Local News Archives for 2022-12

Bend MPO Considers $1.2M Carbon Reduction Projects

BEND, OR -- The Bend Metropolitan Planning Organization will apply for $1.2 million from the federal government’s Carbon Reduction funding program.

ODOT is in charge of awarding grants for transportation solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

MPO manager Tyler Deke says they will get an overview of the program, application process, and projects that could meet ODOT requirements at a meeting next week. “Things they [ODOT) will be looking for are the climate benefits of the projects in terms of the projects ability to reduce carbon emissions, and then for local support, equity, opportunities and innovations, and the project readiness.”

As part of the MPO, the City of Bend, Deschutes County, and Cascades East Transit, and other jurisdictions, are looking at an array of projects that would be the best use of the grant money.

“The city of Bend right now is working on a pedestrian implementation plan. And so, if the funding were to go towards sidewalk construction it would go quite a way, but if it goes toward a bigger transit type of project it would go less far in the sense that it would only go to implementing a couple of those types of projects,” explains Deke adding that every idea is on the table at this initial gathering, “What we want to do is just meet with all of our partners and see what types of projects they could potentially implement within the timeline of these funds being available over the next 2 or 3 years. And then having a discussion with everybody as to how to go about prioritizing our application from this area.”

The public meeting is Wednesday morning, January 4th at Bend City Hall.

DCSO SAR Already Busy With Winter Rescues

BEND, OR -- Winter is really just getting started, but Deschutes County Search and Rescue has already had a busy season. “So far, calendar year 2022, we’ve had about 16 winter-related rescues," says DCSO Emergency Manager Sgt. Nathan Garibay, "And, the number one category is stuck or stranded motorists." Deschutes County Search and Rescue is one of the most active SARs in the state.

Garibay says drivers typically get stuck on less-traveled roads, “We get a number of people that they’re following Google maps, or they’ll go out China Hat Road and try to go to Fort Rock, or out Findley Butte Road, or they’ll come in from the Fort Rock side, or they’ll take Forest Service 41, which is Conklin Road, just west of the river that goes from Century Drive down to Sunriver. And those roads aren’t maintained for winter travel. They’ll get to a point where they can’t turn around and so they keep going, and then they just get themselves really stuck.” He tells KBND News, “Sometimes that can lead to some expensive vehicle recovery fees, as well, for those folks. Typically, we can’t recover their vehicle for them, so they’re likely going to be paying someone to do it.”

He advises drivers, “Know before you go, do your research as far as what the conditions are going to be like, make sure that you take those best practices; travel with a partner if possible, don’t go beyond your level of expertise or ability, make sure that you take proper equipment and gear.”

Traffic Patrols Increase Over Holiday Weekend

SALEM, OR -- Law enforcement agencies all over Oregon are stepping up patrols for the New Year's holiday weekend. State Police Captain Kyle Kennedy tells KBND News, "We make it a priority on our holiday weekends to make sure we put out the best presence we can."

This weekend will be extra busy with holiday travelers returning home and football fans gathering to watch big games, "The college playoff games are going to be on Saturday, we’re coming into the last week of the NFL season and this is when people’s teams are playing their games. And, we want people to get together and have a good time with family," says Capt. Kennedy, "We just want them to make responsible choices and make sure they have a safe way to get home."

And, of course, there are the revelers going to and from New Year's Eve parties. It all combines for an increased risk on the road, "They partake in consuming alcohol and staying up late, and that leads us into seeing an increase, really, in DUIs, impaired driving, distracted driving, drowsy driving."

Kennedy says time of day changes what Troopers look for. At night, it's drunk and high drivers. But during the day, especially on such a busy weekend, he says driver distraction can be a big problem, "The law prohibits you from being on your electronic device, but there’s other things in your vehicle that can be a significant distraction, including conversations, reading through something, checking your mail - like your physical mail that you picked up. Those are all things that take our eyes off the road and then reduce our ability to react when something happens in front of us."

Kennedy has one main message for drivers this weekend: "Please use speed that’s appropriate for the conditions." He says speed is one of the biggest contributors to crashes, nationwide.


File Photo

After A Year of Change, Bend's Mayor-Elect Looks Ahead

BEND, OR -- After a year of changes for the Bend City Council, Mayor-Elect Melanie Kebler hopes 2023 will bring positive steps forward. Kebler will be sworn in Wednesday and says she’s ready to lead, "I really have already been talking to fellow Councilors, incoming and current, about how I want to build us up as a team so that we work really well together, that everyone feels comfortable and safe to converse and discuss issues, to disagree, to really make the best policy we can, as a team."

When Kebler takes over January fourth, she'll be the third woman in seven months to hold the position. In May 2022, City Council saw the sudden resignation of the Mayor and a Councilor. It brought "Some disappointment, some surprise, some sadness," says Kebler, "But, I think as a team, the Council moved through it very well." Kebler attributes that transition to rules updated earlier in the year, establishing a process for appointing successors mid-term. Councilor Gena Goodman-Campbell was later appointed to replace Sally Russell as Mayor. 

Kebler admits, "I definitely probably have a different leadership style than we’ve seen from Mayors in the past." She says she wants to foster a spirit of collaboration. But Council faced criticism recently, after approving the home energy score program amid complaints from some in real estate that their concerns weren’t considered. Kebler says that’s not true, "That just sort of pre-supposes that it’s very black and white - it’s either yes or no on every question that comes in front of us. And, it’s actually a lot more complicated than that. There’s a lot of different ways we can do policy work that takes into account the concerns on any side of an issue. "

She tells KBND News housing, transportation and long-range planning are top priorities for the year ahead, "And working through what I expect to be the Climate-Friendly and Equitable Communities rules that we’re going to be working with, after they move through the legal process. All of that is going to be a huge task for us and for city staff to really just keep thinking about not just taking care of projects short term, but how we plan for Bend’s future in the long term and make sure that we grow in a sustainable way; that we don’t lose the spirit of our city." Kebler adds, "The other thing I want to do as Mayor is really be out in community a lot, maybe more than Mayors have in the past, just showing up in a lot of different places with a lot of different groups that maybe don’t regularly come in front of Council."

With new Mayors also in Redmond, Madras and Culver, Kebler believes Bend will continue to collaborate with cities around the region. 

 

 

Hunnell Road Slated For Cleanup

BEND, OR -- A multi agency effort to clean up encampments near Hunnell Road in Bend will soon get underway, in preparation for road construction. Cheyenne Purrington, Director of the Coordinated Houseless Response Office, says this will be the first use of the Encampment Resolution Pilot Project, modeled after successful efforts in other cities, "We’re really focused on providing a framework that ensures services are provided to individuals who are in locations slated for displacement." She adds, "Our hope is that through this process, we’re able to provide services, shelter options and hopefully housing navigation." Purrington tells KBND News the three-month effort will also help regional agencies practice partnerships and learn how to better address gaps in the system before Encampment Resolution is used elsewhere in Central Oregon.

City officials have declared the Hunnell Road area, from Cooley Road to the dead end, an “unsafe campsite” and plan to clear the area by March prior to work on the North Corridor Improvement Project. According to the city, police responded to 218 calls for service between August 15 and November 15 of this year, resulting in 43 criminal cases and 33 arrests. "It’s already unsafe, just by being on the public right-of-way. Large encampments, we know, see higher calls for service, more hospitalizations, more incidents of violence," says Purrington, "But then, with heavy equipment going up and down the road, it would actually pose a threat to life, even more significantly."

Purrington's office and Deschutes County Behavioral Health will work with other service providers to offer case management and help campers relocate. "We will essentially stand up an incident response. So the idea is to surge services and provide intensive case management, and meet people’s needs." But those needs vary, "I’ve personally spoken with a number of folks out there and they’ve identified that they already have a plan in place and just need support to implement that; and that’s often the case." She says the city may take other action, such as opening rooms at the Rainbow Motel. 

Recent counts show around 65 campsites in that area now, down from a high of 100. Once the camps are cleared, the city will conduct final cleanup at the site before construction begins on North Highway 97.

 

file photo:  Bend's Hunnell Road, June 2021. Courtesy Central Oregon Daily News.

Suspected Drug Trafficker Re-Arrested On Theft Charges

SISTERS, OR -- A Sisters man, arrested last month for drug trafficking, is now a suspect in a series of construction and heavy equipment thefts  in the Portland metro area. Investigators believe 46-year-old Paul Weston stole dump trailers, a car trailer, side-by-side ATVs, a skid steer loader, bucket loader and a tractor from various locations in Portland and Vancouver over a two-month period. 

They say he then brought the equipment to his home on Peterson Ridge Road in Sisters, obliterated serial numbers and tried to sell it. 

When detectives re-arrested Weston Wednesday, they recovered equipment valued at about $225,000. Authorities were able to match all but three dump trailers and a skid steer loader to victims. Anyone with information about the unclaimed property is urged to contact Det. Jeff Pope at 541-388-6655, referencing case number 22-69589.

Detectives say they also seized a commercial quantity of fake pills made of fentanyl at the time of his arrest. Weston is charged with Aggravated Theft, Possession of Stolen Vehicle, Trafficking in Vehicles with Destroyed or Altered Identification Numbers, Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle and Unlawful Possession of Fentanyl.

Bend Pedestrian Seriously Hurt In Crash

BEND, OR -- A 53-year-old Bend man was seriously hurt when he was struck by a car near NE Third and Franklin, just before 5 p.m. Tuesday. Bend Police say the man was crossing Franklin outside a crosswalk. Witnesses told investigators it was very dark and the man did not yield to traffic.

The driver reported he didn’t see the pedestrian until he was on the hood of the car. Medics took the victim to St. Charles; he was later flown to a Portland hospital for treatment.

The driver is cooperating with the investigation and was not cited.

COCC Season Of Nonviolence Starts Next Month

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College’s 15th annual Season of Nonviolence starts next month. 

COCC’S Christy Walker says the award-winning young adult novel ‘This Is My America’, by University of Oregon Vice Provost Kim Johnson is not typical for this event, “We tend to use more academic type of books in these reading groups, and we thought that having a book of this nature that is a powerful fiction story, would hopefully inspire and invite a diverse group of people to join these book groups.”

Along with the book discussions throughout Central Oregon there are live performances, community conversations, and a pair of distinguished keynote speakers.

“We’re so excited to bring in Ilyasah Shabazz and Ndaba Mandela, who are respectively Malcolm X’s daughter and Nelson Mandela’s grandson. They’re doing a joint conversation talk at the Tower Theater on January 26th,” says Walker.

COCC’s Season of Nonviolence book group discussions start January 9th and run through mid-March. 

“This is our 15th year hosting the Season of Nonviolence. Traditionally it honors Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Martin Luther King, and here at COCC we also add Chief Wilma Mankiller and César Chávez as folks that we look up to that inspire us through peaceful activism and education,” Walker explained.

Season of Nonviolence events can be found on the COCC website.

Redmond Schools Try To Overcome Pandemic Learning Loss

REDMOND, OR -- Like districts across the country, Redmond Schools continue to tackle ‘unfinished learning’ or learning lost to the pandemic. The district has seen success with its ‘Response To Intervention’ program.

“That system is more individual-based. They focus on one grade level per week, and they have this team of multi-disciplinary experts from the school district who come in, and that could be teachers, principals and counselors, and they kind of get this holistic view of all the things that a student might be dealing with,” says Redmond School’s Holly Brown, “Then they can really take a look at what might be affecting that student in school and out of school, and then they work with that student’s family really closely to try to come up with a plan of how can we get them up to where we kind of expect them to be amongst their peers. They have a lot more resources now that are interactive, and they can use online and textbook resources. We try to keep things interesting in the schools for the students.”

Students can also receive aid from a Family Access Network advocate.

Two Teens Arrested For Reptile Zone Burglary

BEND, OR -- Bend Police say the investigation into a November burglary at the Reptile Zone, along with community tips, led to the arrests of two teens, Tuesday. Security footage showed two people wearing masks removing an air conditioning unit from a window, November 28. They entered the store and took three snakes, two frogs, a turtle, cages and other merchandise, along with a tip jar. The theft and damage to the property totaled just ofer $3,000 in losses.

Officers contacted a 17-year-old suspect at his hom on NW Lexington on Tuesday, and say he admitted to burglarizing the store with his girlfriend. The stolen merchandise and animals were found in the couple's home, and have been returned to the business owner. 

The 17-year-old suspect was taken to the Deschutes County Juvenile Detention Center on charges of first-degree theft and second-degree burglary. His girlfriend, 18-year-old Audrey Groom was arrested on similar charges and taken to the Deschutes County Jail. 

 

 

Oregon Wind Storm Claims At Least Four Lives

UPDATE: Oregon State Police say a fifth person was killed Tuesday, when a tree fell on I-84 in eastern Multnomah County. The tree struck the passenger side of an eastbound Dodge pickup, killing the passenger, a 20-year-old Baker City woman. The 43-year-old driver was taken to the hospital. The freeway was closed for more than two hours. 

 

PORTLAND, OR -- Clean-up is underway after a massive storm swept across the state Monday night and Tuesday. Strong winds and heavy rains are now blamed for at least four deaths.

According to Oregon State Police, a Prineville man was killed in a Highway 26 crash in Wasco County, just west of the Warm Springs Reservation. Troopers say a tree fell on the cab of an eastbound commercial truck at about 3:30 p.m. The driver, 53-year-old James Lyda, reportedly lost control and the semi left the highway. Lyda was pronounced dead at the scene. A large section of Highway 26 was closed for about three hours.

On the west end of Highway 26, near the coast, three people from Seaside were killed when a large tree fell on the cab of an F-150 pickup. That incident occurred at about 11:40 a.m. near milepost 15 and closed the highway for five hours on Tuesday. The 19-year-old driver and his passengers, aged 41 and four, were all found dead when first responders arrived. 

Weather-related power outages continued into Wednesday morning from Portland to Medford and along the coast. Pacific Power and other utilities reported crews worked overnight to restore service. Oregon Department of Transportation crews were also out to clear highways blocked by standing water, fallen power lines and downed trees. "We’ve got things happening from southern Oregon all the way up the coast, in the valley and across to eastern Oregon," ODOT's Kacey Davey told KBND News Tuesday. 

Flooding stranded drivers in some parts of the Willamette Valley, "We’ve had a lot of snow and ice already," says Davey, "And so, when you get lots of rain coming down - I mean, inches of rain all the way down the valley - in that already saturated ground, there’s nowhere for this water to go; and so, sometimes it pools on the highway."

She says drivers need to slow down and be vigilant, "When it’s really windy and there’s standing water on the roads, you don’t know what’s going to be around the corner. You could come upon a tree down, or a rockslide, powerlines down, even just a branch in the highway." In some cases, even household debris, "One of our crew members reported a trampoline that flew across the road in front of him."

Conditions should improve Wednesday, but more precipitation is expected later this week.

 

 

Photos: (top) Downed trees block roads in eastern Multnomah County; courtesy Multnomah Co.

(above) Flooding closes an I-5 underpass; courtesy Aurora Fire District. 

Deschutes DA Concerned Over Increasing Fentanyl Problem

BEND, OR -- Fentanyl use in Central Oregon has sky-rocketed. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says fighting that drug problem will be a main challenge for long-serving Chief Deputy Steve Gunnels, who takes over as DA next week.

“The tragic issue with illicit fentanyl is it gets its way into other drugs, or sometimes there’s too much drug in a pill. If you’re buying it on the street, it might have 10 times the quantity, so you just think you’re taking one pill to get a buzz and you’re dead from an overdose,” says Hummel, who believes the county’s population growth is responsible for the rise in illegal drug use, along with the DA’s office handling more cases of theft, and impaired driving arrests.

Hummel tells KBND News the drug is so dangerous because users can’t be sure what quantity they are ingesting, “A kid might think ‘well I’m taking this opiate pill, I’ll take it like a pain pill, maybe it gives me a buzz’, and you’re dead from an overdose. So, we see unintentional overdose deaths from fentanyl are rising and we need to get a handle on that. And so that’s going to be a big challenge for Steve, local law enforcement, and local treatment providers to try to get a handle on that.”

Gunnels will be sworn in along with other newly-elected Deschutes County officials on Tuesday, January 3rd.

DUII Suspect Accused Of Trying To Steal Patrol Car

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police arrested a Bend driver on Christmas Eve, after she allegedly ran a red light and crashed into several vehicles near Highway 97 and Veterans Way, and then trying to leave the scene. Witnesses held the 37-year-old woman down until officers arrived.

The incident happened just before 5:30 p.m. Saturday. During the investigation, Redmond PD says the suspect got in a patrol car and tried to drive off. She was taken to St. Charles for evaluation. In total, four people were taken to the hospital after the incident; another three were evaluated by medics.

After the suspect driver was cleared from the hospital, she was taken to the Deschutes County Jail for the following crimes:  DUII (Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants), UEMV (Unlawful Entry to a Motor Vehicle), Attempted UUMV (Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle), Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangering (six counts) and Assault (three counts).

Three vehicles were towed from the scene due to damage sustained in the crash. The crash was investigated by Oregon State Police. The DUII investigation was conducted by Redmond Police.

Grant Awarded To Bend High Welding Program

BEND, OR -- Bend Senior High is getting $24,510 to upgrade its welding program. The American Welding Society (AWS) grant will allow students to earn an Entry Level Welder certification while still in high school.

Instructor Chuck Hill said in a statment, "We are really excited since this will allow us to provide our students hands-on experience with the tools and equipment that are being used in the workplace right now – and – create a pipeline for local businesses who desperately need these trade professionals.” 

The funds were provided through the AWS Foundation as part of a nationally competitive process and will allow the school to purchase a multiple-operator SMAW power supply, a mechanized oxy-fuel torch, another torch and related equipment for carbon-arc gouging, and FCAW equipment for existing GMAW machines. The new equipment should be purchased and installed by next fall. 

“As the need for skilled welders continues to increase, helping educational facilities at the high school and college level is more important than ever,” said Monica Pfarr, Executive Director of the AWS Foundation.  “We are pleased to support the expansion of the Bend High School welding program, their commitment to the welding industry and their dedication to cultivating the next generation of welding technicians and professionals.” 

La Pine Home Damaged In Christmas Eve Fire

LA PINE, OR -- Two pets are unaccounted for following a La Pine-area fire, in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve. Crews responded to Gothard Way at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday, and found an attached garage fully involved and flames spreading to the home’s attic. They rescued three animals, but a cat and rabbit are still missing.

Investigators believe the fire started with an electric heater in a plywood and straw manger that housed a goat. Four people got out of the home and rescued the goat before crews arrived.

Sisters Woman Killed In Hwy 20 Crash

SISTERS, OR -- Icy roads are blamed for a fatal crash on Highway 20, Friday afternoon. State Police responded to the scene just east of Sisters, and say a Suzuki lost control and struck a tree, just before 4 p.m.

The driver was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. But the passenger, 38-year-old Maria Aviles Tapia of Sisters, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Highway 20 was closed for about three hours for that investigation. 

Illegal Sunriver Pot Grow Dismantled

SUNRIVER, OR -- Two brothers from Bend are accused of growing and processing illegal marijuana in a Sunriver-area home. The Deschutes County Illegal Marijuana Enforcement team and Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team conducted the investigation into the pair.

Detectives say they began looking into 40-year-old Seth Bucy and 39-year-old Jacob Bucy after receiving multiple complaints from the public. Teams executed a search warrant Wednesday morning at the home on South Century Drive and seied 22 pounds of processed marijuana flower, 243 plants and four firearms.

Officials also noted numerous building code violations, including dangerous electrical wiring and unpermitted interior walls creating living quarters. 

Seth Bucy and 36-year-old Samantha Georgi were cited in lieu of custody, charged with Unlawful Manufacturing and Possession of Marijuana. Jake Bucy was not home at the time, and is currently sought by investigators. Anyone with information on his location is asked to call Detective Dustin Miller or Sergeant Kent Vander Kamp at 541-693-9111 and reference case 22-68328. Do not attempt to arrest or detain Bucy if he is seen. 

 

UPDATE: Central Oregon Drug Enforcement detectives said Friday afternoon Jacob Bucy has been arrested and was cited in lieu of custody. He's charged with Unlawful Manufacturinf and Possession of Marijuana. The case has been referred to the District Attorney's Office. 

Respiratory Illnesses Continue To Strain Health System

BEND, OR -- Respiratory viruses are the holiday gift no one wants. But RSV, flu and COVID-19 are still spreading. Deschutes County Public Health's Dr. Rita Bacho told Bend City Council this week, "There’s been a surge. Hospitalizations are reaching a crisis point in adult and pediatric beds. OHA has arranged for more nurses to come to Oregon and help hospitals staff additional beds."

According to St. Charles, local hospitals are at 91% capacity, as of Thursday. State-paid traveling nurses are expected to arrive January ninth.

Dr. Bacho says our most recent flu data shows a 29% test positivity rate, which is the highest for this point in the season going back to 2017, "I did not compare to the pandemic period because, obviously because of mask mandates and other precautions we took, the data was skewed. So, I compared it to pre-pandemic, just to have a realistic view of what is going on."

The RSV positivity rate is also elevated, at 14%. But, she told Councilors, "We are still doing better than the state [is doing], but compared to previous years, we’ve seen the highest increase."

COVID-19 cases are also up compared to a month ago. But Dr. Bacho said, "There has been a decline in COVID deaths. Of 59,919 total COVID cases reported in Deschutes County, 372 - which is 0.62% - have died."

Dr. Bacho says flu shots and bivalent COVID boosters are widely available around the region, and County Public Health is conducting outreach in marginalized communities.

 

Suspected Hunnell Road Drug Trafficker Arrested

BEND, OR -- A Bend man faces numerous charges following an investigation by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team. Detectives believe 41-year-old Jose Miguel Gomez trafficked fentanyl and meth into the area, selling it in the Hunnell Road homeless camp while living in a house on Liberty Lane, off Boyd Acres.

After a multi-day surveillance operation, Detectives executed a search warrant. They contacted Gomez during a traffic stop at about 11 a.m. Thursday, while he was a passenger in an unrelated car. When Bend Police tried to detain Gomez, they say he initially resisted but was quickly taken into custody without injury.

During the search, detectives say they found a "commercial quantity" of fake pills made of fentanyl and a separate package of methamphetamine, along with cash. 

Gomez is charged with Resisting Arrest, Meth Possession and Attempted Delivery, and Possession and Attempted Delivery of Schedule II Drugs. Later, he was charged by BPD for an unrelated assault investigation.

Sex Assault Investigation Continues

BEND, OR -- Bend Police continue to investigate 24-year-old Quinlan David Ribeiro, accused of assaulting two women in August. Investigators arrested the Terrebonne man December 14, following a search of his home and car. 

Police say two women reported blacking out at Seven Nightclub on August 20, and believed they were drugged. They woke up in a motel with a man they didn’t know. One victim was bruised and remembered being forcibly restrained in the night. Investigators spent months working to identify a suspect. Video surveillance obtained by police show a man believed to be Ribeiro in various locations, eventually ending up at the Sugarloaf Motel around 3:50 a.m. on August 21.

Police say they found evidence of multiple crimes during the search earlier this month, and believe there may be more victims. Ribeiro may have frequented bars in Bend and Redmond in the past year. Anyone who has had contact with the suspect, or who witnessed suspicious or illegal activity involving Ribeiro is asked to contact Detective Eli Allen through non-emergency dispatch, at 541-693-6911.

County and Chamber To Collaborate On Housing Shortage Solutions

BEND, OR -- The Bend Chamber of Commerce and Deschutes County Commissioners will work together to find solutions for the region’s workforce housing shortage. A recent survey of businesses shows urgent housing needs are hurting employers and hindering the local economy. Results were presented to Commissioners this week.

“How can we collaboratively put together a policy platform that all organizations; public, private, non-profit, developers, environmental groups, kind of the whole gamut of diverse interests can come together and say these are things that are good for our region,” said Sara Odendahl, the Chamber’s Government Affairs Consultant.

Commissioner Tony Debone says one issue is finding places to build homes within State Land Use guidelines, “The motivation of having a parcel with a little bit of elbow room; that’s something we can add to this equation, too. And I’m not talking urban sprawl from everywhere in Central Oregon, but just some opportunities for a little bit of land.”

After presenting the survey’s results and conclusions, Chamber CEO Katy Brooks asked the Commissioners for their cooperation. “This is a bigger problem than individual employers are able to handle. And this is where we all get together from the private, public standpoint of trying to figure out some solutions, policy-wise and strategy.”

Commissioners unanimously agreed to work with the Chamber and its partners. The next steps are to advocate with local government to take plans to the state legislature.

Central Oregon Braces for Wind & Cold Temps

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon in for another blast of winter weather, starting tonight. 

With temperatures predicted to dip into the single digits in some areas, ODOT’s Kasey Davey urges drivers to take appropriate precautions. 

“For folks who are driving on the road, expect anything that looks just wet is not wet, it’s going to be ice. Because everything is going to be completely frozen when we get that low. So, make sure you’re slowing down, and giving yourself extra time and extra stopping distance when you’re out there on the roads,” said Davey, who reminds drivers that they need to be prepared for slick conditions because magnesium chloride used to pre-treat and de-ice roads isn’t as effective, “It works down to the upper teens pretty well. In mid- to lower-teens it works, but it’s very slow and can start to be a little bit slow. When we’re getting down into the low single digits, that tool by itself is probably not going to work. So, we’ll be using more of the cinders and plowing, and hoping that folks are driving safely.”

Local road construction shouldn’t add to the stress, according to Davey, “You’re going to continue seeing one-lane closures on US-20 through the New Year. And the south leg of Old Bend Redmond [Highway] is still closed while they’re working on that. But, during the holiday weekend; so, that means starting this Thursday through Tuesday, and the same New Year’s weekend, there won’t be any construction going on, and most of the single-lane closures should be picked up.”

This cold front is already impacting other parts of the Pacific Northwest.  Snow canceled flights out of Seattle Tuesday, and ice is believed to be the cause of a fatal crash that shut down I-84 outside Troutdale. 

Donations Needed During Cold Snap

BEND, OR -- Shepherd's House is asking for donations to help the houseless community. With a surge in below-normal temperatures, the nonprofit says cold weahter supplies are greatly diminished.

Shepherd's House needs blankets, hats, gloves, socks, hand warmers, coffee creamer and hot chocolate packets. 

Related: Bend Shelters Operating At Capacity In Early Winter

Donations can be dropped off at the Lighthouse Navigation Center, at 275 NE 2nd St. in Bend, between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Click HERE for more information.

The Shepherd's House Redmond warming shelter will open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, when highs are predicted to only reach the teens. The Redmond facility is inside Mountain View Fellowship Church, at 1475 SW 35th St. It's typically only open overnight, 6 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Redmond City Director Andrew Hoeksema said in a statement, “Shepherd’s House is committed to caring for the most vulnerable people in our community. Extreme winter weather like this makes us think of specific names and faces we worry about being outdoors in the cold, so we will open for daytime warming. As many of us in Central Oregon enjoy the holiday season, our unhoused neighbors are at significant risk on these frigid days. We will partner with Redmond community members to welcome them inside, offering simple food and safety to care for those who need it most.” 

Frozen Pipes, Power Outages Possible This Week

REDMOND, OR -- With sub-freezing temperatures heading our way, comes an increased risk of frozen pipes and power outages. When it gets this cold, Central Electric Cooperative's Brent Ten Pas says it’s important to keep safety in mind, "You don’t want to plug multiple space heaters into the same power strip or electric outlet. You don’t want to leave your space heaters unattended. And then there are other things you can do, too: You can use electric heating blankets, layer your clothes; there are things you can do like that to help stay warm."

He tells KBND News there are are things you can do now to make sure your home is ready for predicted single-digit temps, "Clear snow away from heat pumps to provide better airflow for performance." If you have water pipes in a garage or shop, he suggests wrapping them in heat tape with a thermostat to prevent them from freezing. If you haven’t done so yet, it’s also time to cover outdoor faucets and foundation vents. "And then, there are other simple things you can do to help maintain a decent temperature in your home," says Ten Pas, "And that’s pulling curtains or shades over your windows, to help keep the cold air out." Click HERE for more tips to reduce the cost of keeping your home warm during winter.

Our last blast of winter weather knocked out power to several areas when heavy snow built up on lines, but Ten Pas says the risk of outages this time around is lower because only a couple more inches of snow are expected. But, he admits ice could snap tree limbs, which could lead to localized outages in areas with a lot of trees, specifically in Sisters or Camp Sherman, and it’s good to be prepared, "Make sure that your contact information is up to date with your utility. You want to make sure you have an adequate supply of water, batteries, blankets, flashlights, additional heating sources, if possible, that don’t require electricity." If you lose power, notify your utility and limit opening your fridge and freezer so food doesn’t spoil.

 

Applications Accepted For Redmond Council Vacancy

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond's City Council will be short one Councilor when Ed Fitch is sworn in as Mayor. The city is now accepting applications to fill that vacancy. There are two years left on Fitch's Council term. Applications are due by January 13th. 

Previous Coverage: Newly Elected Redmond City Councilors Train For Upcoming Work

Redmond City Council members act as the policy makers, as required by council/manager form of government set forth in the Oregon Revised Statutes. The Council provides the City Manager with policy-making guidelines and performance objectives. The organization, led by the City Manager, advances these Council Goals throughout the fiscal year.

Regular City Council meetings generally occur the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. (Beginning in January, Council meetings will move from Tuesdays to Wednesdays) Candidates should be prepared to invest at least 30-40 hours per month to fulfill the roles and responsibilities as a City Council member. For more detail about the role of a City Councilor, please review the City Charter.

Prospective candidates must be 18 years of age, registered to vote, and a resident of the City of Redmond for a minimum of one year. Download an application HERE or request an application by contacting the City Recorder’s Office at 541-923-7751.

 

Fatal Crash Closes Highway 97 In Redmond

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are investigating a fatal crash that shut down Highway 97 at Yew Avenue, Monday night. They’ve determined the driver of a semi stopped on the northbound shoulder and got out of the truck. For an unknown reason, he tried to cross the highway, and was struck and killed in the southbound slow lane at about 7 p.m. There are no crosswalks, the area is not well-lit and the speed limit is 50 miles an hour.

Officers and medics attempted live-saving efforts on the pedestrian but were unsuccessful. The driver of the car remained on scene and is cooperating with investigators.

During the investigation, an assisting Bend Police Officer arrested another person for DUII after the driver indicated their intent to drive into the crash scene area.  That person was ultimately lodged at the Deschutes County Adult Jail.

Crook County Concerned About Trail Plans

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A U.S. Forest Service proposal to build up to 52 miles of trails in Lemon Gulch, northeast of Prineville, is drawing more criticism from some in the area.

Crook County Judge Seth Crawford and the other Commissioners sent an 11-page letter on Monday, expressing concern with how the plan was developed. “We believe that there could’ve been a lot more outreach to the permittee holders, the neighbors. I think the other aspect of it is, there’s quite a few things we’ve found that don’t match up with the Forest Service’s own plan,” Crawford told KBND News.

“What I think is most important is that the Forest Service looks at a holistic forest-wide view of what they want to do for non-motorized trail use before they start putting these projects in different areas. Ensure that what they are proposing is in concert with their own Forest plan. And then, on top of that, I think that it’s extremely important that they work to take input from the entire public, not just certain groups,” Crawford added. 

More than 700 people submitted feedback prior to the public comment deadline, which was midnight on Monday the 19th

Trails would be primarily developed for mountain bikes. The plan has not been finalized, and the Forest Service could decide to not move it forward.

Drought Remains Despite Recent Snowfall

BEND, OR -- According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, just over 53% of the Pacific Northwest remains in drought, despite recent snowfall. 

Oregon State Climatologist Larry O’Neill says the snowpack is well above normal, but reservoirs outside the Willamette Valley remain very low, “Some basins that are in particular trouble are the Crooked and Deschutes River Basin in Central Oregon, where Prineville and Wickiup and Crescent Lake are well below normal for this time of year. And we’re also running well below what we were at this time last year.” He adds, “There were a lot of irrigation shortages the last couple of summers, and without a lot of precipitation in the remainder of the water year, or wet season, we anticipate those conditions to be an issue as well, going into next summer.” The Owyhee and Malheur River Basin is also dangerously low with reservoirs near empty.

But, O'Neill says recent snowfall should help, "Average over all the snow telemetry stations across Oregon, right now the snow/water equivalent is about 141% of normal and all basins are well above average, so this is great news. The one caveat, of course, is that we’re still very early in the water season and, right now, we’re in the time when we’re building up the snowpack at the largest amount."

Over the next several months, the National Weather Service predicts a typical La Nina pattern of cooler and wetter than average weather.

 

High Desert Food Trail Invites Local Businesses

BEND, OR -- The High Desert Food and Farm Alliance is looking for businesses to join the High Desert Food Trail. This self-guided trail showcasing offerings from Central Oregon farmers, ranchers, brewers and chefs is in its second year, after a successful launch in October of 2021.

“We spoke to a lot of folks that were really interested. They were looking for a way to find local food, similar to the fruit loop up in the gorge. That they could follow and go on their own pace, so it was really exciting to be able to share this opportunity with them,” Agricultural Services Manager Andrea Smith says businesses offering local products can be a part of the High Desert Food Trail.

Smith tells KBND News the Trail partners with Travel Oregon and Visit Central Oregon to help promote the program, “Last year we marketed through a couple of different avenues. In this next year we will be pushing a couple of different and unique ways of marketing. …Doing potentially videos that we can share, or more marketing materials in our local outlets”.

Whether you’re a visiting foodie or a local looking for something fresh and new, the High Desert Food Trail offers everyone the opportunity to find out where our food comes from. “Any kind of business that has a certain level of local food that they either produce or sell in their business is welcome to be a part of the food trail. So, that can be anything from a cider company to a ranch that has events on their farm,” says Smith.

The deadline to apply is December 23rd.

Design Work Underway For Airport Terminal Expansion

REDMOND, OR -- Amid the hustle and bustle of holiday travel, the Redmond Airport is planning a major terminal expansion project. Airport Director Zach Bass says it’ll grow the terminal by more than 75,000 square feet. Director Zach Bass says the design is not yet finalized, but the space is coming, "2009 is when we expanded to where we are now; and at the time, people were like, ‘that’s too big.’ It’s not. We’ve grown 130% since that time. Just last year, we put more than a million people through the terminal. And, if you’ve ever been there in the morning or a busier time, our hold room, where people wait for their aircraft, is too small."

Construction is slated to begin in 2024, "When it’s done, after two or three years, you’re going to be seeing six or seven jet bridges, 50,000-square feet of new hold room, more retail, more concessions, maybe more ticketing for new airlines coming online in the next 10 years. It’s basically just an overarching expansion of the airport." Those new "jet bridges" will allow passengers to avoid walking outside to get to their plane. He says an escalator is also expected. A new webpage is now online for the public to track progress of the $100 million project. 

Bass says, despite the large-scale plans, the airport won’t lose its small-scale personality, "A big part of this design that we’re working on right now is making sure that that’s one of our highest priorities: How do we design this to keep the same feel even though we’re growing? We’re hoping to keep the airport the same look, in a sense, friendly and clean. All that kind of comes in to how you design it."

The work will be paid for by FAA grants, airport revenue and savings.

 

 

Bend Shelters Operating At Capacity In Early Winter

BEND, OR -- Winter is just getting started and Central Oregon’s homeless shelters are already operating at or near capacity. Shepherd’s House Emergency Services Director John Lodise says The Lighthouse Center in Bend opens additional space in the day-use area to get more people inside overnight, when its 110 beds fill up. "We don’t want people to be out in the cold and risk their lives in what can be sometimes deadly cold weather. So, we want to do whatever we can to bring people inside and keep them safe," Lodise said. "So, the other night, we had 138 people total in the building here, and we had 28 people in the building in Redmond," he told KBND News Friday, "So that’s 166 people that we were putting up."

Gwenn Wysling, Executive Director of the Bethlehem Inn, says their Bend shelter is full, with new people moving in as soon as others move out, "That capacity is an ebb and flow. Roughly, we’ve served 166 people in the last month." She says operating at capacity has become common nearly all year-round, "It happens a lot in the summer, too. So, we have peak capacity in the summertime, as well." But, she adds, "This time of year, it seems a little more demanding because the weather is so harsh and it is so cold. And there are not a whole lot of alternatives if you don’t have a place to stay."

Lodise says Shepherd's House sees a similar trend, "We’ve been at 110 beds, here at the Lighthouse, for the last three months, even when it was warmer. That’s more directly related to more and more people who are on the streets or camping, seem to be making a choice that they want to move on from that." The Shepherd’s House shower truck is also serving about 95 people a week in various camps.

Both nonprofits operate shelters in Redmond. None are at capacity, although Lodise says the warming shelter at Mountain View Fellowship is nearly full every night. The Redmond Bethlehem Inn has been open for a year. Wysling says it has some space available for people willing to participate in their program.

File photo

ODFW Moves Toward Ban Of Coyote Killing Contests

BEND, OR -- Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Commission voted Friday to work toward banning coyote killing contests. KBND Outdoor Expert Gary Lewis says the competitions help protect young livestock from the predators, "It is good for wildlife conservation because, not only do we want those beef calves to grow up, but we want the baby antelope to survive. And, we want to keep the coyote numbers in balance where they need to be, not out of proportion." He adds, "The fewer coyotes that we have out in those areas, the better it is for those cows and the ranchers who are running those cows; who own those cows."

Fifteen organizations had asked for state rules for coyote killing contests. Their petition was denied. Instead, the commission directed ODFW staff to work within its legal authority to stop the competitions. They will now work with the Department of Justice to to develop rules to stop the contests.

The commission’s vote was 6 to 1.

 

File photo

One Cat Killed, Two Others Missing In Tumalo Fire

TUMALO, OR -- One cat is dead and two others missing, following a Sunday afternoon fire in Tumalo. Fire crews responded to the 960-square foot single-wide at about 12:15 p.m. They were on-scene within nine minutes, but had trouble putting out the fire due to the significant amount of combustible material inside.

The homeowner told Bend Fire crews the pipes had frozen inside the 1968 manufactured home, so he used a heat gun at the back of the house to try and thaw them. Heat conducted along a metal pipe and ignited combustibles inside. Flames spread quickly through the ceiling, to the roof.

The home was a total loss and the Red Cross is helping the three people who lived there. They did not have insurance.

Recent cold weathercaused several frozen water pipes throughout the area. Bend Fire & Rescue encourages everyone to take steps to prevent frozen domestic and fire sprinkler lines by ensuring buildings are adequately insulated, especially attic and crawlspace areas that could have very low temperatures. Insulating crawl space vents with foam blocks and turning off water to exterior spigots can also help. If pipes do freeze, gentle heat is best. Never use an open flame to thaw pipes. A hairdryer or portable space heater may be used, but ensure that the heater is suitable for indoor use and located well away from combustible materials. Also keep in mind that metal pipes conduct heat, so ensure that there are no combustibles on or near metal pipes. For more cold weather safety tips, click HERE.

Prineville Man Killed In Madras Shooting

MADRAS, OR -- A Prineville man was killed in a Madras home; his ex-wife is now charged with his murder.

Madras Police responded to the area known as "Dave's Homes" just after 6 p.m. Friday. They found 28-year-old Devyne Briggs with multiple gunshot wounds. He was declared dead shortly after. The Tri-County Major Incident Team is now investigating.

Paige Jordan Vannorsdall, of Madras, is under arrest for Murder, Assault in the First Degree and Unlawful Use of a Weapon. The Jefferson County District Attorney describes Vanorsdall as "the former wife of the deceased."

 

Update: Tumalo Home Twice Damaged By Fire

TUMALO, OR -- A Tumalo home heavily damaged by fire Thursday night, again caught fire Friday morning. Bend Fire & Rescue says the property owner contacted Central Electric Cooperative at about 9 p.m. when power went out at the the house on Grande Loop. Believing it to be a neighborhood outage, the homeowner went to bed. When the CEC technician arrived just before 10, he found smoke coming from the roofline. 

The tech called 911 and helped the homeowner and two dogs safely evacuate. Arriving fire crews found an active attic fire and worked to quickly put it out. They remained on scene to make sure everything was fully extinguished and cleared at about 1:30 a.m. Investigators determined the blaze started from an electrical problem in the attic.

Just after 6 a.m., 911 received multiple calls about a fire at the same house. Crews again found flames shooting from the roof. After putting out the fire, it was determined to have been caused by smoldering material. 

Following both incidents, damages to the home and contents are estimated at about $240,000, along with a $25,000 vehicle.  

 

Photo courtesy Bend Fire & Rescue

Wanted: Youth Basketball Coaches

BEND, OR -- Bend Park and Recreation District needs adult volunteers to coach teams in two basketball programs starting in January. BPRD is also hiring for paid positions supporting teams in gym spaces for practices and game days, with pay ranging from $17 to $21. 

Coaches are needed for the Middle School Girls Basketball League - a partnership with Bend-La Pine Schools. The seven-week season runs from January 10 to March 2. Coaches are needed for the following 12 teams:

  • Cascade: 6th grade (2 teams)
  • High Desert: 6th grade (2 teams) and 7th/8th grade
  • La Pine: 6th grade and 7th/8th grade
  • Pacific Crest: 6th grade and 7th/8th grade
  • Pilot Butte: 7th/8th grade
  • Sky View: 6th grade (2 teams)

Coaches are also needed for the 2023 Youth Basketball League for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. BPRD has 740 kids playing on 74 teams this season. The basketball season runs January 3 to March 4. Practices are held twice weekly in the evenings with games played on Saturdays. Coaches are needed for the following 8 teams: 

  • North Star/Ponderosa: 3rd grade boys
  • Highland/Seven Peaks: 3rd grade boys
  • Ensworth/Juniper: 3rd grade boys
  • Buckingham/Trinity: 3rd grade girls
  • Bear Creek: 5th grade boys
  • Elk Meadow: 5th grade boys
  • Jewell: 5th grade boys
  • Miller: 5th grade boys

Volunteer coaches receive training and on-going support. Safety is top priority, so all coaches must complete a volunteer application and criminal background check, as well as online concussion awareness training. Volunteers must enjoy working with youth and be able to create a positive, encouraging recreational environment for all players.

The BPRD sports department is also seeking paid staff to supervise gymnasium spaces during mid-week practices and Saturday games through the season. Pay rates are $18 to $21 per hour depending on experience and scope of duties.

Part-time employees are responsible to oversee the facility including opening/closing the gym, coordinating with school district employees if necessary and ensuring safety for volunteer coaches and participants. Employees who work on game days will also operate the score clock, supervise officials, answer questions, etc. View the BPRD jobs listings for details and how to apply.

Contact BPRD sports program coordinators Rich Ekman or Greg Brady for details and to volunteer or apply for paid positions.

Bend Police Focus On DUII Arrests

BEND, OR -- Bend Police set a record with drunk driving arrests in 2022, in part, thanks to the DUII team created earlier this year. 

Bend PD’s Sheila Miller says the department puts a large focus on DUII calls because the public has said it should be a priority, “This last year, we created a DUII team and those officers’ entire job is to be out on the roads looking for drunk and high drivers. And they’ve been super successful. We actually had one of our officers named the DUII Officer of the Year for the state of Oregon.”

“As of last week, we were at 615 and I found out over the weekend that we had arrested six more. Last year, we finished the entire year at 509 DUII arrests, so that is a big jump and we still have several weeks; and those weeks tend to be very busy for DUIs,” says Miller.

There could be more arrests before the year’s end, due to holiday gatherings. “People find themselves in a situation where they haven’t made a plan and they aren’t sure how they’re going to get home. You know, there’s just no excuse anymore for people to drive intoxicated in Central Oregon. There are rideshares and cabs,” says Miller.

She says officers are also looking for distracted drivers. “That is akin to driving drunk. You know, if you’re driving and looking at your cell phone and not paying attention, it is the same effect as driving under the influence of alcohol.” 

Commissioners Move Forward On Psilocybin Service Centers

BEND, OR -- Deschutes county commissioners appear poised to allow psilocybin service centers inside destination resorts who apply for a permit. That was a main part of deliberations at a meeting Wednesday to consider time, place, and manner restrictions for psilocybin businesses.  

“The people have said they want access. Our initial proposal offered almost no access. Destination resorts is one way to expand access,” said Commissioner Phil Chang who also supports service centers on Exclusive Farm Use land, to provide more options, “In the ideal world I think I would support access in both those types of settings. The voters of Deschutes County have said twice that they want access to psilocybin services across the county; both the urban voting precincts and the rural precincts.”

Commissioner Tony Debone agreed with his colleagues to also allow some options in forest and farm zones along with conditional use permits for destination resorts, “When it comes to psilocybin specifically, I’m not here to advocate for recreational use. We’re talking about managed, safe, and approved environment. So, I’m not opposed to allowing in the destination resort areas.”

Chang, Debone, and Patti Adair were unanimous in deciding operating hours would be limited to the Oregon Health Authority standard of 6 AM to midnight.

They are set to vote on the code amendments at Monday’s board of commissioners meeting.

Missing Woman Found, Investigation Continues

BEND, OR -- Bend Police continue to investigate a woman's disappearance, despite being found. Monday afternoon, 34-year-old Nadeyda Vergara Aguilar left her children with a family member and walked to a mini-mart at Boyd Acres and Butler Market. She was reported missing that night when she didn't return. 

BPD reports she was found safe in Shady Cove in Southern Oregon Wednesday evening, and is receiving medical attention. Investigators are trying to determine why she disappeared and whether a crime occurred. They're asking for information from anyone who knows where she was over the two-day span. 

Bend-LaPine Schools Offer Tips For Winter Break

BEND, OR -- School districts continue to deal with the lingering effects of pandemic-era closures, like emotional and behavioral issues.

Jennifer Hauth and Megan Knoster, with Bend-La Pine Schools, say the upcoming winter break can lead to more “dis-regulation” when kids again lose the structure of school, but there are things parents and students can do to mitigate problems.

“Monitoring screen-time, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, exercising, and remembering that it’s healthy to acknowledge and express our feelings and reach out for help if needed,” says Hauth, “Some of our students, over the next two weeks, will miss the structure of school and will miss seeing friends, and so it’s just important for us to make sure we’re connecting with them and talking with them.” 

“It’s also just pausing and acknowledging that it’s ok for things to not be perfect, and to be struggling, and to also recognize that there are resources and supports available within the community,” says Knoster. “Students and families who are struggling to meet the needs of the family, while also dealing with a holiday season where there might be additional expenses. This time of the year, we also see a lot of re-experiencing of grief if people have lost a loved one. So, we’re seeing a lot of students struggling with accepting and acknowledging that there’s going to be a holiday season without a loved one.”

Families can access “Care Solace,” through Bend-La Pine Schools, if they need help connecting with a professional. 

OSU Cascades Adds New Science Degree

BEND, OR -- OSU Cascades will soon offer a biochemistry and molecular biology degree.

Director of Communications Christine Coffin says students and business partners signaled they want this new program. “What we were hearing from students was that they are interested in paths to pre-medicine. There are many students that are interested in medical school. From industry we’re hearing that there’s more and more work in the bio tech and bio science fields,” said Coffin mentioning that several alumni work in Central Oregon, “We’re very lucky to have really strong relationships with local industry including companies in the bio tech and bio science, where the managers are interested in creating pathways for students.”

“This degree in biochemistry and molecular biology can really prepare students for all of those careers, graduate school, medical school, etc… Local companies can really help add to the student’s academic work and career development activities,” said Coffin.

The new program will be available to students starting in the Fall 2023.

Suspected Shoplifters Arrested In Bend

BEND, OR -- Bend Police arrested three people from Warm Springs Tuesday, accused of shoplifting more than $2,500 in merchandise. Officers responded to Walmart on Pinebrook Blvd at about 1:20 p.m. after the store reported two customers had wheeled two full shopping carts outside without paying.

The suspects reportedly loaded the items into a white pickup with a brown tarp on the back. Police say the vehicle description matched a previous incident at Winco, when a woman was caut trying to take $341 of merchandise.

Police stopped the pickup at Robal Road and Highway 20, on the north end of Bend, and arrested 34-year-oold Dorthy James, 32-year-old Jessica Tufti and 32-year-old Wade Bennett.

 

Photo courtesy of Bend Police

Committee To Discuss Mirror Pond Fish Passage

BEND, OR -- The Mirror Pond Advisory Committee meets Thursday to discuss plans for a fish passage project at the Newport Dam. Consultant and committee facilitator Vernita Ediger says engineers came up with three passage design options, "A traditional fish ladder, a nature-like fish byway - which is more of a channel around the dam, and I think it’s called a ruffage channel - where it’s kind of more of a rocky area that’s built up toward the dam."

Now the committee needs to finalize the criteria for deciding which one is best. "Of course, effectively passing fish up and downstream and meeting state requirements for doing so is one of those things," Ediger tells KBND News, "Cost and fiscal responsibility is another concern. Thinking about public safety and making sure that any structure that’s put in place doesn’t create risk to the public." And, she says, it must be workable by all partners, including PacificCorp, who owns the hydro-electric dam. "This is where everything gets real," she says, "It’s really easy, when everything is conceptual, to agree. But, as soon as we start talking about nuts and bolts and pros and cons, things start to get pretty real. I’m really hopeful that we’ll have a really good decision matrix."

A public open house is planned for January, where the committee will answer questions about the design options and how they'll make a decision. The goal is to present a recommended passage design to the city and Bend Parks and Rec by late January or early February. But that’s where the timeline gets vague. Ediger says there are still a lot of questions around when or even if to build a fish passage in Mirror Pond, including who will own and manage the structure? "Then you need to also think through the liability and who’s taking that on."

Thursday's virtual committee meeting starts at 10 a.m. Click HERE for more information.

Image of the Newport Dam courtesy of Deschutes River Conservancy

Mt Bachelor Shuttle To Increase Frequency

BEND, OR -- The Mt. Bachelor shuttle started the season running once an hour, but will expand to every 15 minutes on Friday. Also Friday, "Mt Bachelor is opening Sunrise Lodge and we’ll be adding that as a stop," CET's Eric Lint tells KBND News, "We’re currently stopping at West Village, and as of this Friday, we’ll also stop at Sunrise Lodge. And, of course, the end point here in Bend is at the Mt Bachelor Park and Ride, and that’s near the skating rink." Lint says, shuttle buses will also soon be equipped with wifi for riders.

Tickets are $12 for a roundtrip or $7 one-way. Tickets can be purchased in-person using exact change (one-way only) or in advance with the Umo Mobility app. Cascades East Transit manages the shuttle, but the service is funded by Mt. Bachelor. "The cost of the ticket doesn’t cover the full cost of the service and Mt Bachelor is subsidizing this because it helps their employees get up to the mountain as well," says Lint, "Mt Bachelor employees ride for free." 

Last year, the shuttle carried about 200 people a day to the mountain. Lint expects that number to grow this winter, and he says congestion on Cascade Lakes Highway has already started, "I’ve seen a lot of chatter from my friends. One took an hour and a half to get down the mountain. No one likes to be in traffic, but if you’re going to be in traffic, at least let someone else do the driving, right? And then, you don’t have to worry about parking either. With all the changes happening at the mountain, this offers a convenient way to get out there and play."

To handle that increased demand and manage an ongoing driver shortage, CET and Mt Bachelor are offering an additional incentive for new hires. "If you get hired on to this route, you get a ski pass for yourself and a friend. And that’s not just a one-time thing. That’s, you can go up there as much as you like," says Lint. Many of the buses used for the shuttle do not require a Commercial Driver License.

The first bus leaves at 6:30 a.m. from the Mt. Bachelor Park and Ride, near the Pavilion. The last bus down the mountain is at 5:15 p.m. Click HERE for a full schedule. 

 

 

Bend City Survey Enters Second Phase

BEND, OR -- A community survey for the city of Bend has entered its second phase. City Councilors hope to learn how people perceive city services and what issues are important, as they develop priorities for the next two years.

Following a statistically valid phone survey, the general public can now provide feedback online. Click HERE to enter the survey site. The survey is available until December 26.

This is different than a Bend Fire survey also underway this week. 

Winter Storm A Reminder For Holiday Travelers To Arrive Early For Flights

REDMOND, OR -- Sunday’s winter storm dropped a lot of snow on northern Deschutes County, but the Redmond Airport remained open. "Whenever you get almost, I think, 10" of snow over about an eight-hour period, it causes some strain on our operations to keep our airport open," Airport Director Zach Bass told KBND News on Monday, "Our people have done a great job."

He says a few flights were canceled the night before the storm hit, in anticipation of the conditions, despite runways remaining clear and open, "Sometimes, of course the airlines look at their own weather reporting and make decisions even prior to what actually might be the situation on the ground. So, we did see some cancellations. We have a few delays, but this storm is also kind of hitting a lot of the west coast."

This latest dose of weather is a good reminder to give yourself extra time if you’re flying through the Redmond Airport, this time of year. Bass suggests accounting for road conditions and try to arrive two hours before your flight. "Very busy time of the year, there could be lines. So, the more time you give yourself - I realize that’s tough when you have to get up at maybe 3:30 in the morning and sometimes you get through without a problem and you think, ‘oh, why did I get up so early?’ But there’s a lot of other times where that’s not the case and that extra time really does help you make sure you’re on your aircraft." 

He suggests checking your airline’s website or mobile app before you arrive for any changes to your specific flight, and do your part to move through security quickly, "Be aware of what kind of shoes you’re wearing, if you have to take them off; make sure your laptop is at the top of your bag so you can take it out easier. And if you’re traveling with a big family, it’s hard. I have quite a few kids and when we travel, it’s tough. But we try to think ahead about what needs to come out, where’s the easiest way to put it, and kind of be mindful of everyone behind us." You'll find more holiday travel tips on the TSA's website. If you plan to park at the airport, check FlyRDM.com to see how many spots are available. Capacity is updated every 30 minutes in the orange banner across the top of the page.  

 

Bend Fire Launches Survey Ahead of Levy

BEND, OR -- Bend Fire and Rescue has a math problem, says Fire Chief Todd Riley, "The cost of us doing our business is outpacing our revenue. At the same time, the demands for our service are increasing." The department plans to ask voters to approve an increased operating levy next May. But first, they’ll measure the current level of support for such a request. 

Riley tells KBND News a phone survey is now underway in Bend and the surrounding Rural Fire District, "The more that we can help the community understand what we do, the better chance we have of the community supporting us. So, part of this survey is, yes, to gauge voter interest in supporting our levy. But also, we’re going to gauge what the community knows about Bend Fire and Rescue and the services we provide." He says a third-party survey company is calling residents this week, "How much do they know about Bend Fire & Rescue? How likely are they to support our levy if it were to be on the ballot right now? And then, they would ask questions that dive deeper into our operations. ‘Did you know that Bend Fire and Rescue –?’ and then fill in the blank." The survey takes about 15 minutes and runs through Saturday.

Chief Riley says determining what the public knows about the agency will also help shape messaging once the levy is on the ballot, "We have to pass this levy. And, speaking in terms the community understands with the issues that they care about, is the best way to get support for this ask. I mean, we’re asking the community to increase funding for the fire department because our services depend, and they're essential for the voters to pass it."

The current tax rate of 20 cents per thousand dollars of assessed taxable value hasn’t changed since 2014. Riley tells KBND News increasing it to 81 cents will catch up with the city’s growth and fund firefighters for the new Pilot Butte Fire Station, which currently only houses medics. The 61-cent increase is estimated to cost the average Bend homeowner $12 more per month, and $17 more a month for the average home in the surrounding rural fire protection district. 

He says a new levy would not take effect until 2024, when the existing levy expires.

 

 

 

Deschutes DA Hummel Closes Out Term

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel will step down at the end of the month. He’s served as the county’s top prosecutor since 2014.

“In essence the community was saying ‘hey, we want you to keep us safe as District Attorney.’ And working with law enforcement and my team in the DA’s office, we’ve done that. There are fewer crimes of violence committed every year now, than when I started in Deschutes County,” said Hummel

Along with the daily challenges and successes in the courthouse, he is proud of the cooperative work between his office, local law-enforcement, and non-profit groups, “The innovative crime prevention programs we’ve brought forward; (including) the Veterans Intervention program.”

He expects a seamless transfer in the DA’s office when long-serving Chief Deputy Steve Gunnels takes over January 2nd. “Steve Gunnels has been in our office for 28 years as a deputy attorney. He’s been my chief deputy attorney during my entire 8-year tenure. So, we’re continuing to work closely on this transition.”

Gunnels ran for the office unopposed and was elected in May.
Hummel has no current plans to run for office again, but says he hopes to continue serving the public in some capacity.

Two Men Wanted In Connection With Madras Murder

MADRAS, OR -- State Police are looking for two men who may have been involved in a Madras shooting. Edgar Miguel Torres-Aguilera died after being shot multiple times on Halloween, in the Strawberry Heights neighborhood.

Based on information developed by the Tri-County Major Incident Team, OSP is asking for the public’s help tracking down 22-year-old Chance Corey Lee Stwyer (left) and 18-year-old Andre Sterling James Spino (right).

Both have ties to the Warm Springs area. There is an active warrant for Spino and he’s considered armed and dangerous.

Anyone with information on the location of either subject or information on the case should contact the Oregon State Police Dispatch at 800-442-0776 or *OSP (*677) from a mobile phone. Reference case number SP22-293699.

SCHC Home Health & Hospice Nurses Vote To Unionize

BEND, OR -- For the first time, St. Charles Home Health and Hospice nurses will unionize. Nurse Karin Arthur tells KBND News the 85% who voted yes last week believed there was no other way, "We felt that our voices as nurses, for patients in home health and hospice, weren’t being heard by St. Charles. And, no matter how many requests and things we put into the organization, we didn’t feel our voices were being heard in the management and care of our patients; and we felt that patient safety was at risk."

They’ll be represented by the Oregon Nurses Association, although under a separate contract than St. Charles hospital nurses in Bend, Redmond and Prineville already in the ONA. In the coming weeks, Home Health and Hospice nurses will establish bylaws, "We will have to negotiate a contract on our own, just the Home Health and Hospice nurses as one bargaining unit, separate from the hospital nurses. Now obviously, we’re all part of the same overall union, so we will work together in patient care and parts of their contract that apply to home health and hospice." That contract may not be in place for another year.

The ONA says caregivers want input on local decision-making and to ensure they are treated and compensated fairly. Home Health and Hospice nurses help prevent patients from being re-admitted, which adds to an already strained system, according to the union. "We’re excited that this is going to bring reform and excellence to customer service within the home health and hospice populations. We really feel like this is what’s best for our patients," says Arthur. 

 

Photo courtesy of the Oregon Nurses Association

Central Oregon Storm Dumps Snow, Forces Closures

BEND, OR -- The city of Bend says winter crews have been out clearing roads during this storm that dropped several inches on Central Oregon. They sprayed magnesium chloride before the snow hit, then began plowing at 5 a.m. Sunday. Night crews were out again starting at 8 p.m., including contractors who focused on priority three residential streets while city trucks worked priority one and two roads. Bend-La Pine Schools tweeted a thank you to road crews Monday morning, when the district announced schools would open "as usual." 

Redmond Schools and Jefferson County 509J both announced Sunday night that schools would close Monday. Crook County Schools started with a two-hour delay, but by 7:30 a.m. Monday, officials announced it would also fully close. Monday night's Crook County School Board meeting will also be held virtually. It starts at 6:30 p.m. and can be viewed at this link. Culver Schools are closed, as well. And Central Oregon Community College canceled classes and activities at all campuses. 

Pacific Power reported outages in Bend, Madras and Redmond due to the severe weather. Just after 6:30 a.m. Monday, Central Electric Cooperative tweeted, "line crews have restored power to over 3,200 members with just under 400 to go. Crews continue to work through rough conditions to restore power to all CEC members in NW Redmond, Madras, and Terrebonne."

Jefferson County Man Dies In House Fire

MADRAS, OR -- A Jefferson County man perished in a December 6th house fire that has now been ruled accidental. According to the Sheriff's Office, the blaze was reported on Lower Bridge Road at about 6 a.m. The person who called 911 believed the homeowner, 88-year-old Glenn Cooper may have been inside the home at the time. 

During the initialy investigation, officials confirmed a body was inside. However, because of hot gasses, investigators were not able to process the scene until the following day. 

Based on evidence found later, investigators believe Cooper tried to put the fire out on his own but failed. They also say there were past issues with the wood-burning fireplace that contributed to the cause of the fire.

Library Board Votes To Keep LGBTQ Books

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County Library board meeting was unusually packed Thursday as the members voted four to one to keep books with LGBTQ+ material in their current location on shelves.

Representatives from Deschutes Public Library, the Oregon Intellectual Freedom Committee, and State Library of Oregon testified on the potential loss of funding and other consequences of labeling or moving books to a separate location.

After some voiced concerns about the material over the past months, Library Services Director April Witteveen offered two proposals: segregate the books or keep them on the same shelves. 

Of the 2 dozen Prineville residents who spoke during the public comment at the meeting, 19 of them favored keeping the books in place. An informal ‘show of hands’ vote taken by the board also showed the majority of those in attendance wanted to keep the status quo.

Witteveen read from a letter from the Crook County Court and shared her own thoughts prior to the public comment period, “The county court hopes the library board’s decision makes our community’s library a welcoming enjoyable place for everyone in the community… I did just also want to thank the community members who have taken the time to write to the court, to write to the library board, to write to myself and library staff; sharing their perspective on this proposed action.”

Home Energy Score Program Approved For Bend

BEND, OR -- A home energy score will be required to sell a house in Bend, starting July first, following unanimous approval this week by the City Council. But the new ordinance is not without controversy.

"It’s a cost to the seller, which is ultimately a cost to the buyer," says KBND real estate expert Fred Johnson. "Basically this is a regulation that says someone needs to come into your home before you can sell it. They’re going to gather information on your home and they’re going to charge you a fee for doing that, before you have a right to sell your home." City officials estimate the assessment would cost between $150 and $275. 

The program is aimed at addressing climate change. But Johnson doesn’t think it will do much, since sellers aren’t required to act on what’s in the report, "It’s going to be a requirement of all homes that go on the market that there’s an energy assessment, whether they were built last week or they were built 20 years ago, with really no teeth in it. There’s no mandatory items to mitigate any potential problems that are discovered. You basically are paying for someone to come in and gather information on the property." The ordinance does allow for a streamlined process for builders constructing the same plan on multiple lots, and there will be grants available for low-income sellers. 

He's also troubled by how the new regulation was passed, "Obviously, there is a fair amount of dissent in the community. And yet, the vote still goes through unanimous; absolutely no dissenting vote. So, that means that there’s a good section of the population - a good section of their constituency or whatever you want to call it - that are not being represented in the process." While several people testified the score should be optional, there were also supporters of the ordinance who said it will help home-buyers compare the expense of living in various houses and better understand the overall cost of homeownership. 

City Council says the energy score program will be re-evaluated if it is deemed “over-burdensome” or if there are not enough assessors to keep up with demand. 

 

Bend Gateway North Master Plan Advances

BEND, OR -- A new master plan is moving forward for the north end of Bend; it's a big step in the eventual relocation of Costco near Highway 20 and Cooley Road. Mayor-Elect Melanie Kebler says the City Council approved what’s being called “Gateway North” after the developer brought the parking plan in line with city code. "The developers had done a more specific study and brought us some different data, and they themselves said, ‘Hey, here’s what we need. We can reduce this down and we actually don’t need that many. And, especially if we try to put in some of the other things that allow people in the neighborhood to have a bike share’ and to have some of the other mitigation that we were looking for, that made sense and that was a plan that they could get behind." Kebler tells KBND News, "They were going to add back some of the bike parking we thought was missing, they’re going to reduce the amount of parking they needed, and they were also going to do some things like adding some trees, some stormwater mitigation and also a little mobility hub for that whole area; because there will be some housing and other things, not just a Costco."

The Gateway North Master Plan also includes 422 housing units, mostly for senior living and multi-family. Kebler admits the entire project is still years from the start of construction.

Some have criticized the city’s desire to reduce parking availability for such a popular store. But the latest plans submitted appear to include more spots than at the existing Bend location at the Forum Shopping Center. And Kebler says it’s important to balance space for other needs, "There’s a lot of activity happening in that part of town. I think we’re going to see some other neighborhoods coming in as well. But I’m pleased to see it’s not just one type of development, but that they’ve mixed together housing and commercial, which is I think what we need more of."

 

County Approves Grant Money For Mobile Outreach Van

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Health Services plans to use an $80,000 grant from the Central Oregon Health Council to purchase a mobile clinic.

Clinical Services Manager Anne Kilty is excited for the van that will provide services to people unable to get to clinics in Redmond and Bend. “Some basic health screenings that could be useful out in the community: blood pressure checks, diabetes screenings. Our WIC team will be providing nutritional support, breastfeeding support, early dental intervention for pregnant and postpartum women and children up to the age of five. And then, our perinatal care team will be doing maternity case management services,” says Kilty, noting the county has been working towards an outreach van since before the pandemic. She hopes to park the van in different communities at places like libraries, where patients can rely on their presence.

Deschutes County Commissioners approved the awarding of the grant at Wednesday’s board meeting.

Kilty says patients may be more comfortable accessing the van for care rather than going to a clinic, “It’s really important that we reach out to people and communities that are not able to access the Bend and Redmond locations very easily. We know people have problems getting to the clinic; some people don’t have good transportation, don’t have resources to pay for gas, have childcare and work issues.”

The van should be purchased and ready for use by July 1st.

Four Floors Approved For Deschutes Courthouse Expansion

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners on Wednesday approved adding a fourth floor to planned renovations at the County Courthouse.  

Commissioner Phil Chang says the additional space is helpful, even if it isn't used by court staff initially. “There are opportunities to use that space for activities, (and) organizations that are court-related. (That) makes it a much more attractive proposition,” said Chang adding that an estimated $44.5 million “is a very big price tag. That said, I definitely think that shelling out the fourth floor is a much more cost-effective option.”

The commissioners were given an option to have three floors built. Commissioners Patti Adair and Tony DeBone also support the fourth floor option because of the space. “Having another 10,000 to 13,000 (square feet of) flex space for future public safety, court proceeding needs is going to be very valuable,” said Debone, while noting the County will be asking the legislature in their next session to help pay for the addition.

Next spring will see the completion of a schematic design along with an updated cost estimate. The Courthouse Expansion could be completed in two to three years.

Local Snowpack Off To Strong Start

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon’s snowpack is off to a strong start, thanks to early season snowstorms. Snowpack in the Upper Deschutes and Crooked River basin are 144% of normal for this time of year, as of Thursday.

NRCS Hydrologist Matt Warbritton says an early November storm was followed by two weeks of dry weather, which was a little concerning, "Towards the end of November, we started to get significant storms again that again dropped pretty substantial snowpack for this early in the season, across most parts of the state. Even where it’s been a little dryer, like southern Oregon and much of Central Oregon, those areas also received pretty significant snowpack."

However, he says those November storms weren't all positive, "A lot of the early season storms, instead of precipitation as rain, that precipitation fell as snow at higher elevations. So, we didn’t quite get the amount of rain early in the season that we usually get, and that’s why some of the basins show below normal precipitation." He tells KBND News, "We would like to start to see more near-normal precip levels for more sites. Especially in Central Oregon, where they’re still the highest levels of drought in the state." According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, much of Crook County remains in “exceptional drought” - which is the highest level. 

Warbritton says it's a good start to replenishing reservoirs that have dried out from several years of drought, but the trend needs to continue. "Those above normal conditions are needed because next summer they’re going to be drawing directly from the water supply they get from this season’s snowmelt and they can’t really rely on any sort of carry-over." 

The takeaway is, he says, this snowy trend needs to continue; we still need more moisture before next spring to recover from previous precipitation shortfalls.

 

Tips For Averting Utility Bill Sticker Shock This Winter

BEND, OR -- With temperatures dipping into the teens and twenties, Pacific Power says there are a few things you can do to keep your electric bill from heating up. Tom Gauntt suggests caulking around doors and windows to seal off any leaks. For larger drafts, "You know where the cold wind comes from and you say, ‘Gee, I’ve got a door that faces that cold wind.’ You can go to the store, and they have these nice little things for the bottoms of doors, or makeshift towels or an old rug or something to kind of keep that cold air from coming in."

Try not to heat rooms you aren’t using. "Sometimes it can be simply, ‘You know what? We don’t really use that spare room anymore.’ And you can turn down the heat vent that’s in there," He tells KBND News not to turn heat off where pipes might freeze, "You don’t want to be foolish about it, if there’s some water pipes in the room or something, don’t cause a new problem."

Clean or replace furnace filters and make sure registers and intake vents are clear of furniture, so air can move freely. And, avoid the temptation to turn up the thermostat when it gets colder. Gauntt says it won’t heat your house any faster, "Try to set the thermostat at about 68. That might seem kind of cool to people but, if you can keep it there consistently and you have these other factors taken care of, it should keep you comfortable."

And, avoid relying too heavily on space heaters, "If you have a 1500 watt portable heater running eight hours a day every day, you’re looking at about $30 a month on the bill, right there, Those appliances have their place and we operate them safely and sparingly, it’s fine. But just to say, ‘I’m going to heat the garage all winter using that,’ it’s going to be costly."

Energy Trust of Oregon offers energy efficiency consultations if you need help finding other ways to save on your power bill.

Redmond Library Preps New Building Construction

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s library will soon be on the move, in preparation for a major reconstruction project. Deschutes Public Library Director Todd Dunkelberg says they’ll shift some books to the former Redmond Design Center on South Highway 97 in mid-January. It's about a quarter of the size of the current facility, “It’s definitely a temporary location. We’ll have some popular materials there to checkout, and people can place holds and we’ll have that service going. And then we’ll be doing a lot of work out in the community," Dunkelberg tells KBND News, "So, a lot of the programs that you normally would’ve gone to the library, we’ll be holding at different venues around Redmond."

The current 20,000 square foot library will be torn down and a 40,000 square foot facility built in its place, slated to open in August of 2024. “We’ll have a meeting room that can hold about 240 people, tutor space; one-on-one meeting space where people can meet to tutor people, you could have a Zoom meeting. We’ll have a co-working area, some really neat creative and do-it-yourself areas," says Dunkelberg, "It’ll have a drive-up window in Redmond, so on those cold days where you don’t feel like getting out of your car you can pull up, we’ll hand the books to you."

Redmond's Jessie Hill School was built in 1919 and has housed the library since 1996. Dunkelberg says it's just too small for the community now. "We needed a building of about 40,000 square feet to serve Redmond and how much it’s grown. We started off looking at how could we remodel that building and make it work? And it just didn’t work for us." He says he recognizes it's a loss for Redmond, "It was a really tough decision but we really wanted to be right in the heart of the city of Redmond. And talking with the city of Redmond, they were very interested in keeping us in the same location, as well."

Nearly every branch in the Deschutes Public Library system will be renovated in 2023, as part of the $195 million bond passed by voters in 2020. Dunkelberg says, "Really, the biggest piece of all this is the Children’s Discovery Spaces, that we’re doing in all of our libraries. But that was the number one thing that people said they wanted to see in their libraries, when we went out and talked to almost 7,000 people across the county.”

Click HERE to learn more about the Redmond Library project, and get details on a Thursday open house. 

 

La Pine Garage Damaged By Fire

LA PINE, OR -- Firefighters responded to a report of a blaze in the Ponderosa Pines Neighborhood of La Pine, early Wednesday morning. Arriving crews found fire coming from the back of a two-car detached garage and extending to the attic, just after 3 a.m.

Amid temperatures in the mid-teens and snowy conditions, they knocked down the flames and extinguished the fire, preventing it from spreading to the nearby home and vehicles. 

Everyone inside got out safely, after seeing the glow of the fire. Investigators believe it started outside the garage and involved a pile of firewood, although the exact cause remains under investigation.  

 

OSU-Cascades Gifted $60k For Sustainable Tourism Lab

BEND, OR -- OSU-Cascades has received a $60,000 gift from Visit McMinnville, the tourism board for that Willamette Valley city. Todd Montgomery is the Founder and Director of OSU’s Sustainable Tourism Lab, and says the money will further his team’s work, "It first started with Visit Bend in January. They gave us a gift to essentially allow us to launch the Sustainable Tourism Lab. And then, McMinnville has graciously joined us. What both of these groups show is that they’re really at the tip of the spear as it relates to sustainable tourism."

Montgomery defines "sustainable" as balancing the benefits of tourism with the costs, "There’s environmental costs, there’s society costs and, of course, there’s economic. By knowing what the community wants and what has worked in other communities, we can find out what those benefits are and we kind find out a way to really address those costs in the most equitable way possible."

He tells KBND News it’s important for communities to have reliable data, "There is this perception that it is negative. But honestly, and this is across the board, it’s rarely ever quantified. And the surveys that do try to quantify it, 80% of those had a significant amount of bias, in one way or the other. I think where we sit is a chance to really be a uniter on this and be an objective source of information."

Montgomery says this latest gift will benefit communities across the country as research expands. It'll help pay for continuing a five-year study on tourism impacts, student researchers and studying other places. 

 

Deschutes Co. Seeks Input On Transportation System Plan

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County’s Road Department it’s updating the Transportation System Plan for projects scheduled through 2040. "Things like intersection improvements, roundabouts in rural county intersections, road segments that will be improved, bike and pedestrian improvements, bridges, general safety projects," Says Director Chris Doty, "And then there’s a component in there as well that includes improvements to the state highway system where a county road connects to it."

The projects total around $300 million, including a new intersection at Highway 97 and Quarry, south of Redmond. "Growth’s going to happen mostly through development of the cities. But sometimes the transportation system needs to extend out and we need to work with the cities to do that. And the Quarry project is an example of that - very, very important to the city of Redmond." He adds, "There are some that I think you could consider aspirational, like the Quarry Avenue interchange," Doty tells KBND News, "Like the interchange on the south end of Deschutes River Woods that’s proposed to connect Highway 97 across from the High Desert Museum. But, for the most part, what we’ve put out, there is, I would say, a reasonably fundable list of projects based on the revenue we have in place today and what we see as logical increases that will occur over time." Advancement of those two projects are dependent on state funding, but Doty says most of the others are from county funds and anticipated grants. 

A virtual open house is available on the county’s website, including an interactive map of all projects planned through 2040, "You can zoom in around where you live or areas of interest and see what’s been planned." Feedback will be accepted through December 31. Doty says the plan should be finalized by County Commissioners early next year.

 

Newly Elected Redmond City Councilors Train For Upcoming Work

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s City Council will have two new members, come January, and a third is anticipated the following month. Councilors and Councilors-elect took part in a training retreat over the weekend. Mayor-elect Ed Fitch says it was a chance to get to know each other, "Building that teamwork and looking at how we want to function as a Council; what rules we want to have." They were also briefed on future city plans, "What projects are in place, where are we at on them, what can we expect in the coming year for issues to come before the Council, particularly for the first quarter or in the spring."

Fitch anticipates changes when he becomes the Council’s first new leader in more than a decade. He tells KBND News he wants an open discussion process, "We’ll have an opportunity for two or three Councilors to bring issues up rather than just relying on just the Mayor or majority of Council. So, I think some minority issues will be discussed - or an opportunity to have that on the agenda. I’m recommending that we have more joint sessions with our committees and commissions."

They’re also developing plans for filling the vacancy created by Fitch's election to Mayor. "What I’m going to recommend to the Council is that we have an open process where people can apply," Fitch says, "Those applications should be shared with the Council and reviewed, in more of a consensus-building appointment process, rather than just have me pick somebody and ask the Council to approve them." He hopes to start the process in late December and have the person appointed by the end of January. A similar process is already underway in Bend, to fill Councilor Melanie Kebler’s seat when she becomes Mayor.

 

Madras Mother & Son Convicted Of Abusing Foster Kids

MADRAS, OR -- A woman and her adult son were convicted this week of multiple charges related to the abuse of two foster children in their care, a four-year-old girl and seven-year-old boy. 

According to the Jefferson County District Attorney, 50-year-old Oglivia Pineda-Garcia took the boy to the ER in May of 2018 with a significant cut on his face that required stitches. St. Charles reported  St. Charles reported concerns to law entorcement after Pineda-Garcias' explanation did not seem consistent with the injury. Because the child did not disclose any abuse at that time, he was allowed to return to the home.

In June 2018, both children were seen at DHS in Madras with multiple injuries to their faces and bodies. Both children were interviewed at the KIDS Center in Bend, where they disclosed significant additional abuse, including the  boy being kicked in the face and held face-up under running water by 27-year-old Edgar Macias.  

The boy also disclosed that the but that sent him to the emergency room in May 2018 was caused by Pineda-Garcia striking him in theface with a glass mason jar that shattered. The girl reported having her hair pulled by Defendant Pineda-Garcia.
Law enforcement executed a search warrant at the home Pineda-Garcia shared with her son Macias in July 2018, where they found a set of seven mason jar-type glasses. Sheriff Jason Pollock, a
detective at the time, moved the refrigerator in the home and located a glass fragment. A second glass fragment with a lip that appeared to match the mason jars was discovered under the stove. The individual who treated the child at st. Charles testified his injury was consistent with being struck with a mason jar. 
Pineda-Garcia was convicted of Assault in the Second Degree, Unlawtul Use of a Weapon, Assault in the Third Degree (3 counts), Criminal Mistreatment in the First Degree (3 counts), Assault in the Fourth Degree, and Harassment. Macias was convicted of Assault in the Second Degree, Criminal Mistreatment in the First Degree (2 counts), Assault in the Third Degree (2 counts), and Strangulation. Sentencing is scheduled for January 3, 2023.

Horses Escape Pasture During Dispute East of Bend

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Deputies say a dispute east of Bend resulted in more than $50,000 in damage. Brandon Hoff was arrested on numerous charges Thursday night.

Investigators say the 32-yeear-old from Bend fought with another man at an Erickson Road property, then crashed his SUV into several parked cars, a shed door and fence. DCSO says a number of horses escaped their pasture, due to the damage. They were later corralled by their owner.

When deputies arrived, they say Hoff was standing near a vehicle with heavy front end damage. He was taken into custody without incident. The 53-year-old victim received minor injuries. 

Hoff is charged with Assault, Criminal Mischief, Menacing, and Reckless Endangering.

 

Bend City Council Accepts Applications For Expected Vacancy

BEND, OR -- Bend's City Council began accepting applications Friday to fill the anticipated vacancy created when Melanie Kebler becomes Mayor. Council plans to officially declare the vacancy on on January 4, when Kebler is sworn in as Mayor. Because Kebler was elected as Mayor in the middle of her four-year Council term, her move to the Mayor vacates the remaining two years of her Position One seat. That term expires in December 2024.

The Bend Charter requires a vacancy on Council be filled by appointment within 30 days of declaring the vacancy. Council Rules describe the process for filling a vacancy.

Online applications are accepted on the city's website, along with a letter of interest which may address such areas as reasons for wanting to serve on the Council, working as a part of a team and representing various areas of the community. 

Applicants can also come to City Hall (710 NW Wall St.) Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to fill out an application.  Please contact Melissa Mitsch to set up an appointment at 541-388-5505 or mmitsch@bendoregon.gov.

Completed applications are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023. The Council will review the applications then can select candidates for interviews. The Council anticipates conducting interviews the week of January 9 and expects to make an appointment at the regular Council meeting on Wednesday, January 18.

The Council aims to have the appointment made prior to the start of its goal-setting process, which takes place in late January. Dates, times and locations for all meetings will be available on the City Calendar once scheduled.

Alleged Wrong-Way Driver Arrested After Running From Police

BEND, OR -- A 31-year-old Bend woman is accused of running away from a DUI crash on the north end of town. Bend Police say Jessica Capasso was seen speeding through the Sportsman’s Warehouse parking lot on Hunnell Road, at about 9 p.m. Thursday. When officers approached her parked car, they say she drove over two parking lot islands before reaching Highway 97. Investigators say she then drove north in the southbound lanes and collided with a Jeep Wrangler that had just turned left onto the highway. The driver of the Jeep was taken to the hospital.

Capasso allegedly ran from the crash scene and hid in nearby bushes. Officers found evidence of drug use in her abandoned car. With the help of a drone, police found Capasso and she was arrested on suspicion of DUII-drugs, Attempt to Elude, Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangering, Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver, Driving While Suspended, Criminal Mischief, and a Probation Violation. She was checked out at the hospital before being booked into the jail.

 

Driver Charged In Deadly Hwy 58 Crash

OAKRIDGE, OR -- State Police have arrested a driver they say is responsible for a crash that killed a five-year-old girl and injured a Sunriver couple.

Amber Gonzalez-Riddle, of Portland, was westbound on Highway 58 on the evening of November 20th. Troopers say she crossed into oncoming traffic, about 25 miles east of Oakridge, and hit an SUV driven by a Sunriver woman. The two people in the SUV were pulled from the vehicle before it caught fire, and taken to the hospital.

A child in Gonazlez-Riddle’s car died at the scene. Two other passengers, a three-year-old and adult, along with Gonzalez-Riddle were transported to the hospital. She is now accused of Manslaughter, DUII and other charges. 

Bend Christmas Parade Saturday 12/3

BEND, OR -- The Bend Christmas Parade makes its way through downtown Saturday.

This year’s theme is a High Desert Christmas. “We’re looking for everybody to kind of just celebrate in the spirit of the high desert where we live and just kind of embracing that fabulous topography and everything that we have and incorporating that into their theme of their floats in some way, shape, or form,” said the Parade Committee’s Dina Barker who is grateful for the scores of volunteers, along with the Oregon National Guard Youth Challenge Program, who make the parade possible.

Parade Chairman Michael Sipe expects a record number of entrants. “This is the 30th anniversary of the volunteer committee doing it. So, this is going to be the biggest one ever. We have over a hundred entrants. Last year was the biggest turnout of the parade. Thousands of people out on the streets. From all of the people that have been doing it for 30 years they said ‘we’ve never seen any kind of turnout like this’,” said Sipe who is also excited about this year’s special dignitary, a former St. Charles CEO, “Jim Lussier is the Grand Marshall. He’s obviously one of the finest gentleman and biggest community leaders that we have in Central Oregon. So tremendous opportunity for us to say thank you to him for his years and years in community leadership.”

The parade starts at 12 pm beginning on Newport Avenue, travels down Wall Street, then by Drake Park, and finishes on the corner of Galveston and Harmon. 

Drivers need to watch for street closures along the route.

Emergency Roadside EV Charging Comes To Bend

BEND, OR -- Roadside assistance for electric vehicles is coming to Bend. AAA's Marie Dodds tells KBND News a pilot program is expanding to members in Central Oregon, offering mobile charging for EVs that run out of "juice."

She says, "We’ve been doing it for drivers of gas and diesel-powered cars for decades, and now we can provide a similar service providing ‘fuel,’ if you will, to drivers of electric vehicles. So, we can charge your depleted EV right there on the roadside and get you back on your way." Dodds estimates it takes about 30 minutes to charge enough to drive 10-14 miles, "What our service does is give you enough electric vehicle charge, if you will, so that you can drive safely to your home or to a close charging station."

She says having an emergency service like this could ease worries for car buyers interested in purchasing an EV, "‘Range anxiety’ is a top concern for folks who are thinking about purchasing or leasing an electric vehicle. They worry about having enough range to be able to drive where they need to go."

Portland was one of just six cities in the pilot program when it launched in 2011. It’s now in 14 cities nationwide. Dodds says it’s a sign of how mainstream EVs have become, "To have Portland and Bend on the list, two of only 14 cities across the country, this is a big deal for our area. And, of course, for Oregon it makes sense because electric vehicles are very popular here. They continue to grow. Oregon is fourth per capita in the nation." Of the 14 cities where the mobile roadside charging service is now available, only three are on the west coast: Bend, Portland and San Francisco. 

BPD Closes Safeway Shooting Investigation, Releases Video

BEND, OR -- Bend Police released surveillance footage from the August fatal shooting at Safeway, Thursday, as the investigation comes to a close. In addition to at least 90 videos collected during the investigation, Bend Police say they logged another 173 pieces of evidence. 

Bend PD's Sheila Miller says the extensive footage available from nearby Costco and Big Lots, as well as an apartment’s Ring camera and security cameras inside Safeway were critical to piecing together what happened. "It confirms that the suspect acted alone; it confirms that he got to Safeway on foot by walking through the shopping complex. And, it also confirms that he died by suicide at the end of the incident," she tells KBND News, "We ran down a lot of rumors and a lot of suggestions that there were additional people involved. And this helped us confirm that none of that is the case." The video released to the public has no audio and all faces are redacted, covered with a black square. 

The video sheds light on the shooter's movements just after 7 p.m. Sunday, August 28, "That starts at the apartment complex, moves through the Forum Shopping Center, into Safeway," says Miller. The gunman is seen shooting out windows of the Big Lots before getting to the grocery store. Once inside Safeway, he's seen firing at shopper Glenn Bennett, who died at the scene. The gunman then randomly fires at store shelves, moving through the store. He interacts with another shopper laying on the floor and fires a shot near his feet. 

About 70 seconds after entering the store, the shooter is confronted by produce worker Donald Surrett. Chief Mike Krantz tells KBND News, "Mr. Surrett obviously was aware something was going on. He made the decision to take action by hiding behind a rollable or moveable shelving unit and then, as the shooter approached him or passed him, Mr. Surrett attempts to attack him to try to disarm him." Surrett was shot and killed in the struggle.

Previous Coverage: Slain Grocery Store Worker Heralded As Hero In Bend Shooting

About a minute later, the shooter sits down on the floor and turns the gun on himself as police enter the store. "What the video shows is that the four initial officers that went in, went in on their own without waiting for a whole team or additional units," says Krantz. "What happens in those scenarios, or those incidents, when an officer goes in, they don’t know exactly where a suspect may be, so they’re listening for indicators as to where to go. And the video shows the officers going in one direction, they hear an indicator, they immediately change directions and approach and then confront, at that point, the shooter who had already committed suicide." Police reports also released Thursday reveal around 30 off-duty Bend officers arrived to the scene after the initial response by on-duty teams. 

Chief Krantz says the video’s release is in response to public records requests by the media, "This is material that we felt we were obligated to release, legally. However, we also feel that it’s pretty horrific material; it’s violence that doesn’t need to be really released into the world, and it doesn’t need to be watched by people." KBND News will not name the shooter nor provide the footage released Thursday.

Bend Police say they provided advance notice of the video's release to Safeway management and the District Attorney's Victims Assistance office, who made sure the victims' families were made aware. Additional support is available at the Community Assistance Center on Friday, December 2 through Sunday, December 4, from 3-7 p.m. at the Crisis Stabilization Center (63311 NE Jamison St. Bend). Other mental health resources are available HERE

 

 

Re-elected Commissioner Seeks Affordable Housing Opportunities

Bend, OR -- Following her re-election last month, Deschutes County Commissioner Patti Adair is ready to move forward with her plan to create more affordable housing.

She says she has a pilot project headed to the legislature, “Senator Knopp has picked it up. The single-wide manufactured home park north of bend with over 300 single wide homes for people who work in Deschutes County. So, if I can get that project through legislature, the long session, that will really be a coup for all of Deschutes County. I’m really appreciative of Senator Knopp’s team being behind that.”

Adair acknowledges the cost of building affordable housing is a concern alongside other projects including expanding the county courthouse.

Adair says legislation to allow ADUs in rural parts of Deschutes County is held up in SB-762, the state’s sweeping wildfire mitigation bill, but she’s hopeful it will move forward eventually, “I really felt like the Accessory Dwelling Units need to be started as soon as possible. We are short 5,000 homes in Deschutes County. We’re short them now; it’s going to be even worse next year if we don’t get something done.” 

Redmond Plans Wastewater Wetlands Complex

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond is moving its wastewater treatment plant out of the Dry Canyon. Wastewater Division Manager Ryan Kirchner says the current facility is near capacity and expanding the current site would cost around $104 million. Instead, he says the city plans to develop a new wetlands complex, at a cost of around $70 million. "The Redmond Wetlands Complex is going to be a brand new wastewater treatment system for the city of Redmond," Kirchner tells KBND News, "We’re completely relocating our treatment plant from the Dry Canyon, and moving it out to the irrigation and biosolids disposal site." Orchard grass grows on that site now, where hundreds of goats are currently chomping away to clear the land before winter.

Kirchner says this will be a natural site, similar to the Crooked River Wetlands Complex in Prineville, but larger. "We’ve mirrored some other utilities throughout the region," he says, "And did a lot of knowledge sharing to try to find a treatment solution for Redmond because it’s been growing drastically over the last 20 years and it’s hard to keep up with that population growth. Our current plant is about at its capacity for what it can accept; we’re within three to five years. And so, this new plant will add an additional 20 years." It will also be cheaper to operate, he says, because there are fewer mechanical parts.

And, city officials hope it will become a community asset, "Instead of our current plant which is cyclone fence and we keep the public out, the new plant is actually going to have park amenities: ADA trails, park features, passive park features. We’re building water conservation areas to show the community how they can change out their land and go to xeriscaping. We’re also working with Redmond School District and a lot of the organizations throughout the region to build curriculums for public education."

Kirchner says they plan to develop the 607 acres of city-owned land currently growing orchard grass, and lease an adjacent parcel of 625 acres from the BLM. He expects they'll break ground in August, with completion slated for early 2026. 

The BLM is now taking public comment on the city’s lease request. A required 30-day public scoping period ends December 30. The Bureau will also conduct an environmental assessment. Public comments must be submitted by mail (Deschutes Field Office; Deschutes Field Manager, 3050 NE 3rd Street 491, Prineville, OR 97754) or email by 4:30 p.m. on December 30. Please refer to Redmond Wetlands Complex Project.  

Entire comments, including personal identifying information, may be made publicly available. People can ask to withhold personal identifying information from public review; however, it cannot be guaranteed. For additional information about the expansion request, wastewater treatment facility, or associated wetland complex, visit the City of Redmond’s website

Image: City of Redmond rendering

Local RSV Cases Still Increasing, Along With Flu

BEND, OR -- St. Charles hospitals are seeing a steady rise in RSV and flu cases, and officials worry the peaks for both could still be several weeks away. St. Charles Health System Pediatric Hospitalist Dr. Suzanne Mendez says pediatricians are treating more co-infections, "We’re starting to see some RSV plus flu, together. When you have two viruses together, then it can be much more severe. Or, if you’ve just gotten over RSV and then get flu within the next couple weeks, that can make a much more serious case of flu as well."

Public Health reports 283 Central Oregon cases in, as of last week - the last week for which numbers are available - that's up from 275 the week before. At one point Wednesday afternoon, St. Charles reports there were nine admitted patients with RSV, and another five in the Emergency Department. There were also 17 patients with influenza. In a typical year; officials say 12 would be a high number. Eight other patients have tested positive for COVID-19.

"All the hospitals in Oregon are really - especially pediatric hospitals are really overwhelmed at this point. So, we’re hoping at least RSV will peak in the next few weeks. But then, we’re starting to see more flu," Dr. Mendez tells KBND News, "So, just being cognizant that there are somewhat limited resources due to some many people being sick at the same time." She asks everyone take steps to stay healthy and says this year's flu shot formula is helping keep people out of the hospital, "A lot of the tests that we do, the swabs will show up positive for influenza 2009, which was our last really, really severe flu season, when we had H1N1. So, [we’re] seeing some of that virus again and it does look like the flu vaccine is very effective." She also suggests families keep kids home and hydrated if they do get sick, and keep them away from younger siblings who may be more prone to severe RSV.

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