Local News Archives for 2022-07

DCSO Searching For Missing Woman

LA PINE, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in locating Kathleen Scott. The 71-year-old left a residence on Sutter St. in Newberry Estates in the La Pine area Sunday at approximately 10:30 AM. She's is on foot and her direction of travel is unknown. 

Kathleen is described as approximately 5'7" tall, weighing about 98 pounds. She is wearing a plaid or gray pull over shirt, with blue jeans, white shoes and a beanie hat. She is most likely carrying a small yellow dog named Dobby. Kathleen suffers from Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

If you have any information on Kathleen’s whereabouts or if you have seen her, please call the Sheriff’s Office at 541-693-6911; reference case 22-41244. 

 

UPDATE (08/01/22) -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office says Kathleen Scott was found safe Sunday night. 

SW Bend Home Damaged By Fire

BEND, OR -- A southwest Bend home was damaged by fire Friday afternoon. The homeowners returned to the house on East Campbell Road and heard crackling noises, just before 4 p.m. They discovered the fire on the outside of the building and used a garden hose while calling 911.

Firefighters put it out but the interior suffered extensive smoke damage. The cause was later determined to be oily rags used for staining put too close to combustibles. The fire quickly spread to a tree, the fence and house. Damage is estimated at $200,000.

Every year fire departments across the country respond to similar fires that are caused by spontaneous combustion which occurs through an oxidation process.  Oily rags used for staining should be disposed of properly which includes hanging them outside to dry and once dry they can be disposed of in an approved metal container. Never pile oily rags together which can create heat from oxidation and can ignite the oils in the rags and spread to other combustibles nearby.

 

Photo courtesy: Bend Fire & Rescue

Bullets Strike Home During SW Redmond Shooting

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are investigating a weekend shooting near SW 35th and Antelope. Initial reports of multiple shots fired came in at about 1:07 a.m. Saturday. One neighbor reported multiple bullet holes in their house.  At the time, six people were inside.  Nobody was injured during the shooting. 

RPD is actively investigating this case.  At this time, they ask for neighbors in the area to check front door/external cameras and let RPD know if you have video evidence of the shooting. 

If you witnessed or have information regarding this event, please contact RPD through non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.  RPD thanks the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police, and Oregon State Police Crime Lab, for their assistance with this investigation. 

Suspects Sought In Trailhead Thefts

BEND, OR -- Thieves are targeting cars parked at trailheads and day use areas, according to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, and victims’ credit and debit cards have been used at local stores.

The Sheriff’s Office is asking the public for help identifying two people involved in numerous thefts from vehicles. After the thefts, the subjects have gone to Wal Mart in Bend and purchased gift cards using the stolen credit and debit cards. 

The male has a tattoo on each forearm and a large tattoo on the right side of his neck. The female has a thin build and a large tattoo on her left forearm. 

If you know these subjects or have any information related to these incidents, please contact the Sheriff’s Office at 541-693-6911 reference case 22-38722. 

The Sheriff’s Office reminds everyone that it is not save to leave valuables unattended in your vehicle. If you are planning on being away from your vehicle take your valuables with you. Many times people return to their vehicles only to find their window has been broken out and their valuables missing. In some of these cases the suspects will have used the victim’s credit cards before they even realize their vehicle has been broken into. 

WUI Risk Map Focus Of Upcoming Redmond Meeting

REDMOND, OR -- Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) is holding a series of community information sessions in eastern and central Oregon Aug. 2, 3 and 10. Central Oregon's meeting is August 10 in Redmond, at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds. It starts at 7 p.m. 

Each session will include a presentation about the map’s function and purpose, how wildfire risk is assessed, and how property owners may appeal their assigned risk class. Time will be available to address questions from community members.

The wildland-urban interface (WUI) and statewide wildfire risk map available through the Oregon Explorer is a tool to help inform decision making and planning related to mitigating wildfire risk for communities throughout Oregon. Representatives from Oregon State University who produced the map based on rules adopted by the Board of Forestry will also attend the sessions.  

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: New State Map Shows Wildfire Risk

Visit the resources below for more information about the wildfire risk map, the defensible space and building codes currently under development, and wildfire insurance in Oregon:

Jockey Rooms To Be Replaced At Crook County Fairgrounds

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County Fairgrounds is getting an upgrade, with new restrooms. County Judge Seth Crawford says right now, any large event means renting porta-potties to meet demand, "This facility will lower that. It’s going to have showers, changing room, family bathrooms and a meeting room. So, it’ll also be available for citizens to rent - a family reunion, or whatever. We get a lot of different people wanting to rent different spaces at the fairgrounds, so that’ll be another addition." He adds,"It’ll be a really great place for the jockeys and rodeo riders to get ready for their events, as well as a place for people to use the restroom and not have to go into a hot, sweaty plastic box"

The 3,000-square foot facility should be open by next summer and replaces the jockey room on the north side of the grandstands. Crawford tells KBND News it will make the entire facility more appealing for visitors, "One of our biggest economic drivers in our community - people don’t think about that. But if the thing that’s putting people in restaurants and heads in hotel beds is the Peewee Rodeo, our rodeo, the races, the fair, barrel racing, the Rockhound Powow. There’s all kinds of stuff going on, at this point year round, at the fairgrounds to help businesses survive in the non-tourism times."

A $277,000 grant from the Oregon Fairs Association will help cover some costs associated with the $400,000 project.

Alliance Developing Non-Lethal Tools To Reduce Wolf Conflicts

POWELL BUTTE, OR -- A nearly $100,000 federal grant aims to help Oregon farmers and ranchers find new ways to prevent wolf depredations. Elli Gage, with Western Landowners Alliance, says wolves prey on livestock, often with deadly results, "And it’s not just killing them. It’s harassing them, and stressing them, and causing various stress-related production loss." She says wolves are very intelligent, "And they become habituated quickly. That means any kind of novel stimuli of flashing lights or loud noises, or even human presence, wolves become accustomed to that and it’s no longer as effective. Sometimes it’s no longer effective at all."

USDA awarded funding to the alliance to study non-lethal controls, including potential uses for new technology like "smart" game cameras that only activate when a particular species is present, "So, it can actually be programmed to capture images only of grey wolves." She tells KBND News, "Down the road, they will actually be able to ping the livestock producer in real time, let them know photos of wolves have been captured on their game cams." The work will primarily focus on Baker, Douglas, Grant and Wallowa counties.

Gage says the grant will offset the cost of additional range riding, which discourages wolf movement, and carcass management, to remove a common lure for wolves. She stresses lethal control should never be off the table but says this type of study could help secure long term funding for pursuing non-lethal methods.

Tolo Mountain Fire Burns 36 Acres

CRESCENT RANGER DISTRICT, OR -- Wildland fire crews are working a new incident in the Crescent Ranger District on the Deschutes National Forest, about three miles north of Cappy Mountain and six miles west of the Two Rivers subdivision. As of Friday morning, the Tolo Mountain Fire was estimated at 36 acres, burning in heavy timber. It's 0% contained. 

Ten smokejumpers initially responded to the fire Thursday morning and were joined by the Prineville Interagency Hotshots, two engines, a 5 person hand crew and a dozer. Air tankers also supported suppression efforts along with a heavy helicopter that is using Crescent Lake as a water dip site.

Firefighters worked into the night constructing containment lines where lines of retardant had been laid down by the multipole air tankers working the blaze. Firefighters have containment lines around most of the fire that was spotting in multiple places Thursday in heavy fuels and high temperatures. Friday, crews will hold and begin to secure those lines while monitoring and searching for additional spot fires.

A 20-person Type 2 handcrew will join firefighting efforts today and aircraft is available if needed to support ground-based firefighting efforts. There are no closures related to the fire and the Pacific Crest Trail (approximately 2.5-3 miles from the fire) remains unaffected at this time.

For up-to-date information on Central Oregon fires, visit centraloregonfire.org  or twitter.com/CentralORFire

 

Story updated to reflect new acreage information released Friday morning from fire managers. Previous versions of this story said the fire was 25 acres, but more accurate mapping determined it's actually 36 acres. 

Redmond Cooling Shelter Helps BLM Campers

REDMOND, OR -- This week’s heatwave may be responsible for the deaths of four Oregonians, according to the state Medical Examiner’s Office; three in Multnomah County and one in Umatilla. Cooling shelters in Deschutes and Jefferson counties are working to prevent heat-related deaths in Central Oregon.

KBND's Heather Roberts visited the Shepherd's House Ministries facility in Redmond Thursday afternoon, when thermometers in the sun registered 106 in the city. At that time, around a dozen people and a couple dogs were inside the large air conditioned room. Some ate Otter Pops, others had water or Gaterade. "We’re seeing people in their 20s and 30s, some of whom are working manual labor jobs, coming in at 2 or 3 in the afternoon after an 8-hour shift," says Shepherd's House Redmond Director Andrew Hoeksema, "As well as some older folks, some of whom are living outside or living in their vehicles."

He tells KBND News they’re sheltering around 30 people each day. "Some people come in and they’re just dripping sweat. And we usually walk them straight towards the refrigerator, hand them a water bottle and a Gatorade, and they’ll just go through it immediately. They’re also really excited that we’re providing lunch and dinner every day. We have local folks who are dropping off clothes, and we’ve been able to give people a clean t-shirt when they’re so sweaty. We’ve also been partnering with Jericho Road, another local non-profit, to have a shower trailer here." He says the trailer was available two days and several people chose to take cold showers to cool off.

Hoeksema says those coming to the cooling facility this week are a different population than he has seen in the past, "Often, when we provide cold weather shelter, we’re serving more of an in-town homeless population. And I’ve noticed a lot of our out of town homeless population, who live in the dirt east of town are coming in, just because that is an extremely hot place to be with no shade and no sun protection." He adds, "For me, as a service provider, that’s actually a good thing because what we’re seeing with this cooling shelter, we’re actually breaking down a barrier between people who normally don’t access services at all in Redmond. And they’re beginning to build trust with us and other service providers who are coming through the building. They’re also really beginning to build trust in this facility where we will build a permanent low-barrier shelter in the future."

Shepherd's House runs two overnight shelters in Bend, which are staying open during the day during this heat emergency. But those two locations (275 NE 2nd St. and 1854 NE Division St.) have seen a combined 20 people on average each day seeking a place to cool off. Hoeksema isn't surprised the Redmond location is more popular, "Frankly, Redmond just doesn’t have a lot of comfortable places for people to spend time in air conditioning. So, the library will take them in for a short amount of time, sometimes the local coffee shops will take them in for a short amount of time, but they can’t hang out there long term." He also believes Bend is a few degrees cooler and many in the Bend houseless community may stay near the river where it's more comfortable, before returning to an overnight shelter.

The Redmond facility at Highway 97 and Veterans Way (1350 S. Hwy 97) is open from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m., during this heat emergency. 

Two La Pine-Area Crashes In 24 Hours

LA PINE, OR -- A motorcycle rider was seriously hurt in a collision with an elk on Paulina Road, Wednesday evening. According to La Pine Fire, medics were able to stabilize the patient and they were flown to St. Charles Bend. The elk did not survive.

Around noon Thursday, five people were hurt in a T-bone crash at Highway 97 and Rosland Road, in La Pine. State Police are investigating that incident involving an SUV and a convertible.

RPD Searches For Hit & Run Suspect

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are asking for the public’s help identifying the person responsible for a crash near the Redmond Skate Park. The collision occurred Wednesday just before 3 p.m.

According to witnesses, the driver of a Jeep Grand Cherokee (pictured) collided with a black 2003 Chevrolet Silverado occupied by two kids. The Cherokee sustained damage to the rear bumper, then left the scene without exchanging information.  No injuries were reported.

The driver was described as a Caucasian male in his 30’s, medium build, shaved hair and was wearing a black tank top. RPD is asking for the public’s assistance with identifying the vehicle and driver involved in this hit and run. 

If you witnessed or have information about this incident, please contact RPD through non-emergency dispatch, 541-693-6911.

Update: State Reports Four Possible Heat-Related Deaths

SALEM, OR -- The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office now reports at least four people have died of suspected heat-related causes since the start of this week’s heatwave, although causes of death are unconfirmed. Three occurred in Multnomah County on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. The fourth was reported in Umatilla County on Tuesday.

The ME's office released the following statement earlier in the day, Thursday: 

The State Medical Examiner has requested that county medical examiner programs follow reporting and tracking criteria when reporting deaths to our office that are potentially related to this heat wave. These reporting requirements allow the State Medical Examiner’s Office to track and retrieve information about potential hyperthermia deaths. While the State Medical Examiner’s Office provides recommendations to county medical examiner programs, it does not influence county policy. Implementation of policy recommendations occurs at the county level. 

This designation as a heat-related death is preliminary and further investigation may reveal a cause of death that’s unrelated to hyperthermia. The final determination of the cause of death may not be known for several months after the death.

Deschutes, Crook Counties Discuss Fair Security

BEND, OR -- The use of force investigation continues into an officer and deputy-involved shooting during the Jefferson County Fair. Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson says his office is helping Jefferson County in any way it can, "We responded up there as ‘initial response,’ to help them at the scene. And then, our office also went up and handled calls and helped handle security at the fair in the following days. We just want to make sure they stay safe." As a member of the Tri-County Major Incident Team, Deschutes County is also part of the unit investigating the shooting of the suspect, later identified as Rafael Gomez. The 29-year-old was arraigned on Attempted Murder and other charges earlier this week 

Sheriff Nelson says his deputies learned a lot while helping cover calls in the area, following the incident, "We’re going to be overseeing a law enforcement presence at our county fair, coming up. So, we’re going to have quite a presence. We’ve got a number of resources that are there and I’d just encourage everyone: if you see something out of the ordinary, report it."

This is the first year the Sheriff’s Office is in charge of security at the Deschutes County Fair. In the past, it was handled by Redmond Police. That change in leadership and the decision to increase patrols was made prior to the Jefferson County Fair shooting, according to Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office. 

Crook County Sheriff John Gautney tells KBND News his office is discussing with Prineville Police what changes, if any, will be necessary for their, which begins August 10. 

Bend Police Plan For Dash-Cams

BEND, OR -- Bend City Council has approved a contract for a fleet of police dash cams. Sheila Miller, with Bend Police, says this is the second phase of the body-cam project launched last year, and will provide two points of view in a patrol car, "So, forward facing out of a windshield, and then there’s also a camera pointing into the backseat. So, for when we have someone detained, there will be a camera pointed on those people, as well."

Miller tells KBND News the rear-facing camera will show how a suspect is treated, "Did they get put in properly, were they seatbelted correctly, are they screaming and yelling at the officer and spitting at the divider? It provides accountability for our officers, that what we say happened, is what happened. But it also provides accountability for the people that we interact with." And, she says, they'll provide a more stable perspective of an incident than body-worn cameras. "For example, it’s really useful in traffic because if you see someone run a red light, you have that on camera. If you’re trying to document somebody who is weaving or swerving, maybe driving drunk, that’s another example. If you pull up to a fight in progress, it’s going to capture that. If you’re doing field sobriety tests on somebody in front of your vehicle, it’s going to capture that."

The five-year, $679,500 contract is for purchase and installation of the dash cameras, as well as software and storage of the footage. Miller expects it’ll take about a year to outfit every vehicle. 

Redmond Man Accused Of Fentanyl Trafficking

REDMOND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Street Crimes Unit conducted a short term investigation into 37-year-old Levi Towry for the sales of fentanyl pills imported from Portland and later distributed in in Deschutes County. On July 27, Street Crimes detectives learned Towry was traveling from Portland to Redmond with fentanyl pills. 

Detectives observed a vehicle Towry was a passenger in pull into the parking lot of the Village Squire Motel in Redmond. Detectives contacted Towry while he was seated in the vehicle and he was immediately detained on an unrelated burglary case from Bend. A subsequent search warrant of Towry’s body revealed a commercial quantity of counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl.

A “a commercial quantity” is defined by statute as five grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl, or any substituted derivative of fentanyl as defined by the rules of the Oregon Board of Pharmacy. This is not a separate criminal charge, rather an increase in the sentencing guidelines. 

The greater Portland area is a major transshipment hub where illegal drugs coming from the southwest border are stored in local warehouses, storage units, and residential properties. The bulk shipments of drugs are usually broken down into smaller quantities and transported to other states or distributed to local dealers. The Portland area has an international airport, interstate highways, and bus and train lines that make it easy for shipments to be smuggled to other destinations around the Pacific Northwest.

Towry was transported to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Jail. Due to medical reasons Towry was then transported to St. Charles, Bend ER. He was cited and released at St. Charles.

Street Crimes Detectives were assisted by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team. 

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office street crimes unit focuses enforcement on street level drug cases and quality of life issues connected to property crimes throughout Deschutes County. 

Speed Detail Nets 172 Tickets

BEND, OR -- Local law enforcement issued 172 tickets during the three-day traffic safety detail that took place July 12-14. Police in Bend, Black Butte, Redmond and Sunriver, along with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and State Police made 225 stops on highways 97, 20 and 126. The detail was conducted between 8 a.m. and noon each day. 

Of the citations, 119 were for speeding; the highest was for 93 miles an hour near Black Butte Ranch. Six tickets were for distracted driving, eight for no insurance, seven for driving while suspended and eight for not wearing seatbelts. The other 24 were for various other violations, including equipment issues. Two people were arrested. 

The goal of this detail was to reduce speeds, injuries and crashes and remind people of the risks of speeding, distracted driving and other dangerous behaviors. During the summer, law enforcement see a lot of drivers on the road. They say it’s important to arrive safely at your destination, and the best way to do that is to avoid speeding and put away your cell phone. 

Bend Agencies Issue River Safety Reminders

BEND, OR -- As temperatures continue to soar in Bend, the Deschutes River is a popular place for people to cool off. But as more people flock to the river to float, paddle and surf, Bend Park and Recreation District, the City of Bend, Bend Police and Bend Fire and Rescue remind everyone to take the appropriate safety precautions before getting in the water.

For a successful day on the river, the agencies urge users to “Know Before You Go” with the following safety reminders:

  • Alcohol is prohibited on the river and in parks. Don’t drink while recreating in or around the river. Recreating under the influence can be extremely dangerous, even deadly. If you’re caught drinking on the river, you could receive a citation and fine of up to $750.
  • Floaters should be aware of the caution signs as you approach the Colorado Ave. bridge and stay left of the boom. Upriver entry to the middle channel of the Bend Whitewater Park is restricted to expert boaters only with the proper gear. It should never be used by floaters.
  • Wear a life jacket. State law requires them for all boaters, paddleboarders and children 12 years old and under. Whistles are also required with boats and paddleboards.
  • Consider your own and your child’s abilities before entering the river and always supervise children in and around water. There are no lifeguards at the river, so take responsibility for your safety and heed all caution signs.
  • Use durable equipment intended for river recreation, not pool toys or low-quality tubes. Rental river equipment is available at local retailers and at Park & Float across from The Pavilion on Simpson Ave. and Riverbend Park via Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe.
  • Wear comfortable, secure footwear. Flip flops can easily fall off in the river and bare feet can get injured by rocks, gravel and/or hot sidewalks.
  • Be responsible. For everyone’s safety, be familiar with Oregon State Marine Board regulations on river recreation.
  • Secure your gear. Help keep the river clean and free from debris.
  • Be ready to get wet. Floating the fish ladder through the Bend Whitewater Park requires active participation. The river current is swift and the water is cold.

“We enjoy seeing everyone take advantage of the Deschutes River on these hot summer days, but we urge everyone to take the proper safety precautions in order to have a safe experience,” said Don Horton, executive director for Bend Park and Recreation District.

“The Bend Police asks everyone to do their part – play by the rules, recrate safely and don’t risk ruining your day by getting cited for alcohol use on the river,” Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz said. “No one wants to see another tragedy on the Deschutes this summer.”

“Bend Fire & Rescue is trained in swift water rescue but we can’t prevent accidents from occurring in the first place,” said Bend Fire Chief Todd Riley. “We want to see folks follow the rules, use sound judgement and have a safe and fun experience out there.”

For kayakers or surfers using the more advanced whitewater sections of the Bend Whitewater Park, the district implemented new safety measures earlier this summer:

  • The use of leashes is prohibited in the park. To obtain compliance with the rule change, BRPD will flatten the surf wave for all surfers if a leash is observed.
  • PFDs and helmets are strongly recommended as whitewater must-haves. Bend Park and Recreation has teamed up with Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe to offer loaner PFDs and helmets at a kiosk near the surf wave.
  • Helmets and PFDs worn should be properly fitted and meet appropriate standards for class III or IV whitewater.

For more information on river recreation safety, visit bendparksandrec.org/float.

Local Unemployment Levels Hold Steady

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon unemployment rates appear to finally be leveling off after the pandemic-induced rollercoaster. Regional Economist Damon Runberg says Deschutes County’s jobless rate remains at 3.4%, just a tenth of a point above the record low. 

"When we saw the changes from May to June, both the hiring numbers - which, in Deschutes County was over 1100 jobs; so that sounds like a lot of jobs - but that is a totally normal expected amount of jobs to be added this time of year, as May and June are sort of peak seasonal hiring for the summer season." And, Runberg says, it’s the first time since February of 2020 that things have looked “normal.”

That near record low unemployment in June continues to strain local companies trying to fill job openings. Runberg says it’s a simple issue of supply and demand: The supply of workers cannot keep up, "There’s nobody sitting on the sidelines anymore. There’s no one who’s left the labor market - with the exception of retirees - that have gone permanently. It’s simply that we see pent up demand, super-heated economy stuff driving businesses to levels of hiring demand we haven’t seen before." But it isn't only a lack of supply of workers. Runberg says we saw similar numbers in 2019, "What’s abnormal today is the abnormally high demand for those workers. So, the only answer in the short-term is to increase your labor supply. Well, how do you do that when you live in a land-locked island, as I like to call Central Oregon? You actually have to recruit people from outside the area. The long-term play is have more babies. But that’s not a good answer for tomorrow." He says that recruitment from out of the area is hampered by the region’s lack of housing. 

And it’s not just Deschutes County. Jefferson and Crook counties also continue to add jobs, "The job growth there in Crook County is some of the most stellar job growth we’ve seen relative to pre-COVID levels, of 10%, which is awesome," says Runberg. Jefferson County's jobless rate in June was 4.6%, while Crook County's was 4.7%.

Sisters City Manager Leaving For Portland Job

SISTERS, OR -- Central Oregon is losing another local leader. Sisters City Manager Cory Misley will step down at the end of August. He tells KBND News there were several factors in his decision, including the pandemic, "It’s very challenging, you know. There’s a lot of political division at the national level and that manifests itself in local issues, as well, in how sometimes people treat each other. It’s challenging, challenging work. And, we’re dealing with complex issues; issues that really are 21st century problems and everything moves at a faster pace."

Misley came to Sisters in 2018 after three years as City Manager of La Pine, "Not everyone gets an opportunity to be a City Manager at 26 years old. And then, I was 29 when I came to Sisters and my entire full-time working career and professional development, at this point, has been in Deschutes County. And it’s been really rewarding, really educational and I think it’s been win-win."

While he says it’s tough to leave, he looks forward to moving closer to family when he starts his new job at Oregon Solutions based at Portland State University.

Sisters City Council will work with a recruiting firm to search for Misley’s replacement. He believes the next City Manager will be in place by the end of November.

 

Gas Prices Continue Downward Trend As Demand Declines

BEND, OR -- Gas prices fell for the sixth week in a row. The national average is down 17 cents to $4.33 a gallon, Oregon’s average dropped 12 cents to $5.15 and Bend's local average declined 13 cents to $5.22.

Crude oil prices remain volatile, due to the war in Ukraine, but if they hold steady, Marie Dodds, with AAA Oregon, says prices could fall back under $5 a gallon before the end of summer, "We’ve seen prices fall in Oregon anywhere from 10 to 15 cents or more per week, the last few weeks. So, with the current average of $5.15, certainly it’s very possible we’ll see prices drop below that $5 a gallon mark."

A big factor in those lower prices is demand. Dodds says a new survey shows recent high prices pushed many people to drive less, "About 2/3 of US adults have changed their driving habits or lifestyle since March, and 23% say they’ve made major changes." She tells KBND News, "The top three changes made by drivers to offset high gas prices are: Driving less, combining errands and reducing shopping or dining out." Demand edged up slightly last week, but she says it’s still well below typical summer numbers. 

Garage Fire Caused By AC Power Cord

BEND, OR -- Investigators say an extension cord used to provide air conditioning caused a garage fire in northeast Bend, Tuesday afternoon. Firefighters responded to NE Seward Ave. just before 4:30 p.m. The owners were home and smelled smoke after noticing breakers had tripped in their main electrical panel. They found the garage full of smoke and called 911.

First arriving fire crews found fire had spread from the garage into the attic. The fire was quickly stopped and ventilated to prevent further damage to the home and belongings. American Red Cross responded to assist the owners with a place to stay for a few nights. BPD assisted with traffic control. Bend Fire Department volunteers responded with cooling supplies to help fire crews handle the 100 deg weather while working at the house fire. 

The owners have a camper next to the house and were using its air conditioner to keep cool. When they went to the camper Tuesday, they found the power off and AC not working. They then noticed the tripped breaker. It was determined the cord to power the camper failed in the garage and started the fire. 

The gauge of the cord was too small to handle the power draw of the AC operating in the camper. It's undetermined if the cord failed due to the power draw or if it had been damaged beforehand. Bend Fire reminds everyone to always ensure extension cords are used properly to prevent fires or damage. Ensure the size and amperage limits of the cord match the usage. Ensure the cord is not pinched, trapped or damaged in any way. This damage can lead to a fire or short. Only use one cord between the appliance and the outlet to reduce the chance of failure. 

 

Photo Courtesy of Bend Fire

Bird Blamed For SE Bend Brush Fire

BEND, OR -- A bird striking power lines is blamed for a two-acre fire southeast of Bend. Fire crews from Bend, Alfalfa and the Forest Service responded to Rickard Road at about 10:40 Tuesday morning and found grass and brush burning along the road. Callers said they heard a “bang” and saw a fire in the grass and brush, spreading to juniper trees. Crews arrived as the wind was pushing the fire to the south, towards Rickard. Fire crews were able to quickly get around the fire and stop its progression with hoses and hand tools. Many passersby and neighbors were on scene with shovels as well. The fire was kept to two acres in size. 

The cause of the fire was found to be a bird coming in contact with multiple wires on an adjacent power pole. The deceased bird was found near the base of the pole where the fire started. The contact between the bird and the wires caused the “bang" heard. No brush or grass was directly in contact with the pole. Central Electric Coop personnel were on scene to assist and confirmed that the power lines and poles were not damaged by the fire and power was not lost during the incident. CEC crews in the area working on a reported power problem that appears to be unrelated to this fire. 

Bend was assisted by Alfalfa Fire Department, US Forest Service fire crews; and County sheriff and road departments for traffic control. The Rickard and Billadeau intersection was closed for two hours during the incident. No homes or buildings were directly threatened by this fire. 

Bend Fire says this is a good reminder that as we head into this very hot week our fire danger is ever increasing. On Wednesday, local fire agencies will move to Extreme fire danger levels. Be sure to check your defensible space around your home and business to help prevent fire from spreading to the building. Having good defensible space and help prevent a fire like this one from spreading across a street and to your home by limiting what there is to burn directly against the building and surrounding areas. More information about defensible space can be found at www.ownyourzonebend.org

 

Photo courtesy Bend Fire & Rescue

Gov. Declares Heat Emergency in 25 of 36 Counties

SALEM, OR -- Governor Kate Brown today declared a state of emergency in 25 Oregon counties, through July 31, to ensure additional resources are available to respond to forecasted excessively high temperatures. The declaration includes Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties.

Multiple days of extreme heat with little or no cooling overnight may also impact critical infrastructure, causing utility outages and transportation disruptions. "With many parts of Oregon facing a high heat wave, it is critical that every level of government has the resources they need to help keep Oregonians safe and healthy," Governor Brown said in a statement. "I encourage everyone to take proactive steps to keep themselves and their families safe, including drinking plenty of fluids, taking advantage of cooling centers, and checking in on neighbors, friends, and loved ones."
The Governor directed the Oregon Department of Emergency Management (OEM) to activate the state's Emergency Coordination Center to coordinate essential protective measures. She has also directed state agencies to provide any assistance requested by OEM to support response efforts.
Heat-related illnesses are preventable — all Oregonians are encouraged to learn the symptoms of heat stroke, heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses. Oregonians who do not have air conditioning in their homes are strongly encouraged to make a plan today to find a cool location they can access during the heat wave. To find cooling centers in Oregon, call 211, which will be operating 24/7 during the heat wave, or visit their website.
Additionally, all Oregonians are asked to check in on vulnerable friends, family, and neighbors who may be susceptible to extreme heat to help them access ways to stay safe.

Tips For Keeping Your Home Cool

BEND, OR -- "The heatwave’s already upon us," says Pacific Power's Tom Gauntt, "But you still have time to do something like check your filters on an air conditioner to make sure any internal ductwork is not obstructed. And, you can also make sure the outside unit hasn’t had a lot of growth around it in recent weeks, as everything kind of burst into flower around here."

Only about 50% of Oregonians have air conditioning, but Gauntt says even those who do shouldn’t take it for granted. He recommends setting the thermostat to 78, so the AC doesn’t work too hard. Bump it up to a little over 80 when you’re gone. "I know that also sounds concerning but, if your system is in good shape, it doesn’t take that long to cool back down," he tells KBND News, "Whereas, if you’re gone for four or five, six hours, maintaining a cooler temperature when there’s no one there to benefit from it takes up a lot of energy."

With or without AC, keep curtains and blinds closed during the day, and open windows at night when things cool off. "It’s also not the time to say, ‘let’s see how many cookies we can bake today,’ right? So, try to minimize whatever kind of ways you might heat up your house." That means cook outside if you can, and run your dishwasher, washer and dryer at night or early in the morning.

And, if your place is just too hot, seek out a local cooling shelter.

Redmond Shelter Opens As Cooling Center

REDMOND, OR -- Shepherd’s House Ministries opened its new Redmond location before the facility’s planned renovations, in response to this week’s heat wave. "For all of us in Central Oregon, we’re going to be uncomfortable all week when it’s hot. But for our neighbors experiencing homelessness, they have nowhere to go inside the air conditioning. So, we’re really providing a comfortable place for them to spend the majority of their day," Andrew Hoeksema tells KBND News, "We’re open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., we have volunteers bring in meals, we have water bottles and Otter Pops."

Hoeksema is the Redmond Director for Shepherd’s House. He says the building on Highway 97 near Veterans Way doesn’t have a lot of amenities and it can't yet house overnight guests. But, it has a few critical features, "A big room with air conditioning, as well as refrigerators fully stocked with water bottles and ice. So that if people really come in out of the heat and they’re uncomfortable, sweating, skin is red, we’re actually trying to get them to cool their body temperature down for their own safety."

Hoeksema says it is large enough for nearly 100 people to get out of the heat. While their first priority is the houseless community, he says everyone is welcome, "We could accommodate a lot of people and we’re willing to take people in. Even if people are, frankly, really uncomfortable in their home, they could just come seek cooler temperatures and water bottles here."

Shepherd's House is accepting donations of bottled water and frozen snacks, "We’re also partnering with other service providers, including the county and other local non-profits who are going out to where people are camping and making sure that they can take cold water bottles and ice straight from our building out to where they’re going to help find people who may be suffering, as well."

Donations can be dropped off at any of the Shepherds House cooling centers: in Redmond at 1350 S Hwy 97, or in Bend at the Lighthouse Navigation Center (275 NE 2nd St.) and the original shelter at 1854 NE Division St. Sign up to volunteer or make a financial contribution online.

Bethlehem Inn also has an immediate need for bottled water for its Bend and Redmond shelters. The Inn’s bottled water supplies are running very low making this need urgent. Donations of cases of water (12- 16 oz bottles) will be gratefully accepted at Bethlehem Inn’s Bend shelter location located at 3705 N. Hwy. 97.

 

Bend ER: "Busiest Summer We've Ever Seen"

BEND, OR -- The Oregon Health Authority recently called out St. Charles Health System as possibly the most strained hospital systems in the state. Dr. Katie Richards, Medical Director for the Bend Emergency Department, sees it every day. "This summer is the busiest summer we’ve ever seen," she tells KBND News, "COVID doesn’t help. But it’s definitely a combination of just increased population, I think there’s some pent-up demand for recreating and recreating in the area - not just with tourists but with locals, as well."

She admits staffing shortages compound the issue. But Dr. Richards says, "It’s not just St. Charles staffing - it’s our community partners, as well. I don’t know if you’ve tried to get a same-day doctor visit or even to get through to your doctor’s office for advice? It can be very challenging to get through because they are short on front staff, they’re short on medical assistants. I sometimes feel like we’re the canary in the coal mine for the community; and so, if everyone is just a bit short staffed, people have nowhere else to go so they come to the ER."

And, she says Emergency Room overcrowding is made worse because of slow-downs in other departments. "Once we decide to admit someone, it can take hours to days to move them to a hospital bed." She adds, "That can be hospital staffing is an issue, but also there aren’t enough rehab and skilled nursing beds in Bend, right now." That means patients who are ready to be discharged from other parts of the hospital but aren’t quite able to be cared for at home remain at the hospital longer because they have nowhere else to go. Dr. Richards says that leads to patients who need to be admitted staying in the ER for treatment.

KBND News asked what conditions the ER is treating the most, "I don’t think there’s one thing, I think it’s population growth, it’s summer trauma, it’s delayed care and it’s still COVID." Dr. Richards asks that people do not seek routine care in the ER, to leave space for those with true emergencies. 

Bend Man Arrested After Sisters-Area Pursuit

SISTERS, OR -- A Bend man faces numerous charges after a Monday morning pursuit near Sisters. Just before 9:30 a.m., the Sheriff’s Office received numerous calls about a vehicle speeding and driving recklessly nearly causing multiple crashes on Highway 20. The vehicle was reported to be westbound on Highway 20 toward the city of Sisters. A DCSO Deputy spotted the vehicle speeding on Highway 20 near Indian Ford Rd., but lost sight of the vehicle near milepost 91. 

The Sheriff’s Office continued getting reports about the vehicle as it continued west past the Hoodoo Ski area. The deputy and a Black Butte Police Officer continued looking for the vehicle and spotted it eastbound on 20 near the Highway 20/126 junction. The deputy attempted to pull over the vehicle, but the driver refused to stop leading the deputy on a short pursuit before the chase was discontinued. The vehicle continued eastbound toward Sisters. Attempts were made to use Stop Sticks on the vehicle before it reached Sisters, without success. 

The vehicle was seen turning into the Sisters McDonalds parking lot. Deputies performed a high risk traffic stop and contacted the driver, later identified as 22-year-old Blake Goodrich, and took him into custody without incident.

Deputies say Goodrich stole the vehicle from Bend and the victim was unaware her car was stolen. 

Goodrich was transported to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Jail for: Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Reckless Driving (2 counts) and Reckless Endangering (2 counts). Additional charges are likely. 

Anyone who observed Goodrich’s driving or had to avoid a crash due his driving is asked to contact DCSO 541-693-6911 reference case number 22-39893. 

The Sheriff’s Office thanks Oregon State Police and Black Butte Ranch Police Department for their assistance on this incident. 

Wildfire Briefly Closes Hwy 126 Near Powell Butte

REDMOND, OR -- A small wildfire briefly shut down Highway 126 near Powell Butte Monday, just after noon. Fire crews from Redmond and Crook County responded to the 2-acre blaze on private land near the Deshutes-Crook County line. The cause is under investigation.
Federal land managers move to Industrial Fire Precaution Level 2 Thursday, in an effort to reduce human-caused fires. Restrictions impact Deschutes and Ochoco National Fores, Prineville BLM and the Crooked River National Grassland.

For current wildland fire information, visit centraloregonfire.org or follow fire information on Twitter @CentralORfire. For current Central Oregon Fire Precaution Information call 1-800-523-4737. Call 9-1-1 to report a wildfire.

Local Leaders Mull Psilocybin Opt Out Ahead Of Election Deadline

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Elected leaders in nearly every Central Oregon community are considering asking voters in November to opt out of allowing psilocybin facilities when they become legal in Oregon in January. Psilocybin is the hallucinogenic chemical in what's commonly known as "magic mushrooms."

Deschutes County Commissioners are expected to approve sending the request to voters at their August 8th meeting. Measure 109, the 2020 ballot measure legalizing psilocybin treatment centers and production facilities, passed in Deschutes County with 53% support. Following hearings where no one testified in support of a ban, Commissioners still seem poised to send a request to voters to ban facilities in unincorporated areas.

Crook County Judge Seth Crawford says Commissioners will host a public hearing August 3rd before making a final decision for the ballot there, "It was voted down by 64% of our voters. And that, to me, is very clear that that’s something they don’t want in their community. And so, I think it’s great that we have the ability to put it out on the ballot and let them decide on local input versus state mandates, which we ask for all the time." Crawford says he’s already hearing from people, "It’s overwhelmingly that people want the ability to vote on it. From my conversations, people are going to vote against having it in our community." He tells KBND News, "I think another big concern people have is they have really poorly written rules. I’m hearing that from, like, our Association of Oregon Counties. I think there’s communities that would be for it, but are against how wishy-washy the rules are."

Jefferson County will host public hearings July 27th and August 10th before Commissioners make their decision. Prineville and Madras City Councils will discuss similar ballot questions at their Tuesday Council meetings. And, the issue is on Redmond’s agenda for the August 16th council meeting.

They all have until August 19th to file a ballot measure for the November election. Opting out of allowing psilocybin facilities can only happen with voter approval during a statewide general election.  

Tualatin Man Drowns at Lake Billy Chinook

CULVER, OR -- A 57-year-old Tualatin man drowned in the Crooked River after diving from the top of a houseboat. According to the Jefferson County Sheriff, deputies responded to Lake Billy Chinook Saturday, for a reported missing swimmer. 

"The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office extends their deepest sympathy to this individual’s family and friends," Sheriff Jason Pollock said in a Facebook post, "Due to the overwhelming support from the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, we would like to thank the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office for sending their dive team to help with the recovery."

Investigation Continues Into Shooting Near The Jefferson County Fair

MADRAS, OR -- The investigation continues into an officer-involved shooting near the Jefferson County fair Friday evening. The incident shutdown Highway 97 for several hours.

The Jefferson County Sheriff says law enforcement responded to a report of a man at the fairgrounds with a long rifle at about 5 p.m. He ran to a nearby business where the Sheriff says the suspect was shot by law enforcement when he tried to get inside while still armed. There is no word on the suspect's condition.

Jefferson County deputies and Madras Police were involved in the case, although no details have been released about who fired on the suspect. "When an incident like this occurs and members of a small law enforcement agency act and have to use deadly physical force, agency protocol requires those officers and deputies must be put on paid administrative leave until an investigation of their use of force is completed by an outside agency or agencies. This leave can have a large impact on small agencies, which in turn can have a large impact on services to the community," the Sheriff said in a weekend Facebook post, "As a result, it is imperative that smaller agencies like your Sheriff's Office maintain strong working relationships with surrounding agencies."

The Sheriff also says counselors are available for people who may need to speak to someone about what they saw during the fair. "Monday 7/25, BestCare will be offering a community response check-in between 5-7 PM. Clinicians and peer support specialists will be available for youth or adolescents who need someone to talk to. This offering is drop-in (no appointment needed) and is open to the community; the youth do not need to be established clients." He adds, "For those who need/prefer individual appointments, or can't make it tomorrow, there are many options available during the week for one-on-one check-ins. To schedule an individual appointment, please call 541.475.6575."

 

(UPDATE) -- Court documents reveal 29-year-old Rafael Gomez is accused of stealing a firearm and pointing it at several people, Friday. Prosecutors say Gomez has a 2019 car theft conviction from San Diego County. He faces an Attempted Murder charge, five counts of Unlawful Use of a Weapon and one count each of Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Theft. Gomez was booked Sunday into the Jefferson County Jail without Bond, and is scheduled to be arraigned at 2 p.m. Monday.

The District Attorney's Office says his case will be presented to the grand jury later this week, and no other information will be released until the completion of the Use of Force investigation. 

 

Photo courtesy Central Oregon Daily News

Shepherd's House Adds Cooling Shelter Location

(UPDATE) -- Shepherd’s House Ministries will open daytime cooling shelters at their facilities in Bend and Redmond from Monday to Friday, July 25-29, from 11:00am-6:00pm. There are now two Bend locations: The Lighthouse Navigation Center at 275 NE 2nd St and at The Shepherd's House at 1854 NE Division Street. The Redmond shelter is at 1350 S. Highway 97, a facility acquired by Shepherd’s House and awaiting renovation in the coming months. This is the former Grace Gate Church and Coyote Ranch restaurant, located just north of Veterans Way.

With daytime temperatures forecast over 100 for consecutive days, Shepherd’s House will provide a safe and cool space for people experiencing homelessness in Redmond and Bend. Days and hours may be responsive to the dynamic nature of extreme weather events.

 

BEND, OR (07/22/22) -- The National Weather Service issued an alert warning of the coming heat wave. We’re looking at triple-digit highs predicted at least through the next week.

Shepherd’s House Ministries will open daytime cooling shelters at their facilities in Bend and Redmond from Monday to Friday, July 25-29, from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. The Bend shelter is located at the Lighthouse Navigation Center (pictured) at 275 NE 2nd St.

The Redmond shelter is at 1350 S. Highway 97, near Veterans Way. It's a facility acquired by Shepherd’s House and awaiting renovation in the coming months.

With daytime temperatures forecast over 100 for consecutive days, Shepherd’s House will provide a safe and cool space for people experiencing homelessness in Redmond and Bend. Days and hours may be responsive to the dynamic nature of extreme weather events.

Extreme heat poses a risk to the health and life of persons living outside, specifically the risks of dehydration and heat sickness. Shepherd’s House is committed to feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless. Redmond City Director Andrew Hoeksema says, “Everyone in Central Oregon will be uncomfortable on these hottest days of the summer. However, many of our neighbors experiencing homelessness have very limited options for going inside to cool off and rest away from the sun. As we seek to extend love and service to our neighbors who need it most, we will open shelters with air conditioning, water, snacks, and personal connection. We are grateful for all who will partner with us in this effort.” 

The Shepherd’s House SHARE Van will also visit spots around Bend to deliver cold water bottles and snacks, and to check on people living without shelter during this heat wave.

Shepherd’s House welcomes volunteers at both sites to assist with sheltering. We also invite donations of water bottles, freezer snacks (e.g. otter pops), and pre-packaged snacks. Sign up to volunteer or make a financial contribution online at shepherdshouseministries.org.         

If you would like to give to support these efforts, monetary donations can be made at shepherdshouseministries.org/donate/

Alleged Fentanyl Trafficker Arrested In Prineville

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man is accused of trafficking Fentanyl from the Portland area to the High Desert. Friday night, at about 11:15 p.m., the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team concluded a short-term investigation with the arrest of 33-year-old Dustin Phillip Murray, of Prineville. 

During a concurrent investigation, drug Agents identified Murray as a fentanyl trafficker in the Crook County Oregon area. The initial investigation alleges Mr. Murray imported fentanyl pills from the Portland area into central Oregon where he distributes them.

During a multi-county surveillance operation, CODE Detectives applied for, obtained, and executed a search warrant. At approximately, 11:15PM, Mr. Murray was contacted during a traffic stop on Highway 126 near the Prineville airport while he was driving a Toyota Tacoma. CODE Detectives and DCSO Deputies gathered and seized a commercial quantity of fake pharmaceutical tablets made of fentanyl along with other evidence of commercial drug sales. 

A “a commercial quantity” is defined by statute as five grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl, or any substituted derivative of fentanyl as defined by the rules of the Oregon Board of Pharmacy. This is not a separate criminal charge, rather an increase in the sentencing guidelines. 

The greater Portland area is a major transshipment hub where illegal drugs coming from the southwest border are stored in local warehouses, storage units, and residential properties. The bulk shipments of drugs are usually broken down into smaller quantities and transported to other states or distributed to local dealers. The Portland area has an international airport, interstate highways, and bus and train lines that make it easy for shipments to be smuggled to other destinations around the pacific northwest.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 107,000 people have died as a result from a drug overdose or poisoning in the U.S. Criminal drug networks in Mexico are mass-producing illicit fentanyl and fake pills pressed with fentanyl in filthy, clandestine, unregulated labs. These fake pills are designed to look like real prescription pills right down to the size, shape, color and stamping. These fake pills typically replicate real prescription opioid medications such as oxycodone (Oxycontin®, Percocet®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), and alprazolam (Xanax®); or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall®).

Mr. Murray was lodged in the Crook County Sheriff’s Jail with the following criminal charges: Unlawful Possession and Attempted Distribution of a Schedule II Controlled Substance (Fentanyl) 

CODE Detectives were assisted by the Crook County Sheriff’s patrol deputies. 

 

File Photo

Bend Man Arrested After Standoff At Budget Inn

BEND, OR -- A Bend man faces numerous charges after reportedly barricading himself inside a room at the Budget Inn on South Highway 97. Bend Police arrived just before 1 p.m. Saturday. The male, identified as 27-year-old Antonio Hernandez, had rented a room at the location but was supposed to be out by Friday. Hernandez allegedly dismantled a bed from inside his room and swung the mental frame at an employee who was trying to get him to leave.

Officers say they knocked on the door multiple times, announced their presence, and asked Hernandez to cooperate. Police found the door to the motel room was barricaded as items were blocking the entry into the room.  The police then breached the window to the motel room and could see the man still holding the metal bedframe in his hands as a weapon. Police requested additional resources including K9’s from both Bend PD and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office. 

Hernandez allegedly started throwing parts of the metal bedframe out the window of the motel room.  Police deployed a form of pepper spray into the motel room; he came outside and was arrested just before 2 p.m.

Hernandez demonstrated signs that he was impaired and under the influence of a stimulant narcotic.  He was taken to the Deschutes County Adult Jail on the following charges: Menacing, Resisting Arrest, Criminal Mischief I, Criminal Trespass II, and a Probation Violation Warrant.

Bomb Squad Responds To Suspicious Package In Bend

BEND, OR -- Bend Police responded to a suspicious package at Wagner Mall, just before 3:45 p.m. Friday. The box was left outside Pack Ship & More, and measures about 24"x12", without any packaging labels. 

Officers evacuated multiple businesses for the safety of all employees, business owners, and the community. The Oregon State Police Bomb Squad is also responding.

A prior police investigation has caused a heightened concern that the package could be a threat to the community. 

BPD says this is an ongoing investigation, and asks the public to avoid the area of the Wagner Mall.  More information will be released when it becomes available. 

 

UPDATE: Two Oregon State Police Bomb Squad members responded to the area of the Wagner Mall to assist on this investigation. They determined the suspicious package contained donated items and a note was left with the package.  The area was secured by police for approximately four hours and now is reopened. There are no safety concerns pertaining to this incident in the area. 

BPD thanks the Oregon State Police for their assistance with this investigation.

Wildfire Threatens Homes South of Sunriver

SUNRIVER, OR -- Crews responded to a wildfire south of Sunriver, Friday. It was first spotted around 11 a-m at about 3 acres, burning on both sides of the railroad tracks. Five engines, two 20-person hand crews, air support and the Redmond Hotshots all converged on the area. 

By 3 p.m., a Type 3 Incident Management Team was assigned and the fire was 100% lined by dozer on the west side of the fire, which was estimated to have grown to 15 acres. The dozer was moving toward the east side. The west side was priority, because of nearby homes and other structures. 

No formal evacuations were ordered and no structures were lost.

COVID Rise Could Impact Summer School Programs

REDMOND, OR -- Local summer school programs are grappling with the current rise in COVID-19 and the higher rate of spread due to the BA.5 sub-variant.  State Health Officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger says the Oregon Health Authority and Department of Education recommends what they call layered mitigation strategies, "We’ve worked with schools to increase ventilation in settings; they have funds available to them and many have done that either through systemic changes or through portable filtration systems. Vaccinations are required for staff and adults in these settings and we encourage vaccination of students in these settings."

There are no state mask requirements for schools; decisions are now left to local districts. But Dr. Sidelinger believes some students should wear them, "Masks still remain a critically important point, particularly for those most at risk for complications. And ODE and OHA, in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend implementing universal masking at a time when spread of COVID is high in communities."

Currently, 19 Oregon counties are considered at the “high” community level by the CDC. On Thursday, Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties moved back to high, according to the lastest data from the CDC. Redmond Schools Superintendent Charan Cline tells KBND News he doesn’t expect his district will require masks when summer school begins August first, "We have always followed the health department’s recommendations or requirements as we go through that. In a situation like this, we will really just pass on the recommendations to the parents." He believes other measures will be effective in keeping COVID out of classrooms, "We’re excluding people if they’re sick, just like we have been - following health department policies. We’re offering tests for all staff members and students, at least weekly. We’re recommending people test if they’re feeling sick." He says they've also improved ventilation systems, where necessary.

Dr. Sidelinger says, "When a community reaches that high level of spread, we send a letter to the Superintendents in counties, as well as local public health officials, to remind them to go back and review guidance and implement as many layered mitigation strategies as possible." 

Dr. Cline says his district will follow CDC guidelines and health department recommendations, "This new variant - this BA.5 variant - is highly transmissible. It appears it kind of gets through everything. So, we’re going to do our best to keep people healthy. I think our biggest tool really is that if people are sick, they need to stay home and they need to test until they’re not sick."

Bend-La Pine Schools tells KBND News the district would consider a school-wide or district-wide mandate only if deemed necessary to keep schools open during a surge.

The OHA does not anticipate any new state mandates for schools in the fall. 

 

Weekend Balloon Events Prompt Warnings For Pet Owners

BEND, OR -- This weekend's Balloons Over Bend event will put on a colorful display, but certain elements may frighten animals. The unknown sight of a low flying balloon and its shadow can scare any animal. The unpredictable landings may bring a balloon near a backyard. The sound of the hot air balloons filling with air may frighten pets.

The Humane Society of Central Oregon is advising people to secure pets indoors living near R.E. Jewell Elementary, in southeast Bend (20550 Murphy Rd, Bend), during the morning balloon launches taking off around 6:45am to 7:00am Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Landings are unpredictable, so safely secure your pets in the outlying areas.

The balloons will be filled for the ‘Night Glow’ event in Bend at Central Oregon Community College (COCC) on Friday, and in Redmond at Sam Johnson Park on Saturday. Organizers of Balloons Over Bend say, “no pets are allowed on the Balloons Over Bend premises. Service animals are allowed per ADA and Oregon State Law policies.”

The Bend animal shelter receives animals and reports of lost animals that have been frightened by the balloons. The best way to protect your pet is to keep your pets indoors and wearing identification. The balloon landings may be unpredictable so pets in the surrounding areas should also be secured in a safe place.

If you lose or find a pet, immediately report it to the Humane Society of Central Oregon at 541.382.3537 or your local shelter. Strays that arrive at the Bend shelter are posted at hsco.org/strays.

Bend Plans Improvements For Permit System

BEND, OR -- Construction contractors are frustrated with the time it takes the city of Bend to approve permits for everything from new construction to a small home remodel. Bend City Manager Eric King says he and the city Council know it’s an issue. "It’s difficult," he tells KBND News, "Volume is higher than it’s ever been, right now; a lot of construction going on. We’re catching up, we’re hiring staff. We went through a software implementation a couple of years ago. I think we’re past that, so that’s the good news." But, he says, some of the slowdown falls on applicants, "Right now, we’ve got a lot of issues with our queue, where folks will submit something, then they’re stuck in a review cycle. So, there’s some work we need to do with our development community to really improve the quality of their applications so we can process them faster."

Some new technology might help, "We have created a dashboard - a draft dashboard. And that will be there for the public to see in the next few weeks so you can really have a better understanding of what the review times are, how we’re meeting our goals for turnaround, and some other key information to help you make business decisions."

Catch our full conversation with Bend City Manager Eric King at our Podcast Page.

Bird Flu Cancels Poultry Exhibit At Deschutes Co. Fair

BEND, OR -- Oregon’s ninth case of bird flu was found this week in Deschutes County. The flock of 40 ducks and chickens is north of the previous incidents, pushing the Dept. of Agriculture's quarantine area to include southern Redmond and the fairgrounds. "The Deschutes County Fair will not have poultry at the fair this year," State Veterinarian Dr. Ryan Scholz tells KBND News. The fair begins August third, which is within the two-week qurantine surveillance window. 

He says the risk is not from the domestic birds, but from attendees who might expose prized poultry and then infect their entire flock, "The risk of a fair goer having just been out at the county park, wandering the pathway, walking through some goose poop that happens to be infected with influenza, not washing their hands or doing something like that, and coming to the fair and wandering down the chicken aisle and potentially exposing those birds to virus is going to be a risk."

Deschutes County isn't the only one dealing with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), "There are other fairs that are kind of modifying what they’re doing with poultry based on the risk. There’s still a risk of this disease anywhere," says Dr. Scholz, "Lane County [fair], which is going on right now, they opted to do just a one-day come in, show the birds, go home. Rather than have the birds there for the whole fair." He says ODA is working with Deschutes County's 4-H to allow a similar market bird sale, "So, the birds that kids have been raising that were planned to be sold at the fair in the auction - so that those kids can still do that - Because those birds are processed immediately after sale. They’re going to do just a really short one-day, bring them in, show them, sell them and then process them right away. But otherwise, the rest of the birds will not be at fair this year."

Central Oregon seems particularly susceptible to the spread of bird flu. Dr. Scholz believes it might be because of the number of private ponds, "It’s primarily people who have domestic waterfowl and other poultry species and have a pond where wild ducks and geese are coming to that pond, co-mingling with their domestic ducks and then, that’s how these infections are starting." He says the virus will continue to spread as long as wild and domestic birds are allowed to co-mingle. 

This latest case impacts the quarantine area because, like the other local cases, eggs from this flock were sold to the public. But, because the property is north of the previous locations, the quarantine radius expands north. In this latest case, all 40 chickens and ducks were euthanized.

ODA provides an online map of the quarantined sites in Oregon. People may also enter their address using the online tool to determine whether their property is included in the quarantine area. The purpose of the quarantine is to prevent the movement of poultry and poultry products from within the affected area giving state and federal officials time to conduct surveillance to ensure no additional cases of HPAI exist. The quarantine also applies to importing all birds from states where a state or federal quarantine is in place.

For more tips on protecting your backyard flock, please visit the ODA online at Avian Influenza.

 

Man Dies After Being Pulled From River Near Whitewater Park

BEND, OR -- Bend Police and Fire responded to a report of a person found in the water near McKay Park and the Whitewater Park, just after 2:15 p.m. Thursday. A 911 caller from the Colorado Avenue Footbridge reported seeing a body in the water and directed a kayaker to it. A male was located in the center channel of the river, near the footbridge.  

By 2:20 p.m., bystanders had pulled a man from the water and police officers and fire personnel conducted CPR for more than 10 minutes. The person was transported to St. Charles Bend. No further information on his condition is known at this time.  

An investigation is ongoing. The person’s identity at this point is not known. No one at McKay Park or in the water at the time saw the man go underwater, and it is unknown where the man may have entered the river or how long he was underwater.   

Bend Police put a drone in the air to look for additional victims, boats or floats. No additional victims or abandoned watercraft were found. 

The Colorado Avenue Bridge was closed in both directions for about 30 minutes.  

More information will be released as it becomes available.  

Bend Police thank Bend Fire & Rescue, as well as bystanders, for their assistance at the scene.  

 

UPDATE -- (9:30 P.M.) After an investigation, Bend Police identified the man who was rescued from the Deschutes River on Thursday afternoon is 56-year-old Bend resident Joseph Clarence Torkelson. 

Torkelson was apparently floating the river with a roommate. He and the roommate put in to the river upstream in Bend. Instead of staying to the left to ride through the gentle rapids at Colorado Avenue, Torkelson somehow ended up on the wrong side of the buoys and was sucked under and through the dam. Shortly thereafter, Torkelson was found and pulled from the river. 

As of Thursday evening, Torkelson remains in the ICU at St. Charles Bend. 

 

UPDATE -- (07/22/22) According to Bend Police, Jospeh Torkelson died from his injuries. 

Bend Parks & Rec released the following statement Friday afternoon:

“On behalf of all of us at Bend Park and Recreation District, our thoughts are with the family and friends of Joseph C. Torkelson. It always saddens us when a patron gets hurt at any of our facilities.

The Deschutes River has inherent hazards and dangers and unfortunately, recreating in the river can never be without risk. We have taken measures to caution river users of hazards at the Bend Whitewater Park and strongly encourage all river users to heed these precautions.

River floaters should never enter the whitewater (center) channel from upriver. To help prevent this, a prominent boom on the river and signage provide warning and a deterrent. It is imperative to abide by river safety precautions in flat water as well as in active currents and rapids. Rivers users at the whitewater park or elsewhere should always wear a lifejacket, never float the river while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and never tether watercraft together.

I thank responders and bystanders as well as the hospital personnel for their efforts.”

-Don Horton, Executive Director, Bend Park and Recreation District

City Council Agrees On Framework For Camping Code Development

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors took the first step, Wednesday, in its plan to create an unsanctioned camping code, including time, place and manner regulations. At the Council meeting, they agreed to a public engagement plan they believe will provide more opportunities to hear directly from the public. The city's Joshua Romero told Council that city staff will work up a draft for the code in August, "Later in the month, we’d hold a hybrid community education open house with Q&A opportunity for community members to really help the community understand the legal framework we’re working in to develop a code like this. Then, in September, once there is a draft code available, there will be an opportunity for community feedback."

The development plan also involves a newly available option: A Council roundtable, with City Council’s advisory groups. Romero said, "That would allow us to compress some input from council’s advisory groups, plus some of the diverse perspectives Council asked us to consider in the development process for the code."

Mayor Gena Goodman-Campbell believes it will provide a better opportunity for direct conversations with the public. "Hopefully that’ll also help the community understand ‘what’s the universe we’re working within? What are the decisions we actually are making and can make?’ Rather than the community coming back and saying, ‘we want you to do this,’ and we’d say, ‘we legally can’t do that. The courts have said we cannot do that."

It’s still going to take time. The earliest possible Council could vote on the new code is October.

ODOT Wraps Up Local Summer Work

BEND, OR -- More road work is in store for the north end of Third Street in Bend, this summer. The Oregon Department of Transportation continues a $17 million project that stretches from Empire to Greenwood. ODOT’s Kacey Davey says in the coming weeks, drivers will find new delays, "You’re going to see some single-lane closures from about Empire to Butler Market, Monday through Friday, as we’re putting in an intersection there and fixing a bunch of underground utilities." That includes a new signal at Mervin Samples, near the DMV, as part of the first phase of the 97 North Corridor Project. 

"Really, most of our construction projects are wrapping up, other than that one right in the middle of town," Davey tells KBND News. She's referring to work at Third and Greenwood where drivers are now encountering night work and single-lane closures. "That one will be going until fall of 2023." Crews are installing new signals, sidewalks and ADA-compliant curb ramps. Night work is Sunday nights through Thursday nights, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

ODOT is also wrapping up work on a $5 million safety project between Bend and Redmond. Davey says the two-mile stretch of concrete median will prevent cross-over crashes. There’s also a new “southbound to northbound turnaround” in the northbound shoulder. "That one’s just about done, where we installed all that barrier in the middle of the highway. Just finishing up with some signage there. Same with the Ward/Hamby roundabout; that one is open and working. There’s just some signs left to go up on that one." That new roundabout at Ward and Hamby comes with a $6 million price-tag but ODOT says it should significantly reduce the risk of severe crashes. 

OHA: St. Charles Among Most Strained Hospitals In Oregon

BEND, OR -- Hospitals in Central and Southern Oregon have been especially hard hit by the latest increase in COVID-19 cases, according to the Oregon Health Authority. Although, State Health Officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger told reporters Wednesday, "Hospitals are stressed across the state, due to patients with COVID-19, as well as other diseases in conjunction with impacts on the workforce from COVID-19 as we are 2.5 years into our battle with this disease."

The OHA says Oregon’s latest rise in COVID cases is fueled by the BA.5 sub-variant. While COVID positive hospitalizations have increased over the past month, the 424 patients recorded Wednesday is below the predicted July peak. Dr. Sidelinger says the strain on healthcare systems is compounded by staffing shortages, "We recognize the prolonged strains on our hospital systems and healthcare workers have led to burnout and turnover in their staff."

Sidelinger specifically noted, "The St. Charles Health System in Bend has definitely been working through many staffing challenges and strains on their system. And OHA continues to have conversations with them about things that we can do together or that they can do on their own to help with those strains."

To help, OHA is working to bring in contract nurses from other areas, "We’re competing with other states and healthcare systems out of state for those same resources. Many hospitals are choosing to cutback on elective procedures when hospital beds are tight; and that’s certainly happening across some healthcare systems right now."

St. Charles officials tell KBND News the system has 22 traveling contract nurses coming to help with in-patient care. 

Driver Cited For Crashing Into Power Pole

BEND, OR -- A Bend woman is accused of driving under the influence of drugs and causing a Wednesday afternoon crash in Deschutes River Woods. Sheriff's deputies responded to the area of Baker and Apache roads at about 2:20 p.m. The initial report was a vehicle had crashed into a power pole and the vehicle was on fire. 

Upon arrival, the deputies determined the vehicle was not on fire, but the crash caused the power lines to fall to the ground and start nearby grass on fire. Neighbors were working to extinguish the fire. When the deputies first arrived they used their fire extinguishers to put it out. 

Deputies say the driver of the Subaru Legacy, 50-year-old Lisa Hall was driving east on Baker Road when she went off the roadway colliding into a rock outcropping causing her to go airborne and crash into a power pole guide wire which caused the power lines to go down. Hall’s vehicle ultimately came to a stop when it collided with a moving truck and her vehicle got stuck underneath. When Hall collided with the rock outcropping one of the rocks went airborne and struck a passing car with three people inside; none were hurt. 

Hall was taken to St. Charles by ambulance for non-life threatening injuries. DCSO says she tried to run away when she got to the hospital. Hall was quickly detained by deputies. Due to evidence obtained during the crash investigation deputies had probable cause to believe Hall was driving under the influence of intoxicants (drugs). 

The roadway was closed for approximately one and a half hours while the power lines were repaired. 

Hall was cited and released at St. Charles for DUII, Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangering (X4), Criminal Mischief I, and Criminal Mischief II. 

DCSO Makes Arrest In Alfalfa Shooting

BEND, OR -- A Bend man faces charges in connection with an Alfalfa area shooting that left another man dead. The body of 53-year-old Neil Martell was found June 30th near Mayfield Pond. Detectives had speculated the shooting was accidental. 

Previous Coverage: DCSO Investigates Deadly Shooting

Over the last couple weeks, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office detective unit developed a person of interest in the case, identified as 39-year-old Jesse Aaron Ray. Detectives say they located evidence linking Ray to the shooting and learned Ray was living out of his car in the area of Stevens Road and 27th Street in Bend. 

Wednesday at about 5:30 AM, detectives and members of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team served a search warrant on Ray and his vehicle on Stevens Road.  Ray was taken into custody without incident.  He was eventually cited and released for Negligent Wounding of Another and Unlawful Use of a Weapon. DCSO detectives have been working closely with the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office and they will be reviewing this case for possible additional charges. 

Any further information on this case will be released by the District Attorney’s Office. 

Restoration Of Whychus Creek Continues

SISTERS, OR -- Work continues at Creekside Park in Sisters, between Locust St. and Highway 20. Following the city’s construction of a pedestrian bridge over Whychus Creek and installation of a sewer line, the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council is now preparing for a major restoration project to improve habitat in the creek. 

"We’re also improving fish passage and providing some nice access points for the public to get down to the creek," Executive Director Kris Knight tells KBND News, "We’re going to have some stone steps that go down to the creek in four different spots. And then, the rest of the creek, we’re going to put up some split-rail fence and replant along the streambanks."

Knight says it’s a continuation of what he calls a restoration success story: 20 years ago, Whychus Creek would go dry every summer. Now it flows year-round and native fish are being reintroduced to the waterway. "We’re doing this project in part to improve fish habitat, for reintroduction of salmon and steelhead. But, it’s also beneficial to the public to improve this local park and create better access points down to Whychus Creek at Creekside Park."

Once complete, Knight says Creekside Park will look very different, "Right now, there’s some eroding banks that have orange fencing up, that are kind of a hazard. So, those are going to slope down. There’s going to be trees planted in those areas and there’s going to be more boulders in the creek. There’s going to be some pieces of wood that look more natural. And, there’s going to be a fence up along both sides of the park, but there’s going to be four access points - two on each side, where people can walk down some stone steps and get down to the creek and enjoy it without the banks eroding."

Large equipment will start arriving next week, for this next phase. Knight says work will kick off the first week in August and will last about three weeks. Creekside Campground will remain open but hiker and biker campsites will be relocated away from the creek during construction. In the fall, school groups will help plant trees and shrubs along the creek. Work should be completed by the end of November.

The $300,000 project is funded by grants from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Pelton Round Butte Fund, and the Sunderland Foundation.

New Bond Measures For Bend-La Pine Schools

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools plans to ask voters to approve a new bond measure in November. District fficials say there are 437 projects at district facilities that need attention soon. Superintendent Steven Cook told the school board at Tuesday night's meeting, 87 of those are considered  priority, "And there, right now, is a pretty good price tag that goes with these. And, as you know, there’s not a funding source to address all of these projects."

He told the board, "We anticipate this total project ask to be approximately $250 million, with the lion’s share of that going to focus on the renovation - or ‘reconstruction,’ is probably a better way to say that - reconstruction of Bend High." Cook added, "We believe, through the authorization of these funds, that we could do this with essentially no impact to the taxes because of the - a couple of reasons. Number one: the fact that we would have some bond payments coming off. And secondly, our ability to refinance and grab a hold of opportunities we’d be afforded to hit the timing on that correctly."

The board unanimously approved the request after confirming the school bond isn’t - so far - competing with any other taxing districts for voter attention in November. 

ODOT Urges Drivers To Take Wildfire Precautions

BEND, OR -- With no major wildfires burning in the state so far this summer, Oregon’s Department of Transportation would like to keep it that way. "Wildfires are actually caused by vehicles in the summer more than anything else, in Oregon." ODOT’s Kacey Davey tells KBND News they're sparked by things like dragging tow chains or metal rims striking a rock, "Driving off-road when there’s dry grass under your car. So, any of that dry grass coming in contact with hot parts of your car, that can start wildfires. People toss lit cigarettes out of their vehicles all of the time. So, put those out in your car, please."

Davey says off-road areas are now drying out after early season rain, creating dangerous wildfire conditions. She suggests making sure your car is properly maintained - especially if you plan to go off-roading, and pack a fire prevention kit. "I carry things like a shovel; in case there’s a little spark I see, I can shovel some dirt on it. I carry a bucket, in case I can put dirt in it or water and throw it on a fire. And, I also carry a fire extinguisher."

According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, in 2021, more than 70% of the state’s wildfires were human-caused; vehicles were the number one source.

Registration Open For Crook County's Kindergarten Jump Start

PRINEVILLE, OR -- It may be the heart of summer, but school will be back in session before we know it. "Kindergarten Jump Start" kicks off the first week of August for families in Crook County School District. The annual mini-school event is an opportunity for incoming kindergarteners to familiarize themselves with their new school, teachers, and classmates. Students attend school for half a day during the first two weeks of August. 

“We try to make it feel like regular school while providing an experience that allows children to become comfortable with new routines. It also gives staff a chance to assess students academically so that we place them in classes where they’ll thrive,” explained Sarah Shinkle, Academic Coach for Crooked River Elementary School.

The program is free and available at all elementary schools in Prineville. Students attend Monday through Thursday from 8:00am until noon, and the schedules vary slightly by the school. Transportation services are available, along with complimentary breakfast and lunches. Families who want to sign up for Kindergarten Jump Start must complete the online registration.

Kindergarten Jump Start Schedule

August 1st - 4th & August 8th -11th 

  • Barnes Butte Elementary:      8:00am - 12:00pm
  • Crooked River Elementary:    8:10am - 12:10pm
  • Steins Pillar Elementary:        8:20am - 12:20pm

Small Brush Fire Damages CRR Properties

CROOKED RIVER RANCH, OR -- Two Crooked River Ranch properties were damaged by a small brush fire Tuesday afternoon. Fire crews responded to Southwest Cinder Drive at about 3:20 and had it contained within 30 minutes, but they remained on scene for two hours to build a fireline.

Crooked River Ranch Fire & Rescue says the fire was contained at 1/3 of an acre, despite erratic winds and hot temperatures. 

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Photos courtesy Crooked River Ranch Fire & Rescue

COVID-19 Rising Again In Central Oregon

BEND, OR -- St. Charles is again seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases. As of Monday morning, six COVID patients are in the ICU; in total, 37 patients are positive for the virus - although, not all those patients are in the hospital because of COVID. Dr. Cynthia Maree says when that number gets over 15, the system is impacted. "We do see in the community that our test positivity is still running very high, in the 20s [percent]," says Dr. Maree, "Meaning that we do have a lot of COVID in our community right now. We can see that also from the wastewater analysis."

The extremely contagious Omicron sub-variant known as BA.5 is now the prominent strain of COVID in Central Oregon. Dr. Maree is the Medical Director for Infection Prevention at St. Charles. She tells KBND News she’s seen an uptick in cases in the past few weeks, "Almost everybody I know has COVID or has had it recently, so there’s definitely a lot of people sick with COVID-19 right now." She adds, "I don’t want to be sick and I don’t want my family members to be sick, so it’s concerning. But, also encouraging that we’re not seeing the severe peaks that we saw before, and that vaccinations seem to be holding up and giving us some community protection."

While a lot of people are getting COVID, most don't need to be hospitalized. "What we are definitely seeing is a muted response to a very contagious variant, because of the underlying vaccination level we have in the area and the prior infections people have had," says Dr. Maree, "This variant is very good at getting around our immunizations we have developed."

Dr. Maree again recommends everyone wear a mask indoors, "And we do know those indoor settings are our highest risk. You know, everybody’s gotta make their own risk assessment. But, as a population, it’s best for our community that we all take those precautions indoors."

St. Charles Urgent Care Launches "Test to Treat"

St. Charles officials urge people who think they might have COVID and are at risk for severe illness to visit an urgent care clinic where they can be tested and potentially receive on-site treatment through the federal "test to treat" program. Click HERE for more information. 

Truck Beds Pose Summertime Danger For Dogs

BEND, OR -- It’s a common sight on our roads, year round, dogs standing in the open bed of a pickup. But, as our weather warms again, animal welfare experts urge people to keep dogs out of truck beds. Lynne Ouchida, with the Humane Society of Central Oregon, says the back of a pickup can get too hot for a dog’s paws, "If they don’t have a cab on top, it’s exposed metal. Next time you see a truck in a parking lot, put your hand on that truck bed and it is super hot. A lot of times, dogs can be dancing around." She says they dance around to try to relieve the pain in their feet, but it makes them unstable and more prone to falling out when the truck turns a corner. "Dogs falling out of trucks, veterinarians definitely see that. On top of all the debris and then, there’s no shade if they’re in that truck bed," Ouchida tells KBND News

National surveys suggest as many as 100,000 dogs die each year from falling or jumping from moving trucks. Ouchida suggests allowing dogs to ride inside the cab of the pickup, and don’t leave them in a parked truck or car. "Safest place for your pet is at home where it’s cool.

Redmond Climber Rescued At Smith Rock After Fall

REDMOND, OR -- A 34-year-old Redmond man was rescued after a fall at Smith Rock State Park Monday evening. He was reportedly an avid climber and was just about to hook in to a rope system when the fall occurred.  While on scene, witnesses told responding units they saw the male fall around 50 feet and then roll another 40 feet over several rocks prior to coming to a rest at the base of the cliff.  

A call came in to 911 Dispatch at around 6:40 p.m. regarding an injured climber on a trail below an unimproved climbing area just north of the area known as “Student Wall.” He was injured in a fall, which prevented him from climbing out without assistance.  

Deschutes County Search and Rescue determined the SAR Mountain Rescue Unit (MRU) technical team would be needed because the climber was at the bottom of a cliff and the best recovery was to bring the patient up the cliff face.   

The SAR team responded at about 8 p.m. Redmond Fire and Rescue was able to hike in and made initial patient contact while DCSO SAR MRU set up an extrication system of ropes and a litter to bring the patient up approximately 110 feet of cliff face. They note SAR units accessed the “Burma Road” side of the canyon via private property with the permission of the owner.   

By 10:30 pm the patient was placed in the litter and extracted with ropes via the cliff face to a waiting ambulance. He was turned over to the care of Redmond Fire and Rescue just after 11 p.m.  

DCSO SAR thanks Redmond Fire and Rescue as well as the private property owner for their assistance during this difficult and technical mission.  

Neighbors Cited For Cougar Incident

BEND, OR -- Sheriff’s deputies cited two people Sunday evening for shooting at a cougar spotted in Deschutes River Woods. Sgt. Jayson Janes says deputies initially responded Sunday evening to a report of “shots fired,” just after 5 p.m. "Deputies were able to talk to two people who lived in the neighborhood and one of them told them that they’d seen a cougar kill a deer near his front yard earlier in the morning. When he and another neighbor were walking down the street later in the day, there was a cougar hiding in the bushes about 10’ from them. The cougar was acting aggressive towards them, so both of the subjects ended up firing shots at the cougar."

Janes tells KBND News, "Deschutes River Woods is a no shooting zone because there are so many houses and people in the area; it’s not a safe place to shoot." But, he adds, "You do have a right to protect yourself." The problem, he says, was how and where they chose to shoot. "Their bullet traveled and then hit someone’s house and caused damage to their house, so they didn’t have a good backstop."

After the shooting, the cougar ran off. "When our deputies were looking around, they had a report that it was hiding underneath someone’s porch. Then, it eventually came out and was just running through yards, going out of the neighborhood. So, based on the amount of people in the neighborhood and all the people that were hanging out along the river, we decided to contact Fish and Wildlife and use their tracker. And we eventually tracked the cougar and it was euthanized."

Cougar sightings are not unusual in DRW, but Sgt. Janes says it’s been a number of years since they’ve had to put one down because of its actions toward people.

For tips on how to respond to a cougar sighting, visit ODFW's website

 

File Photo

HDMS Interim Principal Named

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Cook announced the interim principal for High Desert Middle School, Monday, following an investigation into security violations at the school. 

Summit High School Assistant Principal Mary Thomas has been selected to serve as interim principal at HDMS. “Mary Thomas is an excellent communicator, who is very student-oriented. She is known as a great listener who cares deeply about developing relationships and supporting students,” Dr. Cook said in a statement. “High Desert families and staff will be well-served by Mary, an inclusive, strong leader who is ready and excited to step into this role.”

Thomas is currently serving as an Assistant Principal at Summit High School, where she has worked as an administrator for the past four years. Prior to that, she served as a classroom teacher for middle and high school students for 17 years in Bend, Sisters, Indonesia and the Portland area. Thomas also has 10 years of experience as an educator for outdoor schools in the Portland area. 

“My philosophy is to lead with grace and kindness and to make sure everyone feels heard and supported. I am excited to join an incredible team of educators, who are known for putting students first,” said Thomas. “I look forward to collaborating with staff, families and students to support a safe, welcoming and inviting environment for learning.” 

Thomas says she’s looking forward to serving middle school students, as she has many years of experience with this age group starting from when she served as an educator at outdoor school. 

Thomas replaces Wendy McCulloch, who accepted a new position at a school district in Washington. Bend-La Pine Schools will conduct an open recruitment process for a principal in 2023.  

Staffing Shortage Leads To Shift At HSCO

BEND, OR -- The Humane Society of Central Oregon is cutting back business hours to accommodate fewer staff. But HSCO's Lynne Ouchida says they’re still providing full-time care of the animals. The Bend shelter remains closed Sundays and holidays. "Mondays, we’ve gone to essential services only, with the doors closed," Ouchida tells KBND News. "What that means is: strays will be taken in, still; animal control is still going to be bringing in strays. People who find an animal, we’re going to help them and animals who need to be returned to their owners."

Adoptions are available Tuesday through Friday, but by appointment only, just like during the pandemic, "I think it’s a routine that, hopefully, we just need to remind people we are open; there’s animals that need to be adopted. Absolutely, come in and spend time and look for them. Actually, the quality of adoptions and the customer services you’re getting now is greatly improved from what we were experiencing the last few months: long lines, overstressed staff, not good customer service, and that’s not what we wanted to provide our community." Saturdays, the shelter's busiest day, HSCO is open for the public to drop-in. 

While the staffing shortage is tough, Ouchida says HSCO is still much better off than other shelters around the country. "We are getting a lot of requests from as far away as Florida. We have partners, and one of our big partners is in northern California, and so we do take in what we can, when we can. We can’t take the amount of animals that they need us to take - maybe not necessarily for space, but for staff to provide the level of care that we need to do, and we want and that our standards are, we can’t do it with [this] level of staffing."

Listen to our full conversation with Lynne Ouchida at our Podcast Page

Hot Air Balloons Return To Bend

BEND, OR -- Hot air balloons return to the skies over Bend this weekend. Balloons launch Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings from Jewell Elementary, weather permitting. Set-up begins at sunrise, with balloons taking off around 7 a.m. Spectators can watch for free. 

Aaron Switzer, with Lay it Out Events, says Friday’s Night Glow is bigger and better than past years, "We moved it up to COCC to get a little more space - it was in Riverbend Park. And, we’ve added a music stage, so there’s musical acts. There’s just more to do at the Night Glow on Friday night." He adds, "We have a shaped balloon this year, so there’s an apple. The apple crisp is coming and that’s very cool." That’s the Cosmic Crisp Apple, helping promote 2 Towns Ciderhouse.

Saturday, the Redmond Night Glow is at Sam Johnson Park, "It’s the Bacon, Brews and Balloons," Switzer tells KBND News, "And, they didn’t do it in that fashion for a couple of years but this is back to its format from a couple years ago."

Visit the Balloons Over Bend website for more details. 

Weekend Camp Provides Firefighter Training For Young Women

SHERWOOD, OR -- Professional female firefighters from all over Oregon, including Bend Fire & Rescue, spent their weekend in Sherwood training young women interested in fire service. 

From deflating tires at a crash scene and using the jaws of life, to how to carry a ladder and navigate halls filled with smoke, about three dozen young women learned firefighting skills at the three-day camp hosted by Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue. Campers are between the ages of 16 and 22.

TVF&R Lt. Emily Van Meter says they also learn about their own abilities, "These are all things that you typically on-scene, you see men doing - and big, strong men. I mean, historically, male firefighters, they’re big, they’re strong. They can’t imagine seeing themselves in that position, and we hand them the tools and we show them how to use it. And they’re like, ‘oh. It’s not as tough as it seems’." She adds, "This is not something that’s handed to women. We aren’t handed the fire truck, we’re handed the Barbie doll when we’re kids."

She believes it’s important fire departments reflect their community, "When we show up on a scene, women who are patients - that they have women who look like them to help them and to understand their needs." But most agencies have very few women "on the line" - working scenes and battling fires. At TVF&R, outside Portland, just barely over 7% are female. 

For trainers and campers, though, it’s not just about recruitment, "Ultimately, our goal is just to empower young women, to show them they can do anything they put their minds to," Lt. Van Meter tells KBND News, "At the end of the day, if they leave here more confident than when they walked in, then we have a win."

Trainers came to TVF&R’s Sherwood facility from all over the west, including Albany, Bend and Hood River, to work with about three-dozen campers. This is the fourth year for this location. It's in partnership with Portland Fire, who has hosted the Metro Fire Camp for women for 14 years. 

Photos: (top) TVF&R's Lt. Van Meter looks on as a camper breaks out a window during crash scene training; (middle) Agencies from Oregon, Washington and California took part in the weekend training in Sherwood, attracting campers from all over the state; (bottom) A Bend Fire & Rescue member helps campers climb to the top of a ladder truck.

Investigation Reveals Repeated Visitor Violations At HDMS

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools has completed its internal investigation into a June seventh incident when an unauthorized visitor was allowed inside High Desert Middle School. Later, the school learned the man - Thomas Lee Bear - had a warrant and was a convicted sex offender.

The district found staff violated policy by allowing Bear to use an office restroom beyond the secure entry without going through the mandatory check-in process. The investigation also revealed front office staff have allowed visitors to use the office restroom without proper check-in on multiple occasions over several years.

In a letter to parents, Superintendent Dr. Steven Cook says staff are expected to recommit to safety practices and training. He also says Principal Wendy McCulloch recently resigned and accepted a position at a school district in Washington. An interim principal for High Desert Middle School will be announced soon. 

Click HERE to access the district's final report of the incident. 

 

Photo: Thomas Lee Bear (2020)

Fire Danger Now High On Local USFS Lands

BEND, OR -- Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests, Crooked River National Grassland, and Prineville District Bureau of Land Management (BLM) increased the fire danger rating for their respective public lands to “High” Friday. The increased rating reflects the sustained hot temperatures and increased drying of vegetation. As temperatures warm, fine fuels such as grasses and pine needles start to dry out becoming receptive to fire.

Annual campfire restrictions are in effect on portions of the Crooked, Deschutes, John Day, and White Rivers, as well as BLM-administered lands along Lake Billy Chinook and Lake Simtustus. The river canyons present a combination of limited access, grassy fuels that dry out quickly, and steep slopes that allow wildfires to spread rapidly. The river fire closures prohibit building, igniting, maintaining, attending, using, tending or being within 20 feet of a campfire, charcoal fire, or any other type of open flame. Propane campfires and wood pellet burning devices are also prohibited. Commercially manufactured lanterns and metal camp stoves used for cooking are allowed, when fueled with bottled propane or liquid fuel and operated in a responsible manner.

Fire restrictions are not currently in effect for the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland. Campers should keep fires small and contained within a campfire ring. The surrounding area should be clear of combustible material at least 15 feet from the campfire ring. If dispersed camping, choose an area for your campfire with a hardened surface and away from vegetation and low-hanging branches.

People should always make sure that campfires are dead out. Dead out means you can place your hand on top of where the campfire was located, and it is cool to the touch. Pack a shovel and plenty of water to ensure that you can “drown, stir, and feel.” Never walk away from a campfire assuming it will go out on its own. When using a generator, gas/liquified stove, fire pit, or lantern, make sure the area around it is free of all debris and combustible material.

Drivers should ensure that chains are secure before travel. Loose chains can drag on pavement creating sparks that can ignite vegetation. Vehicles should never be driven or parked on dry grass. The vehicle heat can ignite the vegetation. Properly dispose of cigarettes and smoking materials – never throw them out a vehicle window. Using explosive target material, such as Tannerite, explosives, and fireworks is prohibited on all federal lands.

For current wildland fire information, the public can visit centraloregonfire.org or follow fire information on Twitter @CentralORfire and for current Central Oregon Fire Precaution Information call 1-800-523-4737. Call 9-1-1 to report a wildfire.

Bend Man Accused Of Trafficking Fentanyl From Portland

REDMOND, OR -- A Bend man faces charges after drug detectives say he tried to throw fake fentanyl pills from his moving car before a traffic stop. The Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team pulled over 41-year-old Michael Hollibaugh early Friday morning on Highway 97 after detectives say he was identified as a trafficker, bringing fentanyl from the Portland area to the High Desert for distribution.

CODE Detectives and DCSO Deputies gathered and seized a commercial quantity of fake pharmaceutical tablets made of fentanyl and other evidence of commercial drug sales. 

Hollibaugh became unresponsive in the back of the patrol car and was taken by medics to the hospital. He was later released to deputies and booked into the jail. He's charged with Unlawful Possession and Attempted Distribution of a Schedule II Controlled Substance (Fentanyl) and Tampering with Evidence.

Fentanyl is a very strong synthetic opioid. Although fentanyl is made and used pharmaceutically, it is also produced illegally in Mexico and trafficked into the United States, usually as powder or fake prescription pills. A very small amount of fentanyl can cause someone to overdose and die. 

Redmond Fire Using New Inspection Program

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Fire and Rescue is now using what it calls cutting-edge software for fire inspections. It improves efficiency for staff from the Fire Marshal’s Office while conducting inspections at business, allowing them to input information on a tablet and move on to the next building without having to return to the office. Building owners get an emailed report before the inspector leaves.

The department says the time savings is important with limited staff and more construction. 

BPRD Hiring Event

BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Rec is again looking for people to apply for open positions, including fall programs. The district will host a hiring event next week for those interested in jobs like lifeguard, custodian and after school child or youth recreation leader.

The hiring event is Tuesday, July 19, 4 – 6:30 p.m. at the Larkspur Community Center, 1600 SE Reed Market Road in Bend. Attendees can learn about positions, complete applications and participate in on-site interviews. BPRD plans to make job offers on the spot. Lifeguard and swim instructor applicants can schedule in-water testing for next steps.

Those who get an interview will receive a free rec center one-visit pass.

Blame Game Continues Over Inflation

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The finger-pointing continues in the nation’s Capital as inflation rises, fueling worries of a recession.

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) took part in a Thursday press conference, calling for Congress to pass a number of bills targeting price gouging. He blames high gas prices on the oil companies' massive profits, "$205 billion; it’s the highest profits they have ever had. They have tripled their return on refinement, which is not anything to do with the crude price of oil." He added, "So, when we see those $5 or $6 price tags per gallon, what we should see is Americans getting ripped off by big oil."

Merkley and several other Democrats support the Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax, which they say will provide rebates to taxpayers. He also supports passage of the Price Gouging Prevention Act and a bill pausing large corporate mergers in food and agriculture.

Representative Cliff Bentz, Oregon’s only Republican in Congress, told Newsmax earlier this week, the country doesn’t need another tax, "It doesn’t surprise me though that Democrats think there’s an unlimited amount of tax money available and if they just go gather up more money, the things will get better," adding, "To be suggesting that we should add on top of this already disastrous for many situation another set of taxes is ridiculous." Bentz tweeted Thursday, “Only Democrats think it’s possible to spend our way out of 9.1% inflation.” 

Effort To Remove Party Politics From Deschutes Co. Commissioner Races Close To Ballot Measure

BEND, OR -- A Deschutes County Commissioner is supporting a local push to change how voters choose candidates for his position. "There has been a group of citizen petitioners who have been gathering signatures for the last year and a bit, for a ballot measure that would be referred to the voters - probably this November - to make County Commissioner a nonpartisan position in Deschutes County," Commissioner Phil Chang tells KBND News.

"Less than 25%, less than a quarter of the counties in the state of Oregon still have partisan County Commissioner seats. And, in my opinion, this pulls a whole bunch of toxic, national level partisan dynamics into local government decision making." Chang adds, "And, it also disenfranchises all of the non-affiliated, Independent and other minor party-registered people in the county from having any kind of input on who the candidates are going to be for County Commissioner when we get to a November election."

The group behind the initiaitive petition says it needs about 400 more signatures before the August 10 deadline. Click HERE to learn more about the effort. If the issue makes it to the ballot in November and if it’s approved by voters, County Commissioner elections would be non-partisan. Which means there would be no primary and all registered voters - regardless of party affiliation or non-affiliation - would have the chance to vote on any candidate in a General Election. 

Rise In Mosquito Numbers

BEND, OR -- If you haven’t been bit by a mosquito yet this summer, count yourself lucky. Entomologist Gail Langellotto says it’s going to be a busy year for those little disease-carrying pests. "Mosquitoes breed in freshwater. With the abundant rains we had early in the summer, it probably created a lot of small pools of water that make perfect mosquito breeding sites."

Langellotto is a professor with the OSU Extension Service and says there are things you can do to prevent mosquitoes from getting too cozy. Reduce the standing water in your yard. Yes, even the bird bath and pet dishes. "If they have any pots that aren’t draining that are holding water, old tires are oftentimes receptacles for standing water where mosquitoes can breed," she tells KBND News. Some aromatic oils are effective as a natural repellent, and Langelloto says the chemical Deet is the gold standard for mosquito protection.

Or, you can get a little more creative, "You can even put a fan out there, because mosquitoes don’t fly in windy conditions, just to keep them away from you when you’re trying to enjoy the outdoors."

She says Bug zappers aren’t much help in combating mosquitoes. 

Public Defender Shortage Threatens Speedy Trials For Local Defendants

BEND, OR -- Like every other region of Oregon, Deschutes County faces a shortage of public defenders, putting at risk defendants’ constitutional right to a speedy trial. Joel Wirtz is the Executive Director of Deschutes Defenders, "I think within the next 90 days, if we don’t have some additional hiring, we’re going to deal with potentially having to stop taking additional cases." He adds, "We have a maximum number of cases that we can ethically and competently represent people on."

Wirtz tells KBND News his organization works with a broad cross-section of people, including foster children and those in the mental health system.

Counties around Oregon struggle to attract new attorneys despite, Wirtz says, the rewarding work, "We see real change among people, and people are really appreciative of the service we provide - giving them a voice, at times, for both them and their family. So, recruitment is hard, not because it’s a bad job; it’s a wonderful job. It is because the case volumes have been increasing over the last few decades and there hasn’t been relief there. As well as, the pay has also not kept up." And  Central Oregon has an additional problem, "Our concern is: can we hire the people? Can we bring the people into Bend, with this huge housing crisis that we have here? The cost, both to buy a house and rent - leasing is extremely expensive now and has been exacerbated dramatically over the last 15 months or so."

In response to the statewide shortage, the legislature allocated $100 million to the state program earlier this year. Wirtz says, "We got a relatively small trickle and it does not really change the historic downward trend in funding of public defense at the trial level." Wirtz and other public defenders from around Oregon recently asked the legislature for more local funding. He says it wouldn't fix the problem but he believes more money would provide some immediate relief.

Psilocybin Hearing Draws Dozens Of Supporters

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners heard overwhelming support for the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin at Wednesday's public hearing. Commissioner must decide soon whether to ask voters to place land use restrictions on psilocybin businesses in unincorporated areas, when Measure 109 takes effect in January.

A number of people from the medical community said they’ve seen first-hand how the drug helps patients battling depression, PTSD and other disorders. "In my 12 years of training to become a doctor, I personally have not seen any medicine with this potential," said one doctor. She went on to says she's been extensively involved in research, "The FDA has granted breakthrough therapy status to psilocybin, attesting to the promise of the early clinical research potential for treating these serious conditions." 

Others expressed frustration with the prospect of another vote. M109 passed in Deschutes County with 53% support. "As a county resident, when I’m asked if I would like a service center to be my neighbor, I say yes," said one man, "Putting up obstacles and saying, ‘hey, I think we’re going to limit this, limit that,’ that’s - we’ve already decided this." Another told Commissioners opting out "sends a negative message."

They also heard from veterans and others who have used psilocybin to treat various disorders. And  Ryan, owner of a Bend engineering firm, says he’s joining with other local businesses to create a psilocybin manufacturing facility and treatment center. "The manufacturing facility will be 500’ sf and that includes mushroom growing, processing, quality assurance and regulatory controls. This facility will use fewer resources than a single family home - negligible water, wastewater, energy and solid waste. No obnoxious smells, light or heavy traffic. If run at full capacity, this workshop could potentially generate enough psilocybin to meet the needs of all Deschutes County residents."

Commissioners are expected to decide next week whether to ask voters in November if there should be land use restrictions on these new businesses in unincorporated areas. They’ll take additional written comment through 8 a.m. Monday, via email: Board@Deschutes.org. 

Hiker Rescued Following Medical Emergency

BEND, OR -- A California man suffered a medical emergency west of Mount Bachelor, prompting a response from Deschutes County Search and Rescue. The 77-year-old was hiking the Mirror Lakes Trail with his family Wednesday when he became too ill to walk back to the trailhead. 

Just before noon, a page was sent out for SAR and 9 DCSO SAR Volunteers responded.  A Special Services Deputy assigned to Search and Rescue who was in the area at the time also responded, reaching the patient first at 1:11 PM.

The DCSO SAR Volunteers met up with the Special Services Deputy and the patient at about 2:00 PM. The DCSO SAR Volunteers evaluated the hiker's illness and chose to transport him about two miles by wheeled litter to the trailhead to meet up with Bend Fire and Rescue.  

At approximately 3:35 PM, the SAR teams reached the Mirror Lakes Trailhead with the hiker. Bend Fire and Rescue evaluated the hiker and subsequently transported him to the hospital for further evaluation. 

WSPD Reports Missing Man Found Safe

UPDATE (07/13/2022) -- Warm Springs Police confirm Edward Bock has been found safe. The Wisconsin man was found Wednesday afternoon on the B140 road in the Sidwalter area of the Warm Springs Reservation. They say Bock hiked to Ollalie Butte, but got lost when he tried to return to his car. Eventually, he found a creek and followed it out of the wilderness. A Good Samaritan picked him up and took him to Warm Spring Fire and Safety; he was later taken to the hospital in fair condition.

 

WARM SPRINGS, OR (07/11/2022) -- Police are looking for clues after a man disappeared last week. Warm Springs Police say 39-year-old Edward Bock was last seen July fourth in Bend. There are reports he was in the Tetherow Crossing area of Redmond around 2 p.m. on the seventh. His car was found that same day at Trout Lake on the Warm Springs Reservation. It was unlocked and the windows were down.

Bock is 5’10”, 185 pounds with red hair. Anyone with information is asked to call Warm Springs PD at 541-553-1171 or email dispatch@wstribes.org.

Gas Prices Fall Fourth Straight Week

BEND, OR -- Finally, some good news at the pump: AAA's Marie Dodds says the price of crude oil has fallen about 20% over the past month. "This is the fourth week in a row that we are seeing gas prices fall. The national average for regular drops 14 cents to $4.66 a gallon. The Oregon average loses 9 cents to $5.38." Bend’s local average lost a dime, landing at $5.42.

"The price of crude is the biggest factor that impacts the price that you and I pay for gas at our neighborhood gas station," Dodds tells KBND News, "About 53% of what we pay for in a gallon of gas is the result of crude oil prices."

She says global markets are responding to recession concerns, "When you have worries about a recession around the world and in major countries, that tends to send crude oil prices lower because the thought is there will be less crude consumed in the event of a recession."

Despite that downward pressure, she says the war in Ukraine and high demand continue to hold prices higher than they otherwise would be. 

Navigation Center Opens

BEND, OR -- City officials and other dignitaries gathered Tuesday for a ribbon cutting celebration at Shepherd’s House Ministries’ new navigation center called “the Lighthouse.”

Previous Coverage: Bottled Water Needed For New Navigation Center

The facility is at the Second Street shelter and provides the houseless community with case management, addiction recovery classes, one-on-one counseling, medical help and job training.

Multi-Agency Highway Speed Patrols Continue

BEND, OR -- Law enforcement from around Deschutes County continue their special highway traffic detail, Wednesday. "Highway 20, Highway 97, Highway 126 up in Redmond, the Parkway, the Bypass up in Redmond, they will all be focusing on reducing speed on those roads. It’s really neat to be able to work together," says Sheila Miller, with Bend Police. "Everybody will stay in their own jurisdiction, but they’re all kind of trying to do the same thing."

Miller tells KBND News they want drivers to know about the operation in advance, "If you see this and it makes you slow down, everybody wins. We don’t have to pull you over, you don’t have to get a ticket and all the people around you are safer because you’re not speeding. And, our goal is compliance, and our goal is to reduce speeds. If you do that because you know there’s a detail and you don’t want a ticket then, like I said, everybody wins."

According to Miller, they aren’t typically able to prioritize traffic stops when there are more urgent calls like domestic violence and assault. "We hear from people every day, ‘gosh, you should be doing this all the time.’ And, I can tell you, we would love to do that," she says, "But until we have the staffing, we really have to focus on those emergency calls."

Our full conversation with Bend PD's Sheila Miller is available at our Podcast Page.

Enhanced patrols focused on speeding began Tuesday and are conducted between 8 a.m. and noon through Thursday.

Local Trails Program Receives County Grant

BEND, OR -- Deschutes Trails Coalition (DTC) says a $600,000 grant will support trail infrastructure projects in Deschutes County. 

In early 2022, the coalition proposed County Commissioners invest a portion of Transient Room Tax (TRT) funds to support trails and trail-related infrastructure throughout Deschutes County. The Commissioners unanimously voted to contribute $600,000 of TRT funds toward this purpose. The DTC used these funds to develop the Deschutes Trails Coalition Stewardship Grant program.

The coalition sayd the allocation acknowledges the value trails bring to the local and regional economy, and recognizes that increased use and other factors are taking a toll on our trails. They believe existing and predicted funding sources are insufficient to address the basic maintenance needed to sustain our trails in their current state, let alone the growing deferred maintenance backlog.

Funds may be used for a broad range of projects, or individual phases of complex projects, including: environmental analysis, design, construction, and project implementation. Entities eligible to apply include non-profit organizations, federal, state, and local land management agencies, and businesses that partner with a land management agency or non-profit organization with a trail-related mission.

The grant application period will open September 12 with applications due October 5. Potential applicants are encouraged to contact DTC early in the process to discuss proposed projects. There will be an informational session hosted September 1, from noon to 1:00pm.

For more information about the DTC Stewardship Grant, please visit DTC's website.

St. Charles Board & Others React To CEO Departure

BEND, OR -- Another local leader has stepped down in the wake of the pandemic. St. Charles Board Chair Jamie Orlikoff says Joe Sluka is no longer the CEO of the health system. "So, he went on vacation to clear his mind and really reflect. And he came back and said, ‘No, I’m done.’ It was purely his decision, and we respect it," Orlikoff tells KBND News, "I mean, he was our leader for eight years; about double the average tenure of a CEO, had tremendous accomplishments." Sluka made his announcement Tuesday, effective immediately

Orlikoff says Sluka will remain indefinitely, but as a strategic advisor during the transition, "By taking the operational pressure off of him, we think - number one, that it’ll make it much easier for him to be a resource to the interim Chief Executive Officer Dr. Steve Gordon. But, number two, it’ll also give him a little space to think about the strategic implications, challenges and, if there are any in there, opportunities while Steve is digging in on operational issues." Interim CEO Dr. Steve Gordon is a former member of the St. Charles board and has an extensive healthcare leadership background. But, Orlikoff says he does not want the permanent job. 

Orlikoff expects the search for Sluka's permanent replacement to be difficult, "Around the country, CEOs are leaving at a faster rate - of hospitals and health systems - than they’ve done before. Part of that was driven by demographics. So, we were seeing a generational turnover a little bit prior to the pandemic, but we anticipated it. But the pandemic has significantly accelerated this."

 

Sluka issued this public statement Tuesday:

It is with mixed emotions that I share with you today my decision to step down as president and CEO of St. Charles Health System.  

Having served in this role for nearly eight years, I feel deeply connected to Central Oregon and the communities St. Charles has the privilege to serve. This is not an easy decision.  

At the same time, after leading through more than two years of a global pandemic and the corresponding recovery I feel it is time for me to step aside, recharge and provide the opportunity for new operational leaders to guide St. Charles forward.  

To that end, I’m happy to announce that Dr. Steve Gordon has agreed to step into the interim CEO role as I transition to a role of strategic advisor to the organization. Steve has an extensive background in health care leadership and served on the St. Charles Board of Directors from 2014 until earlier this year. His knowledge of the organization, along with his deep understanding of health care issues at the state and national level, will be a great benefit to our team. I will work closely with Steve, providing input and assistance in my capacity as strategic advisor. 

All of this is to say that St. Charles is in good hands. I know how much you, our patients and community members, rely on St. Charles to be here when you need us. While we – like health care organizations across the nation – face significant challenges, I have every confidence that St. Charles will weather this storm and continue to be your trusted choice for health care well into the future. 

When I joined the organization in 2014, I was drawn here by the bold vision statement: Creating America’s healthiest community, together. And during my tenure I am proud to say that our caregivers have done tremendous work to lead us toward that goal including:  

  • Implementation of a Lean management system focused on a culture of continuous improvement
  • Construction of a new patient tower, including state-of-the-art ICU, at St. Charles Bend
  • Transition to the Epic electronic health record platform
  • Expansions and remodels of both St. Charles Madras and St. Charles Prineville campuses
  • Expansion of services in Redmond including robotic surgery
  • Opening of additional outpatient clinics in La Pine and Bend South
  • A long list of patient safety and quality awards for hospitals and clinics throughout the system

We also met the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19 head on, providing care to critically ill patients, supporting their families, vaccinating hundreds of thousands of people, offering novel therapies – and so much more.  

Please know that these accomplishments are inspired by and in service to you.

Thank you for your support, encouragement, readership and engagement. 

Sincerely,
Joe

 

The Oregon Nurses Association represents nearly 1,200 frontline nurses working at multiple St. Charles Health facilities in Central Oregon. The ONA issued the following statement:

“We thank Joe Sluka for his service and wish him well in the next chapter of his life. He led St. Charles during an important period of expansion and change and helped build upon our reputation as an outstanding community hospital and health system. 

We appreciate the universal need among health care workers to refocus and recharge after sacrificing our time, health and safety throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We ask St. Charles’ board of directors to move quickly to incorporate local nurses and allied health care workers into its planned search for our community’s next CEO to ensure experienced voices from the frontlines of health care are represented in this significant decision.”

- Joel Hernandez, ONA Vice President and registered nurse at St. Charles Bend

Public Outreach Begins For Bend Vision Project

BEND, OR -- The group Envision Bend officially launched its public outreach phase this week, with a slate of events and a new online survey.

Previous Coverage: Envision Bend Works To Create Community Vision

Jon Stark, with Economic Development for Central Oregon, hopes it will lead to an intentional brand for Bend as it grows. "Bend continues to be a number one attraction spot across the country," Stark tells KBND News, "When we, EDCO, go on the road to talk to companies outside our area about relocating here, whether we’re talking about Redmond or Madras or Prineville or Sisters or one of our other communities, they don’t often recognize those communities. But when we say ‘Bend,’ they do. So, Bend’s image related to this visioning process is really important."

In early conversations with community leaders, Envision Bend says population growth, diversity, affordable housing and traffic emerged as the most significant recent changes, with housing noted as the top concern. The public phase will help the organization determine whether those same issues are priorities for everyone, as they develop a Vision Action Plan.

Stark says there are a lot of questions through the process, "What do people identify as Bend today? What are the opportunities for improvement? And how do we communicate that more broadly?"

They want to know how people in Bend view where they live and what they want in the future. Stark hopes it will lead to a brand that EDCO can use to bring more businesses here, "We would learn from this process as we explain Bend to future residents and businesses what the community thinks of Bend and how we market it."

Stark says, "We haven’t gone through a broad set of conversations about who Bend is since we’ve had this huge in-migration. So, that viewpoint has changed because some of the people moving here come from a more diverse background than what was here 20 years ago."

Access the public survey on the Envision Bend website. Several events are scheduled for this week, with more to come in the next two monts. 

  • Bend Vision Project ‘Listen & Envision’ public virtual workshop, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., July 14, via Zoom (pre-registration required)
  • Participation at the Central Oregon Latino Partnership Program’s Conexiones event, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., July 14, at The Environmental Center, 16 N.W. Kansas Ave., Bend
  • Participation at the Alpenglow Park grand opening with a pop-up tent, 4 to 8 p.m., July 15, the park is located at 61049 S.E. 15th St., Bend

This fall, citizen teams will meet to vet the public input and develop an Action Plan that will include a vision statement, strategies for new projects and programs, and ideas for actions that people can undertake in their own lives. The Action Plan is scheduled to be published and released in 2023.

Bird Flu Found In Bend-Area Flock

BEND, OR -- On July 12, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) confirmed the state’s fifth detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a non-commercial flock in Deschutes County. The affected flock included approximately 30 chickens and 40 ducks and geese.

Because the owners sold their eggs to the public, the USDA classifies the birds as a poultry flock rather than a backyard flock, meaning a regional quarantine is required (pictured). In addition, federal and international disease control protocol requires the state veterinarian to issue a regional quarantine. The purpose of the quarantine is to prevent the movement of poultry and poultry products from within the affected area giving state and federal officials time to conduct surveillance to ensure no additional cases of HPAI exist. The quarantine also applies to importing all birds from states where a state or federal quarantine is in place.

The quarantine encompasses the city of Bend and much of the outlying area. For your convenience, ODA provides an online map of the quarantined sites in Oregon. People may also enter their address using the online took to determine whether their property is included in the quarantine area. ODA will lift the quarantine as regional surveillance is completed.

In partnership with ODA, the USDA humanely euthanized the birds on the property to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system. There is no immediate public health concern due to the avian influenza virus detection. Avian influenza does not affect poultry meat or egg products, which remain safe to eat. As always, both wild and domestic poultry should be adequately prepared and cooked.

ODA advises commercial poultry farmers and backyard flock owners to be vigilant with biosecurity measures and surveillance. Reducing or eliminating contact between wild birds and domestic flocks is the best way to protect domestic birds from this disease.

Death or illness among domestic birds should be reported as ODA. Please report by calling 503-986-4711 (Alt Phone: 1-800-347-7028).

Please contact the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) for wild birds. Do not collect or handle the birds but report the incident directly to ODFW at 866-968-2600 or Wildlife.Health@odfw.oregon.gov.

For more tips on protecting your backyard flock, please visit the ODA online at Avian Influenza.

St. Charles CEO Announces Plans To Step Down

BEND, OR -- After nearly eight years as president and CEO of St. Charles Health System, Joe Sluka announced he will step down from the role.

“I am so proud of this organization and the more than 4,500 employees who put their hearts into caring for our communities every single day. This is a very difficult decision,” Sluka said in a statement released by the health system. “At the same time, after leading through more than two years of a global pandemic and the corresponding recovery I feel it is time for me to step aside, recharge and provide the opportunity for new operational leaders to guide St. Charles forward.”

Dr. Steve Gordon, a health care executive and former member of the St. Charles Board of Directors, will take on the interim CEO role as Sluka transitions to a strategic advisor position. Gordon, a primary care and internal medicine physician by training, has worked as a health care management consultant with Point B, Inc. since 2016. Previously, he served in executive leadership roles for PeaceHealth in Vancouver, Wash., Providence Health and Services in Portland and Salem Health. He is a graduate of Harvard College, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

“Having spent several years on the St. Charles Board of Directors, I understand the unique role our health system plays in the Central Oregon community. I am energized to build on Joe’s legacy and advance and strengthen St. Charles despite the current challenges the health care industry faces,” Gordon said. “I will continue to work closely with Joe in his strategic advisor role and am grateful that I’ll have his support, insight and ideas moving forward.”

During Sluka’s time at the helm, St. Charles officials say the organization grew into a robust regional health care system. Some highlights include:

  • Implementation of a Lean management system focused on a culture of continuous improvement
  • Construction of a new patient tower, including state-of-the-art ICU, at St. Charles Bend
  • Transition to the Epic electronic health record platform
  • Expansions and remodels of both St. Charles Madras and St. Charles Prineville campuses
  • Expansion of services in Redmond including robotic surgery
  • Opening of additional outpatient clinics in La Pine and Bend South
  • A long list of patient safety and quality awards for hospitals and clinics throughout the system

“Joe’s leadership through a period of growth for the health system and throughout the past very challenging two years of a global pandemic have been exemplary,” said Jamie Orlikoff, chairman of the St. Charles Board of Directors. “He has been a reassuring and trusted voice to the Central Oregon community and has also been an important advocate for health care resources at the state and national level. On behalf of the entire board, I would like to thank Joe for his service.”

In addition to his role as president and CEO of St. Charles, Sluka also served as chairman of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems Board of Directors for two years through the height of the pandemic.

“Joe served as OAHHS board chair for the two most challenging years of the pandemic, 2020 and 2021. During that time, he guided the association through uncharted waters, as Oregon’s hospitals and health systems collaborated to take care of patients during surges, to navigate changing regulatory requirements, to vaccinate Oregonians, and to serve as the only door that was always open when Oregonians needed care,” said OAHHS CEO Becky Hultberg. “He has been a leader, a trusted colleague, a friend and mentor to Oregon hospital leaders throughout the state. It is with sadness and our deepest gratitude that we wish him well on his departure from St. Charles Health System.”

The leadership transition will take place this week and the St. Charles Board will begin a national search for a permanent replacement.

Rescue Training Tuesday At Pioneer Park

BEND, OR -- Bend Fire & Rescue, Deschutes County Search and Rescue and Tumalo Irrigation District will participate in a joint rescue training at Stiet Street Low-head Dam, located at Pioneer Park. The joint training will take place all day Tuesday, but various rescue scenarios will be practiced between 1-3 pm. 

Low-head dams, also known as “drowning machine,” are incredibly dangerous due to the hydraulics of these structures, according to Bend Fire officials. “Low head dams are killers because of the recirculating water and hydraulics,” Mitch Webb of Bend Fire & Rescue said in a statement. Even though the size and drop can appear small and not dangerous, the hydraulics can be unpredictable and trap a person or boat against the dam and pull them under water. 

Everyone should be aware that going over a low head dam in any vessel has a high potential for near drowning and death. These dams should be avoided at all costs. 

Gunnels Looks Ahead As Next Deschutes Co. DA

BEND, OR -- Stephen Gunnels won’t officially take over as Deschutes County District Attorney until January, but he’s already setting future goals for the office. He tells KBND News he wants to expand the Veterans Intervention Strategy. VIS started in Deschutes County in 2020 to help vets in the justice system. "Many of them are in a bad place emotionally or in terms of drug dependency or alcohol dependency," says Gunnels, "And we try to get them set right; try to get them connected with programs through the Veterans Administration and other programs so they get treatment, mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment."

Gunnels is talking with the Circuit Court to see if there is capacity for vets in the program to meet more often with a judge, "I believe that program could be stronger if the court system was more a part of that program. Meaning, the veterans would have to come back to court periodically, and check in with a judge. I know that that level of accountability, of checking in with a judge kind of does miracles for people; it keeps them on track. I know people in the military have a strong commitment to chain of command." He says that means some will answer to a judge in a way they won’t to a treatment provider. But, Gunnels acknowledges, finding capacity for that expansion within the circuit court system is tough, there is currently a backlog of about a thousand cases, due to the pandemic.

He also tells KBND News the pandemic restricted training and he’d like to restart those opportunities for prosecutors, "And get them out into the police agencies to train law enforcement on the new laws on the books, new case law that’s coming out of the courts, so that the police can change how they conduct investigations in accordance with the law. I know, working with the police for a number of years, that they really want to get it right. And, having us there to support them and teach them, would be a big help."

To hear our full conversation with Stephen Gunnels, visit our Podcast Page

Local Fire Agencies Benefit From State Grant

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon fire agencies are getting a portion of $6 million in grants from the Office of the State Fire Marshal. John Hendricks, with the OSFM, says the goal is to increase capacity because structural units are usually the first on-scene of a brush or wildfire, and their swift response can keep fires small. He says 56% of the structural firefighters in Oregon are volunteers and this funding is a big help especially for rural agencies with few - or sometimes no - paid staff. "We’ve heard from quite a few districts who were pretty thrilled to be able to offer and have paid staff on," Hendricks tells KBND News, "A few of these districts are able to bring on two people, and to have two paid staff members on between 8 and 5 is big for them."

He says the office started with $4 million, but the response was so great, they increased it to $6 million to meet more needs. "Some agencies brought on student firefighters for the summer. We’ve seen some agencies who’ve brought on volunteers - existing volunteers. We’ve seen some that have brought on interns. You get some fire agencies who bring on a mix of those."

According to Hendricks, 180 agencies received between $6,000 - $35,000 each, to be used through September. Bend, Redmond, La Pine, Crook County, Jefferson County, Sisters-Camp Sherman, Cloverdale, Lake Chinook and Warm Springs Fire each received $35,000. Sunriver Fire gets $18,000. Bend Fire officials say the money will help pay for overtime on high fiire-risk days.

The one-time funding comes from SB 762, to improve wildfire preparedness.

 

File Photo

Bend Considers Home Energy Scoring Program

BEND, OR -- The city of Bend is considering a Home Energy Score Program for properties for sale. Similar programs are in place elsewhere in Oregon. Cassie Lacy, with the city, says the rating gives prospective buyers a sense of how much they’ll spend on utilities, "Energy efficiency of homes has a really big implication for affordability in housing, because the cost of our utility bills is such a large portion of residents’ monthly expenses."

She tells KBND News, "It’s kind of like a Miles Per Gallon rating of a vehicle. When you go buy a vehicle, that’s one of the first questions you always ask is, ‘how efficiently does it use its gas?’ and, the Home Energy Score does that for a home."

The score would cost the seller between $150-$300, but Lacy says there are a small number of exemptions under consideration and the city would cover the cost for low-income sellers who qualify. But, she adds, "Generally speaking, everyone who is going to sell a home would have to obtain the score. And then, on the flip side, for anyone who’s buying a home, they should be able to see the score for every home they are even considering touring." If an ordinance is passed, the score would have to be included in the RMLS listing available to the public. 

The Environment and Climate Committee is taking public feedback over the next couple of months before making a recommendation to City Council. Lacy says if approved by the full Council it would likely take months to implement, possibly by the second half of 2023.

Here's how the public can get involved:

All meetings are a hybrid format, with in-person participation in Council Chambers at City Hall. More information about meetings will be found on the Environment and Climate Committee webpage.

Members of the public are also invited to share feedback about the proposed program  on the project webpage. And, City staff are available to present information, answer questions and solicit feedback for interested groups. Groups or organizations interested in inviting staff to their meetings can contact Cassie Lacy at clacy@bendoregon.gov.

 

Brush Fire North Of La Pine Snarls Traffic

LA PINE, OR -- A fast-moving brush fire fueled by winds and 90-degree temperatures caused traffic delays on Highway 97 north of La Pine, Monday afternoon. Multiple agencies worked together to stop the blaze near milepost 163 that broke out around 2:30 p.m.

BNSF shutdown rail lines so hoses and fire crews could cross tracks. Forestry crews were mopping up the one-acre fire by 3:30.

No injuries were reported and La Pine Fire says the cause has not been determined.

BPD Seeks Info On Hit And Run

BEND, OR -- Bend Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a vehicle involved in a hit-and-run early Sunday morning, July 3. At approximately 3:13 a.m., police responded to a report of a vehicle-versus-pedestrian accident in front of the Deschutes County Circuit Court on NW Bond Street in Bend. 

An investigation determined that a 27-year-old was crossing Bond outside of a crosswalk when a white or silver SUV traveling north from downtown swerved and brushed the pedestrian. The victim and witnesses reported the SUV had swerved toward her and accelerated, and that the vehicle brushed her right leg and hip area, causing her to fall to the ground. The victim sustained minor injuries. 

The driver of the SUV did not stop. Bend Police, as well as other local law enforcement agencies, attempted to locate the vehicle but were unsuccessful. 

Investigators gathered surveillance video from multiple locations, but the license plate of the vehicle is not visible due to video quality. The vehicle is believed to be a white or silver 4-door SUV, possibly Audi Q5 or Q7, Hyundai Tucson or Kia Sportage. It may have some damage to its passenger side hood, body or mirror. 

Bend Police asks anyone who may have information about this accident or the suspect vehicle to please contact the nonemergency dispatch line at 541-693-6911. 

Fire Near Culver Blamed On Fireworks

CULVER, OR -- A holdover fire believed to be from the 4th of July fireworks threatened Three Rivers residents Friday afternoon. The 40’ by 20’ foot fire was quickly contained by Lake Chinook Fire crews, according to a Facebook post by the agency.

The fire is believed to have been started by aerial fireworks shot from the area of SW Prospect View Dr. Firework shards were found at the scene.

"This could have been much worse," Chief Colfels said in the post, "Another 10 feet and the fire would have gotten into the tall cheat grass, and with this wind, it would have taken off!"

 

Fire officials ask anyone who might have heard or seen anything regarding fireworks over the holiday weekend to contact the fire district at (541) 629-8911. Fireworks are prohibited year-round in this area. Aerial fireworks are illegal in the state of Oregon.

Traffic Details On Highways 97 & 20

BEND, OR -- Local law enforcement will join forces for a traffic safety detail, starting Tuesday. Through Thursday, they’ll focus on reducing speeds, injuries and distracted driving on Highways 20 and 97. In the past month, there have been at least four fatal crashes in Central Oregon. 

Bend, Redmond, Black Butte and Sunriver Police will take part, along with the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office and State Police. 

When you see law enforcement conducting traffic stops, they remind drivers to move over to give them space. Tthe Move Over Law requires anyone driving up behind a police car or emergency vehicle pulled over on the roadside with emergency lights flashing to move over into another lane. If you can’t safely change lanes, you must slow down to at least 5 MPH below the speed limit and leave as much room as possible for the emergency vehicle. This also applies to any vehicle stopped on a roadway and displaying hazard lights. 

 

Triple-Digit Speeders Pose Big Dangers

SALEM, OR -- With Oregonians anxious to hit the road this summer, State Police are watching for the “Fatal Five”: Speed, Occupant Safety - like seatbelts, Lane Safety, Distracted Driving, Impaired Driving. Capt. Stephanie Bigman says all decreased during the pandemic except one; Driving impaired. "Look at from 2016 to current, really, they’ve stayed pretty static," she tells KBND News. So, statewide, DUII citations held steady over the past two years, despite an overall reduction in driving. 

And, now that people are back out on the roads in droves, she says triple-digit speeds are a growing, deadly problem. "Troopers can easily go out and sit on the freeway and if they just wait a little bit, they can get a car coming over a hundred miles an hour." In one recent incident, Captain Bigman says, a Trooper pulled over a driver for going more than 110, and found an unsecured child asleep in the back seat.

Bigman says the number of traffic fatalities don’t tell the whole story, "The fatality rates may not jump a ton in different things, because cars are getting safer. But they’re getting faster and, at some point, speed overtakes the safety factors of the cars." She says some drivers know law enforcement agencies are short-staffed and think they can get away with high speeds - not realizing the serious risks. 

Commercial Real Estate Market Remains Tough In Bend

BEND, OR -- While Central Oregon’s housing market remains tight, the commercial landscape is also making it difficult for businesses looking for a new home.

Brian Fratzke, with Fratzke Commercial Real Estate, says July is usually a good time to buy, "For commercial leasing, it’s pretty slow. But, for commercial sales, it’s usually pretty good. So, I did a little research. We have ¼ the inventory for sale that we had a year ago." Fratzke tells KBND News, "We sold a lot of inventory in the last 12 months. Maybe volumes that we haven’t seen before. We sold it to both owner/user, so that’s someone who needs to buy a building and move in, and investors. But, the second thing we saw is a whole bunch of people that own commercial real estate have said, ‘Why would I sell it now? I’m getting a 10% return on my money; that’s better than my other investments."

And, while some industrial construction is happening in Redmond and Prineville, Fratzke says land isn't available in Bend to build something new, "The reason why those areas, Redmond and Prineville, have a little more activity going on is they have the land. They have the land that can be developed. And in Bend, it’s pretty busy around here; not a lot of commercially zoned land for sale."

To hear our full conversation with Brian Fratzke, visit our Podcast Page

Deschutes Co. Commissioners To Discuss Psilocybin Rules

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners will decide whether to ask voters to opt out of allowing psilocybin businesses in unincorporated areas. Growing, processing and providing psilocybin, also known as psychedelic or "magic" mushrooms, will be allowed next year under Measure 109. 

M109 passed in 2020, with 53% approval in Deschutes County. It already includes a provision that service centers will not be allowed in residential areas. "But it’s not crystal clear if that means Rural Residential zoning, or if it was just referring to neighborhoods inside an incorporated city," says Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone, "So that really leaves a big gray area for counties and their rural land use." He's also concerned a service center could be allowed in areas zoned for farmland. 

DeBone admits the psilocybin question is different than when Oregon legalized recreational marijuana, "Production is not as impactful as Measure 91 with marijuana production, because it isn’t a field. It’s basically a garage or a shop with climate conditions and growing. By default, it’s going to be in a smaller controlled environment. Really, it’s about the land use associated with a service center."

But, the county is playing beat the clock. Local time, place and manner rules must be approved by voters in the county, and then they need to be in place before state guidelines come out early next year. Commissioners want to hear from the public before making a decision. "The reality is it’s coming. Basically, I want some breathing space by as many people as possible to think about, ‘Oh, Oregon is going to be leading the way, because no one else has done this, it’s a Schedule I drug that may have medicinal purposes, and it could be in my neighborhood.’ I mean, we need to think about - think that through a little bit," DeBone tells KBND News.

Commissioners will hold a public hearing Wednesday afternoon to help decide on a potential November ballot measure. The hearing starts at 2 p.m. in person and virtually. A second session will take place at 5:30 p.m., if needed. You'll find the full agenda HERE

 

Injured Washington Woman Rescued From Misery Ridge

TERREBONNE, OR -- Deschutes County Search and Rescue volunteers helped an injured hiker at Smith Rock State Park Friday morning. At about 10:15 a.m., 911 Dispatch received a call regarding an injured hiker on the Misery Ridge Trail. It was determined a 28-year-old woman had fallen while hiking, and sustained injuries which prevented her from walking down the trail without assistance. 

Redmond Fire and Rescue made initial contact with the Puyallup, Washington woman and after evaluation determined she would have to be wheeled down in a wheeled litter by DCSO SAR Volunteers. 

11 DCSO SAR Volunteers responded to assist the injured hiker, departing the SAR Office at 10:45, and made contact with the hiker at 11:41. They wheeled her approximately ¼ of a mile down the trail.

The hiker was transported by vehicle from the area of the walking bridge at Smith Rock State Park to the parking lot where she was then transported to the hospital by Redmond Fire and Rescue for further evaluation. 

OHA Attempts Coordinated Response To Monkeypox Outbreak

SALEM, OR -- Health officials in Oregon are trying to coordinate their response to the spread of human Monkeypox - also called hMPXV. "In Oregon, there are one confirmed and five presumptive cases. The counties of those cases are Multnomah, Lane and Washington," says Oregon Health Authority’s Dr. Tim Menza. He's concerned there are more cases that have been misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, because symptoms can mimic other diseases. 

"hMPXV is transmitted during direct, close, personal, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has symptoms. In addition, contact with towels, clothing, bedding or other objects used by a person with hMPXV may also transmit the virus." Dr. Menza says it's also less commonly spread by large respiratory droplets. Incubation is six to 13 days.  Symptoms include a painful, itchy rash, fever, headache and muscle pain.

Dr. Menza says if untreated, an infected person will transmit the virus to an average of two other people, "In comparison, this same number for the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is 8. Therefore, in relative terms, hMPXV is not very transmissible and will not spread like COVID-19. At the same time, its control requires a coordinated, thoughtful public health response."

Of the six Oregon cases, all are men and only one has a confirmed history of travel to an infected country. OHA is prioritizing messaging for the LGBTQ+ community, as well as testing and treatment, because the global outbreak has largely affected men who have sex with men. 

Oregon has 193 doses of vaccine and it can be given after a person gets the virus.  When the state receives more vaccine, OHA will start making it available to high risk groups.

New COVID Sub Variants Lead To Quick Spread

BEND, OR-- Two Omicron sub-variants are contributing to a sudden, rapid spread of COVID-19 in Oregon. "Seems like everyone you know has COVID right now; at least, that’s how I feel," Kaiser Permanente's Chief of Infectious Disease Dr. Katie Sharff tells KBND News. She says BA.4 and BA.5 highly contagious, "They’re just so transmissible; the most transmissible variants we’ve had to date. Similar to measles, in terms of contagiousness. What we know based on measles and based on experience is just limited exposure is enough to get infected, because they’re so contagious."

She says the variants appear resistant to prior immunity, "So, if you’ve previously been vaccinated and fully boosted, that still provides good protection from severe disease and hospitalization, but doesn’t keep you from getting infected." Prior infection is also not providing protection against infection. 

Dr. Sharff is hopeful Omicron-specific boosters will help curb the spread when they become available in the fall. For now, she urges everyone to follow CDC guidelines and isolate if you have symptoms. Overall symptoms - while a little miserable - are relatively mild, although, she says, higher risk people should seek treatment.

Redmond Fire To Start "Board Up" Roster

REDMOND, OR-- Redmond Fire and Rescue is creating a new program to help people secure their property after a fire. "Current practice is: once we’re done, the fire’s put out, everybody’s safe and good to go and has a place to stay, the residence is left unsecured, unfortunately," says Redmond Fire Marshal Tom Mooney, "Insurance companies, they don’t come out the same day an incident happens and so the property can stay open. It can create a safety hazard in the community." He hopes this new Board-Up Service Roster will ease some stress at an already traumatic time, "We’re trying to help the citizens. They’ve just had a horrible day, a horrible experience with their home catching on fire. We don’t want to leave it unsecured, just for the safety of the community and the safety of the items still within their home."

Mooney says a handful of areas in the Valley have similar board-up programs, but it’s the first of its kind in our region. "It establishes a roster with vetted contractors that we’re going to vet and make sure they have the adequate equipment, adequate personnel and the ability to respond within the timeframe we’ve established to come out and secure the property." The department is now looking for contractors to sign up. "With this program, we can call a special number and say, ‘Hey, we need board-up services. Who’s next on the roster?’ They’ll tell us whatever company is next up; that company’s required to call us within 15 minutes. Once they give us a response time, we can tell them what the needs are, ‘we have a couple doors that need to be secured, the roof needs to be secured temporarily and windows need to be boarded up’."

Contractors interested in signing up must complete a Request for Proposal packet available at Redmond Fire’s website or administration office.

Terrebonne Man Killed In Wednesday Night Crash

REDMOND, OR -- A Terrebonne motorcyclist was killed in a crash west of Redmond Wednesday night. State Police Troopers responded to Highway 126 just after 8:30 p.m. OSP says 28-year-old Evan Borden, of Bend, was driving eastbound when he attempted to turn left into a pullout on the westbound shoulder. A Kawasaki motorcycle, operated by 51-year-old Rodney Miller was following the car and struck the driver’s side door while the car was turning.  

Miller sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased. Borden was uninjured and cited for DUII and Reckless driving.  

Hwy 126 was closed for approximately 5 hours while Oregon State Police Collison Reconstruction Unit members investigated the scene. 

 

Bend Driver Cited For DUI After Crashing Into Bank

BEND, OR -- A 35-year-old Bend woman is accused of drunk driving, following a Thursday morning crash in downtown Bend. Police were called to a report of a vehicle that had driven into a building at about 8:40 a.m. 

Upon arrival, officers found a silver Nissan pickup crashed into the Wall Street side of the Wells Fargo Bank building, causing minor damage to the building’s wall and front doors. 

Jessica Cufley was taken to St. Charles Bend with minor injuries and arrested on suspicion of DUII – Alcohol. 

Bend Fire & Rescue evaluated the building’s damage to ensure there was no structural damage.

 

Bend, Portland See Little Enforcement Of Fireworks Ban

BEND, OR-- Personal fireworks are no longer allowed in Portland, Bend and Depoe Bay, Lincoln City’s ban took effect Thursday and a temporary ban is in place for the summer in Wasco County.

Despite receiving 80 emails to its new tipline, Sheila Miller says Bend Police did not issue any citations Monday, "The Fourth of July is our number one day for calls for service and there are a lot of really big calls. We’re being called to fights and drunk drivers and a lot of really dangerous situations."

Portland Fire’s Terry Foster tells KATU News because staff aren’t available to respond to every complaint, the ban serves more as an investigative tool. "We are enforcing to the extent we can. When we respond and there’s a fireworks-related fire, we do investigate it and we try to find out what happened; and if there’s legal action that needs to happen, then we take that action."

Miller agrees, saying BPD will use information in investigations, "We also could use those to determine where we need to do more patrols, that sort of thing. But, honestly, we do not have the staffing and ability to go out to every illegal fireworks call." She tells KBND News, "There seems to be a prevailing theory in Bend that there are no rules on the Fourth of July. We had this gigantic crowd of teenagers, almost entirely under age, at Pioneer Park and then Columbia Park, who were openly drinking, highly intoxicated in the middle of the day, fighting, leaving huge messes in our parks and just generally displaying really bad behavior."

It can be difficult to catch someone in the act, "By the time our officer has been able to divert from something more serious, they may not still be being shot off. Even if they were, it’s hard to identify who the person in a crowd is who should be cited."

Officials in both Portland and Bend say there’s been a big drop in fireworks-caused fires and related calls since bans were imposed.

Bend Summer Festival Returns This Weekend

BEND, OR-- Bend Summer Festival returns this weekend to Downtown Bend. Aaron Swtizer, with Lay it Out Events, says they’re not immune to the region’s hiring challenges, "With events, there’s a lot of temporary staff and traditionally we’re used to seeing droves of young people who want to be here for the summer and work at events, and events are pretty fun to work at. But, that’s just not been the case this year. So, core staff gets spread a little thin producing these."

Despite a staffing shortage, Switzer tells KBND News the event will be pretty close to normal, "The planning keeps getting better and better, the further away we get from COVID. Although, Summer Festival is Saturday and Sunday, rather than its more traditional Friday, Saturday and Sunday because, when we’re planning this six months out, we were in the middle of winter and we just didn’t know what to expect." He adds, "The focus for Summer Festival is more on art this year; So, 82 art booths from around the region; We’re really excited to see that come back. In COVID, I think the artists and the people who travel to festivals in Bend, they were hit the hardest. So, people are really excited and eager to get back out and be a part of these things. That’s what people will see when they get down here, that enthusiasm."

There’s also a main stage for musical acts, a “lifestyles marketplace” and Family Play Zone. "These events are coming back and they’re strong. With everything that’s going on in the community, in terms of entertainment options, these are still doing really well and they’re really an integral part of what makes Bend Bend," says Switzer.

Summer Fest is 11 to 10 on Saturday, and 11 to 5 on Sunday.

Major Drug Bust Wraps 18 Month Investigation

BEND, OR -- Detectives busted a major illegal marijuana operation just outside Bend, following an 18-month investigation. The Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team says the case began with complaints from neighbors at one grow site on Nelson Road. They later discovered a second grow in Tumalo.

Detectives say most of the people working the sites were trafficked from Mexico and promised $20 a day. They were found living in squalor, using primative outdoor toilets and kitchens.

Four people were arrested Wednesday, including 62-year-old Darin Niemeyer, of Bend, who owns the Tumalo property on Half Mile Lane. Jose Cuevas-Garcia was also arrested after the K9 "Kim" found him hiding in a closet. Kim was injured during the apprehension but is resting comfortably and recovering. The suspect was later evaluated at the hospital before booking. Detectives are still looking for 31-year-old Luis Vaca-Rodriguez as a person of interest. He's associated with addresses in Pasco, WA and Cincinnati, OH. 

They also found the Nelson Road operation diverted irrigation canal water to maintain a complex watering system. Overall, Deschutes County’s Illicit Marijuana Enforcement Team seized 6,868 plants with a street value of $3.5 million. 

Art In The West Exhibit Returns

BEND, OR-- The High Desert Museum unveils a collection of traditional and contemporary art, later this month, for its annual “Art in the West” exhibition and silent auction. I

t features new artists in new mediums, including sagebrush, plexiglass and sandstone. There are also sculptures, paintings and photography.

The exhibit opens July 23rd. The online auction runs July 18th through September 30th. 

 

 

Photo: Jury's Choice Award winner Summer Sky by Brenna Kimbro in sagebrush, courtesy of the High Desert Museum.

Local Hotshots Return From Alaska

REDMOND, OR-- Hundreds of Oregon firefighters are in Alaska, as wildfires burn millions of acres in that state. For several weeks, Oregon crews have been supporting firefighting efforts in Alaska. "They’re currently at Preparedness Level 5, which is their most complex situation that they have up there," says Carol Connolly, with teh Northwest Coordination Center, "They have a lot of fire on the ground and they need more resources coming in."

She tells KBND News 11 Interagency Hotshot crews from Oregon are in Alaska, due to the difficult terrain. "Prineville Interagency Hotshot crew is up in Alaska. They were mobilized on June 15th. Their last day of work up there is scheduled for July 7th, so it’s likely they’ll be traveling home July 8th. The Redmond Interagency Hotshot crew is up there as well, with the same mobilization date and that same return date." Five teams are on their way home from Alaska, to be replaced by five new Type 2 Interagency crews.

In total, our state has more than a thousand firefighters and support personnel up there, including incident managers. Connolly says those resources are not yet needed here, "We had a slow start to the season, which we love. Human-caused fires are making up most of those fires that we do have, so far. But, the large catastrophic fires that we saw last spring, we haven’t had those yet." And, she doesn't expect it to stay quiet in Oregon, "Everything west of the Cascades is going to remain pretty low-key for a while and, as we go into July-August that will change. East of the Cascades, we’re still looking at some pretty extreme areas and it won’t take much to dry out. Once some of that tall grass and the green cure out, there’s opportunity - if there’s an ignition source - for those large, catastrophic fires."

Crews are wrapping up work on a 40,000-acre grassfire in Eastern Oregon. The Willow Creek Fire, outside Vale, is now about 90% contained. 

New State Map Shows Wildfire Risk

PORTLAND, OR -- An interactive map showing the wildfire risk of every property in Oregon is now available for the public. The Governor’s Wildfire Programs Director Doug Grafe says it’s a transition for how the state thinks about wildfire, "We’re not only simply going to react to wildfires in Oregon, but we’re going to take a proactive stance to mitigate and prevent the catastrophic risk of wildfire across Oregon, with proactive programs and greater understanding of our fire risk."

The Oregon Wildfire Risk Explorer is the product of SB 762, passed in 2021, and was developed by the Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon State University. ODF Fire Protection Chief Mike Shaw says the map identifies the wildland-urban interface and assigns wildfire risk at the property level, "And this is important because it allows every Oregon resident an opportunity to understand the risk of wildfire where they live and to mitigate against those risks." There are five risk levels: No Risk, Low, Moderate, High and Extreme. 

Allison Green, with the State Fire Marshal's Office, says SB 762 also assigns tasks to her agency, "The big one is to establish a minimum defensible space code, then we’ll apply to those lands that are in the mapped wildland-urban interface and meet the criteria of risk, either high or extreme." She says those rules are still in development, and eventually grants will be available to help property owners comply.

The map is available at ODF’s website or click HERE. You can also search online for “Oregon Explorer.”

Redmond Schools Offers Summer Programs

REDMOND, OR -- Summer opportunities continue for students inside the Redmond School district. Superintendent Charan Cline says there is still space available for all ages, "We have elementary summer school classes open. We have Camp 6, which is an incoming transition piece. So, people going into sixth grade, they get to come into the schools and, moving from elementary to middle, to see what that’s like."

A similar program “Camp 9” is also available for incoming high school freshmen. "That transition for kids and for parents is really hard," Dr. Cline tells KBND News. "It’s really the next stage of development for kids. And for parents, kids mature in ways that sometimes parents don’t quite expect. Especially the middle school, you know, puberty is hitting and they’re beginning to pull away from their parents a little bit - and it can be frustrating for everybody." Both Camp 6 and Camp 9 start in August, just before the start of the school year. "Getting a sense of what’s going to happen is great. Plus, just for the kids, when they come in and figure out how to open a locker, and figure out how to change classes; it’s a big deal. And, giving kids just sort of that ability to feel comfortable within the environment they’re moving into, really helps them be successful."

And, Dr. Cline says, for the first time, the district offers career technical education options,"This allows our summer students to get a sense of what we do at the high school level. We’ve got culinary classes, art, photography, welding for kids who would kind of like to get a jump on that." There are also other summer options like credit recovery, PE and sports camps. Click HERE for more information.

Biker Injured On Tiddlywinks Trail

BEND, OR-- Deschutes County Search and Rescue helped a kid from California after he was hurt while mountain biking on Tiddlywinks Trail, west of Bend.

A SAR team responded Sunday afternoon, following reports the child was injured in a crash. Fellow riders helped him get part-way down the trail where the group met up with SAR members, who then provided additional medical care and helped him to a nearby Forest Service Road. 

Deadly Weekend For Oregon Mountains

BEND, OR-- Mountain rescue teams were busy over the weekend. 

Clackamas County Search and Rescue responded to Mt. Hood Saturday. Witnesses reported a Happy Valley man lost his ice ax and fell 600 - 700 feet. A National Guard helicopter flew him to a Portland hospital with serious injuries.

On Mount Jefferson, a Texas man is believed to have triggered a fatal avalanche on Thursday. Linn County rescue teams recovered his body Monday, with the help of a Leading Edge Aviation helicopter from Bend.

Bend Ops Mgr Now Head Of OR Fire Chiefs Assoc

BEND, OR-- Bend Fire and Rescue’s Operations Chief is now also the Board President of the Oregon Fire Chiefs Association.

Bill Boos was elected to the position this spring, and took over July first.

OSFC is a statewide organization aimed at advocating for safety and professional standards of the Oregon fire industry. 

Increase In Mosquitoes Expected This Summer

BEND, OR -- We may see more mosquitoes this summer. Four Rivers Vector Control is already seeing an increase.

The district says several dry years allowed eggs to build up in wetlands. Then, with our wet spring, they all hatched. Cold weather prevented early treatments so they are now running more fog trucks in south county and getting through neighborhoods in the vector district.

Officials remind you to drain standing water on your property and dress in long, loose, light-colored clothing.

Sen. Wyden Visits Bend Planned Parenthood

BEND, OR -- U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) visited Planned Parenthood’s Bend location Saturday, meeting with staff and abortion advocates in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision. "There is a clear and present danger to women," he said, "and we are going to stay at it until women all over America can take back control of their own bodies."

The Oregon Democrat told the group he wants to make sure a federal ban on abortion is not successful, "As Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I’m going to be very involved in the effort to protect medication abortions, which are well over 50%." And, he says, he’s committed to protecting women’s digital privacy, "My legislation, the bill ‘my body, my data,’ is also essential to make sure that your personal, private data that you share with apps, for example, like period trackers, can’t be taken away from you.

Bend’s Planned Parenthood health center is getting a lot of attention because it's the organization's only Oregon clinic east of the Cascades and the closest to Idaho, a state that’s about to impose strict restrictions on abortion.

Weekend Storm Sparks Wildfires

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Wildland fire crews responded to more than a dozen fires sparked by a Saturday lightning storm that moved through the area. More than 100 lightning strikes were recorded.

Officials say the largest was estimated at 7 acres near Prineville. It was largely extinguished by rain.

Smokejumpers were utilized in the Mill Creek Wilderness where a couple of fires were spotted in the Ochoco National Forest.

Fire managers tweeted Sunday afternoon, Firefighters across Central Oregon land management jurisdictions will remain vigilant for hold over fires in the next two weeks. A hold over (or “sleeper”) fire can start up to two weeks after the initial lightning strike. Thunderstorms are also forecasted for this PM."

For the latest, follow @CentralORFire on Twitter. 

HSCO Issues Safety Reminders Ahead Of Pet Parade

BEND, OR -- While tradition calls for fun at the 4th of July Pet Parade, precautions are necessary for pets and people. Parade host Bend Parks and Rec and the Humane Society of Central Oregon (HSCO) want parade participants’ pets to remain healthy and safe.

Everyone is welcome to participate in the Pet Parade. Organizers ask that your pet remains on a leash and that you clean up after your pet. Do not bring rabbits, cats or aggressive animals. Large animals need to arrive early and equestrians should wear a helmet. Be prepared to adapt your parade plans. Some considerations include bringing a stuffed animal instead, using a wagon to pull your pet or, if needed, leaving the parade route if your pet demonstrates intolerance towards the heat.

“We all know the dangers of leaving a pet in a hot car, but there are heat concerns when our pets are outdoors,” said Crystal Bloodworth, DVM, of the Humane Society of Central Oregon. “Dogs need to pant to cool themselves, as they do not sweat. This isn’t always enough, however, as cool water and shade can help. Paying attention to your pet while outdoors in the heat is critical to ensuring a fun day for everyone.” said Dr. Bloodworth. Senior, obese, short muzzled dogs (Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers, etc.) and long-haired breeds are discouraged in extreme heat.  Another concern in high temperatures is hot asphalt which can cause damage to paw pads.

Tips for keeping your pet comfortable at the Pet Parade include:

  •  Before and after the parade, find a cool, shaded place to rest.
  • Do not arrive too early: staging begins at 9:00 am; the parade starts at 10:00 am.
  • Bring plenty of cool water for you and your pet. Water will be available at parade staging area and HSCO will provide water en route – just look for the orange flags.
  • Allow dogs to cool off in the water pools at the staging area.
  • Get creative and place your pet in a shaded, decorated stroller or wagon to keep them off of the hot asphalt.
  • Watch for signs of your pet’s paw pads overheating or soreness - picking-up paws, seeking shade and avoiding walking by sitting or lying down.
  • Do not leave your pet in the car, not even for a few minutes.
  • Learn to recognize the signs of heat stroke: Faster, heavier panting; excessive thirst and/or drooling with hanging strands of saliva; whining or signs of agitation; decreased responsiveness; glassy eyes; increased pulse/ heartbeat; elevated body temperature and staggering, weakness, collapse, seizures and/or unconsciousness.
  • If your pet shows heat-related symptoms, immediately go to a shaded area or a dog-friendly business that may let your dog cool in the air conditioned store so you can assess your pet’s condition.

If you think your pet will be challenged by warm temperatures, BPRD and the Humane Society of Central Oregon encourage you to leave your pet at home.

Should you need any emergency veterinary services over the holiday weekend, there are two emergency animal clinics in Bend, Bend Animal Emergency Center and Specialty Center (541 385-9110) and Veterinary Referral Center (541 210-9200) or call your veterinarian.

For additional information on the Pet Parade, visit www.bendparksandrec.org.

 

Investigation Continues Into Fatal Crash East Of Bend

BEND, OR -- A California man died following a Friday night crash east of the Bend Airport.

When Sheriff’s deputies responded to Nelson Road at about 9:30 p.m., they found a 1972 Porsche convertible on fire in a rock outcropping off the road. It had rolled several times, throwing the driver from the car.

The 64-year-old was the only person in the car at the time of the crash and was taken to the hospital where he later died. His identity has not been released.

DCSO is investigating the cause of the crash.

La Pine Receives Federal Money To Upgrade Water System

LA PINE, OR -- La Pine will get nearly $18 million dollars in USDA loans and grants to transition the city away from septic systems. Plans include a new 500,000 gallon reservoir and installation of new distribution lines. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced the funding Friday:

 

U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley announced the City of La Pine will receive more than $17.7 million in a combination of loans and grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for municipal water improvements to transition away from septic systems which are contaminating groundwater for residents and small businesses.

“The people in this part of Deschutes County have long suffered from groundwater contamination from the septic systems,” said Wyden, who introduced the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Sector Development Act of 2022. “The city has already laid some of the foundation for a municipal wastewater system, so I’m gratified to see federal funds going toward getting this vital municipal wastewater project over the finish line.  This money will help La Pine reduce existing groundwater contamination and protect Oregon watersheds in this part of our state for years to come.”

“Access to clean, reliable water and a strong water infrastructure system is vital to growing and strengthening our communities and economies,” said Senator Merkley. “This USDA funding to La Pine will provide crucial support that will allow the city to improve not only their water infrastructure and wastewater system, but also the quality of the local watershed.” 

The city of La Pine municipal water system improvements will include the following: Construction of a new 500,000-gallon water reservoir, installation of new water distribution lines to enhance looping, circulation, and fire flow capabilities, and the addition of the Cagle and Glenwood Acres subdivisions to the municipal water system. Overall, this project will ensure that this rural area will have the needed funds to improve sewer system capacity, reduce contamination and improve the quality of the watershed for years to come.

“The City of La Pine would like to thank both Senators Wyden and Merkley, and Congressman Bentz for their efforts on behalf of all citizens that will benefit from these expansion improvements,” said Mayor Dan Richer. “We would also like to extend our appreciation for the efforts made by the United Stated Department of Agriculture and its regional representatives who greatly assisted in bringing this funding package and project to fruition. This will significantly improve the livability and long-term sustainability of our community for all current and future citizens.”

Minimum Wage Increases Across Oregon

SALEM, OR -- Those working for minimum wage in Oregon get a raise Friday, when the last phase of the state's minimum wage increase takes effect.

Oregon has three rates. Portland’s metro rate goes up to $14.75, the standard rate is now $13.50 - that includes Deschutes County, and those in non-urban areas - like Crook and Jefferson counties - will make $12.50 an hour.

Starting next year, the minimum wage will increase based on the Consumer Price Index.

Fourth Of July Is Busy Season For HSCO Shelter

BEND, OR-- The Humane Society of Central Oregon asks pet owners to take steps to keep dogs and cats safe from loud fireworks on the Fourth. Lynne Ouchida suggests keeping pets inside, "In an interior room, with the TV on, music on, with you sitting with them- that’s the safest and best place." She tells KBND News, "A lot of people think, ‘oh, they’re in the fenced yard.’ But, a lot of times, people don’t realize what a frightened dog can do and what they can get out of. And please don’t tie them up; they can get tangled up as they get stressed and frantic." Ouchida says even if your dog doesn’t mind fireworks, you should resist the urge to take them with you to big shows at Pilot Butte or the fairgrounds, "A dog that may not be afraid of fireworks right now, if they experience loud, really close fireworks that frightens them at that moment in time, that dog can absolutely develop a fear."

And, she encourages pet owners to make sure ID tags and microchips have your current contact information, so you can be reunited if your pet does get out. Most shelters and vets will do a courtesy scan of your pet to check microchip data. 

"The week surrounding the Fourth of July is the Humane Society’s busiest week of the year," says Ouchida, "So, in preparation for that, we’re making sure that we’ve got all the strays reunited with their families so that we’re creating open space here for any dogs that arrive. Unfortunately, we have a lot of strays that have not been reclaimed." Ouchida says if your pet is missing, please check with the Bend shelter. 

Other tips from HSCO:

  • Current identification tags on your pet(s) ensures a safe and quick return. Immediately report lost and found animals to the Humane Society of Central Oregon at 541.382.3537. 
  • Consider getting away from the fireworks to a quiet area in the mountains or desert. 
  • If your dog or cat is extremely fearful, consult your veterinarian before the fireworks begins. 
  • Keep pets away from all fireworks to prevent burns, hearing loss or eye damage.  Safely dispose of spent fireworks.  If eaten, they may cause digestive problems.
  • Resist the urge to take your dog to Fourth of July celebrations where it will be too hot to leave your dog in the car and your dog may not be welcome.
  • 4th of July gatherings can be stressful for a pet. Doors and gates left open allow pets to escape.
  • If you plan to go away for the weekend, identify your animal(s) with the phone number of the pet sitter or kennel. Make sure a pet sitter reports and reclaims your pet immediately at the Humane Society if lost.
  • Keep your veterinarian’s and the emergency clinic’s phone numbers handy in case of an emergency.
  • The Humane Society of Central Oregon rents crates for only $5 a month to keep our pet safe and secure and sells Thundershirts, custom pet ID tags and provides free temporary tags.  

Bottled Water Needed For New Navigation Center

BEND, OR -- Warmer weather is prompting concerns about the houseless community. Shepherd’s House Ministries needs donations of bottled water. Development Director Dave Notari tells KBND News last year’s heatwave was eye-opening; this year, they want to be proactive, "Because we saw a little bit of the similar weather pattern last week, with the high temperatures, we knew this was going to be really important to us."

Notari says Central Oregon’s homeless resources are getting stretched, "Those experiencing the dilemma of homelessness continues to increase, as you see the Point In Time count uptick. And also the fact that there’s challenges with supply chain issues, with the resources to be able to get things out." Donations of bottled water and grab-n-go snacks can be dropped off at the Shepherd’s House shelter at 1954 NE Division. Those donations will be distributed through the Division shelter and the new navigation center on Second Street. 

The Lighthouse Navigation Center officially opened Thursday. It's a partnership between the city of Bend and Shepherd’s House, approved three months ago, to connect the houseless population with additional services. Notari says the center is inside the overnight shelter on Second, near Burnside, "We’ve provided overnight services, which have included a couple of meals. Now, with the Lighthouse Navigation Center opening up, we’ve really expanded that to include case management for those who are accessing the shelter services; helping them to be able to find their way to doctor visits, to mental health visits, to getting employment assistance, to getting legal assistance." The 10,000 square-foot shelter opened about 18 months ago and Notari says adding the navigation center is a dream come true, "We just reconfigured it so the main sleeping area now has bunks in it, and all of the sleeping occurs in that portion of the building. And then, we’ve converted what was considered sort of mixed family sheltering to an actual navigation center, where there’s services, there’s tables, there’s counseling rooms, there’s computer stations."

A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Lighthouse Navigation Center is planned for July 12.

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