All outdoor burning on the Warm Springs Reservation has been banned because of the smoke tied to the wildfire burning in the area. The ban has been issued by the Environmental Protection Agency in coordination with the Confederated Tribes of the reservation. The burn ban applies to all outdoor and agricultural burning - which includes camping and recreation fires and bonfires - and it extends to all areas within the external reservation boundaries regardless of ownership or tribal membership. Ceremonial and traditional fires are the only ones that are exempt from the ban. The ban will remain in effect until further notice.
Bend city officials are assuring residents that the city of Bend’s drinking water is safe amidst the chlorine shortage throughout the west. The shortage was caused by an equipment failure at a chlorine manufacturing facility in Washington that supplies chlorine to the west coast. City officials say Bend has dual water sources that are chlorinated – surface water and groundwater – that use chlorine gas and chlorine solution as a disinfectant, along with the city’s wastewater treatment plant. Bend officials are currently working with other water utilities and state officials to acquire additional supplies of chlorine that the city may need, since the city’s current supplies will only last into August. We’re all being asked to conserve.
The Oregon Employment Department is phasing requirements back in that were relaxed during the pandemic for anyone collecting unemployment benefits. Department Director David Gerstenfeld says that includes being registered with the iMatch Skills program. Anyone who isn’t registered will lose their benefits. Anyone collecting will also have to start showing proof they're looking for work. By September 5th, all of the requirements to receive unemployment benefits in Oregon that were in effect before the pandemic will be back in place.
The pandemic has forced many local businesses to find creative ways to stay afloat over the last year, and the iconic family-owned and operated Redmond Antique Mall is one of them. The mall houses almost 70 vendors in one single location on Highway 97 in Redmond, and owner Erika Stephens says she was afraid there would be a mass exodus of her tenants when rents got tight … until a unique idea surfaced to do facebook “live” antique auction shows several nights a week, which have continued because of their popularity. The Redmond Antique Mall will be moving to a new location on SE Evergreen in November. Between now and then, they'll be holding a series of pop-up antique sales on select Fridays and Saturdays featuring wares from new and current vendors at the new location - check for the dates online.
The free live Music On The Green summer concert series at the Deschutes County fairgrounds in Redmond is soon to get underway, with the first concert on Wednesday, June 30th at 6 pm featuring Olivia Knox – an 18 year old who composes all of her own music and plays the guitar and ukulele. Upcoming concerts include Heller Highwater on July 14th, Erin Cole-Baker on August 11th, JuJu Eyeball on August 25th, and a performance by Redmond’s own Hokulea Hawaiian Dancers on September 8th. The concerts are typically held at Sam Johnson Park, but due to occupancy limits and no city permits for park use, they have been moved to the fairgrounds. Organizers say they hope at some point in the season, they can be moved back to the park.
A drive-thru life jacket distribution event is being held in Redmond this Saturday. Coastal in Redmond will be handing out 300 life jackets for kids up to 12 years of age in the parking lot of the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center on a first come first served basis beginning at 11 am until they’re gone. The life jackets are free, and are intended to promote summer water safety.
Beginning next Monday, June 21st, Bend Park & Rec returns to drop-in classes and will be removing the advance registration process that was put in place to adhere to state-required capacity limits and restrictions in light of Covid. A small number of online classes will continue to require registration, but for the most part the rec facilities will be returning to the flexibility of drop-in access and will be able to accommodate more programs and participants. Juniper Swim & Fitness Center cycling and exercise rooms will also be opening on Monday.
As small businesses struggle to recover from this past year’s Covid hit, a tech solutions firm in Bend is offering a free webinar this week to help local companies re-group. Nine Peaks Solutions says going paperless is the first step, and Managing Partner Eric Skidmore says the roadmap from there is what their webinar will help companies with – using actual case studies. The Nine Peaks Solutions webinar is coming up this Wednesday, June 16th, from 12 pm to 1 pm – it’s free, but pre-registration is required. You can go to their website to sign up at www.ninepeakssolutions.com.
Some good news for Deschutes County fair lovers who look forward to the animal exhibits there every year. As it turns out, they’re not totally out of the picture this summer – just partially. The fair won’t be holding their traditional Open Class ADULT Livestock competitions – but they WILL have YOUTH Competitions along with the 4-H and F-F-A animals at the fair which showcase all the fan favorites including cattle, hogs, goats, sheep, chickens, and rabbits. Fair officials say they eliminated only the ADULT Open Class Competitions this year to provide a bit more space for fairgoers in the barns in light of Covid safety measures involving social distancing.
Crook County High School is mourning the death of a student’s 19 year old brother and praying their student recovers from injuries suffered in a roll over crash Wednesday night. Investigators say Clayton Gray from the town of Halfway in Baker County died at the scene. He was driving. His brother - who attends the high school - suffered serious injuries and had to be airlifted to St. Charles Bend. Investigators say the accident happened just after 8 pm on Highway 27, south of Prineville, forcing the closure of the highway for several hours. Investigators say the car the boys were in crossed into the lane of oncoming traffic, drove off the highway, and turned over. No cause yet.
Six school sites in Central Oregon will be offering up thousands of free meals to students this summer. The “Grab N’ Go” brown bag breakfast and lunch meals will be offered from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm Monday thru Friday from June 21st through August 20th, with the exception of July 5th during the holiday weekend. Any student 18 or younger can get the meals and parents can pick them up. The schools taking part are Bend Senior High, Elk Meadow Elementary, Mountain View High, Silver Rail Elementary, Westside Village, and La Pine High. Additionally, school meals will be free throughout the coming school year for students at all Bend-La Pine Schools with no applications or income requirements.
With many Oregonians planning to camp this summer with the family dog, the Central Oregon Humane Society is encouraging campers to follow some key safety precautions. Don’t let your dog ride in an open cab on a metal surface that could get too hot in the sun, don’t leave them in a closed car, make sure they’re well hydrated for the trip and test their comfort level in the car by going on short rides first. The society’s Lynne Ouchida says you should also check with your vet to make sure they have the proper meds or vaccinations to ward off any unexpected health problems your dog may be exposed to in the area you’re traveling to – especially if your pet’s never been there before.
For the second year in a row, Governor Brown has declared a drought emergency for all three counties in Central Oregon. The orders direct the state Department of Agriculture to help to secure federal monies and resources to assist in agricultural recovery in Deschutes, Jefferson, and Crook counties through the rest of the year. Drought declarations have also just been declared in four other Oregon counties. These seven add to the eight counties in the state where the Governor has previously issued drought declarations.
The Crook County Sheriff’s Office now says they believe alcohol may have been a factor in causing a semi hauling a 53 foot trailer full of auto parts to slide into a ditch on Millican Road on Monday morning. The 43 year old driver from Georgia was able to get himself out of the rig after he lost control – the semi slid several hundred feet down an embankment and onto its side after slamming into a rock embankment. The driver had originally told investigators he lost control of the rig because his brakes locked.
The city of Madras is asking for the public’s input on two projects intended to help guide the future of the city. One is tied to a transportation grant from the Department of Land Conservation and Development and the state Department of Transportation to address future downtown parking needs.
The other is a Housing Action plan dealing with code updates to the permitting process, regulations, and home construction costs. City officials are holding an open house to discuss the projects on Thursday, June 24th from 6 to 8 pm at Madras City Hall.
Cascades East Transit has chosen a new contractor to provide transit services in Bend. MTM Transit will be operating transit services in the city after completing a formal RFP. MTM takes over for Paratransit Services out of Bremerton, Washington and will begin providing services to Bendites on September first following a transition period.
Jefferson County has a new Sheriff – but he’s not a new face. County Commissioners have unanimously given their endorsement to Undersheriff Marc Heckathorn who will fill the remainder of the term for retiring Sheriff Jim Adkins. Heckathorn has been the Undersheriff in the county since 2016 after rising up through the ranks. He will run to retain the office on May 17th of 2022.
St. Charles Health is stepping up its efforts to fill more than 600 open positions by publicizing the positions through direct mail. The health system has sent out 30 thousand postcards to registered nurses with information about the job openings – a third of the slots they need to fill are for RNs. St. Charles is also allowing some of the open positions to be performed remotely, and is now accepting applications from 16 and 17 year olds - lifting the previous requirement that applicants be at least 18. St. Charles says despite having the greatest number of open positions than ever before, patient care hasn’t been affected - they’ve been able to bring in traveling health care workers to fill the needs temporarily.
A Water Conservation Order has been issued by the Branch of Public Utilities Department for all Warm Springs Reservation Water Distribution Systems. This is due to extreme temperatures, lowering reservoir levels, drought conditions and increasing fire danger. The hot temperatures have increased water demands – which has drawn down water.
Bend has been ranked among the most PAW-friendly cities in America according to the National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association. The annual list cited Bend as offering endless amenities for man's best friend, including some of the local brew pubs that allow dogs to join you while you sip your favorite brew. The survey says more than 63 million households in the country currently have at least one dog, and 44 percent of those dog owners said they'd rather cuddle up with their pet than their life partner.
We can expect an earlier than normal fire season this year - and because of the extremely dry conditions, Jean Nelson-Dean with the Deschutes National Forest says it'll start this month (June) instead of next and will be more intense sooner than August or September. She says lightening could spark wildfires even more easily than last year in the dry brush. Some safety tips she's passing on - douse your campfire three or four times with water to be sure it's completely out, don't park on dried out grass to prevent the heat in your undercarriage from igniting dry brush, and make sure your trailer chains aren't dragging on the roadway to prevent sparks.