Health officials in Deschutes County are trying to alleviate public concerns among patients and their families after that alarming Covid news out of St. Charles Redmond last week. St. Charles Health officials say they’re still investigating the source of the Covid outbreak that spread to more than 30 staffers at the facility. Last week they said initial contract tracing had pointed to a Covid positive patient who had visited St. Charles Redmond as the source of the infection. Health officials say St. Charles Redmond has vaccinated more than 60 percent of the staffers so far. Stringent safety precautions have been put in place at the facility to help contain the outbreak.
More than $3M from the feds is heading toward the Buttes to Basins All Lands Forest Resiliency Project in Deschutes and Jefferson counties. State Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced the funding Friday, which will also go in part to Oregon’s Lake County All Lands Restoration Initiative. The 3 mil is part of an over five million dollar federal pie, and will help to support much needed maintenance and restoration following the devastating wildfires last year. The portion devoted to wildfire risk and recovery will include weed treatment, brush management, and prescribed burns.
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Department says they have a suspect in custody following a robbery and an attempted robbery at two locations in Bend on Saturday afternoon. 19 year old Levi Church faces charges in connection with an attempted robbery at Cash Connection at 1031 Northeast 5th Street. Police say the cashier there didn’t have any money to give him, but provided them with enough of a description to go on to help them catch up with Church right after they say he robbed the Expressway Market & Gas Station at 1450 Southeast Reed Market.
Bend fire officials say a fire at Trader Joe’s in Bend early Saturday morning resulted in about ten thousand dollars in damage but - fortunately - no injuries. Investigators say it broke out in a display freezer and spread smoke and fumes throughout the store, forcing it to close for a day to clean up. The fire had burned itself out by the time crews got to the scene just before 5 a.m., but the flammable refrigerant was continuing to leak out. Lots of food was lost, but it was business as usual yesterday.
A rise in Covid cases is pushing the reopening plans back for the 7,500 students in the Redmond School District. School officials announced on Friday that they will wait another three weeks before returning to in-person learning, setting its new date of February 22 – 20 days after the original date set for reopening. School officials say too many staffers are in quarantine, which would stretch staffing levels too thin. Teachers in Deschutes County started receiving vaccines last week.
BEND, OR -- Every two years the City of Bend conducts a Community Survey and it helps guide the City Council’s goal setting. City Manager Eric King says two years ago transportation rated number one and affordable housing rated number two but this year it flipped and affordable housing is first. He says it’s not surprising because Bend is a sought-after Zoom town where people can work from home. King says housing availability is short and driving prices up. He says the council will wrap up their work on goal setting by early summer and the goals will guide council decisions through June 2023.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County School District has seen an 80-per cent graduation rate in 2020, the highest since 2008. Spokesman Jason Carr at the district says when Superintendent Sara Johnson arrived three years ago, she focused on improvements in three key areas.,,,Career and Technical Education, Disabled Students and Hispanic Students. Carr says graduation rate improvements ranged from 92-to-96-per cent in the key areas. He says the school district is helping students who are struggling and missing credits…especially seniors…to make sure they graduate.
At the beginning of January, 31 caregivers at Saint Charles Redmond tested positive or showed symptoms of COVID-19.
Chief Operating Officer Iman Simmons says 10 of the 31 caregivers had received their first vaccination shot but.not enough time had passed for them to get the second. She was asked if any of the caregivers are asymptomatic. She says there are some who are asymptomatic but didn't know how many. Simmons says infected caregivers must be symptom free for 11 days following a 14 day quarantine in order to go back to work. She says at this time none of the caregivers have been tested for the virus variant believed to have originated in Great Britian. Simmons also says contact tracing is being handled by county health with the Oregon Health Authroity but results aren’t in.
Students in Kindergarten through third grade return to in-person learning on Monday, and the Bend Police Department is asking drivers to be mindful of that as you make your way around the schools and school zones. They’re asking you to leave extra time to get to where you’re going next week as the transition back to school takes place for those young students. School zone signs will be coupled with staff helping to direct students into the schools, and the police department says the school zone restrictions will be enforced.
Deschutes County Health has gotten approval from the state to begin Phase 1B of Covid vaccines by vaccinating 25 hundred K thru 12 teachers and staff this weekend. School administrators have told them how to sign up, and all of the vaccinations are being done by appointment only. County health officials say the next group would be child care providers if vaccine supplies hold out, followed by adults 80 and over set to begin on February 8th - also by appointment.
Your mental state of mind has everything to do with aging well, according to a new OSU study. The OSU study specifically analyzed the influence optimism has on aging and whether we believe we have the ability to become the person we want to be in the future. So in essence they weighed whether respondents felt they were going to go downhill physically and mentally as they aged versus what they’d like to look and feel like when they’re older and if they thought that was possible based on their outlook. The findings – if you believe you’re capable of becoming the healthy, engaged person you want to be in old age, you’re much more likely to experience that outcome.
Jefferson County is cracking down on illegal dumping. The Sheriff’s Dept. in Jefferson County is trying to catch folks in the act at chronic dump areas, and is hoping to buy cameras to do just that. People have been seen entering those areas in a truck full of garbage and coming out with the truck empty. The Sheriff’s Department says their goal would be to get cameras that can transmit photos in real time to the cell phones of county deputies. County Commissioners are now considering the idea. Illegal dumping in Jefferson County is a misdemeanor and carries a fine of up to twelve hundred fifty bucks, 30 days in jail, or both. And while the cameras are being considered to catch offenders, the Sheriff’s Department says it’ll get as tough as it has to with respect to pressing charges.
Local State of Emergency Extension
The City of Bend has amended its COVID-19 local state of emergency to reflect changes from the State of Oregon and extended it for another 60 days. Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s most recent order assigns counties with risk levels, replacing the phased reopening approach previously in place. Statewide information related to COVID-19 is at coronavirus.oregon.gov. The City’s updated emergency order references this revised statewide approach, tying temporary policies to state-determined risk levels rather than reopening phases. Currently, Deschutes County is in the “extreme” risk level.
A declaration of a local state of emergency allows for temporary emergency policies related to procurement practices, facility closures, employee teleworking and public meeting protocols and more. It also says:
- The City won’t shut off water for non-payment of unpaid water bills.
- Permitted special events are not allowed, with some exceptions.
- The City can allow some businesses to operate on sidewalks, parking areas or streets to provide a safer environment for customers and employees, and to stimulate the recovery and support local businesses.
- The City can continue to limit in-person meetings and livestream virtual meetings for the public.
- The City can establish or allow private or public entities to establish on public or private property certain transitional housing, with case management, during the emergency.
The City’s updated declaration remains in effect through March 21, 2021, subject to further amendments or extension at that time.
MEDIA ADVISORY | Jan. 21, 2021
St. Charles Redmond reports workplace COVID-19 outbreak
BEND, Ore. – St. Charles Health System has reported an outbreak of COVID-19 cases at the St. Charles Redmond hospital campus to Deschutes County and the state of Oregon. An outbreak is defined as a cluster of cases that are related.
As of Wednesday, 31 caregivers had tested positive for COVID-19, and their cases are being investigated in collaboration with Deschutes County Health Services and the Oregon Health Authority.
“We are taking every possible measure to stop the spread of the virus, to protect our patients and our caregivers,” said Aaron Adams, chief executive officer for the Redmond hospital.
In addition to existing COVID-19 precautions, the Redmond hospital has put in place new safety measures including:
- Offering COVID-19 testing to all St. Charles Redmond hospital-based caregivers
- Asking caregivers to stay home and get tested if they have any symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how mild
- Increasing air exchange to six times per hour
- Increasing air filtration to more than the CDC recommendation (+90% filtration at .3 microns)
- Instructing caregivers in direct patient care roles to use N95 respirators and eye protection throughout their shift while the outbreak is ongoing
- Adding hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies to more locations throughout the facility
- Asking caregivers to eat in the cafeteria or on the outside patio rather than in break rooms
- Adding maximum capacity signage to all break rooms and conference rooms to ensure physical distancing can be maintained
The hospital is also currently limiting visitors to the following groups only:
- A caregiver or attendant of a patient who needs assistance due to a language barrier or the patient’s disability, whether that disability is physical, developmental, intellectual, cognitive, behavioral or is related to altered mental status or communication, whose presence will assist the person with the disability in receiving treatment, ensure the safety of the patient or facility staff, or who must assist with activities of daily living
- A close family member of a patient undergoing end-of-life care as determined by the medical provider in charge of the patient’s care
- A parent or legal guardian of a hospitalized child. If one parent or legal guardian meets screening criteria but the other does not, only the parent or legal guardian who meets screening criteria must be guaranteed access
“We hope our community understands and will help us by following all COVID-19 restrictions, both inside and outside of our facilities,” Adams said. “The number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to be high throughout the region and we need your help to ensure we have a healthy workforce to care for you and your loved ones.”
It continues to be critically important for individuals to wear masks as well as practice physical distancing and good hand hygiene.
About St. Charles Health System
St. Charles Health System, Inc., headquartered in Bend, Ore., owns and operates St. Charles Bend, Madras, Prineville and Redmond. It also owns family care clinics in Bend, La Pine, Madras, Prineville, Redmond and Sisters. St. Charles is a private, not-for-profit Oregon corporation and is the largest employer in Central Oregon with more than 4,500 caregivers. In addition, there are more than 350 active medical staff members and nearly 200 visiting medical staff members who partner with the health system to provide a wide range of care and service to our communities.
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Department says it’s been getting calls this month regarding a local phone scam. They say someone’s been calling residents claiming to be Sergeant Nelson from the Sheriff’s Office requesting money for missing jury duty. The department says it will never contact you asking for money and if you get a call like that, they say you should hang up.
A new warming shelter’s opened in Madras. It’s in a vacant building that hasn’t been used recently located at 813 Southwest Highway 97. Madras city officials say the city’s leasing the building to the Jefferson County Faith Based Network for a dollar a month. The almost two thousand square foot building will be able to house far more in need of shelter than the church gym and church garage the organization had been using. It’s open from 6 pm - 7 am, and has been housing up to 15 people since it opened January 9th.
Farmers in Prineville are facing yet another year of drought … but this summer the Ochoco Irrigation District is offering them a new water leasing program aimed at helping to manage their water needs. It will allow irrigators on ten or more acres to temporarily lease water from other farmers in the district. The farmers providing the leased water will get a special dry year rate for that water that’s higher than the district charges in it’s annual instream leasing program as an incentive to get as many farmers to participate as possible. The district depends on water stored in the Prineville and Ochoco Reservoirs, which are both well below average water levels for this time of year. OID is offering the program in collaboration with the Deschutes River Conservancy.
The Oregon Department of Transportation is planning safety improvements on Highway 97 between Bend and Redmond this coming season. ODOT’s Peter Murphy says they’ll be installing lighting, acceleration and deceleration lanes and a mile and a half median barrier from Deschutes Market, south. Murphy says they plan to install a “J” turn to allow people blocked from their property by the median barrier to be able to get back to their property. He expects ODOT to ask for bids for the project sometime in April
The U-S Forest Service has dropped a ban on logging trees larger than 21 inches in diameter in Eastern Oregon Forests. Project Coordinator Emily Platt says the 21 inch ban was put in place in the early 90’sbut says the rule didn’t work. She says the rule does not require cutting large trees but the opportunity to consider it. Bend Ecologist George Wuerthner disagrees with lifting the 21 inch ban. He says large old trees are important to the forest ecosystem for everything from carbon storage to fish habitat. The logging industry is not fully on board with the 21 inch rule change…they say it doesn’t go far enough.
The Crook County Circuit Court is closed Wednesday in light of the potential civil unrest expected and forewarned at government buildings around the country before, during, and after the presidential inauguration. The court administrator says the action was requested by court security to ensure the safety of the staff and the public. Any hearings scheduled for Wednesday will be rescheduled.
Minority entrepreneurs in Deschutes, Jefferson, and Crook counties have access to a new funding program. It’s called the Blue Fund, and it’s being launched by the OSU Cascades Innovation Co-Lab. The funding was made possible through a ten thousand dollar gift from the Facebook Prineville Data Center secured by the OSU Foundation. Co-Lab Executive Director Adam Krynicki says the goal is to help minority entrepreneurs thrive and succeed. He says minority entrepreneurs are three times more likely than non-minority entrepreneurs to be rejected for a business loan, and says minority businesses have been especially hard-hit by the Covid pandemic.
That eight year old boy who suffered serious injuries while skiing at Mt. Bachelor Saturday afternoon has died. Brecken Boice of Tacoma, Washington was skiing at the summit on a family ski trip when the accident happened. Skiers in that area had been complaining of dangerously icy conditions. The boy’s injuries were so bad he had to be airlifted to St. Charles Bend. He underwent brain surgery there, but didn’t make it.
The Oregon Arts Commission is doling out over a million dollars to help over 600 artists in the state. The money is intended to help offset some of the losses artists in the state have suffered during the pandemic. The money will be funneled through a new Artist Relief Program developed through a partnership between the Oregon Community Foundation and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation. Most of those getting the relief money are local artists in Bend or Sisters.
There’s a whole lota shakin’ goin’ on in our midst. At least 29 small earthquakes happened under Mt. Hood on Sunday. The strongest quake had a magnitude of 2-point-7. The quakes were more than three miles under the mountain. No damage was reported. Similar activity happened in 2019, and it's not believed to be associated with volcanic activity.
The state’s iconic fish is facing possible extinction. According to a Watersheds report just compiled in Washington state, climate change is behind it. The report says 10 of 14 salmon and steelhead species are at a borderline extinction point right now. As the climate changes, the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office in Washington says glaciers that have been melting into the streams bearing salmon are expected to disappear, and they say that will dramatically worsen conditions for salmon survival.
A man from Redmond is expected to enter a plea in court tomorrow afternoon in response to charges of mail theft and related charges. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Department says they arrested 33 year old Darry Larsen on an outstanding warrant during a traffic stop last month on Boyd Acres Road in Bend that uncovered 90 pieces of stolen mail in his car. Deputies say that included checks, debit cards, credit cards, and gift cards.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes county crime rate has dropped almost 16-per cent since 2014. District Attorney John Hummel credits a holistic approach to crime and coordination between law enforcement and other agencies. He says addressing the root causes of crime, including addiction, mental health and homelessness, has played an important role in the crime rate drop. Hummel says the state crime rate has dropped only 9-per cent in the last five years. The crime rate in Bend is down 4-and-a-half per cent and the Redmond crime rate fell 8-per cent since 2014.
Several Chapters of OHA, the Oregon Hunters Association, including Bend and Redmond, have pledged more reward money to help solve an illegal elk poaching crime. The reward is now up to 35-hundred dollars. Bob Buttonbone is a spokesman for the Bend OHA chapter. He says two bulls and a cow were killed and were mostly left to waste. Buttonbone says the crime occurred in late October east of Sisters near Highway 126 and Quail Tree Drive. He says anyone with information is asked to call the Oregon State Police Tip Line and speak to Trooper Creed Cummings.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel has determined that the Sheriff’s Deputy who shot a man during a standoff near Alfalfa last month acted lawfully when he used lethal force to subdue a suicidal subject resisting arrest. Deschutes County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Mangin shot 53 year old Steven Newburg in the shoulder while serving an arrest warrant on behalf of the U.S. Marshal’s Service. Newburg’s shoulder healed. He’s now in custody in Washington for violating his parole tied to a prior kidnapping charge.
Starting this week, the Covid vaccination clinics run by Deschutes County Health and St. Charles are being moved to the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center in Redmond so that more people can be vaccinated. You’ll be able to sign up online on the county health services website to be notified when you’re eligible to get the vaccine and how to make an appointment. This week the clinics will continue to vaccinate only those in the Phase 1A group – and only by appointment. Those include health care providers, first responders, medically compromised children and their caretakers, and anyone with a mental disability.
(Salem, OR) -- Oregon Governor Kate Brown says there is no national reserve of COVID-19 vaccines. Brown says she talked with General Gustav Perna, Chief Operating Officer of Operation Warp Speed, and he told her states will not be receiving increased shipments of vaccines from the national stockpile next week because there is no federal reserve of doses. Governor Brown calls it deception on a national scale. At a press briefing Friday afternoon the Governor said previous plans to begin vaccines for everyone over 65 on January 23rd have now been adjusted. The new plan is those 80 and older will be able to get vaccinated starting February 8th. Staggered vaccination dates for seniors 75 and older, 70 and older and over 65 will begin in the weeks following.
January 15, 2021
Forest Service Releases Final Environmental Assessment and Decision
for Large Diameter Trees in Eastern Oregon
Portland, Ore. – The USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region has released a final environmental assessment and decision that amends forest plans on six national forests in eastern Oregon, revising a provision that prohibits harvesting trees larger than 21 inches in diameter.
The decision replaces the existing 21-inch standard with management policy focused on protecting old and large trees and increasing forest resistance to disturbance. The new policy reflects scientific and experiential learning over the past 25 years, innovative management approaches that collaborative groups have explored for decades, and 24 prior project-level amendments that addressed this issue and informed the analysis. The proposal also implements an adaptive management and monitoring program to track landscape outcomes and share information across forests and with interested people and organizations.
“This decision will help us to better manage forests for wildfires and other disturbances, and to protect old trees that are hard to replace once lost,” said Pacific Northwest Regional Forester Glenn Casamassa. “We look forward to continuing to work with everyone who has engaged with us on this issue through the monitoring program we will implement.”
Many forests in eastern Oregon are uncharacteristically dense. Tree species that are less resistant to wildfire and other disturbances are increasing relative to historical conditions. This contributes to higher tree mortality risks from insects, fire, drought, and other disturbances. Meant to be an interim measure, the Eastside Screens were created in 1995 to protect riparian areas, encourage a healthy mix of young and old trees, and maintain wildlife habitat and connectivity. Now 25 years later, the 21-inch standard is being reassessed in light of current forest conditions, the latest science, project-level amendments, and public feedback.
Forests affected by the project include the Deschutes, Fremont-Winema, Malheur, Ochoco, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests. The decision does not authorize any work on the ground; individual projects to authorize work will still be subject to established planning processes and opportunities for public engagement.
More information, including the final environmental assessment and decision notice, can be found on the Eastside Screens Plan Amendment homepage.
Governor Kate Brown Statement on Federal Reserve of COVID-19 Vaccines
(Salem, OR) — Governor Kate Brown today issued the following statement on new information about the federal reserve of COVID-19 vaccines:
"Last night, I received disturbing news, confirmed to me directly by General Perna of Operation Warp Speed: States will not be receiving increased shipments of vaccines from the national stockpile next week, because there is no federal reserve of doses.
"I am demanding answers from the Trump Administration. I am shocked and appalled that they have set an expectation on which they could not deliver, with such grave consequences.
"This is a deception on a national scale. Oregon’s seniors, teachers, and all of us were depending on the promise of Oregon’s share of the federal reserve of vaccines being released to us."
A copy of a letter that Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen sent to U.S. DHS Secretary Azar about this discrepancy is available here.
Governor Brown will hold a press availability today at 2 p.m. to discuss the state's ongoing response to COVID-19. More information is available here.
The FBI in Portland is prepared to respond to possible violent demonstrations ahead of the presidential inauguration. Special agent in charge Renn Cannon says they are aware of threats. The FBI has a command post to coordinate its response. They have special agents, bomb technicians and tactical teams ready to respond. They're asking for tips about any planned activity.
BEND, OR -- Three courtrooms that were built at the Main Courthouse in Bend in 1977 are getting a remodel and a new roof. Deschutes County Commissioners this week approved a bid of 1-million-223-thousand-750-dollars for the work. Deschutes County Facilities Director Lee Randall says the main goal of the courtroom remodels is to address accessibility issues in the jury box, the witness stand and staff areas. He says another goal is to make technological upgrades to the courtrooms. Randall says the bid also includes seismic upgrades to the courthouse.
A decision by the Crook County Health Department is prompting a return to in-person learning this month for middle and high school students. That decision is to vaccinate any staff member in the school district that requests a Covid vaccination. The plan is to bring middle and high school students back in-person on January 26th, but online instructional options will continue to be available for students who aren’t comfortable returning to the classroom. District Administrators say they’ve put a safety plan together around Covid-19 in tandem with the health department that sets up new response protocols once someone on campus has been infected with the virus. The district’s also planning to publish a weekly metrics report detailing Covid exposure and testing. K thru 5 students have been attending full-time since the start of the school year in September.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Firefighters were called to the Super 8 Motel in Redmond about 2-20 this morning and on arrival found smoke coming from a first floor motel window. Motel staff was evacuating guests and the sprinklers were activated and that confined the fire to the room where it started. First reports indicated a mattress and the carpet in Room 110 were on fire and the sp[rinklers kept it contained. Motel guests were able to return to unaffected rooms within two hours while occupants of rooms near the room where the fire was, were moved to other rooms in the motel. Captain Ken Brown with Redmond Fire told KBND late this (Thursday) morning, damage is estimated at about 6-thousand dollars. He says the cause was accidental and improper disposal of smoking materials.
BEND, OR The Oregon Veterans Motorcycle Association is presenting a 10-thousand dollar check today to the Bend Heroes Foundation. The money will be given to foundation founder Dick Tobiason. The money will sponsor one of the 15 tiny homes at Central Oregon Veterans Village. Ground has been broken for the village and homes are being built by J-Bar-J construction. It is hoped veterans can move in by mid-February. The village will be operated by COVO, Central Oregon Veterans Outreach. The goal of the village is to get veterans connected with services to help them transition from homelessness to a stable lifestyle and permanent housing.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Health officer Doctor George Conway told county commissioners yesterday there is a new concern about the COVID virus infecting children who develop Multi System Inflammatory Syndrome. He says the syndrome may cause repeat virus infections. Conway also explained children that have had COVID may not have had a very effective immune response in the first place. He told commissioners children may not be faring as well with the more extreme end of the illness than predicted earlier in the pandemic.
Three Rivers Humane Society is asking for the public’s help to get to the bottom of a trailer theft between Sunday and Monday. The society says one of their can and bottle trailers was stolen from the Petco in Redmond. Police have been checking for any surveillance footage nearby businesses may have to try and track down whoever was responsible. They say it’s a 5 X 8 foot trailer with their Three Rivers Humane Society logo on it, and they say it has two dog doors built into the right side of the trailer. If you have any info that could help them, Three Rivers is asking that you call them at the shelter.
Investigators still have no i.d. tied to the human remains found on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation on Tuesday, because medical exams indicate they may have been there for as long as ten years. Warm Springs Tribal Police say a resident who was salvaging wood from an old wooden cattle chute along Tenino Road found what appeared to be a human skull – police say they found other bones near it. Cadaver dogs have been brought in to continue searching the area.
Members of the Central Oregon business community are being invited to complete an online survey to help local officials better determine the specific issues businesses have been wrestling with during the pandemic. The survey comes from several local organizations that have banded together to provide businesses with the expert advice and resources they need. That includes technical, legal, and financial advice as well as guidance for their Human Resource departments. www.surveymonkey.com/r/BusinessResourceSurvey
BEND, OR -- The Bend Police Department has had some staff and quite a number of officers exposed to the COVID-19 virus in recent months which means people have to miss work. Police Chief Mike Krantz says his officers along with city firefighters are now getting vaccinated and says a good percentage of the department is participating. Krantz says he expects the numbers to go up for first responders as more vaccines become available. He says his officers can become exposed to the virus by everything from medical calls to other contacts with the public.
Oregon State University researchers say surveys suggest large numbers of Americans won’t get a vaccination for COVID19. OSU hosted a forum yesterday featuring college professors with expertise in vaccines. Anthropology Professor Beth Marino says messages about protecting one’s family and patriotism resonates with a lot of people while protecting the elderly was very well received across the spectrum of people they surveyed. She says they’re now doing focus groups to determine what people’s concerns are about vaccines and then addressing the concerns. Marino says addressing concerns means establishing a back and forth dialogue between communities of distrust and public institutions.
BEND, OR -- The Bend La Pine Schools Board voted unanimously last night to appoint Doctor Steve Cook as the new Superintendent. School board Chair Carrie Douglas says Cook met or exceeded four key criteria developed with community input. Douglas says Cook is a visionary leader…an advocate for equity…a community partner and capacity builder the community needs and wants. Cook is now the Superintendent of the Coeur d’Alene School District in Idaho and will start his new job July 1st , succeeding interim Superintendent Lora Nordquist. Photo courtesy of Central Oregon Daily
The world’s oldest orangutan has died at the Oregon Zoo. The word orangutan means “man of the forest” but 61 year old Inji was a lady. Inji was brought to the zoo in the early 1960’s by a family that could no longer care for her. Orangutans typically only live into their 40’s in the wild. Inji beat the odds and leaves behind fond memories for generations of Oregonians.
An altered reservation window is being instituted once again for state parks in Oregon as of Thursday. New reservations will now be accepted from one day to six months. Normally the reservation window is one day to nine months, but it had been shortened during the Covid pandemic.
A controversy’s brewing over river access for dogs in Bend. Bend Parks & Rec is proposing the creation of a new year-round off-leash area to replace the current one in Riverbend Park, a bit further upstream. But the Central Oregon nonprofit for dogs known as DogPAC says confining off-leash access to a single site will force dog owners to find other sites of their own to use, and will let their dogs swim in the river with currents that they say could be dangerous for the animals. They want multiple approved sites. The park board will address the issue at its next meeting on January 19th.
Girl Scout cookie season is officially underway and the Girl Scouts of Oregon will be selling their wares a bit differently this year in light of the Covid pandemic. Creativity has kicked in to keep everyone safe and the girls are taking contact-free delivery orders online through a new national collaboration with Grubhub. If you don’t know a Scout, you on February first for anyone who doesn’t know a scout from a local troop but wants to buy cookies. Girl Scout cookie season in Oregon runs through March 14th.
Administrators in the Bend-La Pine school district are deciding how to respond to a letter they received on Monday from almost 50 teachers and staffers asking them to hold off on reopening schools for in-person learning February 8th until all of them can get the Covid vaccine. Some of the teachers say they’ll consider staying home from school if they can’t get vaccinated beforehand. Instructors will start getting the vaccine this week, but some say they’ll consider staying out of school until they get theirs.
The Deschutes County District Attorney is considering filing murder charges against a Bend man for allegedly attacking a woman on Christmas morning at a home in Bend. The woman passed away after she was taken off of life support over the weekend. Investigators say 35 year old Randall Kilby told them the woman fell and hit her head in the house in the 6000 block of Granite Drive. But investigators didn’t believe him and took him into custody. He was let out several days later pending further investigation and the woman – 43 year old Daphne Banks – was taken off of life support Friday. An autopsy on her is scheduled for this week, and the D-A is waiting for the results before proceeding. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Dept. says Kilby has a long rap sheet, including 29 criminal cases he’s been tied to in the county since 2004. Authorities say they’re still trying to assess the relationship between Kilby and Banks.
BEND, OR -- A fight last October 3rd at Pilot Butte Park between pro and anti-Trump supporters led to charges being filed against several people. Deschutes county D-A John Hummel says the cases are working through the courts. He says a man charged with pointing at and threatening people with a gun is 42 year old Jake Strayer of Bend who failed to appear in court. Hummel says 44 year old Michael Green of Bend is accused of assault and disorderly conduct and failed to appear in court.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Strayer and Green is asked to call police.
The Cascade Mountains got snow in recent weeks but Hydrologist Scott Oviatt with the Natural Resources Conservation Service says the Upper Deschutes - Crooked River Basin still needs more. He says a portion of the basin is still classified in extreme drought. Oviatt also says 90-per cent of Oregon is in some drought category. He says snowpack in the Cascades looks okay for this time of year but says the region needs a series of storms to move in and drop more snow in the mountains this month and next.
bend, or -- Whoever murdered 34 year old Ray Atkinson and his 29 year old fiancé, Natasha Newby last August in Northeast Bend is still at large. Deschutes county D-A John Hummel says this is a difficult case for everyone in his office. He says they will get to the bottom of this case and continue to work on it every day. Late last year Hummel indicated there may be more than one suspect in the case.
BEND, OR -- Forty seven teachers and staff at Summit High are asking the Bend La Pine School board and superintendent to wait to reopen schools until they can be vaccinated. The letter noted rising virus case numbers locally and the new virus strain in England as reasons to delay the February reopening. English teacher James Williams told the Bend Bulletin the unionized staff at other high schools are also sending a letter ahead of tonight’s board meeting. He says if the board chooses not to postpone the reopening the teachers will discuss their next steps. The school board meets today at 530 and the meeting will be streamed on the board’s You Tube channel.
Vandals have struck again at Boyd Cave in the Deschutes National Forest. The walls of the cave have been spray painted with graffiti of names and symbols repeatedly in recent years. Anyone found guilty of damaging a cave in the forest can be prosecuted, and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is now offering a reward for information leading to whoever was responsible for this recent tagging.
State health officials say they’re doing all they can to step up the rate of vaccinations, but say it’ll be a few more months before most of us will be able to get vaccinated. Director of the Oregon Health Authority Patrick Allen says he doesn’t think all of us will have access to the vaccine until well into the fall. He says not enough of the vaccine’s being produced, and says the feds aren’t buying all of the doses they need. If that changes, he says vaccine access for all could come sooner.
According to the latest stats on home sales from Beacon Appraisal Group of Redmond, the median sales price for a home in the Bend area was $524 thousand dollars, down a bit from the record set in October of $560 thou. But the median sales price per square foot set a new record last month at $283 dollars. Sale prices in Redmond are on the rise, too … with a new median price record set in December of $375 thousand dollars – that’s up $11 thou from the previous record. The median home price in Sisters is now $392 thou. And homes are going fast – the average days on the market for a home before its sold in the area is at a record low – just seven days.
Winter sports including skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling are all very popular in Central Oregon. But Jean Nelson-Dean at the Deschutes National Forest says there are dangers such as avalanches and tree wells. She says there is a website called Central Oregon Avalanche Center that is a great resource because it updates information on the risk of avalanches. Nelson Dean says tree wells are a hazard to skiers and boarders. She says if someone falls into a tree well they can be covered by snow and debris and end up suffocating. Nelson-Dean urges skiers and boarders to travel with a partner and keep in sight of each other in case someone needs help.
January 10, 2021
Governor Kate Brown Orders Flags Lowered to Half-Staff to Honor the Fallen United States Capitol Police Officers
(Salem, OR) — Governor Kate Brown ordered all flags at Oregon public institutions to be flown at half-staff until sunset, January 13, 2021 to honor two fallen United States Capitol Police Officers Brian D. Sicknick and Howard Liebengood.
"Violence answers nothing, solves nothing, and offers nothing. Last week, we saw attacks on our democracy, the Constitution, and the American people. This is not who we are. Dan and I send our condolences to the families of Officer Sicknick and Officer Liebengood as they mourn and grieve. We remember their dedication and determination, their service, and sacrifice."
The full Presidential Proclamation is available at the White House's website.
Redmond Fire & Rescue says they had to cut away the roof of a car to free a driver who crashed into an irrigation ditch in Terrebonne on Friday night. Fire officials say the 29 year old behind the wheel lost control of his car on an icy road east of Terrebonne, and say the car rolled over several times in the 7000 block of Northeast 33rd Street before landing in the ditch. They say the lone driver was taken to St. Charles Bend by ambulance with serious injuries.
Redmond police say they cited a driver this morning for meth possession after he led them on a high-speed chase through the city and onto BLM land. Police say 47 year old Glen Carroll hit speeds of 100 miles an hour in his 2001 Volvo before the spike strips that police used to stop the car deflated a tire. They caught up with him on foot. Police say they cited Carroll for drug possession and driving with a suspended license.
Bend police say a 42 year old Bend man was killed just after 7:00 Saturday night when he was hit by a semi on the Parkway just south of Hawthorne Avenue. The victim’s been identified as 42 year old Marlow White. Police say witnesses told them White was trying to run across the roadway. The driver of the semi - 56 year old William McCain of Alaska - told police he tried to brake and swerve to avoid White. Bend police say neither drugs or alcohol were involved.
Students in Redmond, Tumalo, and Terrebonne will be resuming in-person instruction on February second. Elementary students will start with a partial in-person schedule, returning to a full-time schedule in the classroom the following week. Middle and high school students resume classes with a combination of in-person and online instruction two days a week that school officials say will continue indefinitely. A spike in Covid cases would prompt a reevaluation of the plans.
The Redmond City Council has drafted a letter it plans to send to Governor Brown asking her to reevaluate the restrictions in place for businesses in counties classified as “extreme risk” for Covid transmission. Business leaders in Redmond say they want the same reopening guidelines as the Governor’s given to schools – which can now determine their own reopening timetable. Local officials in the counties considered to be the riskiest by the Governor say they’re hoping for a meeting with her to talk discuss it.
Oregon reports 1,755 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 7 new deaths
PORTLAND, Ore. — COVID-19 has claimed seven more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 1,575, the Oregon Health Authority reported at 12:01 a.m. today.
Oregon Health Authority reported 1,755 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 122,847.
Vaccinations in Oregon
Today, OHA recorded 7,994 doses of vaccine administered — including 578 second doses — raising the state's total number of doses administered to 74,914. This figure is based on preliminary reports of 5,706 doses administered yesterday, as well as 2,288 doses administered on prior days that had not been recorded. OHA's daily media updates provide information that is preliminary and subject to change. OHA's dashboards provide more updated vaccination data.
All vaccinations occurred at Oregon hospitals, long-term care facilities, emergency medical service (EMS) agencies, urgent care facilities and Local Public Health Authorities (LPHAs).
To date, 252,350 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon.
The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 451, which is 11 fewer than yesterday. There are 88 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is three fewer than yesterday.
The total number of patients in hospital beds may fluctuate between report times. The numbers do not reflect admissions per day, nor the length of hospital stay. Staffing limitations are not captured in this data and may further limit bed capacity.
More information about hospital capacity can be found here.
New COVID-19 model released
Today, the Oregon Health Authority released its latest COVID-19 model, which estimated that transmission of COVID-19 decreased dramatically between late November and mid-December before surging sharply upward.
According to the model, the statewide transmission in late November dropped to an effective reproduction rate – the expected number of secondary cases that a single case generates – of 0.8 before surging to 1.29 as of Dec. 23.
At the current level of transmission, the projected average of new daily cases will be 1,780 between Jan. 13 and Jan. 26, with 85 additional daily hospitalizations.
If transmission mirrors the levels from the late November to mid-December model, daily cases will number about 1,400 and hospitalizations would hover at about 55 per day.
The model shows that more Oregonians – about 53% – would accept the COVID-19 vaccine and that three out of four Oregonians are regularly wearing masks or face coverings.
The projections on spread of the virus emphasize the importance of continuing to practice preventive measures that can slow the spread of the disease.
- Maintain physical distance.
- Wear a face covering or mask.
- Avoid gatherings with non-household members.
- Practice good hand hygiene.
Cases and deaths
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (3), Benton (43), Clackamas (203), Clatsop (8), Columbia (12), Coos (18), Crook (3), Curry (4), Deschutes (92), Douglas (27), Gilliam (3), Harney (1), Hood River (20), Jackson (83), Jefferson (3), Josephine (60), Klamath (115), Lake (1), Lane (105), Lincoln (5), Linn (42), Malheur (24), Marion (179), Morrow (12), Multnomah (256), Polk (42), Sherman (4), Tillamook (5), Umatilla (44), Union (20), Wasco (18), Washington (253) and Yamhill (47).
Oregon’s 1,569th COVID-19 death is a 91-year-old woman in Clackamas County who tested positive on Dec. 21 and died on Jan. 6 at her residence. She had underlying conditions.
Oregon’s 1,570th COVID-19 death is a 76-year-old man in Jackson County who tested positive on Dec. 22 and died on Jan. 4 at his residence. He had underlying conditions.
Oregon’s 1,571st COVID-19 death is a 62-year-old man in Jackson County who tested positive on Dec. 29 and died on Jan. 6 at his residence. He had underlying conditions.
Oregon’s 1,572nd COVID-19 death is a 68-year-old woman in Marion County who tested positive on Dec. 3 and died on Jan. 3 at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center. She had underlying conditions.
Oregon’s 1,573rd COVID-19 death is a 50-year-old man in Umatilla County who tested positive on Dec. 27 and died on Jan. 5 at Good Shepherd Community Hospital. He had underlying conditions.
Oregon’s 1,574th COVID-19 death is a 91-year-old man in Washington County who tested positive on Dec. 21 and died on Jan. 5 at Oregon Health & Science University. He had underlying conditions.
Oregon’s 1,575th COVID-19 death is a 76-year-old man in Lane County who tested positive on Dec. 26 and died on Jan. 6 at PeaceHealth Sacred Health Medical Center at Riverbend. He had underlying conditions.
NOTE: Updated information is available for Oregon’s 1,515th death. She is a 53-year-old woman in Harney county who died on Jan. 4 at St. Charles Medical Center — Bend. She was originally reported to have died at Harney District Hospital.
Mental and emotional resources for difficult times:
- Or call the Safe + Strong Helpline at 800-923-4357 (800-923-HELP). The line offers free, 24-7 emotional support and resource referral to anyone who needs it — not only those experiencing a mental health crisis.
The Deschutes National Forest is reminding everyone that firewood cutting season is over - it actually ended December 1st. Even so, Public Information Officer Jean Nelson-Dean says they’ve seen photos of people continuing to cut trees for firewood, and says once the season’s over its illegal and it’s considered theft. The firewood cutting season won’t start again until later in the spring.
A Redmond couple who sexually abused a teenager they met at church have been sentenced. The Bend Bulletin reports prosecutors said Zachary Andrew Morse and his wife Jeassette gave the teen alcohol and marijuana and abused her beginning in 2016. The now-19 year old victim said in court the relationship was rough and manipulation was constant. The teen moved out of state with her parents but the Morse’s sent her a ring and asked her to be a “second wife.” The victim turned over the ring and the card to police. Zach Morse was sentenced to 44 months in prison. Jessette Morse was sentenced last month to 30 days in jail and three years probation.
According to the latest figures, 2020 was a banner year for sales of recreational marijuana. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission that oversees the sales says they hit more than a billion dollars this past year after nearly $800 million dollars in 2019. State tax revenues from the sales are expected to top $150 million dollars, which will be funneled into drug addiction recovery programs and substance abuse screenings.
The staggered return to in-person learning within the Central Oregon school districts begins this month. K-5 students in the Bend-La Pine district will be the first to head back January 25th, with the rest of the students going back in waves over the following four weeks. Partial in-person learning for middle and high school students in the Bend-La Pine district will begin on February 8th. Sunriver students will also begin heading back on January 25th. Redmond’s expected to announce its reopening plans tomorrow, with Jefferson to follow.
A new legal defense fund has been set up by the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association to help restaurant owners in the state with the cost of filing a lawsuit against the Governor or the county for losses incurred during the Covid pandemic. Greg Astley with the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association says their initial lawsuit against the Governor for restricting in-person dining failed to bring results … but he says this new fund underscores the association’s commitment to helping restaurants stay afloat by footing the bill for any legal recourse restaurant owners in the state choose to take.
The controlled burning of piles of undergrowth in the Deschutes National Forest has started this week, west of Sun River and La Pine. They’ll be burning the piles mid-week - mostly on Wednesdays - for the next couple of weeks, but the smoke isn’t expected to permeate into residential areas. It’s intended to burn the undergrowth and remove that fuel from the forest floor to help reduce the intensity of any future wildfires.
The Gray Wolf has been removed from the federal Endangered Species List and management of the animals is now being governed by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. Public Information Officer for the department Michelle Dennehey says the wolves are protected and can’t be hunted or trapped…but she says wolves can be killed under certain circumstances. She says she expects lawsuits to be filed as a result of the de-listing of the gray wolf.
The Oregon Health Authority reports 101 new Central Oregon virus cases with 69 in Deschutes county, 22 in Crook and 10 in Jefferson county. Saint Charles Health has 34 patients with 8 in ICU and 6-of-8 on ventilators. The report says there are 1-thousand-59 new confirmed virus cases for a total of 119-thousand-488. The OHA also reports 44 new COVID-19 deaths for a total of 1-thousand-550. The report shows 2 men from Deschutes county ages 83 and 87 died as did two Jefferson county men age ages 76 and 84.
Bend Fire says a rechargeable lithium battery that spontaneously ignited was the cause of a garage fire just before 5:00 am today. Crews were able to extinguish the blaze at 19387 Rim Lake Court quickly, but it did result in $40 thousand dollars in damage. The owners were home at the time, but no one was hurt.
A new door-to-door shuttle service to transport residents of Sisters to Bend for shopping is starting Thursday. Cascades East Transit is launching the complimentary shopping excursions that will pick shoppers up every Thursday morning, returning home just after noontime. Masks are required and social distancing guidelines are followed on the shuttle. They can seat nine passengers with those guidelines in place. You do need to make a reservation 24 hours in advance, which you can do by phone at 541-385-8680. For more information visit: https://cascadeseasttransit.com/sisters.
The League of Women Voters of Deschutes County is presenting it’s First Thursdays events online because of Covid. First Thursdays is a monthly event sponsored by the League of Women Voters to educate the community about civic issues in Bend. The presentations by community experts on relevant topics had been in-person until last September, when they went virtual. You can access the presentations through YouTube on their website.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Fire had a difficult time battling a car fire on East Antler last night. A full size pickup was fully engulfed in flames before crews arrived. The pickup was hard to find due to darkness and unimproved roads in the area. When crews found the truck they got the fire out and then learned from sheriff’s deputies the vehicle was possibly stolen and they were looking for the owner. Crews prevented the fire from spreading to adjacent wildland. The cause of the fire is unknown and is under investigation.
The Oregon Health Authority reports 51 new virus cases in Central Oregon with 45 in Deschutes county and 6 in Jefferson. Saint Charles Health has 34 patients in the hospital and 10 are in ICU and 7 of the 10 are on ventilators. The report says there are 728 new confirmed virus cases for a total of 118-thousand-453. The OHA reports 6 new COVID-19 deaths for a total of 1-thousand-506. Those who died ranged in age from 47-to-92.
Deschutes County has a new commissioner. Phil Chang was sworn in yesterday at the county fairgrounds after winning the election against incumbent Phil Henderson. Central Oregon Daily reports Chang said he wants to work to help contain COVID and says combining county dollars with federal money will allow the county to accelerate the response to the virus. Also sworn in was Sheriff Shane Nelson and county treasurer Greg Munn. Nelson was elected to a second full term. Munn was the interim treasurer until being elected in November. For the full story go here https://centraloregondaily.com/sheriff-new-deschutes-co-commissioner-treasurer-officially-sworn-in/
A new smartphone app designed to tell you if you’ve been exposed to Covid-19 will soon be available formally in Oregon. Oregon, Washington, and several other states are already using the app, and the Oregon Health Authority says Apple accidentally turned the app on for our state before OSU finished testing it out … but it’s expected to be released sometime this month. Apple and Google partnered to develop the app. It uses Bluetooth technology to notify app users if they’ve been exposed to Covid. Users anonymously input if they’ve tested positive and - without sharing any personal information or location data - the info is sent to all possible contacts. Participation is entirely voluntary, and anyone with a smart phone who wants to use the app will be able to enable the exposure notifications feature already in their phone settings. Health officials in the state are hoping the notification system will help more of us who’ve been exposed, to quarantine … to help stop the spread of the virus.
BEND, OR -- The COVID pandemic has created a lot of challenges at shelters for individuals and families struggling with housing and other issues. The Executive Director of the Bethlehem Inn, Gwen Wysling says they have not had anyone get sick even though many residents are classified as essential workers. She says as a high barrier shelter, the Inn requires drug and alcohol testing to provide a safe environment for those who live there. Wysling says they have also extended stays at Bethlehem Inn because with so many people moving to the region, the availability of affordable housing remains in short supply.
The Crook County school district has decided to resume classroom instruction on January 26th for middle and high school students. Jefferson County district administrators have promised parents they’ll begin work Monday on a strategy to open their schools, and have already told parents limited in-person instruction will resume by January 11th. Administrators in the Bend-La Pine and Redmond school districts say they plan to resume partial in-person learning between January and February.
St. Charles Health is instituting a “no visitor” policy for Covid-19 patients. Public Information Officer Lisa Godman says there will be some exceptions – including patients with a disability needing assistance and patients close to the end of their life. Hospital administrators say it’s a step they had to take to ensure the safety of their patients, and those who care for them. Meantime, two health administrators in Central Oregon have just been appointed to the OHA’s Vaccine Advisory Committee. Dr. George Conway with Deschutes County Health Services and Muriel DeLaVergne-Brown with the Crook County Health Department will now help to advise the Oregon Health Authority on distribution plans for the Covid vaccine throughout the state, along with the committee’s 25 other members.
The Central Oregon Boy Scouts in Bend has received reports of stolen donations attached to discarded trees left out for pickup last weekend. The scouts say this is the first time they’ve ever had reports of donation theft. To ensure the safety of your donation during tree pickups this Saturday, you can donate online at “take your tree dot com”. If you want to leave your tree out for pickup on Saturday, be sure to have it at the curb by 8 a.m.