a trash can. According to Bend Police, an officer opened the door to a consult room, Wednesday evening, and saw 35-year-old Henry Crall pouring hand sanitizer on the blaze.
The officer tried to pull the trash can out of the room while a hospital volunteer grabbed a fire extinguisher, but authorities say the La Pine man continued to pour the liquid in to the can. The officer was able to put it out and no injuries were reported.
Investigators Believe Crall used a lighter and hand sanitizer to start the fire. He's now charged with arson.
SALEM, OR -- The 2019 legislative session has already seen its first "witching hour" deadline. Policy bills not scheduled for a committee work session by the end of last week are not allowed to advance. State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) says he's disappointed his school threats bill didn't make the cut. It would have made it a felony to make a terroristic threat, "[It] just kind of died in the Judiciary Committee. So, we're going to have to continue the discussion on that, probably another session, because I think that's important to create more penalties for threats to students and teachers." He's also frustrated his fellow lawmakers failed to take action on PERS reform, "Some bills that we put in didn't make it through the process, which is unfortunate. Maybe those will get revived somewhere down the line, in Ways and Means. But, right now, those appear to be dead."
Some of Knopp's top priorities survived the initial cut, "Kaylee's Law; [it's] really important to get that passed, and that's scheduled for a work session. The Redmond affordable housing bill is coming out of the Senate Housing Committee; I'm going to carry that on the floor next week. And then we have the workplace sexual harassment bill that I think we're going to get through the Senate committee." And, he plans to fight some bills that did make it into committee, especially those he thinks would damage Oregon's small business community, "There's some significant tax increases that, I think, are going to be unproductive for our economy, and for employees of small businesses."
The next deadline is April ninth, when bills need to have been discussed in a work session, followed by voting deadline at the end of May.
BEND, OR -- Four people face numerous charges in connection with drugs smuggled in to the Deschutes County Jail. Sergeant William Bailey says the investigation began in January, when authorities discovered inmate mail laced with Suboxone, hidden in the seams of manila envelopes, "Suboxone is typically prescribed by medical professionals to assist with detoxing from opioids. Suboxone can be abused and it is capable of producing a significant euphoric affect." He tells KBND News it's administered on thin strips of paper that melt on the tongue, "The Suboxone itself is a very thin, ribbon-type of material and so it was easily concealed within this thicker seam on the envelope."
The Sheriff’s Office Street Crimes Unit began investigating in January, after the drug-laced mail was discovered, "This bottom seam was being opened up through either steam or other type of a heat process. The controlled substance, in this case the Suboxone, was being concealed inside and then the envelope was being sealed back or glued back closed. So, it appeared, at first glance, that there had been no manipulation to the envelope." Sgt Bailey adds, "The investigation did find that there was a component of the controlled substance being used in the facility and sold. The investigation is still ongoing and we do anticipate more arrests."
Deborah Anderson, a 58-year-old Portland woman, is accused of sending the drug to her inmate son, 29-year-old Phillip Anderson (pictured: upper left). She was arrested after a search of her southwest Portland home turned up meth, heroin and drug paraphernalia. Another inmate, 32-year-old Derek Chamberlain (pictured: lower left), allegedly received his drug-laced mail from 29-year-old Zachary Hahn, of Bend (pictured: lower right). Sgt. Bailey says the four may have been working together in some capacity, "We do think that there was some training, or involvement, between the Anderson mother and son, and the other two parties."
The case could lead to changes at the Deschutes County Jail, "Inmates are allowed to receive mail; the items are searched for contraband and weapons," says Sgt. Bailey, "But, criminal mindset was able to find a weakness and able to find a way to get this substance in and so we will have to make changes to prevent this from being utilized in the future."
BEND, OR -- Bend's City Council approved a full slate of street preservation contracts for summer projects, Wednesday night, totaling more than $7 million. Over $5 million is for “grind-and-inlay” and overlay treatments for 50 lane miles, including Skyliner Road, Century Drive, Colorado Avenue and Olney-Penn-Neff. Officials say some of that work will be done at night to minimize traffic disruptions.
Another $710,709 will go toward Slurry seal on about 60 lane miles, and crews will reconstruct the Shevlin Park and Mount Washington roundabout, at a cost of just over $824,000. Council also authorized a joint venture with Deschutes County to chip-seal 15 lane miles around the city.
Bend's Streets and Operations Director, David Abbas, says there is a small shift toward work on residential roads because main streets are in better shape. For more on the projects and to view a map of the work planned for this summer, visit the city's Street Preservation webpage.
SALEM, OR -- The name of a Bend Police officer was etched on to the state’s Fallen Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Wednesday, during an engraving ceremony in Salem. Bend PD’s Honor Guard stood watch (pictured above) as Sgt. John Lawrence was added. He suffered a fatal heart attack, in December 2014, following a shift in which he responded to a bank robbery. His death is considered “in the line of duty” because the heart attack occurred less than 24 hours after engaging in an on-duty situation. Lawrence was a 10 year veteran of the department.
A formal memorial scheduled for May 7th will honor all four names added to the monument this year. In addition to Sgt. Lawrence, Ashland Police Officer Malcus Williams - who suffered a fatal medical event while on a call in March 2018, Multnomah County Deputies Irving Burkett and Robert Ray "Bobby" Anderson were also added. Anderson was shot by a suspect in 1969 and was forced to retire; Burkett was shot during a jailbreak attempt in 1982 and also retired as a result of his injuries. The four join Oregon's 183 other law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty since the 1880s.
SISTERS, OR -- A popular attraction outside Sisters is getting an upgrade this summer. Kassidy Kern, with the Forest Service, says they’re in the process of bringing on a new group of volunteers at the Dee Wright Observatory, "We want to do some roving interpretive tours on the whole site, so that all of the people who come up and visit it will be able to get a little bit more of the history of the area, be able to interact." Many other USFS sites have volunteer interprative rangers, but the Dee Wright Observatory never has, Kern says, partly due to its remote location.
She says volunteers will be trained to answer questions about the unique observatory, located about 15 miles west of Sisters, on Old McKenzie Highway, "It was hand built from black lava in 1934 and ’35 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and it was named for the foreman Dee Wright who passed away, actually, before it was completed. He was a packer for the Forest Service; a very well-loved individual." They'll also be able to talk about the geology surrounding the site, "It’s surrounded by 65 square miles of lava. The top deck offers views of 16 mountains and Oregon’s second largest glacier. So, there’s so much to talk about even within those elements." Kern tells KBND News, "We do get a lot of visitors. It’s a beautiful area; that whole drive is really lovely and so, it allows people to stop and stretch their legs, learn a little bit about the unique geology of Central Oregon and all of the volcanoes along the Cascade Crest."
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer interpretive ranger, attend the Sisters Ranger District open house, April 11, 5 - 7 p.m., at the Sisters Fire Hall on Elm Street.
BEND, OR -- Habitat for Humanity offices in Bend and Redmond are merging, in an effort to increase access to affordable housing for low to moderate income families. Bend Habitat's Robin Cooper Engle says the Redmond organization had smaller staff who didn't have access to the same program available to Bend. Yet, she says, Redmond's Habitat office gets more requests from families than houses it can build, until now, "There are some opportunities for folks: maybe the cost makes more sense, maybe the land makes more sense, there's still quite a bit more land available in Redmond. [It] Definitely increases the opportunities."
Cooper Engle believes joining forces will allow both groups to grow, "When we started, we were probably serving a couple of families a year, and that's not enough. We're doing good work, but you want to do more; you always want to do more. And so, the opportunity presented itself that we could also be helping Redmond. If we can go from serving one to two families, to quickly jumping to five within this first year, that would be incredible." She tells KBND News, "So this year, [Bend] will serve about 10 families through home ownership. Our goal is to completely double the capacity between the two communities. So, our hope is to be serving 20 families, between Bend and Redmond, within this next year."
Habitat For Humanity always needs volunteers who want to learn about building. Cooper Engle says they especially need people in Redmond, since the merger will create more opportunities in that area. Visit the new Bend-Redmond Habitat website for more information.
BEND, OR -- Under current state law, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), sometimes called "granny flats" or "tiny homes," are not allowed on rural properties. But, that would change under a bill currently being discussed in Salem. "It would allow a second home on parcels of two acres or larger in the rural county – Rural Residential parcels. So, not EFU [Exclusive Farm Use], but MUA-10 [Multi-Use Agricultural] and Rural Residential-style parcels," Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone tells KBND News. He and the other Commissioners are closely watching the progress of Senate Bill 88, "It would help the housing crisis; would help rural landowners that could have an opportunity to put a second dwelling on it, either for rental or for family members. So, there are lots of reasons it would work in Deschutes County, even."
DeBone is concerned how, or if, lawmakers will limit ADUs in Wildfire Hazard Zones, "If ‘Wildfire Hazard Zone’ is defined as somewhere that’s forested and has a history of wildfire, it might disqualify most or all of Deschutes County." Central Oregon LandWatch opposes the bill, saying it could put a strain on rural infrastructure and doesn't get residents close to services. They support ADUs inside Urban Growth Boundaries. DeBone says it's time to think beyond the UGB, "It’s the vision of statewide land use from way back in the day ‘put the people in an Urban Growth Boundary and farm in the rural county.’ But, there are places around the state - and Deschutes County, specifically – we were parcelized before all that went in. As in, land was subdivided in the ‘50s, ‘60s and 70s. It is kind of a rural residential feeling in some areas in Deschutes County, so it’s a good fit."
The Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources advanced the bill during a Tuesday work session, sending it to Ways and Means for consideration.
MADRAS, OR -- Rural land considered unusable for agriculture is finding new purpose in the solar industry. Two new solar farm projects are in the works for the High Desert.
A 60-megawatt project is proposed for west of Madras. Nathan Rogers is with EcoPlexus, a global solar company designing the project. He tells KBND News, "Solar is a very hot topic of conversation right now in Oregon, especially in relation to land use and whether solar should be going on farm land or not going on farm land." Rogers believes the Jefferson County location is perfect for a new solar farm, "It is largely tabletop flat and the site doesn't have any water rights, so it's not a good site for farming. It also has the ability to interconnect or to hook up to the grid, on site. Also, Central Oregon has very good solar radiance, or solar resource. Where it's located on the grid, it's a good spot in terms of power quality. It can basically provide lots of grid support." It would join two 10-megawatt farms already running in Jefferson County.
EcoPlexus submitted a notice of intent for the project, and Rogers will discuss the process with Jefferson County Commissioners on Wednesday. "The way that the laws are set up in Oregon, if your project exceeds certain size thresholds, the county can't issue your permit. You have to seek what's called a site certificate from the Energy Facilities Siting Council." Rogers plans to also present a formal project preview, "This will be a great opportunity, if anyone is interested to learn more, to come and do so." He adds, "We like to develop relationships in the places that we are working and developing projects, and so I thought it would be nice to just present a little bit about the project to the board."
A second proposal is also moving forward in the High Desert. The Crook County Planning Commission recently approved a 320-acre solar farm near Prineville. Like the Madras-area project, the West Prineville Solar Farm will be built on EFU land with no irrigation or water rights. Crook County Judge Seth Crawford tells KBND News he sees solar as a positive for the community. County leaders have actively tried to recruit solar projects to the area in recent years.
MADRAS, OR -- A Madras man is recovering after he was stabbed at a home in the 500 block of Southeast 10th Street. Madras Police responded to the house at about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, and found the 50-year-old victim with a puncture wound in his neck.
He told officers he was visiting an acquaintance when he was attacked by 21-year-old Benjamin Bunnell, also of Madras. The victim was taken to St. Charles Madras with non-life threatening injuries. Bunnell was arrested and is scheduled to be arraigned on First and Second Degree Assault and Unlawful Use of a Weapon charges, Wednesday.
BEND, OR -- A California woman was arrested on multiple charges, north of Bend, early Tuesday morning. According to Bend Police, 66-year-old Larklyn Blunck was seen swerving "all over the roadway" on Highway 97 near Empire, at about 5:30 a.m. Officers found the Silver Nissan Rogue and attempted to pull it over, but the driver didn't stop.
They pursued the car northbound, but authorities say speeds did not exceed 60 mph. Deschutes County Sheriff's deputies deployed spike strips to deflate Blunck's tires, but she continued. Deputies then conducted a PIT maneuver on Highway 97 near SW Quarry Avenue.
Blunck was arrested for Driving Under the Influence, Attempting to Elude, Reckless Endangering and Reckless Driving.
BEND, OR -- Doctors at St. Charles Bend put a new robot to work in its first surgical procedure, Monday. It's an updated version of the Da Vinci platform the hospital has used for robotic surgery for several years.
Dr. Phuong Nguyen says the technology doesn’t replace his surgical ability, but it’s less invasive. "Instead of a large incision, I’m able to do the same surgeries with multiple small incisions. And, these incisions are about the size of the tip of my finger. And we’re able to do, not only the same surgeries, but, in my opinion, better surgery. Because of the robotic platform, there’s more dexterity and there’s high precision." A tiny camera is inserted through one incision, with the instruments in the others.
He admits some patients are a little nervous about robotic surgery, until he explains the surgeon is nearby, "The robot is controlled by me while I’m sitting inside a console, approximately six-feet away from the patient." Dr. Nguyen tells KBND News the process is a little like playing a very expensive video game, "You have a head mask that you wear that gives you a 360-degree, three-dimensional view of the patient’s abdomen, and you have hand controls and foot controls. So, you’re literally using your entire body at the same time, controlling the robot. And, every movement that I make with my hand, the robot is doing the same movement inside the body."
The Da Vinci robot previously used at the Bend hospital will be moved to St. Charles Redmond. "This is very exciting for, particularly, surgeons like me," says Dr. Nguyen, "because I don’t only perform surgeries in Bend. I also cover the northern campuses. To have a robotics program instituted up there, it’s going to be very good for those patients up there." He believes it will help ease scheduling, and allow residents to stay closer to home instead of having to go to Bend for their surgery.
File Photo courtesy of Intuitive, maker of the Da Vinci surgical robot.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon's new Secretary of State Bev Clarno worked her first full day Monday and dismissed three top executives in her office. According to the Associated Press, Chief of Staff Deb Royal was let go, along with Deputy Secretary of State Leslie Cummings and Governmental and Legal Affairs Director Steve Elzinga.
Clarno's office calls the staffing transitions "personnel matters," and refused to comment further. Calls from KBND News were not returned.
The former lawmaker was sworn in Sunday at her home in Redmond; an official ceremony is planned for later this week. Clarno succeeds Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, who died of Brain cancer in February.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County could soon be able to borrow money at a better interest rate, thanks to a higher credit rating from Moody's Investors Services, a national bond credit assessment agency. County Finance Director and Treasurer Wayne Lowry says the rate went from Aa2 to Aa1 because of several favorable factors, "The tax rate capacity; Real Market Values in Central Oregon are increasing and have been for some time; community wealth factors, in other words, the citizens income per capita, and that's higher here than it is in a lot of other places. And, that makes Deschutes County a better credit risk than maybe some other local governments." He says the county also doesn't owe the market a lot, "We have a low debt burden already. We've been able to do a lot of what the county's done without borrowing."
Lowry tells KBND News, "It's hard to quantify exactly how much the county would save being a Aa1, instead of Aa2, but it is cheaper to borrow money for projects: road projects, solid waste projects, things like that." He says it's recognition of the smart choices the county has made as it grows, diversifying the economy and employing conservative policy management, "The ratings agencies have recognized that 'Hey, Deschutes isn't just any county in Oregon, it's different than it used to be, and it's stronger, financially, than it ever has been'."
County Commissioners will discuss the new bond assessment rating at their Wednesday meeting, and its impact on future decisions.
BEND, OR -- Two local child-abuse prevention agencies kicked off their annual Blue Ribbon Campaign, yesterday, as part of a nationwide, month-long awareness effort. Rachel Visser, with the KIDS Center, says you can show support by wearing a blue ribbon or attending one of the educational opportunities scheduled throughout the region, "To let people know that child abuse just isn’t a big city issue or something that’s kind of on the periphery. But, it’s very much a community issue; it’s something that Central Oregon deals with." There were more than 4,000 reports of child abuse or neglect in Central Oregon in 2017.
Visser tells KBND News they do what they can to help victims, but the goal is to prevent abuse before it happens. "We have direct client services. So, if there’s a kiddo that is in a situation of abuse or suspected abuse, we’re able to come alongside that family and provide resources for them. But, what we’re hoping to do is before that family gets into that position, or before that kid gets into that position, is to educate adults about how to create a safer community."
The Blue Ribbon Campaign started 30 years ago in Virginia, when a woman tied a blue ribbon on her car antenna to symbolize her grandson’s bruises, after he died at the hands of his mother’s abusive partner. "We want to be able to grab people’s attention," says Visser, "and then be able to educate and help them learn how to prevent this in the future."
BEND, OR -- A Bend-based nonprofit recently received a massive donation of logs and they need volunteers to help split and sort the wood for needy families. Richard Berg, manager of the Nativity Wood Lot, says they've been providing firewood since 2005 and in the past month, they've seen record demand, "We've had 140 families come through over a three Saturday period, and that equaled 38 cords of wood that went out the door to keep families warm." Which, he says, is why it's important to get this latest donation of wood ready for families as quickly as possible. "We've had a lot of cooperation lately. There's been 1,000-cord donation given to us, and that's going to keep us supplied with wood for a number of years. We can use 25-30 volunteers every single Saturday to process it here and distribute it to the families." Berg says the latest donation came from a local doctor who supports their mission.
There's another donation ready to come in, but he says there isn't room to store it until the other is taken care of. And, Berg says, they've been operating on J.L. Ward property that will soon become the location of Bend's new high school, so they also need to find a new location.
Berg tells KBND News, the effort is about forming relationships with the people they help, "As people come through the gate to get wood, we can't charge them anything, but we ask if they're able to give us a donation. And almost everybody says, 'Oh, Absolutely! Because if it wasn't for this thing being here, I wouldn't have heat in the winter time'."
Nativity Wood Lot is open every Saturday morning for volunteers and those in need of wood to heat their home. To learn more, visit Nativity Wood Lot on Facebook.
REDMOND, OR -- Governor Kate Brown has appointed a former state legislator from Redmond to Secretary of State. Bev Clarno served as Speaker of the House, Senate Republican Leader and was appointed by President George W. Bush to the regional office of the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Brown says Clarno’s experience as a lawmaker and manager of a large government organization gives her the skills to oversee the Secretary of State’s Office. Clarno says there isn’t a Republican or Democrat way to oversee elections or state audits - only the honest way.
Clarno replaces Dennis Richardson, who died earlier this year from brain cancer. Brown said she wanted someone to oversee the office, but wouldn't run to become Secretary of State in 2020. Clarno was not one of the nominees submitted by the Oregon Republican Party. Following Governor Brown's announcement, House Republican Leader Rep. Carl Wilson (R-Grants Pass) issued the following statement:
“The House Republicans congratulate Bev Clarno on her appointment as Secretary of State. Bev has been a tremendous example to all women in politics and especially those who followed her career in chamber leadership. We are fortunate once again to benefit from her vast experience and common sense. Her distinguished career as a public servant in Oregon will be invaluable to all Oregonians.”
SALEM, OR -- State officials had hoped to have permanent rules in place by now, that would limit the use of an herbicide believed to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of trees near Sisters. But, the proposed ban has been delayed at least three more weeks.
The herbicide, sold under the name "Perspective," is made by Bayer Crop Science. Oregon's Department of Agriculture spent months holding hearings and collecting information before agreeing to ban Perspective's main ingredient Aminocyclopyrachlor (ACP). "Bayer requested the agency to postpone," says Dale Mitchell, with the ODA, "Under Oregon administrative law, the department must postpone, and we must postpone the final rulemaking at least 21 days, but no more than 90 days." Bayer asked for the full 90 days, but were granted the minimum. Mitchell tells KBND News the ODA was surprised by the last minute request, "The request to postpone from Bayer was received on March 20th. Friday the 22nd would've been the intended date that we would've filed with the Secretary of State's office; [so] just under the wire." He adds, "In the correspondence from Bayer requesting, it indicated that they are intending on providing, apparently, some additional information to ODA to take into consideration."
ODA will take public comment until Friday, April 5. Click HERE to learn more about ACP and the proposed ban.
MADRAS, OR -- The old Westside school in downtown Madras could get new life under a new proposal. Built in 1938 as Madras Union High, the building on SW Fourth later served as Westside Elementary, until it closed in 2009.
"It’s the old Westside High School that’s been used for an elementary school, and it’s an old building," Madras Mayor Richard Ladeby tells KBND News, "We’re talking about trying to turn that into a community center and house the historical museum in there; also, the library is going to be a part of that venture." The Jefferson County Historical Museum was located for years in the old county courthouse. but its collection has been in storage since 2012.
The downtown building is already home to the Jefferson County Kids Club after-school program, "We, right now, average about 150 kids a day, Monday through Friday; so, it’s a great asset to our town. That would stay," says Ladeby. "But, then we’re also looking at adding other entities in there. Right now, we haven’t come up with any set plan of who, but we’ll have a kitchen in there, dining areas; we’re looking at two basketball courts or gymnasiums." He's optimistic others will come on board to support the project and move it forward.
BEND, OR -- A 71-year-old Bend man reported missing Sunday night was found by police who used a drone and K-9 team during the three-hour search. A family member told authorities Raymond Biggs had last been seen around 7:15 p.m. near 27th and Forum Drive.
A citizen tip led police north, where they discovered his walker and other personal property near NE 27th and Wichita Way. Officers finally found Biggs near Mary Rose Place, at about 10:20 p.m. He apparently had harmed himself and was taken to St. Charles Bend. His current condition has not been released.