Local News Archives for 2021-04

Deschutes and Crook Counties Return to Extreme Risk for Covid

Governor Brown has re-evaluated the Covid risk for counties in the state.  Deschutes County and Crook County will move into the "Extreme Risk" category again from high risk on Friday.  Statewide, fifteen counties in the state will move into the extreme level.  The new classifications come with revised outdoor capacity limits for bars and restaurants in the state, which will be increased in “Extreme Risk” counties from 50 to 100 patrons.  The Governor plans to re-evaluate the classifications on May 6th, and will evaluate the situation weekly - instead of every two weeks - for at least the next three weeks.  Jefferson County remains in the "High Risk" category.  The Governor is partnering with lawmakers to provide a $20 million dollar emergency relief package to provide immediate aid to businesses in “Extreme Risk” counties.  

Oregon Woman Dies After Getting J & J Covid Vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating the death of an Oregon woman this week after getting the Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. The Oregon resident - a woman in her 50s - received a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine before the pause order on its use was issued. Until the investigation is complete, health officials say it cant be concluded whether her death is related to the vaccine. She developed a rare but serious blood clot within two weeks after getting vaccinated. Cases of this serious blood clot have previously been identified among six women around the country who had gotten the J & J vaccine.


Deschutes County Remains "High Risk" Despite Spike in Covid Cases

The latest Covid risk rankings for counties in the state have been announced by Governor Brown, which will go into effect on Friday. Deschutes County remains in high risk despite the recent surge in cases - the county qualifies for extreme risk but doesn’t meet the number of hospitalizations that would move it into the extreme category. Both Jefferson and Crook Counties have moved from low risk to high risk.


Deschutes County Sees Major Job Gains

Central Oregon is seeing it's biggest job gains since last summer.  Regional Economist Damon Runberg says the unemployment rate in Deschutes County dropped to 6.6 in March, down from 6.8 in February.  Job gains surged in leisure and hospitality as Covid restrictions began to ease.  In Jefferson County the unemployment rate dropped slightly to 6.8 in March from 6.9 in February.  In Crook County the unemployment dropped to 7.3 percent in March from 7.9 percent in February.  

COCC Beefing Up Campus Security

Central Oregon Community College is in the process of beefing up security on campus following recommendations from an independent review of campus security. Campus security at COCC has been scrutinized since the rape and murder of a student in 2016, and subsequent claims that campus security officers have taken their role too far - blurring the lines with Bend police. COCC has appointed an interim Campus Safety Director to provide more oversight, and campus safety officers are going to be wearing more casual uniforms to prevent any role confusion with Bend police.


New Water Study Determines Future Needs in Oregon

The results of a $1.5 M study to help meet the water needs of cities, farms, and rivers throughout Oregon have been released. The research was conducted by the Upper Deschutes River Basin, and the data is expected to guide how water is utilized in Central Oregon. The study is also expected to assess the future water needs of the growing cities in the state, and help to identify how those needs can best be met.

Rescued Hiker

Yesterday afternoon at about 1:00 o’clock, Deschutes County Dispatch received a call from an injured hiker at Smith Rock State Park.  The hiker, 36-year-old Raili Marks of Seattle, was near the Misery Ridge overlook and could not walk without assistance.  Ten Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue volunteers, along with one Deputy, and members of the Redmond Fire Department responded. Medics provided medical care while Search And Rescue volunteers loaded her into a wheeled litter and transported her down the Misery Ridge Trail to a waiting ambulance.  

St. Charles Issues Public Alert About Medical Phone Scam

St. Charles Health officials say Central Oregonians need to be wary of phone calls from someone claiming to be affiliated with the health system asking for your Medicare or Social Security numbers.  They say the caller ID may appear as a St. Charles number, which makes the scam especially deceiving.  If you get a call like this, they say you should hang up and call your St. Charles provider's office to see if they need any information.

No Change in Tuition at COCC Next Year

No increase in tuition at COCC for the upcoming school year. The Central Oregon Community College Board of Directors has voted unanimously to hold tuition and fees at their current levels this fall for the 21-22 academic year. The Board has also decided to suspend the fee for online courses indefinitely. As a result, COCC remains in the lower third tuition cost ranking of all community colleges in the state.

Cyclist Struck by Car on Hwy 97 Dies

Oregon State Police say a 41 year old man from Washington State who was hit by a car on Highway 97 while riding his bike early Wednesday morning has died. Sheriff's Deputies, state police, and Redmond Fire responded to the scene on Highway 97 South at 3:30 Wednesday morning to find cyclist Jeremy James semi-conscious in the middle of the road with life threatening injuries. The car that hit him was driven by a 19 year old male from Redmond who suffered minor injuries. State police say James was wearing dark clothing and had been riding his bike southbound in the inside "A" lane when he was hit along an unlit part of the highway.

Sisters Rodeo a "No Go" for 2021

For the second year in a row, the Sisters Rodeo has been canceled because of the recent resurgence in Covid cases in Deschutes County.  Even though the virus might be more under control by June - when the event is scheduled to take place - Rodeo Directors say they won't be able to meet all of the OHA "high risk" standards and protocols in time to ensure the safety of those who work to put the event on.

Black Bear Diner Owner Plans to Appeal OSHA Covid Fines

The owner of the two Black Bear Diner locations hit with OSHA penalties for violating Covid-related restrictions has hired a law firm to appeal the penalties. The Black Bear diners in Bend and Redmond were fined a combined $35 thousand dollars this week for allowing indoor dining while Deschutes County was in the extreme risk category for Covid. This follows an OSHA fine of more than $27 thousand dollars imposed last month on Kevista Coffee for similar Covid violations.


Body Discovered in Burned RV

Redmond Fire and the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office are investigating the cause of a fire in an RV that appears to have claimed the life of a person whose body was discovered inside just after midnight. Firefighters say the 30 foot trailer was being used as a residence and was fully engulfed in flames when they got to it at 686 Northeast Wilcox Avenue in Terrebonne. Firefighters were able to get a handle on the blaze before it spread to any nearby buildings.


Reward Offered to Find Tumalo Pipeline Vandal

A $10,000 dollar reward is being offered to find and convict whoever was responsible for vandalizing the Tumalo Irrigation District's new pipeline near Pinehurst Road. Investigators say they discovered multiple holes that were drilled into the pipeline during final inspections and testing, and say they were drilled intentionally and without authorization by someone that climbed into the open trench and drilled the holes between January 6th and 13th. The district is working to repair the pipeline now, with repair costs estimated between $125,000 and $250,000 dollars.

Fire Tears Through Bend Home, Scene of Three Recent Murders - State Officials Investigating Cause

The cause of a fire in a home that was the scene of multiple murders in Bend is under investigation by the State Fire Marshall and Oregon State Police. Bend Fire & Rescue responded to the blaze just before 11 Tuesday night that gutted the home on Granite Drive. Brothers-in-law Jeffrey Taylor and Benjamin Taylor - both in their 60's - were found dead in the home last month, and in January 43 year old Daphne Banks was beaten so badly in the home she later died after being taken off of life support. 35 year old Randall Kilby of Bend has been charged with all three of the murders. He and his mother had been living in the home with the Taylors when the murders took place.


Crash Involving Two Pickups Kills Redmond Man

Redmond Police are investing the cause of a crash involving two pickups yesterday (Tuesday) morning that killed one person and injured two others.  It happened south of NW 6th Street and NW Quince Avenue just before 8:30 am.  Investigators say one of the pickups crossed the road and slammed into the other.  The driver of the pickup that crossed the road was killed, and has been identified as 79 year old Archie Carrol of Redmond.  The driver of the pickup that was hit -  38 year old Mario Lopez of Prineville - was airlifted to St. Charles Bend with serious injuries.  His passenger 41 year old Rodolfo Lopez of Prineville was taken to the hospital by ambulance.  

Bend Power Outage

Pacific Power crews are working to restore power to about 1400 customers in the area of Northwest Newport in Bend.  They say the cause is blown fuses tied to a bird or squirrel that got into the lines.

Sergeant Resigns During Sexual Assault Investigation

A 37 year old Sergeant with the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office has resigned during a criminal investigation into charges of sexual abuse and domestic violence against him. Deke DeMars has been on paid leave since February of last year when Redmond police started investigating the alleged assault charges filed by a woman in a romantic relationship with DeMars. The case had been turned over the Deschutes County D-A's Office with a police recommendation to charge DeMars with a sex crime. His resignation is retroactive to April first.

Second Murder Trial Ends in Acquittal for Wirkkala

A 40 year old Bend man convicted of killing his house guest in 2013 has been found not guilty following six hours of deliberation in a second trial that lasted more than 3 weeks in Deschutes County Circuit Court. Luke Wirkkala has been in custody since February of 2013 and was convicted in 2014 of intentionally killing 31 year old David Ryder with a shotgun despite claiming he shot Ryder in self-defense after Ryder sexually assaulted him. The state appeals court ordered a retrial following the first conviction because the jury heard a police interview after Wirkkala had invoked his right to request an attorney.

Second Arrest Tied to China Hat Road Stabbing

A 30 year old woman from Bend has been arrested for conspiracy in connection with the March 28th stabbing incident on China Hat Road. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office says they now have evidence showing Tesla Delury conspired with Anthony Reyes to lure the alleged victim to China Hat Road so Reyes could assault him. Detectives took Reyes into custody after the incident, and say they believe the man he's suspected of stabbing was someone he knew who was going to testify against him in another case. The man he allegedly stabbed suffered serious injuries. The investigation is continuing.


Deschutes County Meth Trafficker Arrested Following Extensive CODE Investigation

A 46 year old Bend man has been arrested following an active investigation over the last few months by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team.  Investigators say Thomas VanHoose was trafficking large amounts of meth through Deschutes County.  Cops arrested him during a traffic stop in Redmond, and say they found a pound of meth in the car along with close to $19 thousand dollars in cash believed to have come from sales of the drug.  During the investigation, authorities also found nine pounds of meth, scales, packaging material, and other evidence of meth sales in a storage unit traced to VanHoose.   

St. Charles Med-Tech Workers Get New Contract

The Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals - which is the union representing medical technicians at St. Charles Medical Center - has ratified the union’s first contract.  The contract spans three years, which includes wage increases averaging 11%, according to St. Charles Spokeswoman Lisa Goodman.  150 workers went on strike for just over a week on March 4th following a year of off and on negotiations.    

Home and Garden Show Canceled

The annual Home and Garden Show at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds and Expo Center in Redmond has been canceled for 2021 due to the Covid pandemic.


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