Local News Archives for 2022-03

Prineville School Staff Hurt in Altercation with Student

Prineville Police Department were called to Barnes Butte Elementary School Wednesday to help staff calm a student struggling with emotional issues. Crook County School District Communication Director, Jason Carr (who declined to comment on tape), said the situation escalated to point where school officials felt the need to request outside help. Three staff members suffered minor injuries while trying to calm the child who was transported to the hospital for professional help. Carr said the incident took place outside the regular classroom setting. No other students were involved or injured. Barnes Butte Elementary has two resource officers with the Prineville Police Department, a factor Carr said helped resolve the situation that much faster.

Gas Prices Hold Steady

Gas prices held steady this week. The national average remains 4.24 a gallon while Oregon’s statewide average rose slightly, to 4.72. Triple A's Marie Dodds says we are seeing gas prices fairly stable because crude oil prices are fairly stable. The bad news is crude oil prices remain stubbornly above $100 a barrel. Dodds added there’s no way to know how long the high prices will last,  because the biggest driver is so unpredictable - the Russian invasion of Ukraine. U-S demand for gasoline typically increases this year, pushing prices higher. But Dodds says demand is actually down for the second week in a row, likely due to drivers changing habits because of high prices at the pump. 


Shelter Codes Topic of Upcoming Work Session

On Wednesday, April 6, the Bend City Council will hold a work session to discuss proposed code amendments for shelters. The code amendments are aimed at increasing the availability of shelter beds using updated standards for group, multi-room and outdoor shelters. The Council and community will be able to review the proposed code amendments and hear recommendations from the Bend Planning Commission. The work session will take place at 5 p.m. with a separate meeting for public comment May 4th. The proposed “Shelter Code,” was developed by the City manager-appointed Sounding Board to House Our Neighbors as a strategy to allow varying shelters and transitional options Citywide. It includes recommendations for three types of permanent shelters, and two types of temporary shelters.  


Studded Tire Season Ends Today

Studded tire season comes to an end today (Thursday) in Oregon. Heather Roberts reports on why ODOT is strict about studs.Those studded tires must be removed before April first, or drivers could get a nearly 200-dollar ticket.  According to Oregon Department of Transportation studies, studded snow tires cause more than 8-million dollars in damage to state highways every year. ODOT’s Peter Murphy says it’s simple physics. "If you have a rapidly spinning wheel with a stud of metal on it - a hard metal - and it comes in contact with asphalt, which is basically oil and rock, the steel beats the oil every time. That leads us to having a situation where the roadway goes away," Murphy said. He added the agency is aware there is still snow on some mountain passes so plows and sanders will still get out where and when  necessary.


Unemployment Rates Exhibit Strong Recovery Trend

Central Oregon counties saw further improvement in unemployment rates in February, continuing a strong recovery trend. Regional Economist Damon Runberg says the tri-county area is nearly fully recovered from Pandemic-era job losses and it happened faster than he expected. He says in the case of Deschutes County, losing 18% of total nonfarm employment in two months equates to roughly, almost 1 in 5 jobs disappearing overnight. He said sitting with 1300 more jobs than when the pandemic hit, is a remarkable feat. Deschutes County added 370 jobs, last month with unemployment now at 3.8-percent. That’s just a half a percent above the record low set before the pandemic began. Crook County’s jobless rate fell to 5.2-percent in February Jefferson County also improved, dropping to 4.8-percent.


Deschutes Co. Commissioners Move to Upgrade County Facilities

Deschutes County Commissioners took steps Monday to approve contracts for upgrades to three county buildings. A planned expansion of the courthouse includes space for two additional judges. Commissioners also approved a notice of intent to award a contract to Pinnacle Architecture of Bend for design upgrades to the sheriff’s office. Proposed improvements include space for an exercise and wellness facility and more space for detectives and administration officials. The contract will include upgrades to county jail facilities with a focus on support services, including direct supervision areas for men and women during in-person professional visits. A 7-day protest period must take place before any contract is actually awarded. Commissioners also approved a notice of intent for a contract with LRS Architects of Bend and Portland to design the 40,000-square-foot courthouse addition.


Police Ask for Help in Locating Missing Warm Springs Man

Police continue to search for a Warm Springs man missing for almost two weeks. Seventy-one-year old Lewis Selam (Say-Lam), was last seen March 16 at Warm Springs Tribal Credit. Called “Louie,” by friends and family, Lewis Selam stands 6 feet tall and weighs about 210 pounds. His car was found stuck in the snow days after his disappearance 20 miles west of Warm Springs at Peter’s Pasture near the base of Mount Jefferson. The car contained several personal items, including his hat which Selam is seldom seen without. K9 unit searches failed to locate Selam after dogs tracked the man’s scent on a trail into a rim rock area. Anyone who sees or has information about Selam is urged to contact the Warm Springs Police Department at: 541-553-1171.


Sisters Ranger District Plans Prescribed Burns

Sisters Ranger District plans to burn up to 11-hundred acres this year. Prescribed fire units will take place on three sites, adjacent to Highway 20, within the Sisters Area Fuels Reduction (SAFR) area, and in the Metolius Basin. eather permitting, Sisters Ranger District firefighters hope to begin spring prescribed fire operations next week. Residual moisture at this time of the year allows for low-intensity fire while removing ladder fuels and hazardous fuels loading. The planned units are a continuation of treatments to help the natural ecosystem and reduce hazardous fuels that can ignite high intensity fire events during the normal fire season. Traffic control measures will be enforced on major roadways during burn operations. Residents in the town of Sisters, as well as outlying areas in the Metolius Basin are advised to keep their windows and doors closed during the night hours to avoid potential smoke impacts.


Registration Deadline April 5 for Park and Rec Programs

Bend Park and Recreation District expects to have a full slate of summer programs, for the first time in two years. But pent-up demand could mean slots fill even faster than normal. Bend Parks and Rec’s Julie Brown tells KBND News parents need to be prepared on the first day of registration."This is the one that most parents really need to make sure that they have circled on the calendar, for April fifth at 6 am. It’s a get up early type of day, because this is when we’re going to have all of our summer camps." April 5th is also the registration date for swim lessons and other programs that run from mid-June through August. You can register online or in-person. The summer “playbook” outlining the season should be available this Thursday.

Prineville Woman Arrested in Fentanyl Drug Sting

A Prineville woman has been arrested in a fentanyl sting operation. On March 13th, 2022, 26 year old Bryanna Nelson of Prineville was stopped on Highway 26 between Madras and Prineville. She was charged with importing fentanyl pills from the Portland area into Central Oregon after a search of her Nissan Rouge uncovered a commercial quantity of counterfeit Oxycodone tablets made of fentanyl. A large amount of currency was also seized in the arrest. A male passenger was questioned and released. A toddler in the vehicle was handed over to Oregon DHS-Child Welfare. Nelson’s arrest comes at the conclusion of a long-term investigation by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team and follows a multi-day surveillance operation throughout the metropolitan Portland area. Nelson is lodged in the Crook County Sheriff’s Jail. She faces multiple drug related charges, and one count of child neglect. A recent surge of fentanyl in the region has been linked to an ongoing overdose epidemic in Central Oregon.



Distracted Driver Crashes Semi

Distracted driving is blamed for a crash involving a lumber truck that blocked a Crook County road for several hours Friday afternoon. A 48-year-old Illinois truck driver was southbound on George Millican Road, when the crash occurred just before 3:30 p.m. According to the Crook County Sheriff’s Office, he veered off the shoulder after he dropped something in his cab. The semi rolled onto its side, spilling the load of lumber across the roadway. The driver was evaluated by medics and released at the scene. No citations were issued.


DA's Office Finds Nick Rodin Shooting "Justified"

A Crook County Sheriff’s Deputy has been cleared of any wrongdoing after a fatal shooting in early February. The District Attorney called the shooting “justified”. On February 4th, Nick Rodin called 9-1-1. He told the dispatcher his name, that he had a warrant, and that someone should come get him before he - quote, "flips out and hurts someone". Deputy Steven Hatcher found Rodin that afternoon on a gravel road in Juniper Canyon. The altercation was caught on the deputy’s body camera footage as Rodin defies orders to lay down and keep his hands visible. Rodin told the dispatcher he had a pistol and a knife. The D-A’s office released body cam footage from the tense moments before Deputy Steven Hatcher shot Rodin who was shot twice after defying orders to get on the ground, and appearing to reach toward his waistband. Police did not find a knife or gun on Rodin at the scene. 








Missing Woman Dies in Crash

A woman reported as missing by the Portland Police Bureau Monday was found dead Friday near Warm Springs. Oregon State Police responded to a call of a vehicle over an embankment on Highway 26 when they discovered the woman who was traveling to Redmond at the time of the crash. Police do not suspect anything suspicious about the death of the endangered woman and say there is no cause for alarm in the community. 

Fentanyl Showing up Locally

Following the recent overdose deaths of two high school students in Portland, Central Oregon law enforcement say the battle against Fentanyl is here, as well. Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson tells KBND News, the amount of fentanyl equal to four grains of sand is enough to kill someone. And, there’s no way for users to know how much they’re taking. He said with illegal manufacturers there's no state or federal oversight with regard to how much of a drug can go into a pill. Nelson said it’s especially dangerous for young people who may not realize Fentanyl is in a pill they’ve been given from a friend. According to the C-D-C, deaths from Fentanyl among teens have tripled in the past two years.

City of Madras Appoints New Councilors  

The Madras City Council has appointed two new members to fill two vacant positions on the council. Mike Siebold and Edwin Yoder will fill the seats of former councilors Bartt Brick and Royce Embanks Jr., whose positions expire December 31st. Siebold is self-employed and has lived in Madras for two and a half years. His background includes work with the Veterans Affairs Department, participating in Race for the Cure, and coordinating a canned food drive in Portland. He hopes continue his volunteering efforts to engage his local community. Yoder owns Dick Dodson Realty and resided in Central Oregon for nine years. His background in construction includes building more than 240 homes and he hopes to engage high school students with the Council to become future leaders. Both appointees will be sworn in over the next couple of weeks. A formal swearing in ceremony will be held April 12 during the City Council meeting.


High Density Net-Zero Development Proposed for Midtown

A High Density (RH) zoned, energy-efficient multi-family housing development is planned for the Orchard District of Bend’s popular Midtown area. The three story, 36 unit project is expected to break ground by the end of the year. Perry Brooks with Roost Development LLC says the goal is to create an ultra-energy-efficient “Net Zero” building that produces more energy than it consumes. Brooks says the nature of the development is better than sprawl and use rehavbilitating lots that have been degraded to the point they are uninhabitable. He said it provdes an opportunity to allow more people to live in Bend. Ten Over Studio in Bend is designing the podium style development which will feature solar panels and other “green” materials and will include 28 one-bed and eight two-bed market rate units and 44 parking spaces. An evolution of similar high density developments can be seen around the country, and in cities like Portland and Seattle. Brooks says the development falls in line with Oregon’s land use codes which encourages density within urban areas.


Cooking Fire Damages Westside Local Restaurant

A fire broke out Wednesday morning at the Westside Local Restaurant in Redmond. Local fire crews responded at 10:25 a.m. to reports of a cooking fire at the single story restaurant on SW 5th Street. Crews arriving on the scene discovered the fire had spread to the restaurant’s cooking vent. The restaurant’s fire extinguishing system failed but firefighters were able to put out the fire. No one was injured. Damage to the building and its contents is estimated at around 9-thousand dollars. 

High Desert Stampede Returns to Deschutes County Fairgrounds

The annual High Desert Stampede kicked off Wednesday at the Deschutes County Fair in Redmond. The fast paced event draws a wide variety of spectators each year. The Stampede is also a celebrated stop for the top 60 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Pro rodeo NFR Playoff Series. The event is held in partnership with the Central Oregon community, and attracts some of the best athletes and livestock each year. The High Desert Stampede continue through Saturday evening with Women's Barrel Racing & Breakaway Roping Slack getting underway this morning at 10:00 a.m.



Madras Man Sentenced in 2020 Murder

A man accused in the killing of a Redmond man was sentenced to prison Tuesday in Jefferson County Circuit Court. 28-year-old Salbador Angeles Robinson was sentenced to 20 years in prison for second-degree manslaughter and conspiracy to commit robbery. On August 20, 2020, Robinson joined 28-year-old Theresa Winishut and 38-year-old Stephanie Belgard in a plot to rob 52-year-old Brian Jones and steal his car. Robinson’s attorney Geoffrey Gokey said the attack was fueled by Meth and LSD. Robinson told police he stabbed his victim in the chest after Jones put up a fight. Jones’s body was discovered the next morning by a motorist on Danube Road near U.S. Highway 26 near Warm Springs. Belgard and Winishut each received five year prison terms for their part in the murder earlier this year.



Prescribed Fire Burns Underway

In the effort to prepare for the coming summer wild fire season, forestry officials have started prescribed burns. On Tuesday a prescribed burn took place near Pine Mountain where between 100 and 400 acres are expected to be burned off Forest Service Road 18 and 25. Approaching May and June, the area faces above average fire activity. Deschutes National Forest public affairs specialist, Jaimie Olle, says a little smoke now from controlled burns means being able to get a better handle on wildfires and in the summer. The prescribed burns are done in coordination with the forestry’s smoke management program to make sure smoke is carried out of communities. Fire season this year is expected earlier due to lower than usual snow water levels this year.


Boil Water Advisory in Warm Springs

Emergency repairs have drinking water flowing again on the Warm Springs Reservation, although a boil-water notice is now in place. Tribal officials say an electrical fire damaged the water distribution and treatment plant, Friday. Warm Springs Emergency Manager Danny Martinez told Central Oregon Daily News it left half the population out of water. He said as the water’s being depleted and travels from the water plant to the community, it’s depleting the towers that were basically the holding tanks. Bottled water is still being distributed for those who need it at the Old Elementary School from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.




Bend Street Preservation

Bend drivers, prepare for road construction season. City crews are ready to start more than 2.5 million dollars’ worth of street preservation work.Streets and Operations Supervisor Paul Neiswonger tells Central Oregon Daily News resurfacing could begin as early as April. He said this year the City will pave Mt. Washington, from Summit Drive, eastside, over by Rivers Edge Golf Course, around over to Shevlin Park and the Mount Washington roundabout.  Neiswonger said resurfacing and other maintenance is much cheaper than allowing damage to get to the point of needing to be fully re-paved. Drivers are asked to be patient with crews over the next several months.






Warm Springs Woman Found

A Warm Springs woman who disappeared on March 13th has been located. 65- year-old Claudine Lynn Gray-Littleleaf was found in Washington State. The woman was reported missing on March 16, described as endangered and possibly suffering from dementia. Warm Springs PD said Tuesday that a family member has been notified of Littleleaf’s recovery. 

River's Edge Golf Course Sold to Homeowners Association

The River’s Edge Community Master Association has purchased Bend’s River’s Edge Golf Course. Jeff Kramer, president of the association said the sale means preserving a precious amenity for homeowners, and an iconic public golf course for the Bend community. In April 2021, previous owner, Wayne Purcell, announced he would sell the golf course and turn it into a 372-home development. In protest several River’s Edge homeowners filed two separate lawsuits to save the golf course. The River’s Edge Master Association was  subsequently created specifically to purchase and operate the golf course and includes all four homeowner’s associations within the community. The golf course will remain open to the public with immediate plans for improvements and upgrades.



Oregon Forestry Department Invites Public Comment

The Oregon Department of Forestry is giving the public an opportunity to offer comment on next year’s plans for state-owned forests. The public can weigh in on annual operations plans for the Astoria, Forest Grove, North Cascade, Klamath-Lake, Tillamook, West Oregon and Western Lane Districts. Plans include timber harvests, reforestation, and trail improvements and can be viewed on the department’s website: You can submit comments using this form, this survey. By law, state forests are required to provide social, economic and environmental benefits to Oregonians.

Redmond Schools Encourage Attendance

Redmond Schools are working to increase in-person learning after the district was forced to de-emphasize school attendance due to Covid-19. KBND’S Caroline MacGregor reports. During the pandemic with so many students learning online, it was hard for school officials to keep track of who was actually attending.

When students returned to in-person learning the school then faced quarantines and students and family members falling sick. Redmond School District Public Information Officer Sheila Miller says some students had also found jobs, further leading to an attendance deficit. Miller said the school has been scrambling for more than two years to find ways to adapt as well as to state restrictions and COVID-19 mandates. She said recent figures show only five cases of COVID-19 district-wide and school officials are hopeful they’ve finally turned a corner. The school will continue to communicate the need for attendance with the hope classroom learning returns to normal levels.





Central Oregon Crisis Call Center to Benefit From Funding  

Lines for Life in Oregon will receive $432,000 in extra federal funding to help fight a growing mental health crisis among youth. During his announcement Saturday, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden said the pandemic has created greater mental health stressors for young people, including suicide, long stretches of isolation, classroom interruptions, and risks to physical health. The funds will go toward Oregon's Youth Line, a peer-to-peer youth-to-youth service considered instrumental in reaching young people in crisis faster with immediate referrals to counselors and support services. The funds will be used for an expansion of the program and call center in Central Oregon and four training sessions over the course of a year. The money will also help marginalized youth, including Indigenous youth on the Warm Springs Reservation. 


Workforce Initiative Aims to Solve Housing Shortage

It’s a recurrent theme of local conversation. The availability and cost of housing in Bend is – quite literally - at a critical level. KBND’s Caroline MacGregor reports on an effort by the Bend City Chamber of Commerce to find a solution. In an effort to promote conversation about the challenges of housing insecurity and its effect on employees and businesses, the Bend City Chamber of Commerce has created “The Workforce Housing Initiative” to find a solution to the workforce housing shortage. Chamber CEO Katy Brooks said, for employers, housing is one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to hiring and retaining employees. Brooks said housing that is out of reach for many results in - not only a lack of labor - but a growing disconnect between who works and lives in Bend. In an effort to come up with a solution, the Chamber hopes to hear from employees and businesses having difficulties hiring or retaining workers unable to find affordable mid-market housing. To lend your voice to the initiative to help solve Bend’s workforce housing challenges, visit the Bend City Chamber of Commerce website: bendchamber.org.






Motorhome Destroyed in Fire

A motorhome was destroyed in an early morning fire Saturday near Madras. Crews with Jefferson County Fire District No.1 responded to the blaze on Grizzly Road on the Crooked River National Grasslands just before 2 a.m. When they arrived on the scene, firefighters found a Winnebago motorhome completely engulfed in flames. The occupant of the vehicle was able to escape without injury. The motorhome and its entire contents were a complete loss.


Madras Receives 1.5 Million Grant for Homeless Shelter

The city of Madras has been awarded a $1.5 million grant to partially fund a new low barrier homeless shelter. Construction on the shelter is expected to begin next January with a projected opening date of the fall of 2023. The shelter will be operated by Jefferson County Faith Based Network. Additional funding for the 2.55 million dollar project will come from a Community Development Block Grant and the American Rescue Plan Act -as well as from extra rescue plan dollars approved by the legislature in 2021.

Commission Weighs Clean Energy Program

The Deschutes County Commission is considering a national program that helps commercial property owners or developers invest in energy efficiency projects. During their regular commission meeting Wednesday, commissioners gave their nod of approval to a resolution for an initial draft of an ordinance for CPACE, or Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy. The program allows property owners or developers to pay back the money for energy efficient projects in their property tax bills. The program is seen as an effort to help save tenants high energy costs.



Warm Springs police are asking the public for any information that could help find a missing 65-year-old woman. Officers said Claudine Lynn Gray-Littleleaf may suffer from dementia. The Native American has brown hair and eyes, is 5-foot-1 and weighs 165 pounds. She was last seen wearing a black and purple jacket, multicolored scarf and black pants.  

City Managers List Affordable Housing/Competitive Wages as Region's Biggest Obstacles

Affordable Housing and competitive wages for workers were the primary topics of discussion during a meeting of the City Club of Oregon Thursday. City Managers from across Central Oregon gathered to talk about ways to solve the housing crisis and other concerns impacting the High Desert. Bend City Manager Eric King said the city is considering every option possible, including partnering with private companies for community investments or fueling competitive housing markets. King cited Redmond and Prineville as examples of both endeavors. King also said Bend is working on 100 de-restricted units of affordable housing each year and has plans for 1000 units over the next two years. Bend is the first city in Oregon to pass House Bill 2001 to allow for more multi-family housing.


The Deschutes Public Library system faces a setback in its plans for a new 100,000 square foot central library in north Bend. This follows the City’s reluctance to approve a land use exemption that would be necessary to get the project off the ground quickly. The central library project is included in several items that will be financed by a $195 million general obligation bond approved by voters in 2020. It will now likely have to find a new path forward in light of the Bend City Council’s stance against granting an exception for the city’s annexation process. The proposed location for the central library is in an urban growth boundary expansion area, within the growth boundary but outside of city limits.

ODF Awards $725,000 to Forest Collaboratives

Eight out of 26 State forest collaboratives received funding from Oregon Department of Forestry. One $85,000 grant went to the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project . It will work on forest restoration in Garrison, a 25,000 acre area in the eastern part of Sisters Ranger District. ODF’s Federal Forest Restoration Program distributes funding to stakeholders in forest collaboratives so they can voice their opinions about thinning, prescribed fire, and other restoration work.

#CCGgrant  #TASSgrant https://youtu.be/yf6slNlMx6Q

Bend Council Approves Navigation Center

As expected, the Bend City Council last night approved a contract with Shepherd's House Ministries for a daytime, multi-service navigation center. The unique, first-of-its-kind center will be located at the ministry’s emergency shelter location on 2nd street. Funding for the 3.9 million dollar project is being provided by the state with additional monies from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the City’s General Fund. Future sources of funding may be made available through Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) and/or other agencies. The City considers the center as a new tool to centralize services at one location, including help with, job assistance, health services, meals, benefits and education resources.




Oregon's Public Defense Under Fire

The state agency that oversees Oregon’s public defense is the subject of an alarming report. Coraggio Group of Portland was hired by the state to review Oregon Office of Public Defense Services. The agency was found to be having trouble executing basic functions, and for failing to hold lawyers accountable for their work, among other problematic findings. The report was released during crisis with public defense in Oregon and includes scathing comments from lawyers, investigators and others who provide services to indigent defendants throughout the state. A separate report by the American Bar Association found Oregon’s public defense system needs to hire an additional 1,300 lawyers to meet the demands of the criminal justice system.

Snowmobiler Identified

Deschutes County sheriff's deputies have released the name of a snowmobiler from Texas who died Sunday when he crashed into a tree southwest of Wanoga Sno-Park. The man is identified as 47-year-old Felipe Jesus Segura, of Haslet, Texas. Police say an off duty ICU nurse attempted to perform life-saving efforts but the man succumbed to his injuries

Governor Signs Child Care Bill

Governor Kate Brown signed a $100 million dollar childcare bill in Bend. During a visit to Bloom Children’s Center, the Governor signed the legislation, House Bill 40-05, to fund childcare services. During remarks before the signing, Governor Brown said access to childcare is the biggest barrier parents’ face when returning to the workforce. The bill provides $21 million for childcare workforce recruitment and retention; a $22 million dollar grant to expand provider capacity to serve more children; and $17.3 million to community-based organizations to launch new providers.  The bill provides $27 million to increase childcare subsidy rates to 2020 market rates. Brown later toured the Health Careers Center and paramedicine facilities at Central Oregon Community College, which will also receive funds through the Future Ready Oregon package. The initiative supports Oregon’s workers hit hardest by the pandemi by connecting them to good-paying careers in health care, manufacturing, and technology.

Madras Health Center to Benefit from Mosaic Medical Grant

Mosaic Medical, a nonprofit community health center in Bend, Redmond, Prineville and Madras has received a grant to support a new Health Center. The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust of Vancouver, Washington awarded a $350,000 “top off” grant to support the Madras Health Center which is scheduled to open this spring in a partnership with Jefferson County Public Health. The grant funds are dependent upon Mosaic reaching a $5.4 million funding goal. So far they have reached $4.8 million of that goal. The new health center will be located next to St. Charles Madras A- Street on land donated by the hospital.  Along with Mosaic’s Madras Health Center, the building will house Mosaic Pharmacy and Jefferson County Public Health.


Deschutes Co. Sheriff Employee Contract Ratified

A union contract has been reached between the Deschutes County Sheriff Employee’s Association (DCSEA) and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office. Deschutes County Commissioners approved the contract which was ratified by the DCSEA on Monday. Sheriff Nelson and the Employee Association were able to reach an agreement in record time. The approval of the contract will boost the Sheriff’s Office recruitment program and gives sworn personnel a 2% pay increase and non-sworn personnel an additional step that will increase their pay based on their years of service. The terms of the contract include medical insurance benefits after 25 years of service with the Sheriff’s Office for employees in a sworn in deputy position who are eligible to retire in PERS. Currently all Deschutes County employees are eligible for this benefit after 30 years of service.

Man Paralyzed Following Operation Sues St. Charles Health System

A lawsuit has been filed against St. Charles Health System by a LaPine man paralyzed following complications from brain surgery. Jackie Dale Yeley filed the 43.5 million dollar lawsuit Thursday in Deschutes County Circuit Court. The lawsuit alleges medical malpractice and also names Bend-based surgery provider Northwest Brain and Spine. During surgery performed by Dr. Kent Yundt, Yeley suffered a tear of the dura, the fibrous membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The tear was repaired but  Yeley’s condition worsened and the next day he complained of severe pain. Following two emergency procedures Yeley was left without sensation in his lower extremities or the use of his legs.



Bend Man Arrested For Burglary

A Bend man faces charges for attempted burglary. Last night around 8 p.m. police responded to a burglary in progress on Brinson Boulevard. The caller alerted police after seeing a man running through an open door of a neighboring business. The suspect, 42-year-old Christopher Heath, was found hiding nearby in a canal . Police K-9 unity assisted in the arrest of Heath who was in possession of nearly 10 grams of methamphetamine. 


City Owed Nearly $1 Million in Outstanding Water Bills

The city of Bend is owed nearly $1 million in outstanding water and sewer bills, namely due to the pandemic and software issues. Between 2017 and 2020, the average outstanding amount owed to the city was $255,000. However, over the next two years, that amount shot up to almost $996,000. About 25-hundred customers’ bills are now past due with the majority of those single-family homes. During the pandemic, the city did not shut off water service when bills went unpaid.

Extreme Drought Prompts Request for County/Governor to Declare State of Emergency

Deschutes County commissioners will be asked Wednesday to adopt a resolution declaring a state of emergency and to ask the governor to declare a drought emergency. The Deschutes Basin Board of Control says ongoing extreme weather conditions are likely to cause widespread and severe damage to livestock, wildlife, and natural resources. The drought could also impact recreation, and tourism. The Deschutes Basin snowpack is 75% of average and the latest drought monitor map shows most of the county with extreme drought conditions. Wickiup Reservoir is expected to peak around April 1 “at record low levels. The resolution requests the state to make available temporary water rights transfers and emergency water use permits, along with federal and state drought assistance and programs, as needed.


Median Home Prices Soar

Median home prices in Central Oregon are skyrocketing and owners are receiving massive equity in a short period of time. In Bend, the average home price in January was $683,000 dollars, jumping more than eight percent to $740,000 in February. Local realtor Chad Pasinetti, of Pasinetti Group Northwest, said neighboring cities also saw spikes over the last month, but from January 2022 to February 2022, Redmond was the only city that went down from $500,000 to $483,000. While a drop, it’s still the highest in history. Pasinetti  doesn’t see demand slowing down and feels the prices are strictly due to lack of inventory and a case of supply and demand. Too few properties and too many people moving here with available homes are selling fast. The average number of days on the market for a home in Redmond is seven; in Bend four; Sunriver is three days; and in Sisters, houses usually sell in two days. 

Residents Resist Proposed Thornburgh Land Purchase

In a nearly three hour virtual public meeting, the Department of State Lands heard from residents opposed to a proposed sale of 400 acres of state land to the developer of the Thornburgh Resort. The development would include 1000 homes, three golf courses and six man-made lakes. About 200 people attended last night’s meeting. Many voiced concern about the area’s wildlife and natural resources, public access to trails, and in a time of extreme drought, the resort’s impact on local drinking water supplies – an allegation disputed by developer Kameron Delashmutt. He said if he were to use nearly 2000 acres of land for farming he owns, he'd use a lot more water. Written comments on the proposed sale of the land will be accepted by the Department of State Lands, through March 17th. A three-member state Land Board will make a decision about the sale of the land to the Cline Buttes Tract in the coming months. A final decision regarding the land's use for the Thornburgh development is up to Deschutes County.


Bend Commission Votes in Favor of Code Changes

The Bend Planning Commission voted 6-1 Tuesday to recommend development code changes to regulate what kind of homeless shelters are allowed and where they can be located. The commission will pass along their recommendations to the Bend City Council, who will decide whether to adopt the codes. Commissioner Jeff Payne was the lone dissenting vote. The proposed code changes would define shelter types, with an option for “hardship housing” including where and under what conditions. Hardship housing allows property owners to help someone facing difficulties finding housing to live on their property in an RV. Other recommendations included increasing the time for hardship housing from six to 18 months. Commissioners also recommended prohibiting property owners from charging rent for hardship housing, with the exception of utility fees in an effort to prevent vacation or long term rentals.


Man Threatens Safeway Employees with Knife

Bend Police arrested a man who threatened Safeway grocery store employees with a knife. Around 6:30 Wednesday morning police responded to the 3rd Street Safeway store to reports of a man threatening employees. They attempted to stop 31-year-old Steven Obrien as he left the store, but he walked into traffic lanes, nearly hitting several vehicles. Obrien, who had previously been arrested for trespassing at the store, was reportedly screaming and threatening to fight police who used a taser before taking him into custody. He was later taken to St. Charles for evaluation after being issued a citation for menacing, criminal trespass  and resisting arrest. 


Thornburgh Resort Public Hearing Tonight

The public will have a chance tonight to comment on a proposed 400 acre development near Eagle Crest.

From 6-8 pm the Department of State Lands will hold a virtual public hearing on the possible sale of state land to property developer Kameron Delashmutt for his proposed Thornburgh Resort. Proceeds from a potential sale would benefit the Common School Fund. Caitlyn Burford, Central Oregon Land Watch Communications and Outreach Manger, says the land is a pivotal corridor for public access near the Cline Buttes Recreation area. But Delashmutt said he doesn’t plan any changes on land he’s already leased for 18 years. He accuses Central Oregon Land Watch of having alternative motives and stirring up fear among nearby residents. Burford disputes Delashmutt’s claims and said people living near the property have valid concerns, including the resort's impact on supplies of drinking water. Information on tonight’s virtual meeting can be found on the Department of State Land website: https://www.oregon.gov/dsl



Gas Spike Causes Pinch at the Pump

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the U.S. ban on Russian oil imports  have sent crude oil prices skyrocketing above $120 dollars a barrel, the highest price since 2008. Triple A’s Marie Dodds says in addition to the terrible human tragedy that’s unfolding, Russia is one of the top oil producers. Crude is the major ingredient in that gallon of gas and when we fill up our cars, about 53% of that price is the cost of crude oil. So when you have crude oil rocketing up, gas prices follow suit. Dodds says all 50 states are seeing dramatic increases in gas prices, hurting American families. For the week, the national average for regular jumps 54 cents to $4.17 a gallon. The Oregon average shoots up 55 cents to $4.59. In Bend, the average is $4.64, but Redmond and La Pine are seeing $4.79 for a gallon of regular. These prices eclipse the old record highs set in 2008 when the national average peaked at $4.11 on July 17th, and the Oregon average peaked at $4.29 on July 3rd.

$8 Million to Benefit Neighbor Impact Child Care

Like many places across the country, Central Oregon is experiencing a child care desert. To increase childcare options, last week, Oregon lawmakers passed HB-5202, allocating $8 million dollars to NeighborImpact in support of child care providers throughout the state. The nonprofit’s existing Child Care Resources program offers training, and business support to providers, preschools and early educators. These funds will create up to 1700 new child care openings in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.  Aspiring in-home and center based child care providers can access training through a partnership with COCC’s Small Business Development Center. Participants who complete the program will receive grants to support a business startup. The free trainings are eligible for college credit. 


Stone Creek Development Draws Criticism

There is growing opposition to a proposed new 96 unit apartment complex in Bend. A petition is circulating online in opposition to the housing project which would be called North Village at Stone Creek. The complex would be located just north of SE Byron Avenue at Stone Creek Lane. The issue of contention is what local residents understood to be the original design for the neighborhood. That included just a handful of town homes, not multi-family homes. Increased traffic in an already congested neighborhood and the danger it poses to local children, is another concern. Lands Bend Corporation is building the complex in response to a huge demand for workforce housing in the city of Bend.

Climber Dies on Mt. Hood

A climber is dead after a fall on Mount Hood on Sunday. Shortly after 5 p.m. the two climbers fell 200 feet on the west side of the mountain. One of the injured climbers was able to call 911 using a Garmin inReach device. Rescue teams faced treacherous conditions on the mountain with a heightened risk of avalanches and winds reaching up to 70 mph. Improved visibility Monday allowed a third team of rescuers to reach the two climbers but one was dead. The 2nd climber was evacuated in critical condition. Due to the high avalanche hazard, the climber who died was left on the mountain, with plans for a recovery mission when conditions improve. The identities of both climbers have not been released at this time.

Deschutes County Gets $1 Million for Joint Homelessness Office

Deschutes County will receive $1 million to help start a joint office addressing homelessness in a bill that has passed the state Legislature and is now headed to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk. House Bill 4123 allocates funding to local governments and nonprofits to create coordinated homeless response offices. The legislation provides eight counties $1 million each to open an office that coordinates with various cities and other homeless service providers to streamline homeless-related services. Sponsored by Rep. Jason Kropf, D-Bend, the bill received a near unanimous vote in the House and Senate.

Felony Hit and Run

An Estacada man is facing charges for DUI and felony assault following a hit-and-run in Bend. Police say early Monday morning, 27-year-old Tyler Suran was involved in a violent dispute between three men near the intersection of Colorado Avenue and Staats Street. Suran was allegedly assaulted by 24 year old Cesar Hernandez of Beaverton. He fled the scene in his Jeep Grand Cherokee, striking 32 year old Jamie Hanus of Portland in the process. About 20 minutes later Suran’s Jeep was spotted by police in Redmond where he was arrested on DUI and felony hit and run charges. Hanus was transported to St. Charles in Bend with non-life-threatening injuries.  An assault charge against him is pending. Hernandez third-degree assault charges. The incident marks one of five DUI arrests made by Bend Police officers in a six hour timeframe between Sunday and Monday.



Man Arrested in Bend For ID Theft Sentenced

A Gresham man arrested in Bend was sentenced Monday to federal prison for stealing financial and identification documents from more than 100 people. 41 year old Robert Loren Finanders is accused of stealing financial and identification documents from dozens of people in the Portland area between April 2019 and April 2020, with the intent to steal money from them and from local businesses. Police in Bend originally arrested Finanders and a co-conspirator in September 2019 after a report of a person using a stolen credit card at a local restaurant. Finanders was sentenced to 74 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.



Wilson Corridor Project Starts Today

The first phase of Bend’s Wilson Avenue Corridor Projects begins today. Crews will close the intersection at Wilson Avenue and 9th Street to build a single-lane roundabout and separated bike lanes. Construction is scheduled to continue through late May. Local and emergency access will be maintained. According to City officials this GO Bond Project, approved by voters in 2020, will improve safety and east-west connectivity from 2ndd street, along Wilson Avenue, to 15th Street.

Bend Mayor: Rainbow Motel "Bridge" to Long Term Homeless Solution

The City's purchase of the Rainbow Motel as a "low-barrier" homeless shelter is not sitting well with the Bend Central District Business Association and Chamber of Commerce. The term "low-barrier" essentially means easy access by removing as many obstacles as possible to get homeless people off the streets. Mayor Sally Russell tells KBND News the City views the Rainbow Motel only as a "short term" solution to Bend's growing homeless problem. But concerned about frightening off potential developers, the Bend Central District and Chamber of Commerce want to know exactly what "short term" means. They requested a statement of clear intent for the motel and whether the City is committed to its original vision for the Bend Central District. Bend Chamber of Commerce CEO Katy Brooks admits the City’s hands are tied due to the strict state laws protecting people living on the streets. She said more shelters and services will ultimately allow the City to enforce restrictions on the sidewalks or other areas the city is having trouble.


Bend’s homeless crisis may go before voters this fall. A newly filed petition would require a public vote to bar outdoor camps from within 1,000 feet of public schools as well as on specific sites. The measure would need nearly 11,000 voter signatures to make the November ballot. Opposition to a possible managed camp off Ninth Street initiated neighbors and concerned citizens to put the issue before voters. The measure would limit city funding and require voter approval for “certain kinds of homeless shelter sites" - including housing structures lacking a permanent foundation or modern indoor plumbing facilities.

Climbers Rescued on Smith Rock

Deschutes County Search and Rescue volunteers rescued two Bend men on Smith Rock Friday afternoon.

At about 4:30 p.m. the Mountain Rescue Unit responded to a call from a 19- and 20-year old who said they were rappelling “Red Wall” when their ropes became tangled at an anchor. The men were 70 feet from the edge of the wall and about 200 feet from the ground. A MRU volunteer hiked to the top of Misery Ridge Trail and was able to untangle the ropes allowing them to continue their descent. When the climbers ran into trouble again MRU volunteers set up a rappelling system. Nearly four hours later the climbers made it to the bottom uninjured.


Homeless Campers to Move On

Homeless campers living on 2nd and Greeley have been told to leave the area within the next two weeks. As expected, the City of Bend’s decision to clear the homeless camp follows a report by police which declared the site “unsafe.”  Bend City Manager Eric Kind said the City is following a formal 14 day notice process to allow service providers time to help rehouse people affected by the decision. King said some camp residents will move to the 2nd Street Shelter, while others will move to other outdoor sites. King said there are 14 beds available at the Division Street Shelter.



Short Term Rentals Create Housing Crunch

The Bend City Council will revisit the issue of short term rentals and their impact on affordable housing. In a meeting Wednesday, the council talked about the need to proactively regulate the short-term rental market. This spring, the city will conduct an audit of all short-term rentals in Bend to try identify illegal rentals. A survey last year showed legal, short-term rentals have continued to increase. Right now the number of short-term rentals legally permitted in Bend is around 1000. The city is concerned about the impact on the availability of long term rentals. In a survey last year of registered short-term rental property owners, moste people cited "more oney" as the reason they chose to rent short term vs. long term. It's directly contributing to a housing crunch for people who normally rent long term. The city wants to better understand how to incentivize operators of short term rentals to convert their properties into long-term rentals.

Bend Central District and Chamber Question City's Intentions for Rainbow Motel

A decision by Bend City Councilors to buy the Rainbow Motel and turn it into a low barrier shelter is drawing the ire of officials with the Bend Central District Business Association and Bend Chamber of Commerce.

In an interview with Central Oregon Daily News, Bend Central District Business Association President Kurt Alexander said the City’s actions and their broader impact on the community were cause for “grave concern.”

The City purchased the motel in January for $4.55 Million dollars with the stated intention of using the property as a low-barrier shelter. Future plans included using the building as a new city hall, housing or public space. Katy Brooks, President and CEO of the Bend Chamber of Commerce, said the Rainbow Motel is a poor choice given its location and prominence within the Bend Central District. She along with officials with the Bend Central District Association wrote letters conveying their concern and requesting the city provide a clear statement of intent for the hotel's use.


Smoke Alarm Alerts Resident to Fire

Smoke alarms saved the sleeping occupants of a Bend home early yesterday morning. Bend Fire and Rescue responded to the Zuni Road in Deschutes River Woods around 6:15 am to a report of smoke coming from a neighbor’s roof. When they arrived on the scene, firefighters found smoke was billowing from beneath the eaves of the garage roof. Crews were able to force open the garage door and quickly extinguish the fire before it spread from the attic into the main house. The cost of damage is estimated at more than 200,000 dollars. There were no reported injuries.


Injured Skier Airlifted from Mt Bachelor

A 59-year-old woman was airlifted to St. Charles Wednesday after a skiing injury on Mt. Bachelor.

According to a Mt. Bachelor spokesperson, Ski Patrol assessed the woman's njuries before dispatching Bend Fire & Rescue and calling for a medical helicopter. The woman, who was wearing a helmet, was transported to West Village where she was transferred to St. Charles via Air link. In February, two men died in separate incidents after crashing on the mountain. Sixty-four-year-old Thomas Schuberg and 60-year-old Theodore Speer died before they could be taken to the hospital.

Man Arrested in Madras Drive By Shooting Incident

On March 1, 2022, officers from the Madras Police Department responded to a report of a “drive-by” shooting that took place in the area of 2nd and J Streets in Madras. Shortly thereafter, law enforcement was notified that an apparent gunshot victim had been dropped off at St. Charles Hospital in Madras. The victim was transported via Airlink to St. Charles Bend and is expected to survive. Subsequent investigation resulted in the arrest of Kane Handsaker, 12/29/03, of Madras, for charges of Attempted Murder in the Second Degree, Assault in the First Degree, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, and Menacing. This investigation is ongoing and individuals with information about this event are encouraged to contact Madras Police Department Detectives Steve Webb or Brent Schulke at 541-475-2424. The Madras Police Department was assisted by members of the Central Oregon Major Incident Team and the Central Oregon Emergency Response Team.

New Library Location Draws Criticism

The Bend Planning Commission has recommended code changes to approve the location of the yet-unbuilt new Deschutes Public Library System. The code changes, reviewed by the commission Monday, would allow the location of new public library to be annexed into the city, despite questions about acreage requirements. The new library would be built off U.S. Highway 20, inside north Bend’s urban growth boundary, but outside city limits. In 2020, Deschutes County voters approved a $195-million-dollar bond  to finance the 100,000-square-foot library and for improvements to other libraries in the county. During Monday’s meeting, opponents of the project said approving code changes for the project undermines the local land use system.

Doctor Accused by Second Woman of Sexual Abuse

A local doctor has been accused by a second woman of sexual abuse. Former St. Charles hospital oncologist, 70-year-old Theodore Braich, is accused of inappropriately touching a 77-year-old patient in 2017. A $700,000 lawsuit was filed this week in Deschutes County Circuit Court. Braich was sued for $1 million dollars last summer by another following sexual abuse allegations after she underwent a medical exam at St. Charles in 2020. Braich, who retired in January, denied the claims in the first case and attempted to have the first lawsuit dismissed. He has yet to be served with the second lawsuit. Attorney Greg Kafoury, who represents both women, said sexual predators are often drawn to the medical profession because of the high level of impunity it offers.



Judge Denies Motion to Dismiss Strangulation Case

A judge has denied a request by two defendants accused in a violent incident at Bend's Hawthorne Station two years ago. 46-year-old bus driver Michael Lee Brinster pleaded not guilty to charge of assault, strangulation and menacing after placing a black man in a chokehold before removing him from the bus for not wearing shoes. He was later fired as a driver for Cascades East Transit. The victim, Dorian Zane Allstot, was arrested at the scene for allegedly spitting on and threatening Brinster following the incident. The two men appeared in Deschutes County court Monday after signing a civil compromise consenting to the dismissal of all charges against each other. But Deschutes County Circuit Court Judge Alycia Sykora denied the request, ruling that "important factual disputes" between both parties first be decided. A huge public backlash and accusations of racism followed the arrest of Allstot, who is Black, and not Brinster, who is white.


Noon Peace Rally in Support of Ukraine

A Peace Rally in support of Ukrainian democracy will be held today in downtown Bend.

The rally, hosted by The Vocal Seniority will take place at noon at Bend’s Peace Corner at Wall & Greenwood. Co-organizer Chris Gardner said people are invited to join in to express their opposition to the war in Ukraine and support of its citizens. Gardner said Monday expects a good turnout for the peace rally.

He said anyone with ties to Ukraine is welcome to join the event or anyone supports world democracy.


Bend Park & Recreation District Recruiting

The Bend Park & Recreation District is hiring. In an effort to attract applicants a recruiting event will take place Thursday from 4-7pm at the Bend Park & Recreation District office at 799 S.W. Columbia Street.

Prospective employees can find out what job opportunities are available in the district’s recreation programs, custodial and landscaping teams. Applications for jobs will be accepted on site as well as immediate interviews and job offers on the spot. More information can be found online at the Bend Park & Recreation District website www.bendparksandrec.org/hiringevent 


Redmond School District Reverses Mask Resolution

The Redmond School Board Monday made a complete reversal of its decision to end its mask policy before the state’s mask mandate expiration date. On February 16th, the board passed a resolution to make masks optional when Oregon lifts its mask mandate March 12th. The board’s decision two weeks ago would have placed the decision to wear masks in the hands of parents and end the schools mask policy early, on March 2nd (Wednesday). Faced with the possibility of heavy fines and teachers losing their licenses for defying the state, the decision was resisted by teachers unions who requested an immediate return to the bargaining table. The board voted unanimously Monday to abide by revised state plans.

Police Ask for Help in Locating Missing Man

The Deschutes County sheriff’s department is looking for help in locating a 64-year-old La Pine man who walked away from his home Sunday around noon. He has not been heard from since. Phillip John Axmaker was last seen in the 16000 block of Pierce Road. Police say he is known to hitchhike. At the time of his disappearance, Axmaker, who has dementia, was wearing black pants, a black sweatshirt and black beanie hat.



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