BEND, OR -- Central Oregon's wildland fire season got underway in earnest, this week, with three incidents caused by recent storms. The Cottonwood Fire near Dayville was contained to 50 acres, and two 20-acre fires were suppressed near the Painted Hills and the John Day River. Other fires were held at two acres or less.
Kassidy Kern, with the Deschutes National Forest, says the local fire hazard level was raised to 'High,' meaning conditions are dry and fuels can easily ignite. And a lightning-caused fire can flare up, days after a strike, "That lightning can hold over and smoke and smolder, and keep itself going. We are going to see higher temperatures in the coming seven to 10 days, and that will give those lightning holdovers a chance to maybe start cooking a little bit. So, we're going to be really vigilant in this next couple of weeks." She says some of those areas to be monitored are in the Sisters High country and near Prineville.
And, Kern tells KBND News, that vigilance and care should also extend to visitors to the forest, "We're coming up on a big holiday here where all of us are enjoying our public lands and maybe getting out. Just be ever mindful and diligent about your ignition sources. We're getting into that place where, with the high fire danger, we would anticipate more ignitions."
She also reminds everyone that even the possession of fireworks on public lands is illegal.
BEND, OR -- Oregon's minimum wage increases Monday, about halfway through a plan to raise the for the state's lowest earners approved by the Legislature in 2016. The Oregon Center for Public Policy estimates the latest hike will impact a quarter of a million jobs. Economic Development for Central Oregon CEO Roger Lee says it won't improve wages for most workers in the High Desert, "Those minimum wage jobs in Deschutes County represent about 5.7% of the total jobs out there; so that's a pretty small number."
On July first, Deschutes County, and other counties in the "Standard" tier, will see the minimum wage rise to $11.25/hour. The "Nonurban" rate, used in rural areas like Jefferson and Crook counties, increases to $11/hour. In Portland, the rate will become $12.50/hour. Standard counties and Portland continue with $.75 increases each July first through 2022. Nonurban counties increase by $.50 during the same timeframe. Click HERE for more details.
Lee sees minimum wage jobs as important, and says they're not supposed to last forever. "You need to have some entry level positions, and entry level wages to accompany that, that are commensurate with value added and so forth, while somebody that's being trained to do other work," he tells KBND News, "Or, they're in a job that will lead to other jobs. It's not something you're going to be doing for a lifetime." He thinks the increases could put jobs at risk, "It just places an additional burden on employers to come up with those wages and to help train the emerging workforce." He adds, "EDCO really supports increasing wages with better jobs, rather than telling employers what they need to pay." Lee believes employers should decide how much to pay someone in training, "They're learning on the job. In many cases, they're adding value, but maybe they're not adding value at a rate they would be in a longer term type of a role where learning is not an important part of the position."
BEND, OR -- Starting in September, Bend Police will station at College Resource Officer (CRO) at Central Oregon Community College, "To work with the college and the [campus] public safety, and just enhance the relationship and work with the college students," says Bend Police Lieutenant Clint Burleigh, "And, [it] gives us just a great working environment for both public safety and the police officers."
COCC and Bend PD signed the agreement Thursday, formalizing the partnership. Lt. Burleigh tells KBND News, "I don't know that it's a direct result of Kaylee's Law, but it is about relationships, and safety, and making sure people have a reliable resource to report to." Under Kaylee's Law, signed earlier this year by Governor Brown, community college public safety departments are required to differentiate themselves from sworn police.
Burleigh says the CRO will be similar to School Resource officers already at work in Bend-La Pine Schools, "It's great for the public, it's great for the community, it does nothing but enhance the services these students are getting at COCC; just like it enhances the services the students are getting at Bend-La Pine." He adds, "To fill the position will be from within the organization, so somebody that's already been a police officer for two to five years." Burleigh says Bend PD will then hire a replacement for the officer who takes the full-time position at the COCC campus.
The cost of the CRO position will be shared by the city and college. "This is a situation where we want to be proactive in our partnership with COCC," says Lt. Burleigh, "And I think that really accomplishes that mission."
SPOKANE, WA -- As the Senate Republican walkout continued through its eighth day, Thursday, State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) talked with Fox Business News from Spokane. He answered questions about the legality of the Republican walkout, and explained why his party feels the action is necessary. "In this particular case, the Constitution says you have to have 20 Senators to do business. That means, even though you’ve won a majority or a super majority, you still need to pay attention to those minority voices. You can’t just roll over them. We’re not just going to stand there and be a quorum so they can pass their progressive, liberal agenda; that’s not what our constituents want." During the exchange, one host asked, "Sir; so you refuse to lose?" Knopp responded that Republicans are used to losing, given their super minority status. But, they also expect Democrats to reach across the aisle.
The cable news appearance came on the same day loggers converged on Salem to protest HB 2020, the climate change bill known as Cap and Invest, which is at the center of the legislative impasse. Knopp told Fox Business News farmers and loggers aren't that only people who would be impacted by the bill. He says 2,000 union jobs at a plant in Astoria are in jeopardy, as well, "We said, ‘we’re going to stand and fight with these workers and make sure that they get represented.’ And so, we took this action because we feel so strongly that they need to be defended." Click HERE to view the full exchange on Fox Business News.
He says Republicans want to see amendments to HB 2020 before they come back to Salem.
SUNRIVER, OR -- The wreckage of a float plane was recovered from the Deschutes River, south of the Sunriver Airport, Thursday. The plane went down Saturday morning, soon after take-off. It flipped onto its top and only the passenger was able to escape. The body of the pilot, Kevin Padrick, of Sunriver, was later recovered by Search and Rescue divers.
Pilot Killed in Sunriver Plane Crash (06/24/2019)
A helicopter lifted the plane from the water and it was taken to a secure location, as the FAA and NTSB continue their investigation. Click HERE to view a video of the recovery effort, from the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office.
BEND, OR -- A 31-year-old Redmond man was rescued at 8,100 feet on South Sister, Tuesday, after he was hurt in a fall.
Blake Ettestad was with hiking companions who called 911 at about 10 a.m. to report he was injured and needed help. Ettestad had fallen on some ice and slid down a steep incline into a tree.
Deschutes County Deputies, Search and Rescue Volunteers and Life Flight responded. They landed about 600 feet down from Ettestadt and volunteers skinned up the trail to his location, arriving just after 1 p-m.
He was packaged into a rescue sled and carried down the trail to the helicopter, then taken to St Charles Bend with non-life threatening injuries.
CENTRAL OREGON -- Unemployment across the tri-county area dropped slightly in May. Regional Economist Damon Runberg says Central Oregon jobless rates are looking about the same for this summer season, as they did last year at this same time, and he's not expecting any drastic fluctuations in the near future. "We didn't really add more jobs than was normal, and we didn't add fewer jobs than was normal, sort of a continuation of what we'd expect, and so, long term for us, that means no likelihood of seeing a big jump in employment growth, I think, for the rest of 2019."
But, he says, for the first time in quite awhile, there was a slight job loss in one sector in Deschutes County -- 320 jobs were lost in Professional and Business Services. Even so, Deschutes County’s unemployment rate was 4.3% last month and added 1,000 jobs. Jefferson County was at 5.6% and Crook County was 5.8%.
Runberg says Central Oregon appears to be moving into a new slow-growth phase of the current expansion. "We've had a very diverse expansion, It wasn't just one single industry that pulled us out of the recession and was adding jobs. I think we're going to have a summer season that looks very similar to what we saw last year, which was busy, right? Lots of people here, lots of activity, lots of leisure and hospitality employment, etc., lots of construction, but we're not going to be, I don't think, any busier than we were last year."
Runberg says Crook County's manufacturing sector is still showing strong growth, with 120 added jobs over 2019 and he says all three counties showed slight drops in their unemployment rates. "After a few months of its sort of bouncing upward, it's sort of bounced back down. It's still relatively difficult for those businesses that are hiring to find those workers in such a low labor supply situation."
Job gains are widespread with gains in construction, health services, leisure and hospitality, retail, and manufacturing.
BEND, OR -- There was a War of Words on Peace Corner in Downtown Bend, Tuesday evening, when 'Indivisible Bend' and 'We The People' faced off across the intersection of Wall and Greenwood. Suzanne Butterfield, who protested on the Indivisible Bend side of the street, says the 11 AWOL Republicans should be ashamed of themselves. "Do not walk away from the process. People have died for our democratic process and it angers me that they would do this." She has served as an elected official, and she's disappointed the Senators have taken this action. "You show up and vote, and you can argue until two in the morning, but you don't run away."
On the other side, 'We the People' lifted voices and signs in support of Bend Senator Tim Knopp. Stephen Williams says he applauds Knopp's walking out of the Legislature. "We don't want this Cap and Trade bill; it should come to the people to vote. This is a major bill that will completely cause businesses to leave Oregon, so Tim Knopp is representing me, and representing the majority on the eastern side of the Cascades"
Bend Businessman Jamie Sawyer also stood with 'We The People' in support of Senator Tim Knopp, and says Knopp's opposition to the Cap and Trade legislation is common sense. "Something that almost devastated our business a long time ago is extreme thinking and extreme measures that financially affect the whole economy, and it's not a good route to go."
But Freddy Finaey-Jorget says he's active with 'Indivisible Bend,' even though he isn't yet old enough to vote, because legislators should be held accountable by the people they represent. "If somebody in our democracy, that we elected as our civil servant, as our employee, when they walk out of office, and don't come back because they're too scared to do their job, that's a problem."
Indivisible Bend's stance is, by being absent, Republicans are keeping several important bills from passing, 'We The People' believes Knopp's refusal to return is part of his right to practice his freedom of conscience. Cathy Temple supports Knopp's decision to walk out in protest of Cap and Trade. She says the other side just doesn't get it, “I really do not believe that they understand what this will do to the Oregon economy. And I'm concerned about the climate, too, but this is not the way to handle it."
Wednesday marks seven days since Oregon's Republican Senators walked out of the legislature in protest of the Controversial Cap and Invest climate bill.
REDMOND, OR — An international manhunt has landed a Redmond sex abuse suspect back at the Deschutes County Jail. Ezekiel Sandoval was initially arrested in 2015, shortly after allegations surfaced that he had sexual contact with an underaged girl. He cut off his ankle monitor in October 2017, just before his trial was set to begin. “Since that time, we’ve been working with the U.S. Marshal’s Office, trying to locate Mr. Sandoval in Mexico,” Redmond Police Lt. Curtis Chambers tells KBND News, “But then he flew to Canada in October of 2018.” He adds, “We received information from the Canadian Border Services Agency that Mr. Sandoval was in custody for immigration violations in Canada.” According to Lt. Chambers, Sandoval used a false name to get into Canada. “He was initially granted entry but through additional investigation by the Canadian Border Services Agency, they recognized this person was not who [they] thought he was. And further investigation on their part led to his actual identity.” They also discovered his wanted status in Oregon.
Canadian authorities took Sandoval into custody, last October, pending an extradition hearing, which was scheduled for May. Initially, the 45-year-old fought extradition. But Chambers says the man dropped his objections late last month. He was brought back to Oregon through a joint effort between the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S Marshal’s Office.
Sandoval, who was not in the country legally when he was arrested in 2015, is now being held without bond at the Deschutes County Jail. He’s charged with two counts of First Degree Sex Abuse, one count First Degree Sexual Penetration, and Failure to Appear. He’s due in court Friday.
LA PINE, OR -- Young women interested in a firefighting career are invited to take part in a free three-day training camp, hosted by the La Pine Rural Fire Protection District. Firefighter Shayna Pichler says working in fire service isn't always on the radar for women, and this camp gives 16 to 25 year olds a chance to see if it's an option for them. "It really is a camp that's going to be empowering for younger women, or women who are thinking 'hey, this might be a job for me,' and it's really people that are just looking for something a little bit different," she tells KBND News, "They can expect to actually go out and do hands-on stuff." She says that hands on work can really be life-changing, "Honestly, you don't really know until you try it. That's how I found out. You really know when you get your hands on the tools and you get thrown into the situations. It's never anything similar; it's never the same thing every day. It's always something a little bit different." She adds, "If you love working out, and staying physically fit, and you love just doing something that's a little bit different, and helping people, that's definitely when you find out firefighting's for you."
Attendees will learn search and rescue, vehicle extrication skills, fire hose handling, and wildland fire operations. The camp is July 12-14, but applications are due by July first, and should be submitted online.
Pichler says there are only a few female firefighters in Central Oregon, "We have a very, very low female rate. There's usually about one to two females per department in the Central Oregon area." According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 7.3% of the nation's firefighters are women. Pichler hopes to change that, "Everybody's accepting of it. You can do it."
SUNRIVER, OR -- Central Oregon’s largest endurance sporting festival is this weekend, with nearly 4,000 athletes expected to take part in 20 different events, ranging from a BEASTMAN Triathlon to a 5k, 10k, trail run and kids races. More than 90% of Pacific Crest participants are believed to be from out of the area, bringing with them friends and family who grow the area's population by around 19,000 people.
For 23 years, Pacific Crest has been held in Sunriver, but it may be forced out in 2021. Sherri McMillan, with Why Racing, is the primary event organizer. She tells KBND News, "Of course, with any large event of that nature comes parking issues, traffic. So, there are some people in the community that maybe have become more vocal in suggesting Sunriver has just become too busy for an event of this size, and feeling like the event is a little bit more of a detriment to the community, versus a positive." But, she says others, mostly in lodging and food service sectors, told her they appreciate the positive impact the event has on the area.
The finish line for most races is at the Sunriver Village, along with the main festival. McMillan says the complaints about overcrowding prompted the Village to not renew the event's permit after next year. "We need to figure out either, one, is there another place within Sunriver that can host that kind of group – that kind of a size? And, of course, as soon as this went public, we’ve had communities across Central Oregon that have come out of the woodwork, saying, ‘Please, bring your event to us! We need this kind of economic impact'." She wouldn't comment on which communities they're talking to, but she says it is possible they could remain in Sunriver, just not at the Village. Regardless of where it lands in 2021, McMillan is confident it will remain in the High Desert, "Pacific Crest is such an incredible event and it’s got such a strong reputation and there’s also so many incredible venues, even just in Central Oregon, that I don’t foresee it leaving Central Oregon. Ultimately, we would love to stay in Sunriver, if we could figure it out; it’s a great community. But, it also feels good to know there are a number of other options and a number of other communities that really want the event." She expects to know by next year's festival where Pacific Crest will be for its 25th year, in 2021.
SALEM, OR -- Representative Cheri Helt (R-Bend) and others in Oregon’s House are forced to watch their bills sit, and potentially die in the Senate, due to the Republican walkout. The Bend Republican says she’s trying to stay positive, despite the lack of Senate action on her mixed-use housing bill that passed the House nearly unanimously, last week. "I’m just kind of in a wait and see approach. I try to be optimistic so I always believe that we can always come together and find what unites us instead of what divides us, and hopefully the Senate can find something that unites them in a compromise for this legislation." At a recent town hall in Bend, she refused to say whether she supports the action of Senate Republicans, but pointed out she voted against the Cap and Invest bill at the heart of the boycott.
Helt says tensions are running high at the Capitol, largely due to the impasse and looming deadlines, "The end of session is a really stressful time because people have been working really hard for many, many years, in some cases, on bills. And, people are working longer hours; it’s a very emotional time and hopefully we can find some compromise at the last minute to really serve the people of Oregon better."
As the end of session approaches, the freshman lawmaker tells KBND News she's pleased with her work, "I’m always a perfectionist an want more, and would like to be doing more and wish some more bills had gotten through, especially around foster care and childcare, because those are some of my top issues. But, as a freshman, I feel like I gave it my all and I’ve been working up until the very last minute; and I will continue to do so, and I will continue to hold out hope and optimism and not give up until it’s over."
BEND, OR -- Rallies are scheduled for Tuesday, to demand Republican Senators return to work. Throughout Monday, Democrats tried for a fifth day to convene the Senate. By 5 p.m., President Pro Tem Laurie Monnes Anderson (D-Gresham) adjourned for another day, "We will continue to compel the attendance of our absent members of this body, to establish a quorum, so we may proceed with the work of the Senate. Without objection, the Senate is adjourned without a quorum, until 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 25th." Eleven Republicans refuse to report to the Legislature, in an attempt to avoid voting on a greenhouse gas emissions bill known as Cap and Invest.
A Salem rally is planned for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, on the steps of the Capitol. Similar events are planned elsewhere in the state, including downtown Bend. The "Tell Republican Senators Get Back to Work!" rally is from 5-6 p.m. at Peace Corner, which is at Greenwood and Wall. Shortly after that even was announced, details were released on a counter protest at the same location. The "We the People Rally For Our Senator" also begins at 5 p.m., to show support for Bend Senator Tim Knopp and fellow Republicans.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A 42-year-old Prineville man remains in the Crook County jail, following a weekend assault and standoff. Police responded to a domestic incident on Southeast Lynn Boulevard, late Saturday. Responding officers learned the suspect left in a pickup with multiple firearms, and had made threats against law enforcement.
During a high risk traffic stop at Lynn and Melrose, police say Joshua Shane got out of the vehicle and pulled a gun from his waistband. He refused to put the gun down, retreating to a nearby property as Police, Sheriff’s Deputies, State Troopers and members of Central Oregon CERT tried to negotiate with him. Residents evacuated to a nearby church during the four-hour ordeal.
Eventually, the standoff ended peacefully and Shane was arrested for Disorderly Conduct, Strangulation Constituting Domestic Violence, and an outstanding warrant from Deschutes County.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville Police continue to search for a vehicle that succeeded in eluding an officer during a Saturday night traffic stop. Police attempted to pull over a white Cadillac near SE Seventh and Holly Street, at about 9:30 p.m. The driver refused to stop, traveling through southeast Prineville at low speeds with its hazard lights on. At one point, the car stopped and let a passenger out, near Sixth and Juniper. Officers say he appeared to pick up a knife as he got out.
The pursuing officer chose to continue following the vehicle, and that passenger has not been identified. Prineville PD deployed spike strips, in an attempt to force the suspect to stop, but the car turned prior to running over the strips. The driver increased speed as it turned on to SE Juniper Canyon Road, and the pursuit was terminated as it left city limits.
The suspect vehicle is a 2004 white Cadillac SRX (similar to below) with Washington plate 523-YHZ. It's also described as having an off-colored or maroon front passenger-side fender. Anyone with information in the case is asked to contact Prineville PD at 541-447-4168.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County officials held a full-scale exercise, earlier this month, to practice how the county would respond to an infectious disease outbreak. They're now assessing how it all went.
Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Vicky Ryan tells KBND News, "We've never done anything like that, so it was a learning experience for the public and for us. It was designed to give our staff a higher comfort level in the process, in general, in the event that something will happen in the future; and then also to help to start to educate the public so that they will have a higher comfort level, to know what to do if something happens."
Participants went to the Crook County Fairgrounds to be 'treated' as part of the simulation. "We had a total of 253 people show up that we immunized - fake immunized. We set the exercise up where they'd come, drive through, up to a medical station, we would give them their medication and then have them fill out a brief survey." Ryan was disappointed by the low turnout, but thought it went well for the county's first major training. She says the county did quite a bit of advanced notification, in an effort to increase the response, "We tried a multitude of different communication methods; Facebook, social media, was the highest percent of people [who] received our information through that."
Overall, Ryan is pleased with the outcome, "It's doable, and we can set up a process quickly and manage it in a way that it's effective, and we can reach out and help to support the entire community." She says residents can expect more of these in the future as coordinators hone their response. The county also plans to pursue grant funding to purchase additional supplies like radios and emergency response equipment for the next simulation.
REDMOND, OR -- A car fire sparked a brush fire near Pronghorn Resort, Sunday afternoon. Redmond Fire and Rescue responded at about 3:40 p.m. with initial attack, following by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) crews, who completed extinguishing the blaze and conducting mop-up operations.
Officials say it appears the car tried to cross brush and grass, from the North Unit Canal right of way, over to SE Sherman Road. It got stuck and caught fire. Flames eventually spread in a strip estimated at 200 yards x 20 yards in size.
BEND, OR -- Bend is moving forward on a plan to preserve Mirror Pond. Mayor Sally Russell says the joint resolution approved last week by City Council takes a collaborative approach with Bend Parks and Recreation. "It builds on the plan that the community put together back in 2015-2016." She tells KBND News, "It allows for a little refreshing of that plan, looks carefully at fish passage, it includes a huge group of projects that Parks has already approved in their budget that will really, I think, make great contributions to how everyone experiences the area in the parks on the edge of Mirror Pond, and then it does some silt removal."
Mayor Russell says she understands why some may oppose the city’s $3 million contribution for a project under Parks District jurisdiction. "Council, as an entity, has been looking at this for 15 years. We recognize that when the city was platted, it was actually physically platted around Mirror Pond and it is still one of the center-pieces in Bend. And, it’s a relatively small ongoing contribution for something the community has identified as a priority." In the resolution, the city agrees to contribute up to 50% of the overall preservation project, or $3 million, whichever is less, over the next 10 years, "We voted as a Council 7-0 and the Parks District voted 4-1. So, huge support from both these entities to move forward with this conversation."
Critics have also wondered what will become of the pond if Pacific Power ever sells the dam that forms the body of water, but Russell says the city received assurances the utility is committed to the hydro dam for the long term. The resolution lays out steps for both the city and Parks District, but Russell says it will still take a while to come to fruition. Next will be a memorandum of understanding, followed by an Intergovernmental agreement.
BEND, OR -- State Representative Cheri Helt (R-Bend) held her first town hall, Saturday, at St. Charles Bend, meeting with several dozen constituents. She focused on successes from her freshman session, but couldn't avoid questions about the walkout by Republican Senators, which has brought work in the State Senate to a stand-still. Helt was asked whether she supports the action taken by her fellow lawmakers. "This is a tool that has been used by both parties," she told the man. He responded, "They were both wrong." Helt went on to say, "I think this is something that you see when we're not coming to the center. And, I can tell you the center is a lonely place, because I live in it in the Capitol. I really believe that we need to encourage both parties to be compromising." She acknowledged the walkout has stalled progress on a number of House bills, including her legislation aimed at allowing more mixed-use housing in Bend, "We passed it almost unanimously, with one Republican voting against it. And so, now it sits on the Senate President's desk, waiting to be approved over on that side."
Helt also discussed why she voted against the Gross Receipts Tax, which funds schools, but supported other education-related bills; and, she listed the various environmental bills she helped pass. A woman, who said she is a longtime Bend resident, criticized Helt for supporting bans on plastic bags and straws in an effort to keep pollution out of the ocean. "I don't see why we're legislating common sense," she told the freshman lawmaker, "People should dispose of things properly; right?" Helt responded, "A lot of times I find myself legislating common sense. And I would say that's probably unfortunate because I agree with you that we should use our common sense so we don't have to legislate it."
Despite the uncertainty in Salem in the past week, Helt tells KBND News it was important to hold the meeting, "Now that we're through session, I think I can report out what I've done and the work that I have. But, I wanted to make sure to get it out before people were on their summer plans." She's hopeful Republicans and Democrats will come together in the Senate before the end of session, on Sunday, to vote on bills she and her colleagues in the House send them this week, "We're living in really polarizing times. And, I would urge everybody that's listening to think more towards 'how do we get more towards compromise and to the center?' because that, I think, is really where legislation should be."
SISTERS, OR -- A 39-year-old Forest Grove man was arrested in Sisters, Sunday night, following an alleged road rage incident. Justin Lehr is accused of pointing a gun at another driver, as both vehicles traveled west on Highway 20, toward Sisters. The alleged victim called 911 to report the incident, just before 6 p.m.
Deschutes County Deputies, Black Butte police and State Troopers searched the area for the suspect, conducting a high-risk traffic stop near the Sisters BiMart. They arrested Lehr on several charges, including Menacing. Investigators found a handgun during a search of his vehicle.
Lehr's seven-year-old son was also in the car at the time; the boy was returned to his mother after his father was taken into custody.
SISTERS, OR -- Officials say two recent local fires were caused by thoughtless acts. The first was in Sisters, Friday morning (pictured). Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire officials blame the careless disposal of a cigarette for a blaze that destroyed Takoda’s patio.
Security footage shows a customer at the restaurant flicking hot ashes into landscaping bark, Thursday. The mulch smoldered through the night before igniting the large deck. A passerby reported seeing flames just after 6:30 Friday morning. The business opened later that day, but the owner says the patio is closed until further notice.
Sunday afternoon, Jefferson County Fire crews held a brush fire to an acre. They say the blaze near the Yarrow subdivision in Madras was caused by fireworks, although they don’t know who is responsible or exactly where it started. When firefighters arrived at SE Yarrow and SE Honey Suckle, just after 4:30 p.m., they say it was about a half-acre in size, moving away from homes.
Photos: (top) Courtesy of the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District. (above) Courtesy of passerby Todd Coles.
MADRAS, OR -- An educational assistant and track coach at Jefferson County Middle School is accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student. Investigators were first made aware of the allegations in April, and 25-year-old Kristin Stickler was immediately put on administrative leave, barring her from any interaction with students.
A Grand Jury handed down an indictment last week, for one count of Online Sexual Corruption of a Child, four counts of first degree Sex Abuse, four counts of second degree Sex Abuse, one count of second degree Sodomy and one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Minor.
Jefferson County Sheriff's Detectives worked with police in Madras and Bend, as well as Oregon State Police, to investigate the allegations and the the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office says the case remains open. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Jason Pollock or Detective Steve Webb at 541-475-2201.
SUNRIVER, OR -- A Sunriver man was killed when the float-plane he was piloting crashed into the Deschutes River, just south of the Sunriver airport, Saturday morning. The small plane went down soon after taking off, at about 10:40 a.m. It flipped onto its top and emergency crews found it partially submerged.
Sunriver Fire rescued the passenger, 69-year-old Johannes Noordwijk, also of Sunriver, along with four others who swam out to help. Noordwijk was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Deschutes County Search and Rescue divers later recovered the body of the pilot, 63-year-old Kevin Padrick. The NTSB is investigating the crash.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon's annual Pride Festival is even bigger this year, thanks to a new partnership between the Human Dignity Coalition, which has organized the event for more than 10 years, and OUT Central Oregon (OCO). Coalition President Jamie Bowman tells KBND News, "As a collective of organizations that participate in the work that we do, would love for it to just get bigger and bigger and really show this community that we take equity and inclusion seriously and we value LGBTQ folks in all of Central Oregon." And, she believes the region is ready to embrace the event, "People are interested in standing up and doing the right thing. I think that we, as a nation, really, are deciding that it's time to make equity a priority."
In conjunction with the Pride Festival, OUT Central Oregon will host its first 5K fun run/walk and "Drag Dash." OCO President Jamie Nesbitt says other Pride events around the country already include races, and it seemed like a natural addition, "With regards to Bend being a very active, outdoor community, a 5K just seemed like the perfect fit. It's a reflection of the active community here in Bend." He'd like to see the local festivities eventually stretch through all of June, "OUT Central Oregon's perspective for Pride Month is to have more than just the Central Oregon Pride Festival. 'Pride' is not just one day in June in Central Oregon. There's events for everybody throughout the month of June. Everybody can celebrate Pride as a month-long celebration." Bowman says this year's expanded events will help achieve that goal, "With OUT Central Oregon doing the 5K that morning, that's a very Bend-centric kind of event; it gets people really pumped and excited. I think that it's going to be pretty big and I'm really excited to see if we have reached some goals of having a couple thousand folks out."
Central Oregon Pride is the second largest pride event in Oregon. It begins at 9:30 a.m. at Drake Park. Aside from the 5K and "Drag Dash," there will be live music, food and raffles. It's open to everyone who values inclusivity, community, and diversity.
REDMOND, OR -- St. Charles Health System officials have set a date for the official closing of Redmond's family birthing center: July 13. C-sections will be scheduled at the Redmond hospital through July 10 and laboring mothers will be admitted up until 12:01 a.m. July 12, to ensure time for delivery and recovery prior to the shutdown.
St. Charles decided last fall to close the department, amid protests from families, nurses and Redmond's City Council. The health system says a new OB hospitalist program is getting going in Bend and officials believe birthing centers in Bend and Madras will be able to provide all necessary services to Redmond-area families.
REDMOND, OR -- In the past few of months, two airlines have announced plans to bring three new flights to the Redmond airport in the fall and United Airlines began direct service to Chicago. Airport Director Zach Bass says more additions could be on the horizon, "A commercial airport should always be looking for new destinations, as long as the region and customer base can support it."
Bass is applying for a $900,000 federal grant that would provide a revenue guarantee for the first two years of a new service, "Historically, whenever an airline moves into a new market, it takes about two years for the customers to get used to that," Bass tells KBND News, "Basically, if they go below a certain mark during those first two years, then this grant will help pay them to get back to a profitable situation." He adds, "We’ve actually been very successful in the past, with what we call Small Community Air Service Development Grants from the federal Department of Transportation. We’ve actually used it four times in the last 15 years; that’s how we got Salt Lake City Service, that’s how we got more service into San Francisco, that’s how we got Phoenix, and also how we got L.A." A revenue guarantee was not used to secure the recently added Las Vegas, Chicago and Phoenix-Mesa routes.
Grant requests must be submitted for a specific destination, and Bass says he has a location already in mind, "We’re in the process of putting a grant in for San Jose direct flights." And, "Alaska Airlines has already signed a letter of support, that they would take advantage of this, probably, if it occurred." But, don't pack your bags, yet. He says it's a long process. He doesn't expect to hear until fall whether Roberts Field is approved for the USDOT grant, and he says a San Jose, California flight wouldn't take off until next summer, at the earliest.
BEND, OR -- Oregon Senate Republicans followed through on threats Thursday and left Salem for places unknown, to avoid a vote on the controversial Cap and Invest bill. It's the second time this session the GOP has denied a quorum in the Senate for controversial legislation. Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) spoke with KBND News from an undisclosed location. He says he and his fellow Republicans will stay away from the Capitol until Democrats begin serious negotiations on House Bill 2020, "If it needs to last through the end of June, I think our Senate Republican members are prepared to make that happen." The session ends June 30.
Under HB 2020, utilities and companies that produce greenhouse gas emissions would have to buy credits to offset pollution. Among other things, it would push gas prices up 22-cents a gallon in the first year. The bill passed the House earlier this week. Knopp says Republicans are under no obligation to provide a quorum to allow the Super Majority to push through a bill he believes doesn't include enough legislative oversight and should only apply to Multnomah County, "Part of what this bill ultimately is going to do is drive jobs and manufacturing out of Oregon, and will cost thousands of family-wage jobs to hard-working Oregonians. And, it’ll make it very difficult for them to put food on the table and we believe that’s something that needs to be protested, so that’s what we’re doing by not providing a quorum." He adds, "It’s the only – really – tool that we have to get their attention and get the public’s attention on this issue."
Thursday afternoon, Governor Brown ordered State Police to help round up any Senate Republicans still in Oregon. Knopp says that threat forced he and other members out of the state. In some cases, he says, they'll visit several states, "Based on what the Governor said – that she is going to exercise extreme power, in this case, which is to send the State Police to essentially arrest Legislators – that does not sound like the America that I know. And so, we, unfortunately, can’t stay in the state of Oregon at the moment."
Knopp says there is a continuing resolution in place for the state budget and most funding bills have already passed. If Governor Brown calls a special session on July second, as she's said she would, he says Republicans would return to vote on remaining budget bills, but not Cap and Invest.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) implored Republicans to come back to Salem, Thursday. "This is the saddest day of my legislative life," he told the chamber, "I beg and beseech my fellow legislators to come to the floor. I need you, the Legislature needs you, the people of Oregon need you."
Republicans walked out for the second time this session, this time over the controversial Cap and Invest bill. Negotiations between the two sides broke off Wednesday night. Courtney implored, "If you’re mad and you're angry, upset, take it out on me. Say things about me. Come at me. Don’t do this to the people of Oregon. Don’t do this to this branch." All 18 Democrats remain in Salem, but 20 are needed for any legislative action. Under Senate rules, each absent lawmaker can be fined $500 a day starting Friday, until they come back.
Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) Explains GOP Walkout
President Courtney asked Governor Kate Brown to order State Police to find the absent Republicans. He told Senators, "I don’t want to send the State Police – I don’t. I have no other choice." Gov. Brown agreed to the request. She's upset with the GOP move, "It’s time for the Senate Republicans to show up and do the job that Oregonians elected them to do." Brown says Oregon would become the second state to take actions to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, if HB 2020 passes, "It would’ve been historic for Oregon, historic for the country, and frankly, historic for the world." It's already been approved by the House.
Oregon State Police issued a statement Thursday night, saying Brown's request is consistent with provisions in Oregon's Constitution. The agency has assisted in resolving similar situations in the past with the help of diplomats from both sides of the aisle and officials say "patience and communication" are the first and preferred options for a resolution. It's "utilizing established relationships to have polite communication with these Senators."
President Courtney has asked for an increased law enforcement presence because emotions are running so high at the Capitol. Friday morning, Courtney said, "I did speak with the [OSP] Superintendent last night, I did speak with the Governor, as well as the head of our security forces here, about how I felt we would need extra security, to make sure everyone here is safe." He added, "Their presence has been dramatically increased in the building. That will continue, as we deal with conduct that is of great concern to some people on the floor - not all - as well as people that work here."
11:30 A.M. UPDATE: Senate President Peter Courtney has tried to convene the Senate every hour, since 9 a.m. But, without enough members to establish a quorum, he has adjourned for another 60 minutes, following the roll call.
BEND, OR -- Independence Day in Bend promises to be a blast, with the annual fireworks display launching off Pilot Butte. Robberson Ford President Jeff Robberson says, for the second year in a row, the Bend new Car Dealers Association is sponsoring the big show, "I've been in Bend since 1958, and the fireworks has always been a big deal here, and a fun part of the Fourth of July, and we just don't want to see them go away."
Robberson tells KBND News, "Our goal is to grow this thing. This year's display is going to be about as long as last year's, and we hope to, in the future, just really grow it." He says it will take some community involvement to change how the show is funded, and grow it into something even more spectacular. "We want to maybe have the biggest fireworks display in Oregon. It's really something that everyone enjoys and we're footing the bill this year. Going forward, it's to get the community involved so we can have a bigger and greater fireworks display."
It costs more than $30,000 for 20 minutes of fireworks, but Robberson says it would cost a lot more without the cooperation of Bend's finest, "Where we're really lucky is, the Bend Police Department and the Fire Department really join in on this deal and totally support it."
He hopes the show will not only entertain, but educate, "Don't waste your money on illegal fireworks, and risk the community and risk your neighbors, and have wildfire in Bend. Instead, enjoy the fireworks display that we're going to put on, and we'll make it good enough that you don't need to go out and buy your illegal fireworks." The Pilot Butte fireworks display starts at 10 p.m. on Thursday, July fourth.
BEND, OR -- Food truck lots have popped up all over Central Oregon and another is planned for Bend's Old Mill District. The city's Colin Stephens says a site plan review was approved, "To, essentially, build a permanent structure, and then, I think, room for about three food carts on the site, and a parking lot."
But, after that city approval, a neighbor filed an appeal in opposition of the project on SW Mill View Way. Stephens says that's just part of the process, "We send out notice to surrounding property owners so they can comment on the application, and if they desire, after that, after the decision is issued, they can appeal it." The application was delayed a week to allow both sides to discuss parking and traffic concerns, "Staff met with both the applicant and the appellant Monday after the hearing was continued, and it's our understanding that they have come to terms on the issues at hand, which were vehicle circulation and parking." And, he says, that could mean they're close to an agreement, "If they do, they will withdraw the appeal, and the decision will become final."
Both sides will meet with City Council Monday, in an effort to find a resolution. If the decision is finalized, the project moves into its next stage. Stephens says officials see the area as becoming a popular destination, "That's kind of the actual physical center to the city of Bend, and it's sort of becoming the center of activity as well. So, [they're] adding yet another fun use to the area."
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s latest city budget includes two new law enforcement positions. Police Chief Dave Tarbet says one new patrol officer allows the department to maintain current staffing levels, given the city’s population growth. He tells KBND News, "In addition to that, the airport desired to have an officer out there fulltime." The new patrol position is paid for by the city's General Fund, while the airport officer comes from the airport's budget. Tarbet says, "With their funding [they] can fund an officer’s position."
The Redmond Airport has never before had a consistent police presence. But, given the level of growth, Tarbet says the position is now necessary to help his department maintain appropriate coverage across the city. "[The airport] continues to have more activity out there, and certainly the calls for service range from 200-300 per year. Those have been typically handled by officers out on patrol in the community, in general. So, when they get called out at the airport, it draws away from the community’s resources for law enforcement officers." According to the chief, calls at the airport are similar to those seen elsewhere in the city, "From intoxicated passengers that are disorderly and unruly on planes or in the terminal, we’ve had some thefts occur out there, some car break-ins over the years, we even, in the past year or so, had an attempted kidnapping out there."
Tarbet compares the position to a School Resource Officer, who is fully trained and sworn, but assigned to a specific location. He has already selected a senior officer to start July first, "To patrol the grounds and take calls out on airport properties, monitor the terminal activity, respond to TSA security violations, such as the dozen or so handguns that tend to get to the checkpoint and sent through the x-ray machine in checked baggage."
City Council also approved an additional patrol position for Redmond PD, but Tarbet says the department is still below the staffing he’d like. "Based on the population growth, we were trying to reach a level of 1.67 officers per thousand, or close to that. And presently, we are about 1.47." To get to that level, he says he’d need to hire three new patrol officers, then one a year if the city’s population continues to grow at its current pace.
BEND, OR -- Bend Fire crews have been kept busy by drying fuels and windy conditions. About four hours after extinguishing a small brush fire in the Hillside Park Neighborhood, Wednesday, firefighters responded to another blaze less than a mile away.
The fire near NW Juniper and Portland Ave. was reported just after 1 p.m. Arriving crews found juniper shrubs on fire, directly in front of the house. Neighbors were applying water from a garden hose, and firefighters quickly knocked down the blaze. Damage to the home was minimal, totaling about $1,000.
Like the fire earlier in the day, authorities say this one was human caused, although no further determination could be made. They note grasses and brush are drying out fast, and juniper landscaping bushes are especially flammable ... releasing significant heat energy when they burn.
BEND, OR -- Bend Fire crews battled their second small brush fire in as many days, after a passerby noticed smoke coming from below homes in the Hillside Park neighborhood.
The blaze was reported at about 11 a.m. Wednesday, just off Northwest 12th. Residents put water on the flames before fire crews arrived, helping to hold it at less than a tenth of an acre.
Fire officials say it was human caused, but could not determine the specific origin.
REDMOND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners are expected to approve a bargain and sale deed for Brightside Animal Center, at Wednesday's meeting. Several years ago, the county loaned money to the Redmond shelter, "The county helped us, they gave us a loan to keep the shelter running and to do some upgrades and different things that we needed to do for the shelter," says Brightside's Patricia Bowling. At that time, the shelter's property was used as collateral.
She says they've since satisfied the terms of the loan, "Someone willed us property. It was sold, and the proceeds from the property were used to pay off this loan." Commissioners are now ready to return ownership to the nonprofit, "We were able to pay the entire loan back to the county," says Bowling, "What they're doing is releasing any encumbrance to Brightside."
Brightside is celebrating the milestone with a $100,000 capital campaign, to upgrade the facility's outdoor kennels. Bowling tells KBND News she's so glad to be part of a community that supports their no-kill, high-save mission, "The animals that come through our receiving door, get the best care, and are put back out into the public for people who want to adopt."
REDMOND, OR -- Allegiant Airlines returns to Redmond, this fall, after a seven year hiatus. Allegiant's Bud Hafer says, "Year-round Las Vegas service will begin October third, and that twice weekly service will run on Thursdays and Sundays. The year-round Phoenix-Mesa service will begin October fourth. That service will be twice weekly, as well, and will operate on Fridays and Mondays." The low-cost airline left Redmond in 2012, after five years of service, citing poor demand. But Hafer tells KBND News the company is ready to recommit to the region, "We're bigger in the area; bigger in Oregon, itself - we've grown in both Eugene and Medford - so we know there's a bigger demand. More population [means] more of a demand we can see throughout the system."
Hafer says Tuesday's announcement is not in response to Sun Country Airline's decision to offer seasonal flights from Redmond to Vegas, starting in September. But, he notes, competition is good for passengers. Mayor George Endicott says there's room for both, "There's a recognition, obviously, by these two airlines that we're continuing to grow, continuing to offer opportunities. They know there's a pent up demand, so they're trying to satisfy it."
Mayor Endicott says the return of Allegiant should be a boon for Roberts Field, "We figure this is going to add about a 7% increase in the number of passengers that we have going through Redmond." With United Airline's new new seasonal flight to Chicago, which started this month, and the new Sun Country and Allegiant services, Endicott says, "We're estimating that by the end of the year, we're going to pass a million mark for Redmond. So, we continue to grow." And, he tells KBND News, those increases in passenger and airline landing fees will benefit the airport, "The more activity we have, the more money, the more growth."
Redmond Airport Director Zach Bass tells KBND News construction now underway on new "aprons" - or parking spaces - for larger mainline planes is paid for by those fees. Allegiant plans to use an Airbus 319, which seats about 150 passengers, for the Vegas service. Phoenix flights will use a 319 or 320, capable of seating up to 186 passengers. Bass says those larger planes will use the new aprons. Currently, the airport has only one overnight parking spot for mainline jets.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Rainbow Family is again moving through Central Oregon. The group hosts its annual five-day regional gathering in the Ochoco National Forest, starting Wednesday. Two years ago, about 12,000 members gathered in the Malheur National Forest; many traveled through Crook County to get to the national gathering. Last year's regional gathering was held off Highway 22, near Santiam Pass.
While the event isn't actually in Crook County, Prineville is the closes city to this year's event. Officials say past Rainbow Family events brought an increase in vehicle traffic, hitchhiking or loitering, petty crime and panhandling. The group has no official leader and is said to be committed to principles of non-violence, communal living and community building.
Patrick Lair, with the Ochoco National Forest, doesn't think things will get out of hand, but the Forest Service is working with others to mitigate concerns, "It's basic courtesy to other government agencies, we let the hospital know, we let the Chamber of Commerce know, 'Hey, there's a potential for some more people coming through town, for you to see some different activities here that you might want to know about'." He tells KBND News, "Our role is really trying to manage the environmental impacts of a group gathering."
Lair says, any time there's a large group of people camped somewhere, even on public land, there's bound to be some impacts, "We developed an operating plan, and we're managing things like parking, and campfires, and water, and trash, and human waste, and all those things." To hold a large gathering in the National Forest, a permit is required for more than 75 people. Lair says no one from the Rainbow Family will actually come get a permit.
CRESCENT LAKE, OR -- Vandals are blamed for a widespread power outage in the Crescent Lake and Odell Lake areas, south of La Pine. An outage was reported around 2:30 a.m. on June first. Teresa Lackey, with Midstate Electric Cooperative, says crews went to the Mowich substation to investigate and immediately discovered what was wrong, "It had been shot. We had about 17 bullet strikes." She tells KBND News, "Mowich substation is off of Highway 58, and we had approximately 970 members that were without power. We looked at what had happened, and then we rerouted the power to get those members back on."
Lackey says, "At this point, we're not sure exactly what occurred, we do have the Klamath County Sheriffs and federal agencies that are investigating." The investigation, though, is being hampered by a lack of security footage. " We do have cameras onsite on a lot of our substations, and we did have cameras there, but they were not operating for some reason. But we are working with local and federal agencies and are investigating this illegal activity so that, hopefully, it won't happen again." She says there have been no further incidents.
File Photo: Mowich Substation
BEND, OR -- A small brush fire northwest of Bend, Tuesday morning, could have been much worse. Bend Fire says defensible space created by the property owners helped keep the fire’s spread to a minimum. And, employees from nearby stables acted quickly, using a portable water tank to attack the flames before firefighters arrived.
The blaze was reported on Bull Springs Road at about 10 a.m. It was kept at just over a tenth of an acre; the cause could not be determined.
BEND, OR -- Mt Bachelor plans a number of upgrades for the upcoming winter ski season. The mountain's Drew Jackson says a new Woodward Mountain "Start Park" will feature three venues for Learning, Experiential and Performance, "At step one, it's learning; so we're investing in a new chairlift and two new carpets. And then, for the 'Experiential' part, we're adding adventure trails." He adds, "The 'Performance' aspect is more of our traditional terrain parks."
Jackson tells KBND News, "We really want to create a new way for our guests to experience on-mountain fun. We think it's time to change it up and add some spice, and add some variety, and to inspire the next generation of winter sports enthusiasts." He says the changes will offer families a chance to enjoy Mt. Bachelor together, "We want a family to be able to ski down one of these Woodward Mountain Park zones, and allow maybe the youngest and most adventurous to play around on these new sculpted features while Dad, or even Grandma, just casually skis alongside on a traditional groomed surface. And the whole family can stay together that way." Jackson views the project as a big improvement, "The idea behind Woodward Mountain Park is to introduce as many fun things on our mountain, not just for kids, and not just for learners, but for multi-generational families." The Start Park will be open seven days a week, this winter, as conditions allow, and won't require a special pass or extra fee to use.
Work is also planned to provide a facelift for Sunrise Lodge, and expand parking by 50%. Mt. Bachelor also no offers an annual "Outplay 365" pass, which - if purchased before June 30 - allows unlimited access to winter lifts, the summer Mountain Bike Park, and rafting on Big Eddy Thriller.
Pictured: Woodward's Start Park at Copper Mountain, outside Denver
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners approved a resolution Monday that dissolves two local library districts originally formed in the mid-90s. County Assistant Legal Counsel Chris Bell says the Sisters and la Pine Districts were created in 1994, but they never officially got off the ground, "Nothing was really ever done to really do anything more than just approve the new districts, to actually make functioning districts, and/or physical libraries out of anything." He adds, "There's really been no activity. No board was ever elected, no taxes, I believe, were ever paid. They were basically just 'zombie shells' or 'zombie districts;' they were there in name only."
Bell tells KBND News the Sisters and La Pine library districts are now covered by the Deschutes County Library District, created in 1998. "So, just for efficiency purposes, we're just making a paperwork correction to get rid of them, knowing we have a very vibrant and functioning library district in Deschutes County right now and it's serving its purpose well."
The Sunriver Library District was also created in the mid-90s. It dissolved a few years ago. These dissolutions allow the Assessor's office to remove the districts from tax statements and the County Clerk can take them off the special district election records.
File Photo: The Sisters branch of the Deschutes Public Library, as seen during the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Construction of Crook County’s new $17 million dollar jail is behind schedule. "We’d hoped to be in there – have inmates in by July first," says Crook County Sheriff John Gautney, "Obviously, at this point, that’s not going to happen." Originally, he says, officials hoped construction would be complete by late May; then it was pushed to mid-June. Now, he says it won't be ready for inmates until July.
While delays are common on such large projects, Gautney says he didn't anticipate completion of the jail would depend on electricians' availability, "Some of the issues that’s holding us up, just most recently, is the electrical work. We have a shortage of electricians in Prineville, right now, due to other construction projects going on, and so that’s put us in a little bit of a crunch to get that done." Much of those other projects are connected to data center construction in Prineville. The facility features the latest security and communications technology, "And, obviously, in order for them to get the electronics and the doors to work, and the cameras to work, we’ve got to have electricity," Gautney tells KBND News.
Despite the delay, Sheriff Gautney says deputies are already training in the new jail. "We’re on schedule to be in there sometime in July. I can’t give you a date at this point, obviously, but we’re hoping to have inmates in and operating before the end of July; hopefully by the middle." The specific date of the inmate transfers won't be released to the public, for security reasons. But, Gautney says it will be a gradual process, "We will start out with the ones that are in the Prineville jail now, because that’s the one we want to get them out of. Our other inmates that we have, that we’re renting beds in Jefferson County [for], we’ll move those at a later time. And that’ll be based on, once we get the Prineville inmates in and get everything situated and see how that’s working out, then we will bring the other inmates over by what we call classification; one classification at a time."
An open house and public dedication scheduled for Saturday, June 22, is still on. It starts at 4 p.m.
Photo: Construction of the Crook County's new jail, behind the existing facility, in May 2019.
REDMOND, OR -- Allegiant Air announced early Tuesday morning it is returning to the Redmond Airport. The airline will begin twice weekly flights to Las Vegas and Phoenix, starting in early October.
In April, Sun Country Airlines announced direct service to Vegas. That twice weekly seasonal flight starts September fifth and runs through December. Allegiant's new service is expected to be year-round. Direct service to McCarran International Airport (LAS) begins October third. Service to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (AZA) begins October fourth.
Allegiant left Roberts Field in 2012, after flying to Las Vegas, Phoenix and the Bay Area over its five-year run in Redmond. Airline officials cited poor demand when they discontinued service seven years ago.
This is a developing story and KBND News will have reaction from Redmond officials, Wednesday on the KBND Morning News.
BEND, OR -- Police warn smart phone users a group text making the rounds in Central Oregon is a scam. In the message, the sender claims to be a woman living in your neighborhood, looking for sex. It includes a link promising a photo of the woman. But, Lt. Juli McConkey says don't click on it, "People can get your cell phone information, who providers are, all sorts of things, to defraud the person who's clicking the link; [they] try to get all the personal information." She adds the sender can even, "Get your log in name, password, credit card info, things like that. It's really an attempt to defraud people."
She says scammers can even learn important information when the recipient replies. McConkey tells KBND News you should instead, "Block the number, don't click on the link, and then don't respond to the text at all. Just delete it entirely. If someone were to text back to say something to the effect of 'Leave me alone,' or 'I don't want anything to do with this,' that just confirms that the number is valid, and they might start getting more scammers trying to reach out."
Lt. McConkey says the majority of these kinds of "sexts" are sent from a computer. In this most recent rash of messages, the sender is using a Google Voice number, which she says makes it extremely difficult to track. And, it can take just one person falling for the message to make it worth the sender's time, "Sometimes, people are curious. People can get defrauded all sorts of ways. Unfortunately, where there's a will, there's a way," says McConkey, "All we can do is hope to educate."
Images: Two parts of the group "sext" message hitting smart phones in Central Oregon, in the past two weeks.
BEND, OR -- With warmer weather comes an increased danger for young children: open windows. More than 3,000 kids in the U.S. are seriously injured in falls from windows, annually, according to the National Safety Council. Eight die each year. "We’ve seen about 15 children in the last two years, here in Central Oregon, at St. Charles Medical Center, who have been injured in a window fall," St. Charles Trauma Surgeon Jennifer Watters tells KBND News. She says her Emergency Department treated a four year old and a child under the age of two, in May. "When we had our hot week, we saw a couple of kids. They both did alright." But, she acknowledges, not all are so lucky, "With window falls, the injuries can be highly variable. Probably the most common injuries with window falls are broken bones, especially arms, wrists, and head injuries such as concussions."
The risk is even higher in the Pacific Northwest, Dr. Watters says, because so many homes don't have air conditioning. Older homes built before building codes required safety measures, can be especially dangerous, "Current building code requires windows to have installed safety devices if they are greater than 72 inches from the ground," says Dr. Watters, and after-market window-stop guards are available, "Bottom line is that device needs to limit the window opening to four inches or less, and be removable or openable by an adult in case of emergency." She says re-arranging furniture so curious kids can’t climb up to a window, will also help, "Making sure that the bookcase doesn’t sit underneath of the window, or the toy box or dresser that a child might climb on, doesn’t sit directly under the window." And, Dr. Watters suggests parents check with friends and grandparents, to make sure homes kids might visit are safe.
LA PINE, OR -- The search continues for 29-year-old Michael Mead, who is presumed to have drowned last week at Wickiup Reservoir. Deschutes County dive teams continued through the weekend to look for the Bend man in a 17-acre area around where his canoe capsized. Sergeant William Bailey says Mead disappeared in difficult conditions, "It was dark – two in the morning. The surface temps and air temps may be warm; we’re up in the 80s and 90s during the day; surface temp on the lake is running around 60. But, down below the surface, down near the lake floor, it’s much cooler – in the 40s. So, a person can become very exhausted quickly, and succumb to those cold temps." A Klamath County Sheriff's Office team arrived Friday with special sonar equipment. "We did recover some gear from the canoe when it capsized," says Sgt. Bailey, "But visibility in the water is pretty low, with inches up to a foot or two at times."
The day after the Wickiup incident, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office says a man appears to have drowned in Lake Billy Chinook. He has not been identified and his body has also not been recovered.
Mead and 24-year-old Daniel Ganley were in the canoe with a dog, when the boat overturned at about 2 a.m. Thursday. Ganley and the dog made it back to shore; Mead did not. No one was wearing a life jacket, which Bailey says could have helped save Mead, "The old day and age of the bright orange, square foamed life jackets, you know, just aren’t the case anymore. There’s lots of options that are very comfortable. There’s auto-inflating life jackets that are very slim and low-profile that don’t encumber you when you’re out on the water recreating. They can save your life if you end up in the water unexpectedly." And, Bailey tells KBND News, alcohol appears to have been a factor, which can make it more difficult to survive cold water and frantic conditions. "Hopefully someone hearing this story thinks twice and wears a life jacket when they’re out on the water, thinks about use of alcohol when recreating and being out on the water," says Bailey, "And save a family from a tragic ending."
For now, Mead is considered a missing person. He's a white male, 5'6" tall and 170 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes and tattoos. He was last seen wearing black pants or shorts, with no shoes or shirt. Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 541-693-6911.
CULVER, OR -- Jefferson County authorities searched through the weekend for a man presumed drowned at Lake Billy Chinook. It was the second apparent drowning in as many days in Central Oregon.
According to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, a man jumped from the top deck of a pontoon boat, at about 4:20 p.m. Friday. Witnesses say his head struck a railing on the way into the water and he sank out of sight.
His friends searched the area, along with Jefferson County deputies and a Search and Rescue team from Deschutes County, but his body has not been recovered.
His name has not been released, pending next of kin notification.
UPDATE: (12:00 p.m.) The Jefferson County Sheriff tells KBND News the victim has been identified as 52-year-old Patricio Pineda, from Oregon City. He went into the water in an area that's about 275' deep. JCSO marine patrols continue, and Sheriff Jim Adkins says he's requested help from outside agencies with specialized equipment.
REDMOND, OR -- For the third time in four days, Redmond Fire crews had to extricate a driver trapped in a vehicle, Friday morning (above). The crash occurred on Northwest Way, near NW Euston Lane, at about 7:15 a.m. Authorities say the vehicle rolled several times and hit a juniper tree. Firefighters stabilized the vehicle, removed the roof and freed the driver, who was the sole occupant. The victim was flown by Life Flight to St. Charles Bend.
Thursday afternoon, crews responded to Highway 126, a couple miles east of Redmond. In that case, they were also forced to remove the vehicle's roof to get the driver out (below). That person was taken by ground ambulance to St. Charles Redmond.
On Tuesday, a 75-year-old woman reportedly pulled out in front of an oncoming vehicle on Veterans Way, causing a T-bone crash. Both drivers suffered only minor injuries, but Redmond firefighters had to use a hydraulic rescue tool to get one driver out.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County will conduct a phone survey, over the next two weeks, to get more input on where local trash should go, once the Knott Landfill hits capacity. One proposal would truck the county’s garbage to a landfill in the Columbia River Gorge. Another option is to create a new landfill in an unincorporated part of Deschutes County.
Solid Waste Director Timm Schimke says County Commissioners learned a lot from recent listening sessions, but they want a statistically valid survey of residents to help guide their final decision. "The feedback we’ve gotten so far is from people who are interested, who are aware. There’s a whole lot of people in the community who don’t think about their trash at all; as long as it disappears out there, off the curb, that’s all they care to think about. So, we’re trying to reach out and get the opinion of some of those people." He adds, "When those results come back, then the board [of County Commissioners] will be ready to make a decision. I expect that decision to happen sometime in the month of July."
Schimke says, at the county’s current rate of growth, the Knott Landfill has about decade left. He tells KBND News, "2029 is kind of what we’re looking at. I mean, if we grow faster than anticipated, that’ll be a shorter timeframe." And he says, it's important to decide now how to proceed because it takes about 10 years to develop a new facility, if county leaders choose that option.
Regardless of whether they build a new landfill or decide to truck the county's trash to a facility in the Gorge, prices will go up, "Knott Landfill, being so close to the community, has been a real financial benefit to the community. So 180,000 tons go into the landfill a year; probably 75% of that kind of shows up at the gate. We don’t have to transport it. But, once that landfill is full, we’re picking up all 180,000 [tons] and taking it somewhere else - maybe 30 miles out, maybe 130 miles out."
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College honors the class of 2019, Saturday. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) will deliver the commencement address. COCC Director of Student Life Andrew Davis says Wyden is the first Democratic politician to speak at graduation, "Commencement is really, totally apolitical. It's about the graduates, and it's about what's next for them. And for us, we've had politicians speak at commencement before, it's just about somebody who's got a powerful message that they can deliver." Davis tells KBND Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) and former State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend) have spoken at past graduations.
Senator Wyden says, "I was asked a number of months ago to be the commencement speaker at Central Oregon Community college, and I'm really looking forward to it." He adds, "The college does so many things well and, in that sense, mirrors the community. And, I'm going to make this a speech that really makes that case." About 700 students are in COCC's class of 2019, although Davis says only about 300 will take part in Saturday's ceremony. It starts at 10 a.m. at Mazama Field, and is open to the public.
Also Saturday, Wyden will hold his 29th town hall of 2019, in Prineville. "I think there are going to be a host of issues that come up," says Wyden. "I expect to talk a lot about recreation, we have our R&R bill - 'Recreation not Redtape.' I think we'll be talking about essential services, such as schools, and roads, and law enforcement. I also expect, in Central Oregon, there will be a lot of questions about holding down health care costs." He also wants to talk about the Secure Rural Schools program that's brought millions in funding to Central Oregon. It's expired, and he's working to replace it with the Forest Management for Rural Stability Plan, "I think it will provide stable increasing in reliable funds for county services in Central Oregon." The town hall takes place at Crook County Middle School and begins at 1:30 p.m., Saturday.
OSU Cascades will graduate 331 students on Sunday. It's the largest graduating class in the history of the Bend campus, and is distinguished by record diversity and first-generation grads.
BEND, OR -- Police agencies across the country continue to respond to hoax calls, known as “SWATting." That’s when a false report leads to a large law enforcement response. Bend Police is no exception. Investigations continue in to two recent "SWATting" incidents. The first involved a reported hostage situation at Sal’s Barber Shop on South Highway 97, June fourth. Deputy Police Chief Paul Kansky says the second occurred the following day at Bend High, "That call was of a bomb threat, which is – really, when Swatting or these hoaxings started, bomb threats were very common; that was one of the common themes. In that case, the people that were left at the school had to be evacuated, so it caused quite a disturbance, and again a lot of police resources that had to respond to that."
Those two recent incidents now make three in the past six months, "One from December, we never solved; that’s still an open case. Sometimes, without solving them, we don’t know if it’s truly just ‘a thrill’ thing or if there was some other motive, to damage a business or whatnot," says Kansky. "The current ones are very recent and still under investigation."
Kansky tells KBND News, determining the motive can help lead investigators to a suspect or suspects. There are typically two reasons why someone calls in a hoax, "One of them is to – just the thrill, I guess, of deceiving law enforcement. A little bit of that has been connected to trying to get that on video, whether it’s the news or some live stream. And then, we’ve also seen where it’s a personal vendetta or personal extortion, if you will, some sort of thing where they’re trying to get something from somebody." Suspects could face local and federal charges, if caught.
PORTLAND, OR -- Pacific Power plans to take aggressive steps, this summer, to prevent electrical lines from causing wildfires. Last year’s devastating fire in Paradise, California is blamed on PG&E transmission lines.
Pacific Power crews are expanding the amount of vegetation they cut around power equipment and inspecting lines for trees that could cause lines to come down. Senior Vice President Scott Bolton says they may have to do even more, "In high-risk fire areas of the state, even proactively de-energizing or shutting off power." But, he says, "It’s a measure of last resort when we see extreme conditions around high wind, high temperatures, very low humidity and potential for a fire to ignite."
Bolton says the utility is also looking at ways to strengthen their grid, "How do we improve the safety and resiliency of the grid today and what are the types of measures we can take in the future?" He says they plan to work with local governments and emergency service agencies to develop plans for when the power might be cut. They'll also launch a public awareness campaign later this month in areas where shut downs are most likely. He believes Southern Oregon is most at risk.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police officers and Fire inspectors will team up this summer, to crack down on illegal fireworks. The task force will patrol areas in the city with a history of a high number of illegal fireworks calls. They’ll also respond to fireworks calls, as they’re able. Targeted patrols are scheduled for June 27 and 28, and July third, fifth and sixth.
Fireworks enforcement was identified as a City Council priority, this year, as part of a comprehensive wildfire resilience plan. Last year’s Fourth of July fire on Pilot Butte is blamed on illegal fireworks.
In Oregon, fireworks that explode, fly more than 12 inches in to the air or move laterally more than six feet are illegal to possess and use. Click HERE for more information and safety tips. Last month, Bend Fire launched a series of public service announcements urging people to use only legal fireworks.
TERREBONNE, OR -- An injured hiker was rescued from Smith Rock State Park, during a three-hour operation, Thursday evening. Redmond Fire Medics responded the park at about 6:30 p.m. They hiked to the top of Misery Ridge and stabilized the victim until 10 Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteers arrived.
Deschutes County Sheriff's SAR personnel established a running belay system and brought the victim down the trail in a basket. The hiker was taken to St. Charles Redmond with undisclosed injuries.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man is presumed dead after his canoe overturned at Wickiup Reservoir, early Thursday morning. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, two men were disperse camping near the Davis arm of the reservoir. They were in the canoe with a dog, when it overturned at about 2 a.m.
A 24-year-old man and dog made it to shore; the 29-year-old did not. Because his cell phone and vehicle keys were in the canoe at the time it tipped, the survivor had no way to call or drive for help, according to DCSO, and he waited in camp. Just after 9 a.m., he discovered an out-of-service cell phone in his friend's camp items and called 911. A DCSO drone responded and a dive team located gear from the boat on the lake floor, in about 20 feet of water; but the victim was not found. The search for his body continues Friday; his identity has not been released.
Neither man was wearing a lifejacket and alcohol is believed to have contributed to the incident.
BEND, OR -- Local businesses are misspelling words on their signs, ain an effort to help the American Red Cross. Jennifer Shaw, with the Red Cross in Deschutes County, says the agency has a shortage of blood donations in types A, B and O, "We're partnering with a lot of different companies and businesses, asking them to take those letters out of their logo, as just a statement to raise awareness about the need for blood."
Shaw tells KBND News they need 500 pints a week, "We serve St. Charles in Bend, Prineville, Madras, and then we support John Day and Burns hospitals as well. So there is a great need out there, and especially, it tends to go up - we have more traumas in summer than we do in the wintertime because more people are out on the road and doing activities." But meeting that demand is difficult. Shaw says many have good intentions, but not enough people actually make it to a center or donation event, "Only three of every 100 people in the U.S. actually donate blood, so there just simply isn't enough people to help the patients that we serve."
Eligible donors are encouraged to make an appointment through the Red Cross website or mobile app, "We're open here in Bend four days a week, and we also go out to other communities in Central Oregon - Redmond, Prineville, Sisters, Madras - on a regular basis." A list of upcoming donation events around the region can also be found online.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Rural Fire Protection District Two will have a pair of new fire halls by fall. Executive Director Gary Marshall says construction is about 60% complete on a new Tumalo fire station (above). At about 8,500-square feet, it's more than twice the size of the current facility, right next door, "It’s a huge upgrade. The firefighter/paramedics just can’t wait to get out of that old station. It was built in 1975 and was built on a very low budget. They continue to have issues with that structure. It just doesn’t meet the needs of a modern day fire station." He tells KBND News, "It’ll have four dorm rooms, three baths, public restrooms, a fitness room, training area [and] kitchen."
The Tumalo station should open in early September, and the old building will then turn into storage. About a month later, Marshall says, a new inner-city fire station will open next to the Bend Police Department (right), "This station’s going to look a little bit different than the Tumalo station. It really resembles the old station that many of us started in, back in the day, over at 5 NW Minnesota Street, which is a restaurant now. We wanted to design an architectural rendering of a very old antique fire station." But, don't let the old-school facade fool you. Marshall says it will have all of the necessary modern amenities. "It’s 10,000-square feet; 1,500-square feet of that 10,000 will be used for a training facility for Bend Police Department," he says, "They’re going to lease that from us, most likely, for the next 10 years." The location at the base of Pilot Butte should also improve response times for fire crews within the core of Bend.
Marshall says he had planned for construction to begin on the Bend station first, but permits were delayed, and then last winter's weather pushed work back at both projects, as well. But, he says things are back on track and he doesn't foresee any other delays.
SACATON, AZ -- The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs took part in a discussion with members of the Trump Administration, this week, looking at public safety issues confronting Indian Country. Tribal officials from around the country met with representatives from the Interior Department to work on developing a comprehensive approach to address cold cases, violent crimes and missing and murdered native Americans.
The "Reclaiming our Native Communities" round table discussion took place Tuesday in Arizona, and included Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Chairman Raymond Tsumpti, as well as Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ). Sen. McSally says it's an important issue because, "Native American communities, particularly indigenous women, face much higher rates of violence versus the national average. Alarmingly, law enforcement officials in Indian Country often lack access to the data and resources necessary to prosecute and prevent these crimes. We must do more to ensure public safety in our Native communities."
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Police are investigating a stabbing that occurred in Prineville, Wednesday night. Authorities say officers responded to a reported stabbing on NE Allen Ave., just after 6:30 p.m. They immediately secured a perimeter and discovered the victim inside his home, with a wounded leg.
A Redmond Police K-9 assisted in the search for a suspect, but no one was found. The victim was taken to St. Charles Prineville with a non-life threatening injury.
Prineville Police don't believe there are any outstanding suspects, nor is there a threat to public safety. However, the investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to call Prineville PD at 541-447-4168.
REDMOND, OR -- A little “Big Top” went up at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds, in Redmond (below), Tuesday afternoon. The Venardos Circus begins a ten-day run, Thursday night.
Ring Leader and Producer Kevin Venardos says the unique show features an international cast of performers, "We have comedy, we have acrobatics, aerial artists, we have daredevils and we have musical production numbers that ties this together."
What it doesn't have is animals. "Sometimes, people will jump on our feet and say ‘you abuse all your animals; the circus is horrible.’ And they don’t even know that we don’t even have any animals." He says he's not trying to make a political statement, but doesn't believe there is a future for animals in the circus. Instead, he prefers to focus on the diversity of his performers and the audience, "It’s an intimate venue; only about 300 seats in that tent. So every seat is quite close to what’s going on."
This is the first time Venardos Circus has come to Oregon. Learn more about the unique show Friday morning, in Heart of the Arts.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville’s Police Department is moving from the downtown building it’s occupied for several decades. "When I came to Prineville in 2015, the building was a mess; to say the least," Chief Dale Cummins tells KBND News, "We’re probably only using, maybe, half of the building, because there’s things like big iron boiler rooms that we can’t occupy, a big garage in the back we really can’t use." And, he says, the roof leaks, "At one point, the Report Writing room I had to actually close down, because the water was so bad and the mold count was so high, I couldn’t have my officers in it." He's also concerned the dispatch center housed in the 1956 building would be compromised in a major emergency, because it sits in a flood plain and would likely not survive a quake. Chief Cummins adds, "The building was actually in such disrepair that they brought it to the attention of voters and actually passed a levy to get a new jail, just to get the prisoners and the county deputies out of this building." That new Crook County Jail is set to open next week.
Cummins says several independent firms looked at the feasibility of renovating the facility, which was originally built in 1956. The city even secured a grant in 2017 to improve earthquake resiliency, but he says that $1.2 million quickly became a drop in the bucket, "So, all of a sudden, we’re talking about $4-$6 million just to try to repair the current building." He says an outside analyst even told him it would be cheaper to tear the building down and start again. Instead, he found a building about a half a mile away, on Northeast Elm, "That was basically a medical building. Two story. And, it fit our needs." He says it was renovated in 2004, is above the flood plain and is considered earthquake resilient.
He hopes to move in next year, "We’re just early in the process. I’m just going to have my first meeting with engineers next week, but we’re shooting for 12-18 months." They still need to firm up a design for the interior, which he hopes will provide a more efficient work-flow for officers and dispatchers. Cummins says the city purchased the building with a $4 million loan, acquired without additional taxes. Plans for the property on Third Street have not been finalized, but he speculates it could become a parking lot.
BEND, OR -- An 18-year-old Bend man faces multiple charges after allegedly shooting another teen in a car in which both were passengers. Bend Police were initially dispatched to Albertson's on the south end of town, at about 11 p.m. Monday, for a report of a man injured by gunfire.
Investigators determined Gabriel McGhehey was among five people riding in an SUV, traveling from Redmond to La Pine. McGhehey reportedly fired a 12-gauge shotgun out the car window several times, as the SUV drove south on Highway 97. At some point, 18-year-old Noah Small, of Keizer, told McGhehey to stop shooting, and tried to push the shotgun away from himself and the window. The gun fired, striking Small's left hand and partially amputating several fingers. He was then dropped off near Albertson's.
Tuesday afternoon, McGhehey was contacted during a traffic stop, after leaving a La Pine home. Investigators recovered the shotgun and other evidence and arrested the suspect. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office took a report of a stolen shotgun earlier that day, and authorities believe it's the same gun recovered from the SUV.
McGhehey is charged with Assault II, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Recklessly Endangering Another and Theft of a firearm.
SALEM, OR -- Recreators who float the Deschutes River in kayaks, canoes or any other non-motorized watercraft longer than 10' would face new fees under a bill advancing in the Legislature. A two-year permit would cost $30, one-year would be $17 and a weekly permit would cost $5.
State Representative Caddy McKeown (D-Coos Bay) says users of non-motorized watercraft also use services, but currently don't contribute like other boaters, "Launch ramps are used; restrooms are used." State Representative Ken Helm (D-Washington County) agrees, "They need to pay in a little bit." He adds, "It might be a little bit of an annoyance to get your permit. But, your permit provides funds for vitally needed services."
State Representative Cheri Helt (R-Bend) took to social media Monday to share her frustration with the proposal. During floor debates, she said it will affect many users of the Deschutes River, "Due to the nature of how many people float our river every day, during the summer, I think this would be a burdensome process." The bill was opposed by all of Central Oregon's Representatives. Rep. Christine Drazan (R-Canby) also voted against it, saying people who can't afford a sail or power boat often find kayaks, canoes or paddle boards are an inexpensive way to get on the water, "The best way to support underserved populations who have a non-motorized boat is to not charge them."
The bill has been approved by both chambers, but changes still need approval before going to the Governor.
BEND, OR -- Habitat for Humanity is building nine homes on Bend's west side, after nearly two years' worth of working with the city. Bend-Redmond Habitat for Humanity Director of Development Robin Cooper-Engle says this project will create cottage-style houses near NW College Way, "The homes are generally smaller than a typical single family home. The homes at the Northwest Cottage site will probably be 900 to 1,000 - a little over 1,000 sq ft." The new neighborhood will also have a community center, pet park and common space.
In the last few years, Habitat has had to do more land development before construction can begin, and Cooper-Engle says that doesn't always keep things affordable, "Land is such a challenge for us, and so, to be able to serve families, at this site, it's just going to be amazing. It's such a great location, people can walk to so many things, and have access to so much, we're not far from the community college and OSU, and so it's going to be great." The site will eventually feature 11 homes, but nine will be built with the help of future homeowners who earn 40-80% of the area median income. "They’re working in our community," Cooper-Engle tells KBND News, "Many of the families that we serve have children, but some don't. Some are older and single, some are younger and just married. so, it's just a variety of folks that will go in there."
Site prep is underway; a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony was held last week (pictured above). Cooper-Engle admits it's taken a while to get things off the ground, "We're getting close. It's pretty exciting." She adds, "We will probably officially see things going vertical closer to the fall, with families being able to move in next year."
Habitat also breaks ground this week on two more homesites in northeast Bend, on Indigo Lane.
CULVER, OR -- The Oregon Health Authority has issued a precautionary advisory for Lake Billy Chinook, near Culver, lasting through summer.
Cyanobacterial algae blooms routinely develop in the lake, and can be harmful when ingested, especially for pets. Since 2015, blooms have consistently produced toxins in the water, forcing the OHA to issue and lift advisories periodically throughout the summer. Officials say testing is costly, making it difficult for local water managers to regularly test the lake and determine when cyanotoxins are being produced. The agency says a seasonal alert for 2019 is more practical.
Last summer, local businesses grew frustrated with the warnings issued by the OHA.
Exposure to the toxins can lead to symptoms similar to food poisoning. The advisory remains in effect until November first.
REDMOND, OR -- A T-bone collision shutdown traffic near Lowe's in southwest Redmond, for a short time, Tuesday afternoon. Police say 75-year-old Esther Neal stopped at a stop sign, at Kalama and Veterans Way, but then pulled out in front of an oncoming vehicle. The crash occurred at about 2:20 p.m.
The impact caused one vehicle to flip, trapping the driver. Redmond firefighters used hydraulic rescue tools to get that driver out and transported to St. Charles Redmond. Both drivers received minor injuries.
Neal was cited for Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device.
EUGENE, OR -- Harold Blackwolf was sentenced Tuesday to nearly six years in federal prison for killing two pedestrians with his car. Prosecutors say the 35-year-old Warm Springs man was drunk when he sped away from a friend’s house with his headlights off, in September 2017. He then struck and killed two men.
The convicted felon was arrested in April 2018, and found with a revolver. Blackwolf pleaded guilty in February to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
MADRAS, OR -- Jefferson County voters will soon decide whether to combine fire and EMS services. Last year, county officials hired an outside firm to investigate the pros and cons of combining the agencies. Fire Chief Brian Huff says their newly released report shows it would make sense, logistically, and result in improved response times. "The company, Matrix Group out of Texas, came to the conclusion that it is best to merge, at a higher tax rate." He says higher taxes would be needed to pay for expanded coverage.
In Jefferson County, fire services have historically been run by the county, while medics and ambulances are managed by a not-for-profit company. Huff says combining them would mean big changes. Currently, most Jefferson County firefighters are volunteers and do not provide full-time coverage at a fire station. If fire and medics combine forces, Huff says firefighters would need to come on staff, "Not only would there be 24-hour fire apparatus staffing, but it also enhances the ability of the EMS district to respond with certified personnel." And, he tells KBND News, it would lead to less turnover, "You're getting an average of two to three years that you're getting a trained volunteer. So, they're looking at Warm Springs or all these other agencies that are growing; and we're stuck being stagnant."
The final decision is up to voters, likely next May, "So basically, the ballot measure would go before the voters a little less than a year from now," says Huff. That means the fire department and medical service must hammer out details immediately, "If we can make that happen, that'll be, I think, the best - To move forward, and to move forward quickly. But, I just don't want to move forward so quickly that we miss a step." He says the most important thing is to build a new, combined agency that will work best for residents.
Madras City Councilors will discuss the Matrix Group report at Tuesday night's Council meeting. It begins at 7 p.m.
REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond Airport is trying to manage exponential growth with infrastructure projects, while the airlines that service Roberts Field find their own ways to handle the increase in passengers. Redmond saw its first daily flight of a mainline jet, last summer, when Alaska used a Boeing 737 for the season. Last week, on the same day United launched its Redmond to Chicago direct flight, Airport Director Zach Bass says the airline quietly rolled out a larger plane for another route, "United brought in an Airbus 319, which is also a mainline, to Denver; which is awesome. It just means it’s not just one airline carrier that’s recognizing the need and growth in Redmond, and they’re adding the flights and the aircraft that can hold the capacity." The airport has only nine overnight parking spots for planes, and Bass says they are consistently full. Construction is underway to create overnight space for two more larger planes, like the United Airbus 319. It's just one of several infrastructure projects in the works.
Bass says a terminal expansion, a decade ago, was designed for future growth. But leaders may have underestimated just how much space would be needed. He says passenger numbers have increased 85% in the last five years, "We’re starting to already hit capacity, and our customers can see that through overflowing parking lots or, we can actually see it with no more parking spaces for aircraft to park overnight; our terminal hold room, where people are waiting for their aircraft, is starting to get full. So, because of the growth, we also have to, of course, look at the infrastructure of the airport to make sure it’s the right size." Crews are working to expand vehicle parking in front of the parking lot, and recently opened a credit card-only lot to ease crowding.
There is also a plan to get passengers through security checkpoints faster. "We actually have already been approved through TSA headquarters in Washington, DC for a third line, for the equipment and for the personnel," Bass tells KBND News, "I think it comes up to when the timing is available to get all that from them; it’s kind of outside our control. But, what we can control is actually reconfiguring the current TSA lane to make sure there’s enough room for that third lane." Bass believes it will be a full pre-check lane, which Roberts Field does not currently have. It won’t be ready for summer, but Bass hopes it will be set up in time for the busy holiday travel season.
POWELL BUTTE, OR -- State Representative Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) will resign at the end of the legislative session, to take a seat on the Crook-Jefferson County Circuit Court. Governor Brown announced the appointment at the end of May. But, McLane says it's important he not step down right away, "There are some projects in Ways and Means that I've been actively working on, and so being one of the senior members on the Budget Committee, and one of the members on the Capital construction subcommittee, it's important to finish the work." He tells KBND News, "My goal is to make sure District 55 has representation throughout the session so that its interest is served and protected, if you will. So, hopefully, we'll wrap things up in a couple of weeks."
McLane Defends Appointment to the Bench (06/07/2019)
Once he gives up his seat, the process begins to determine his replacement. "Republican Party precinct members will meet and choose three Republicans to submit as nominees to County Commissioners." Those Commissioners are from Crook, Deschutes, Lake, Klamath and Jackson counties. Their votes are weighted based on how many of their residents live in District 55. "So, then, whoever receives the majority of the vote of the commissioners, will be the next State Representative for District 55," says McLane. Once that person is appointed to finish McLane's term, they'll have to run for election in 2020 to hold on to the position.
McLane began his legislative career in 2011, and was House Republican leader for six years.
SISTERS, OR -- A 21-year-old Eugene man was rescued from North Sister, Monday, after he was hurt in a fall. Robert Kalmbach called 911 at about 10:20 a.m. to report he was injured and needed help. He and a friend planned to summit the mountain, then ski back to the Pole Creek Trailhead. But, about 200' from the summit, Kalmbach slid part way down the east slope and was unable to continue.
Deschutes County Dispatch established his location, through his 911 call, placing him about 5.5 miles from the trailhead. AirLink flew Search and Rescue volunteers to about 800' below his location, five other SAR volunteers responded to the Pole Creek Trailhead. While two SAR personnel made their way up the slope, AirLink picked up two more from the trailhead and flew them in. The four - a combination of Mountain Rescue and Medical Team members - arrived at Kalmbach's location at about 1:45 p.m.
Kalmbach was stabilized, packaged into a rescue sled and lowered down the slope to the helicopter, then taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. SAR then assisted his friend, 21-year-old Michael Martin, back to the Pole Creek Trailhead.
BEND, OR -- Police discovered a drug lab while checking the welfare of a toddler at a southwest Bend home, Monday morning. Officers arrived at the house on Mahogany Street with the Department of Human Services to check on a one-year-old in the care of Gary Hachtel. Authorities say Hachtel was found with heroin when he was contacted; he was cited in lieu of custody for drug possession and Endangering the Welfare of a Minor.
Once inside, Bend Police say they discovered a Butane Hash Oil (BHO) lab. Gregory Unruh (right), who also lives at the house, claimed the BHO lab was his, and he was arrested on charges of Child Neglect, Meth Possession and Unlawful Manufacture of Marijuana-Cannabinoid Extract.
The child was released to the custody of a relative.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County’s District Attorney says increases in the county’s population, tourism and law enforcement led to more arrests and a rise in his office’s caseload, over the past few years. D.A. John Hummel announced Friday that the County Budget Committee agreed to a $420,000 increase to his annual budget. However, that's less than half of what he'd requested. In March, Hummel said he needed $1.1 million to bring on 12 new employees, or there were would be severe cuts to services.
Instead, Hummel says, the Budget Committee agreed to a third option, "They approved six additional positions, and based on that, I did not have to do the full slate of cuts that I'd proposed. Fortunately, I was able to do targeted cuts that will not impact public safety, will make our office more efficient, and I'm pleased with the resolution." He tells KBND News, "There will be two additional attorneys, which are very much needed; we're going to have two trial assistants, and we have one additional victims' assistant associate, and then we're going to have an office manager."
His office will cut services like lunchtime availability of the reception window and a monthly drunk driving victim impact panel. Victims who want to keep their addresses confidential will be referred directly to the Oregon Department of Justice, early disposition programs will expand and traffic judges and probation officers will start handling first and second offenses, rather than the D.A. prosecuting every charge.
"Prior to this decision, our analysis showed that my office was having difficulty holding offenders accountable in the most serious cases, and making sure victims are whole," Hummel says, "We're going to be more safe, because my staff is going to have the resources necessary to help victims, and hold offenders accountable, and also to exonerate the innocent." He adds, "This is a good result for the residents and visitors to Deschutes County because too many times, guilty people were acquitted, and too many times, victims didn't receive restitution, or didn't receive notification of their court date." Hummel says some criminals weren't pursued because there was no one to do the follow up, "If you're innocent, you want a fully staffed D.A.'s office, because we're going to be better able to determine you're innocent, if you're guilty, you don't want a fully staffed office, because previously, you've been able to occasionally get off, and that's not going to happen any more, so I'm pleased with this result."
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County has a new 911 Director, but she's been doing the job for more than a year. Sara Crosswhite began her career as a Deschutes County dispatcher over 20 years ago. She was Deputy Director under Steve Reinke, but took over as Interim Director when he retired in April of 2018.
She says the agency has weathered a lot of controversy, since the digital radio system didn't work as expected, but those problems seem to be behind them now. She's Deschutes County's 18th 911 Director in 25 years. Crosswhite says she hadn't really planned to take on the top job, "I think as we started to resolve some of the issues with the radios, we improved our communication with our users, and I think things just started to get, overall, better here. I wanted to be able to make things better and help our users and help our staff, and seeing that I was able to make a difference, and make some of those positive changes, that was really encouraging for me." She tells KBND News, "I'm going to use all my staff and we're going to work through what our future plans are for the District. I'm excited to see what the future holds for us. I plan on being here a long time, I have no plans to go anywhere; and so I'm excited to take this to the next level, and see what we can do."
According to Crosswhite, the next big project for the 911 Services District is a planned upgrade to the computerized dispatch system, "When we take the 911 calls, that [system] is where everybody puts all the information, and we're going with Tyler Technologies, and we'll be going live with that in March of 2020. So, right now, we're in the preparation phase, they're building the system, and we're going to be starting to train on it; and so that's our biggest project this year."
BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools students get out for summer break at the end of the week. For many parents it’s a stressful time as they figure out how to keep kids busy over the next few months. Sue Boettner, with Bend Parks and Recreation, says registration for summer programs started just before spring break and many are full, "We have to vacate the schools mid-August. Well, parents still work, so we do something called Endless Summer. But, it’s a very low number – like 25 kids – we can take, because we don’t have a site. So, we put them at Hollinshead barn. So, those last two weeks of summer camp, they fill quickly."
Boettner says there is still space if families are willing to sign up for a mix of days and times. Some partial-day programs still have space, "Cougar Camp, it runs from 9-4. We do a thing called Art and Adventure, where they go to the Art Station in the morning and then they go on an adventure in the afternoon; or, they adventure in the morning, they go out in the wilderness or the river, and then they go to the Art Station and do art that matches what their adventure was. And then, we also run a variety of science programs that go 9 to 1."
She tells KBND News it’s important to get registered as early as possible, "Not everybody has the ability to be organized and to do that quickly. But, I know when I had kids at that age and I worked, when that Play Book came out, I highlighted everything; and the first day of registration, I registered for the entire summer. And, I understand paying a couple thousand dollars up front, but we also offer payment plans." Register online at the Bend Parks and Recreation website.
SALEM, OR -- District 55 Representative Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) has been tapped by Governor Kate Brown to take over for a retiring Circuit Court Judge. Last week, she announced his appointment to the Crook-Jefferson County Circuit Court bench.
Some were surprised by the appointment, as the two are typically odds. They were again on opposite ends of the political spectrum, during discussions over Senate Bill 1008, which gives judges power to determine if juveniles should be tried as adults. It was opposed by the Oregon District Attorneys Association. McLane voted against it, and argued for the opposition, but the bill passed anyway. One opponent to McLane's appointment says his inability to keep the bill from passing proves there was a back door deal in the works. McLane told KBND host Lars Larson the idea is insulting, "Bottom line is, it's completely false, absolutely untrue, to think that I had any deal with the Governor on Senate Bill 1008." He added, "I don't know how to deny it anymore. There absolutely wasn't; and to accuse me of that is just slanderous."
Rumors have also surfaced claiming McLane didn't apply for the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Daniel Ahern. He told Larson, "I went through the screening peer review panel, just like everyone else, on April 11th. And then they made recommendations to the Governor. She did interviews on May 15th, and I was ranked number one. April 11th - that was five days before Senate Bill 1008 even passed out of the Senate." McLane asked Larson, Thursday, "Don't you want conservative judges?" The radio host responded, "I do want conservative judges, but but not for the wrong reasons." McLane replied, "Then why are you taking me to the woodshed when I'm a conservative guy? I've been offered a judge and now I'm being attacked because a democrat appointed me?"
He went on to say, "I suppose people could say, 'well, Gosh, Kate Brown is this Democrat, why would she appoint Mike McLane?' And the reality is it's because I'm qualified and I live in Crook County." McLane has served as pro-tem judge for Deschutes County, he's a Judge Advocate General in the Oregon National Guard, and he's served in the Legislature since 2011.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond firefighters took part in two days of live-fire training at Roberts Field, this week. Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Puller says they contracted with an outside company to bring in a training prop - a replica nose and body of a plane, originally built for the Air Force. They lit up the fuselage so firefighters could practice putting out the flames with the specially outfitted Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARF) engine. "If there is an emergency, where a plane comes in and catches fire, they’re going to respond to that aircraft," says Puller,
"And, their primary goal is to put that fire out and create an exit for passengers to get off the plane. Using the training, that they learned here, they learn how to position using the wind, using their water and using their foam, to create that exit way and put the fire out on the plane."
While there's never been a commercial aircraft fire at the Redmond Airport, Deputy Chief Puller says there have been fire incidents on smaller planes. And, fire crews respond to all kinds of incidents and potential emergencies - two in the past month involved emergency landings by commercial jets. Both planes came down safely and didn't report any injuries.
Contracting with the company 139 Fire cost Redmond Fire & Rescue about $20,000. But, Puller says it’s much cheaper to train at home, and it allows crews to work with their own apparatus. "In the past, we’ve had to travel - out of state, typically - to get this required training done. So, with that, we’re paying for airline tickets and overtime for coverage. This year, we’ve been able to have a mobile prop come in, which saves on our overtime costs. It’s the first year we’ve been able to do this."
Puller says ARF engines can hold up to 3,000 gallons of water and are designed for a one-person crew to respond to an emergency quickly, while other units are dispatched from elsewhere in the city, "It can drive at the same time and flow water; it doesn’t have to be stopped. A structure engine, typically, has to park." Firefighter Gary Abrams is often assigned to the engine known as ARF1, and took part in Thursday's exercise, "When we get dispatched, we have three minutes to make it from our airfield to the farthest midpoint of any runway, and that’s an FAA regulation. So, we do these trainings just to make sure that we’re up to snuff on it. And, actually, this month is our FAA annual inspection." Click HERE for a video of Abrams’ work.
Because of the commercial aircraft that land at Roberts Field, airport firefighters are required to complete annual training and be certified by the FAA. Jefferson County fire crews who work at the Madras Airport, and Sunriver Fire also took part in this week’s training in Redmond.
TERREBONNE, OR -- Smith Rock State Park may soon grow by 38 acres. A neighboring tract abutting the southeast corner of the existing park could be purchased to expand the popular climbing and hiking area. It's called the McFarlane property, and is already accessible to hikers and climbers.
Chris Havel, with Oregon State Parks, tells KBND News, "It gives us a place where we know people are going to enjoy a little bit more of a hike, and it's got some other climbing opportunities associated with it, as well, and that's one of the attractions, hiking and climbing at the park, so it does provide just a little more space to do those things." He says Smith Rock's 650 acres is not enough for the 900,000 people that visit each year, "We have two big issues at Smith Rock, and parking and access for vehicles, that's one of them. The other one is the trails, and the experiences inside the park, those can get congested, whether the parking lot's full or not."
Havel says, "When we went through park planning recently, we identified properties around the rim of the park, adjacent to the park, that would make good acquisitions, and this 38-acre parcel was one of them. It protects 1,000 feet of river, gives us a place where we know people are going to enjoy a little bit more of a hike, and it's got some other climbing opportunities associated with it, as well." He adds, "The steady growth that we've seen at the park for the last 5 years is showing no signs of abating, so we know we have to plan for growth, and we know we've got to manage the landscape so it can endure that growth."
The State Parks Oversight Commission is expected to make a decision about acquiring the land at their meeting next week.
REDMOND, OR -- Graduation season is in full swing, in Central Oregon. While a couple local schools sent seniors across the graduation stage in the last two weeks, the bulk of the commencement ceremonies take place this week.
Redmond's Ridgeview High kicked things off during Wednesday night's ceremony at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds. Also at the fairgrounds, it's Bend's Mountain View High School on Thursday, and Redmond High on Friday. La Pine and Crook County ceremonies are Friday evening, as well.
Then, Saturday morning, it’s Bend Senior High, followed by Summit High, that night. Bend’s Marshall High is Monday and the season wraps up June 14 with Sisters High.
Bend-La Pine Schools report the district will graduate more than 1,220 students from its five high schools. Of those, 334 will receive honors diplomas. For Redmond, 203 students graduated from Ridgeview on Wednesday, with another 204 crossing the stage for RHS on Friday.
BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Recreation is trying to find more space in its Kids Inc. after-school program. Registration for next fall opened last month, and Recreation Services Manager Sue Boettner says all but two schools are at capacity, "Registrations open at 5:30 and we were full at a lot of schools at 5:40, which is really a lot."
The urgency was prompted by a change of start times by Bend-La Pine Schools; elementary schools will get out earlier than middle and high schools, which means teens won’t be able to pick up or watch younger siblings. Boettner says Parks and Rec and the school district worked together prior to the Kids Inc registration, because they knew more space would be needed, "We thought it would be bigger but, you never know. We did surveys and let people know, but we had no idea of what kind of response we would get."
Parks and Rec added at least 25 slots at every school program. For the 2019-20 school year, Kids Inc has space for a total of 1,170 children; that's 460 more than this year. As of this week, there are 1,100 already enrolled, "North Star - the new school, and Ensworth are not full right now, but every other school is full. We operate in 15 schools, and we have 85+ kids at every school, except those two." But, Boettner says, there are fewer on waiting lists: 290, compared to 360 at this time last year. And, they are still looking for more space, "Especially for the Highland School. Because they have the largest waitlist in the district, we’re looking at alternatives like other churches, just other facilities where we maybe could take 40 more kids and hire more staff. That’s the other thing, staffing is really hard. It’s an employee’s market now. Everyone is hiring everywhere." Boettner says many families will turn to the Boys and Girls club, but registration for their after school program doesn't open until August.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police say a reported hostage situation at a local business, Wednesday afternoon, was a hoax. Lieutenant Clint Burleigh says the caller told 911 they were going to hurt hostages at Sal's Barber shop, near Highway 97 and Powers Road. But, when officers arrived, Lt. Burleigh says something wasn't quite right, "We were noticing normal activity as we were watching and preparing to make entry into the facility." He tells KBND News officers talked with people coming out of the business, "We'd talk to them after they got a ways away to see if there's anything abnormal inside going on." Through those conversations, it appeared it was "business as usual" at Sal's.
Multiple agencies responded, including CERT, a K9 unit for the Bureau of Land Management, SWAT, and drones. When they entered the business, they concluded they'd been pranked. Burleigh says, after officers entered the business and determined there was no danger, the call was concluded to be a "SWATting" hoax, designed to bring a large number of emergency personnel to a nonexistent situation. "It's unfortunate that this happens. We do live in a time when we have threats that happen and we do have situations like these that do occur, so obviously, every one of them is taken seriously. It is something that I don't feel any community really needs to have happen, but if they do, then it's important that we find the people responsible for it." And, he says, those responsible could face criminal charges, "Disorderly Conduct: they're causing fear throughout the community; Filing a False Police Report, possibly Misuse of 911. There's a lot of crimes you could be looking at. If we do find the person responsible for it, then we will decide what charges they could be looking at in regards to an arrest."
Burleigh says it's too soon to tell if Wednesday's incident is in any way related to a report of a shooting that turned out to be a hoax, at the end of last year.
BEND, OR -- The National Weather Service will host three Skywarn Storm Spotter Training events next week, in cooperation with Sheriff’s Offices in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties. Deschutes County Emergency Services Manager Sgt. Nathan Garibay says, "Storm Spotters are the eyes and ears of the Weather Service." He tells KBND News, "Things like thunderstorms, winter storms, wind events oftentimes lead to significant damage." And, storm spotters are key to a "system across the region that can help identify hazardous weather and make the appropriate notifications to the National Weather Service, who then assist Emergency Management in making sure that the word gets out and that we have enough information to take protective action."
Sgt. Garibay says spotters are critical to that local network, "Central Oregon actually falls into one of the largest voids of effective radar coverage in the lower 48. So, oftentimes, weather will come in that’s not readily visible on radar." He adds, "Currently, there are three weather radars that provide coverage to Central Oregon: Medford, Pendleton and Portland. And, because we’re kind of in the middle of all three of those, we don’t get as great of coverage as maybe other areas in the country."
Next week's trainings are:
- Monday at 1 p.m., at the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office in Madras (675 NW Cherry Ln);
- Monday at 6 p.m., at the Deschutes County Road Department in Bend (61150 SE 27th St);
- Tuesday at 9 a.m., at the Crook County SAR Building in Prineville (1280 S Main St).
Click HERE for more information.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police and Fire will provide an escort Thursday for Ridgeview High School's softball team, Redmond High's Boys tennis team and Ridgeview Golfer Isaac Buerger. The community celebration through downtown Redmond is to honor the athletes who earned state titles in each of their respective sports. Ridgeview's softball title is the first for a Central Oregon softball team. Buerger's state win is his second.
Redmond Schools Athletic Director Kevin Bryant says the athletes deserve recognition, "We're trying to figure out ways for the kids to really feel appreciated and celebrated, and so we thought maybe a short parade would be something really fun in a town like Redmond. Especially when it's both schools, that would be a neat representation of Ridgeview and Redmond being celebrated together." He tells KBND News, "It's really unique to win three state titles, really - an individual and two teams. And, we wanted to tell our story a bit and let the community know that we're proud of our kids both athletically and academically."
Thursday's precession starts at 5 p.m. at the corner of SW Sixth and Birch, and ends at Redmond High, via Glaciar Ave. Bryant says they won't impede traffic, "We're excited about the police and fire joining us, and we just want to have a short, but memorable time, celebrating our kids." And, he says, everyone's invited to cheer on the student athletes, "It's going to be great. It'd be neat if people came out of their businesses, I just want it to be a neat thing for those kids and for our community and I think it will be."
REDMOND, OR -- The U.S. Census Bureau will hold a job fair in Redmond Thursday, to recruit employees for the upcoming census. Area Census Office Manager Jeff McGowan says they need hundreds of people for jobs starting in the fall, "Field production workers who go out and they do what we call address canvassing. They basically go out, they go verify addresses against our master address file and our maps. And, we're also in the process of hiring more people for recruiting in preparation for the count in 2020."
The job fair is 2-5 p.m. at the Redmond Library. McGowan tells KBND News those who attend can bring their own devices to access the internet, or use the computers on hand to apply. Or, they can look for work from home, "Anybody who's looking for a job, or maybe already has a job and is looking to make some extra money while supporting their community, they should apply at that website at 2020census.gov/jobs." He adds, "They need to be 18 years old, have a social security number, be a citizen, have an email address, and then they can apply. If somebody's graduating from high school and they're not 18 yet, they can still apply, and then when they're 18, they'd be eligible to be hired. So, we're hiring people now, and we'll continue hiring into the next year."
Getting an accurate census count is important for future federal funding that goes to schools, infrastructure, and emergency services. It also determines how many government Representatives the state gets.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County continues to work through a proposal to change how some rural lands are designated. Zechariah Heck, Associate Planner with the Community Development Department, says the plan would create a new Non Prime Resource Land zoning designation, "We have, throughout the county, several areas that have incorrect zoning designations. Proposal one looks at six specific areas that are committed to residential uses but are currently zoned Exclusive Farm Use (EFU) or Forest." Those six are: Skyline Subdivision and its first addition, west of Bend, Haner Park, Meadowcrest Acres Subdivision and Section 36, in South County, and Squaw Creek Canyon Recreational Estates, near Sisters.
While the areas are zoned EFU or Forest, Heck says those who live there report the soil is not workable, "We hear frequently from residents in these areas that they can only grow rocks. It is a really unique situation that you drive through these areas, one can tell they’re committed to residential uses, they have very small minimum lot sizes and there’s no farm or forest activities going on in these subdivisions or around them." He adds, "There’s right around 200 lots; approximately half of them are vacant. So, if we move forward and these amendments are approved, and we create a Non Prime Resource Land zoning designation and apply it to these areas, we could potentially see another up to 100 residences in these areas that, again, are pretty much already built out with residences anyway."
A public hearing and a series of open house events were held last month. At that time, the land Conservation and Development Commission said the change may not conform with state law. But, Heck says, the county is still moving forward with the project. County Commissioners will receive an update on the project next week, including reviewing those concerns raised by state land use officials.
A second public hearing on the plan is scheduled for June 13 at 5:30 p.m., at the county services building (1300 NW Wall St., Bend).
Photo: A home in the Meadowcrest Acres subdivision, near Sunriver.
BEND, OR -- A Deschutes County Deputy District Attorney is now on Administrative Leave, pending the outcome of an investigation into possible child neglect. D.A. John Hummel says Bend Police discovered a baby sleeping in a car parked near his office, May 30th. They determined the car belonged to Evander McIver, who appears to have forgotten his child was sleeping in the carseat when he went to work. The baby was unhurt and in excellent condition. The case is being investigated by the Oregon Department of Justice.
Hummel said in a statement, “Van McIver is a former Naval aviator and one of my most valued deputy attorneys. My thoughts are with he and his family during this difficult time. I trust Attorney General Rosenblum will give this matter the attention it deserves and will render the appropriate decision.”
McIver also released a public statement on Tuesday: "As every parent of young children knows, sleep can be hard to come by. Last Thursday, our morning routine changed and after dropping off two children at school, I went straight to work on autopilot and left my son in his car seat in the back of my car. Thankfully, Bend police responded and my son is just fine. This is the worst mistake of my life and I fully realize this could have turned out differently. No matter the fallout with respect to me, I am beyond grateful that my son is happy and healthy.”
BEND, OR -- Three Bend adults face charges, including Disorderly Conduct and Harassment, after two girls got into a fight at the Les Schwab Amphitheater. The April 12th altercation was caught on video and posted to social media this week. It quickly went viral, shared by people shocked to see adults encouraging a 12-year-old to attack a 13-year-old.
In the video, a woman is seen running after a girl while cursing, and yelling at another teen to "punch her in the face" and, "grab her by the neck." A man is seen joining in, taunting the girl with, "Are you done?" and, "Do you know the family you're f---ing with?"
Bend Police say officers responded to the scene on April 12, but everyone involved was gone by the time they got there. Later that night, 34-year-old Jessie Gomez called to file a police report. The next day, 32-year-old Sierra Brown was cited to appear in court for allegedly encouraging her daughter to fight Gomez’s daughter. Investigators say circumstances surrounding her living situation prompted officers not to take her into custody. Charles Durand, a 27-year-old Bend man, was also arrested.
Just this past Friday, Gomez was taken into custody after a fight at a Bend home police say was related to the April incident.
Due to the nature of the video and portions that could identify underage victim(s), KBND News is not sharing the full video or social media post.
REDMOND, OR -- Expansion of Redmond’s Centennial Park is advancing quickly. "The site is actually starting to look like a park," says Parks Division Manager Annie McVay, "So, we have a lot of the paving done, the site amenities are starting to go in right now. So, when you go there now, you can actually visualize what the park is going to look like. We’ve made a lot of progress since the weather cleared up." She tells KBND News, "The majority of the construction is done, we are putting in pavers, we need to pave some of the structures, the big holiday tree – that I think everyone remembers – will be installed later this month. Then, after that, it’s the irrigation and the landscaping."
The $1.1 million project is paid for with Urban Renewal dollars. It will nearly double the size of the existing Centennial Park and create a plaza stretching from City Hall to Seventh Street. McVay says those who work in City Hall have been excited to watch the progress and they look forward to what’s to come, "We’ll have a really nice reading nook, we have lots of benches, there’s a bosque of trees with benches underneath them, and there’s also a smaller stage that’s in the corner so we can host events out there, as well." She anticipates it’ll be ready for the public in August.
MADRAS, OR -- A Madras law firm continues to recover after fire heavily damaged its downtown office over Memorial Day weekend. Tim Gassner, a partner at Glenn, Reeder and Gassner, says the arson investigation is ongoing, "It has been determined to have been arson, and it's still under investigation at this time; and I can't really comment beyond that."
He says the fire was contained to the first floor and didn't reach spaces where records are kept, but a lot of other property was lost, including some rare books in a conference room, "There was volumes of the Oregon Court Reports, and we had some in there that date back to the 1800s, and those may well be irreplaceable."
Gassner tells KBND News the damage forced the company out of its building at 5th and D Street, which has housed a law office since 1934, "We're still in the process of working with our insurers to determine the full extent of the damage to the building and contents, and we anticipate and are hopeful that we will be able to once again occupy that space once the damage has been repaired." But, he says, they've found a temporary location, "We are almost all the way up and running at this point in time, and so we're welcoming all our clients to come in and meet with us as needed, and we are welcoming new clients, as well."
Madras Police are looking for witnesses who may have seen something suspicious on May 25. There have been no arrests.
Saturday, a man and woman from Bend lost the trail in the snow at Tumalo Falls and called 911 for help. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, 24-year-old Kenneth Dean and 41-year-old Sonja McLean were found by a Deputy and a Search and Rescue volunteer and were able to walk out under their own power.
Sunday, at Tumalo State Park, the Sheriff's Office got a call from two hikers requesting assistance because one was feeling exhausted and didn't know if she could make it back on her own. Two deputies and 18 Search and Rescue volunteers responded. Officials say 37-year-ol Holly Davis, of Bend, was placed on a wheeled litter and carried back to the park. She was able to return home on her own.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond City Councilors are expected to sign an agreement Tuesday, to sell a nearly two-acre parcel just north of downtown. "The goal is to convey to Housing Works that property," says Deputy City Manager John Roberts, "To construct a 44- to 48-unit affordable housing complex. The purpose of Tuesday’s meeting is to have the Council approve the purchase agreement."
The vacant lot sits just south of Grocery Outlet on NW 5th Street. Initial discussions over a possible affordable housing complex at the site stirred up a dispute over the shared property line. Roberts says the city and neighbor worked to resolve the issue, "And we have come to a tentative agreement that meets each other’s needs."
Redmond's Urban Renewal Agency purchased the property in 2016, for $676,000. Under the purchase agreement, Housing Works would pay $650,000, with $450,000 of that coming from federal grants secured by the city last fall. Roberts says the plan helps the city meet a real affordable housing need in Redmond, "And, on top of that, such a project fits well into our Urban Renewal-Midtown Plan, and will help create some livability in that part of our downtown core." He believes the housing complex will be the start of improvements in the Midtown district, "[The] Historic hotel is a catalytic project for main street downtown, future additions to the hospital area are catalytic for our hospital district. This project would be catalytic for Midtown."
It could be another year and a half before construction would begin.
BEND, OR -- A Jewell Elementary teacher saved the life of a student, last week, after the child choked during class. It was the beginning of the day and second grader Elisa was eating a gummy snack during Thursday's attendance. A classmate accused her of chewing gum and Elisa tried to quickly swallow, but began choking. Penny Watkins says she noticed the girl putting her hands around her neck and immediately began the Heimlich Maneuver. It took several thrusts before the food was dislodged and afterward, Watkins says, the normally outgoing Elisa was silent for more than an hour, "It scared her. She was scared and afterward, she did look at me and said, 'I thought I was going to die.' It was a little bit of trauma. And then, she was fine." Her mom later picked her up from school to recover at home, although she returned that night for an art fair.
Watkins says she turned the incident into an object lesson for her class, "The outcome was wonderful, and the kids in my classroom, they were very fascinated with, 'How do you know to do that?' and 'How do you learn to do that?' And then they asked questions like, 'What would you do if no one's around and that's happening?' and I was able to show them how they could use a chair to maybe help themselves."
According to Watkins, this is the second time she's employed the Heimlich Maneuver on a student during her 20-year teaching career, and she says she always keeps her emergency training up-to-date. Some call Watkins a hero, but it's a title she's not sure she deserves, "I was just doing what anyone would do, if they saw that happening. But, I'm glad I have the training. I mean, that's really important. I mean, everyone should know how to do it, because you just don't know when that can happen." She tells KBND News, "At the time, you don't realize that you have saved a life. Like, if someone hadn't been there to do that, it could have had a very different outcome."