Local News Archives for 2023-01

Temporary Cold Weather Shelter Opened At Bend Church

BEND, OR -- A temporary overnight shelter opened at Bend's First Presbyterian church during this weekend’s cold snap to handle overflow from other homeless shelters.

Founder of Pandemic Partners in Bend Pastor Morgan Schmidt says people donated time, bedding, food, and clothing, “We’ve had guests walk in during this cold emergency in the snow wearing only socks. And so, it’s really important that we can get people properly outfitted as best we can to survive, and be okay in the elements.” Schmidt is grateful for the donations and she hopes more will get involved so this isn’t such an urgent issue, “That’s really the ask, that our community would just be mindful of opportunities to support the really important projects that are going, to help make sure that people don’t have to sleep outside in our community.”

City of Bend and Deschutes County services, Shepherd’s House, and the Red Cross also provided assistance to more than 30 people and their pets who stayed at the church. “All these folks from the community from First Presbyterian, a team of folks from First Unitarian Universalist church, and then all sorts of community members from groups like Pandemic Partners... that come and give of their time, they stay up all night, they really make it possible for us to offer a safe and hospitable place for people who need it,” said Schmidt.

The shelter was open again Monday night but will close with warmer temperatures in the forecast.

Crook Co. Drought Prompts Juniper Biomass Proposal

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County remains the only place in the western U.S. under an Exceptional Drought designation, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and county leaders have again asked for a state drought declaration.

Crook County Judge Seth Crawford says he has a new idea to recharge local reservoirs. "One of the things that’s really hurting the amount of water in the reservoirs is the juniper trees," he tells KBND News. Junipers can each consume up to 30 gallons of water a day, pulling from streams and other sources. Crawford believes those trees would be better used producing green energy, "Put in a biomass plant, monetize some of those resources, like the juniper trees to be cut down, putting more water in the system."

He says he recently took his idea to the Governor; although, more studies are needed before it can move forward, "Then we can go to different industries and municipalities and sell this as green energy to them. And so, we’re about $2 million short on that. And that’s what the ask for the Governor was. That was part of our drought declaration, as well, because I know the Legislature is working on funding four droughts throughout eastern Oregon." 

Crawford acknowledges it's a unique idea but believes a novel approach is necessary, "This is an opportunity to not only work on wildfire and a lot of those things, but to recharge the system and put more water back into it. Once we get those dollars, and once we have that plan, we do have the private sector ready to build the facilities and move forward; once we have the general idea of the cost and we have someone on board to purchase that power." He adds, "You’re going to be helping everybody. You’re helping the farmers, the fish, the recreator, you’re adding more water to the equation."


 

file photo, courtesy National Park Service

Three Sites To Be Dropped From Landfill Proposal

BEND, OR -- The list of potential sites for Deschutes County’s new landfill is getting smaller. County Commissioners have asked the Solid Waste Advisory Committee to review an FAA recommendation that new landfills not be sited within five miles of a public airport. "It’s actually been in place for a while, but when we spoke to the Redmond Airport, they were pretty adamant with us that we should use that five-mile radius as part of our siting criteria," Solid Waste Director Chad Centola says in a recent county video.

Landfills attract birds, which can be dangerous for nearby aviation operations, "The FAA advisory is actually any kind of wildlife movement. So, they regulate a lot of other things aside from landfills," says Centola, "But, in our case, it’s definitely birds at the site, as well as those that migrate to and from the landfill. We’re going to convene the Solid Waste Advisory Committee to discuss this item specifically."

Deschutes County's Solid Waste Advisory Committee will hold a special meeting February 7th, "The objective here is to honor that five-mile recommendation from the FAA and drop three sites off the candidate list. We have one site up in Redmond, near the Negus Transfer Station, and two east of Bend, off of Bear Creek and Rickard Road," says Centola.

Previous Coverage: Solid Waste Committee Hears From 100+ On Possible Landfill Locations

Nine other locations remain on the list, "We knew at the get-go, no matter where we went, we’d be challenged. There’s impacts to residents, there’s impacts to wildlife - sage grouse was a huge issue that we were fully aware of going into this, especially east of Bend. We’re going to go through this process; these sites are not set in concrete, by any means." Centola has said he hopes to have a final site recommendation to County Commissioners by the spring of 2024.

The Knott Landfill is expected to reach capacity in ‘29. To learn more about the project, visit Deschutes County's Solid Waste website.

Gull Point Campground Closed For The Year

LA PINE, OR -- Gull Point Campground and boat ramp at Wickiup Reservoir will close for the entire camping season this year, due to public safety concerns. The Deschutes National Forest has identified 679 dead or dying trees in the area deemed hazardous. Officials with the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District believe drought conditions contributed to the die-off.

The campground and boat ramp will reopen once hazard trees are removed - likely in 2024. Reservations for this season will be refunded.

Boating access to Wickiup Reservoir will be available at North Wickiup Boat Ramp, Sheep Bridge Boat Launch and West South Twin Boat Launch. Camping options in the area include North Twin Lake Campground, Sheep Bridge Campground, South Twin Lake Campground and West South Twin Campground.

Additionally, hazard tree inspectors identified more than 300 hazard trees within Paulina Lake Campground. Crews removed a majority of these trees last fall; however, some hazard tree removal work remains. The remaining tree work will resume as soon as snow levels permit this spring. In anticipation of this work, the opening date for Paulina Lake Campground will be delayed by two weeks to June 30. Visitors with camping reservations between June 16 and June 29, will receive a full refund from Recreation.gov.

 

Gull Point Campground file photo

One Hurt In Snowmobile Crash Near Elk Lake Lodge

BEND, OR -- A snowmobile rider was flown to the hospital Sunday night, following a crash near Elk Lake Lodge.

Deschutes County Search and Rescue was dispatched at about 7:30 p.m., and says the snowmobile slammed into a tracked snow vehicle stopped on Cascade Lakes Highway. Speed appears to have been a factor in the crash. The rider was thrown about a hundred feet and his vehicle caught fire.

The driver of the tracked vehicle is an Elk Lake Lodge employee and was not hurt. Other lodge workers responded with cold-weather gear for the two people involved.

Chang Proposes Using Room Tax Dollars For Housing

BEND, OR -- Following the Governor’s executive order aimed at increasing affordable housing, one Deschutes County Commissioner wants to approach the issue locally this year.

Commissioner Phil Chang says the county could help mitigate the rising cost of land, construction, and System Development Charges, “Take all those three things and add them up, and it’s really hard to deliver a unit of housing that’s attainable to our local workers. So, we have to buy down those costs somehow, in order to make more housing attainable for more people and to build more housing.”

He’s proposing the county use some of the revenue generated by the Transient Room Tax, the fee paid by visitors at hotels and resorts. 

TRT dollars go to the Sheriff’s Office, Sunriver Service District, and the Fairgrounds, but millions remain unallocated. Much of the unallocated funds will likely be used for reconstruction of the courthouse, now expected to cost $40 million.

“There was a decision made about five or six years ago to reduce our assessed property tax rate by three cents, and then three cents again. If we hadn’t done that, we would probably have about $10 million in the bank for our capital reserve right now, to put towards the courthouse project,” says Chang adding he hopes TRT money will be left over for workforce housing following the courthouse expansion, “In the ideal world, I would like us to not use all of it. Because this housing need is so critical for our community. A lack of workers, which is driven by a lack of housing opportunities is breaking our local businesses.” 

County & Bethlehem Inn Partner For Shelter Beds, Treatment

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County and Bethlehem Inn are partnering to provide more beds and services for those experiencing homelessness and mental illness or substance abuse disorders.

Colleen Thomas with the county’s Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST) tells KBND News six beds will be made available at Bethlehem Inn’s shelters; three in Bend and three in Redmond.  “By having those beds set aside we have the ability to kind of wrap around intensive case management and peer support services for folks that need it. And it gives them an opportunity to have a safe place while they access different treatment opportunities and services through the county.”  Thomas said details are being finalized and the program should begin in a month or two, “We have folks that we are working with that would be ideal candidates for this program and so we’re just looking forward to getting it started.”

Deschutes County Health Services will reimburse Bethlehem Inn $70 a night, per bed.  Funding comes from a Measure 110 Behavioral Health Grant. 

There is a possibility the program could expand, “We from Deschutes County as well as Bethlehem Inn are open to conversation and how that might look as we get going. We might see that we have a greater need, and I think that that will just open conversation for how we can support more folks in the community,” said Thomas.

New Health Ctr. Planned For MVHS

BEND, OR -- Mosaic Medical plans to develop a new School-Based Health Center (SBHC) at Mountain View High in Bend. Mosaic manages five other SBHCs in Central Oregon: Bend High, Madras High, Redmond High, Lynch Elementary in Redmond and Crook County Kids Clinic in Prineville. Centers provide physical, behavioral and preventive healthcare for anyone 18 or younger, regardless of ability to pay. Almost 30% of MVHS qualify for reduced lunch and the Oregon Health Plan. 

Much of the money for the project comes from donations from Bend Foundation, Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation and First Interstate Bank. Mosaic officials say the nonprofit health system is less than $100,000 away from the $200,000 fundraising goal.  

The MVHS health center is expected to open in spring, through a partnership with Bend-La Pine Schools and Deschutes County Health Services. 

Bend Man Arrested Following Jefferson Co. Chase

MADRAS, OR -- A Bend Man was arrested after a Sunday night high-speed chase in Jefferson County. According to the Sheriff’s Office, a deputy tried to pull over a car on Highway 26 at about 8:25 p.m., but the car took off toward Madras. During the chase, JCSO says the suspect reached speeds over 100 miles an hour.

The agency closed the highway at NW Cherry Lane and deployed spike strips at NW Boise and NW Dogwood. After the suspect vehicle sustained two flat tires and came to a stop, 50-year-old Anthony Buffinger was arrested without further incident.

He's charged with a Felony Parole Warrant, Felony Driving While Suspended, Felony Elude, Rckless Driving and Reckless Endangering. 

Buffinger has an extensive criminal record; most recently convicted in Deschutes County of Felon in Possession of a Restricted Weapon, in October. 

Friday Morning Fire Deemed Suspicious

BEND, OR -- Bend Police are investigating a suspicious fire on NW Florida Ave. Firefighters responded to a report of a structure fire just before 6 a.m. Friday, and found brush and vegetation on fire. Crews were able to put it out quickly, before flames spread to nearby buildings or vehicles.

Investigators later determined the fire was intentionally set. Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Bend PD.

New Drug Treatment Planned For Jail

BEND, OR -- A month after five inmates overdosed on fentanyl in a four-hour span, the Deschutes County Jail plans to launch a Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) program. Jail Commander Captain Michael Shults says the Sheriff's Office is expanding its partnership with a recovery service called Ideal Option. "We’ve opened our door to Ideal Option and said, ‘If you can get a grant, we’re going to allow you in. We’re going to work with you’," he tells KBND News, "Because, we have a unique relationship right at the start of arrest, all the way through the criminal justice system, we have contact with that individual. And at any point through that process, we have the ability to help turn the tide for that individual and get them help."

Shults says, "Studies have shown that the MAT program reduces drug use, overdose events, as well as promotes recovery in individuals with opiate use disorders. It really helps the whole system - the criminal justice system." The jail already provides treatment options like counseling, but Shults believes offering MAT at the first interaction - screening inmates at booking - will lead to faster, better outcomes, "Let’s get them stabilized into our system so that we can start using some of the other therapies in combination with counseling and trying to create a whole patient outcome for this individual. [So] that when they go back on to the streets, they’re not using illegal drugs; they’re using the drugs that may help them get better so that someday, maybe get off all drugs." Deputies will also help inmates create plans for after release, and Ideal Option conducts follow-up.

DCSO helped Ideal Option secure a state grant, which will cover the cost of providing the multidisciplinary approach, including hiring two more nurses and treatment medications he says would otherwise be too expensive for the agency. 

 

file photo

High School Graduation Rates Improve In '22

BEND, OR -- Graduation rates are increasing in Oregon. Following changes made after the pandemic, the Oregon Department of Education's Jon Wiens says they're making progress. "Overall, as a whole, the graduation rate for the class of  2022, which is last spring, is 81.3%" he says. "That is the second highest graduation rate we've reported and it is .7% higher than last year."

Wiens adds, "Graduation rates, on time graduation rates, increased for every student group that we report." He says, "We reached all time highs for on-time graduation for American Indian/Alaska Native students, migrant students and English learners." Graduation rates were also up for Black, Hispanic, and homeless students. But, Wiens says more is needed to get those rates higher. 

ODE's Marc Siegel believes several factors played a role in the improvement, "I think a lot can be attributed to the resilience of Oregon's youth, the tireless work of our educators, and the individualized student centered resources made available through the Student Success Act." Despite the increase, Oregon's graduation rate remains lower than the national average of 85%. 

In Central Oregon, Bend-La Pine Schools recorded its second-highest graduation rate ever: 83.5%. That's about 1% higher than 2021 and more than 2% above the statewide average. But Superintendent Steven Cook tells KBND News more work is needed, "While we’re super excited to see that we’re continuing the trend of kind of this about a decade-long trend generally upward, our ultimate goal is to make sure every student is reaching their passions and finding their purpose and building their plan for their future."

The region's largest district also recorded the lowest rate in the tri-county area. Cook says there are factors not felt by neighboring districts, especially in the wake of COVID. "The impact of the pandemic, of the students that were in the high school when that happened, is where we see those most acute examples, I think, and it changed the trajectory of their high school experience," says Cook, "There’s a strong correlation with graduation rates and students from poverty struggling with that. And we want to make sure that every kids’ needs are being met. We also have quite a few alternative learning organizations that we are the authorizer for, which traditionally are taking some of the most at-risk students in the state and trying to provide them those services. So, those are baked into our rates, as well." Specifically he notes the Oregon Youth Challenge Program can influence the district's rate by around 3%. 

Cook admits La Pine High is the most troubling, with a school-wide graduation rate of just 59.2%, "We had several kids at La Pine High, for the last couple of years, who disengaged from the school. They didn’t just disappear but their engagement during the pandemic went down; they essentially went to work."

Elsewhere in the region, Redmond Schools' four-year graduation rate rose to 87%, Jefferson County 509J averaged 88.6% and Crook County's overall rate rose to 91.95%. CCSD is also touting Crook County High's school-wide rate of 99.39%. “We’re so pleased to see these results because it shows the dedication of our staff and the extra support they give students who need a boost to get across the finish line,” Crook County Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson said in a statement, “This district is about raising the bar around student achievement through intentional systems that work, and it’s paying off.”

Culver and Sisters both saw slight declines, but remained above 90%.

 

Deschutes Sheriff's Office Looks To Add Deputies

BEND, Or -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office needs to hire more deputies to be fully staffed. 

“Right now, we’ve got 23 deputy sheriff openings, and that’s split between our Corrections Division and our Patrol Division. Usually when things are going well in the private sector, it’s more difficult for us to find individuals,” says Sheriff Shane Nelson adding existing staff have to pick up the slack through overtime, so law enforcement efforts don’t suffer. 

“We’ve been trying to hire these positions and fill these positions, but it seems like every time we get individuals hired, then we have natural attrition. We have retirements, we have folks moving or leaving the area, we have folks that are looking for a different opportunity; so, it’s difficult. We’ve hired 25 people each year, the last two years, and here we are still having these openings.”

He also blames outside forces for a lack of applicants, “The national news media focusing on the bad apples does not help that profession find people that want to come do that job.”

Nelson tells KBND News there’s no experience necessary. The state provides law enforcement training. “I want to find the best people and then we will train them in what they need to be trained in, so they can go and be a successful deputy sheriff. We also have other openings in our office. We have openings in professional staff and nurses, so there’s a number of opportunities with your Sheriff’s Office.”

New Redmond Council Member Appointed

REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond City Council selected Tobias Colvin to fill the council seat vacated by Ed Fitch’s election to mayor. As the general manager of the SCP Redmond Hotel and serving on local boards and committees, Colvin says he has the experience to help lead the city, “I have kind of a pulse of people. Hospitality: you’re just talking with people every single day. And listening and hearing their stories. I think it translates really well over to city council where you have to listen really well to your constituents. How we’re going to move forward. How we’re going to tackle the tough issues.”

He didn’t run for a council spot in November, feeling he wouldn’t have time to campaign while busy with the tourist season. But he tells KBND News, his attention is focused on the issues facing Redmond including homelessness and urban growth, “We have almost $500 million worth of public investment going into the city over the next 5 to 10 years with the airport, police station, the rec center, and all these other things that are happening. So those are big issues and how do we tackle that with infrastructure, as well.”

He says he understands the desire to keep the city’s small town feel while upgrading infrastructure in a rapidly growing area, “It’s the question for our city right now. We’re kind of in that transition right now of going to a more rural city to more modern. How we do it responsibly. …And for those wanting to it to be a small town we can still retain that feeling while it’s still growing.”

Council unanimously approved his appointment to serve out the two years remaining on Fitch’s term, which expires at the end of 2025.

Annual Count Of Local Houseless Population Underway

BEND, OR -- The annual Point in Time homeless count is underway in Central Oregon, through January 31. Homeless Leadership Coalition Chair Eliza Wilson says the goal is to gather data on those experiencing homelessness; specifically about where they slept Tuesday night, "When we do have someone who’s willing to answer the questions, we can ask them the series of questions about the night of the 24th. So, it is just a snapshot of that evening - how many people were living unsheltered."

Last year's PIT count found nearly 1,300 unhoused Central Oregonians; a 17% increase over 2021. Wilson expects the 2023 number to be even larger, partly due to more resources helping to collect data. But, like in past years, she still anticipates an undercount, "We do have a lot of great service providers that are really volunteering their time to do this. But we don’t ever get everybody." Wilson adds, "Some people just are not able, at that point, to complete a survey with us. Maybe that’s because we’re not aware some people are experiencing homelessness."

Among those gathering demographic information is the Deschutes County Health Services Homeless Outreach Team. Supervisor Colleen Thomas tells KBND News her team went from two to a team of eight this year. "We now have a case manager and a peer support specialist assigned to each city within the county. And the purpose of that is that we can meet folks where they’re at, at their encampments." She hopes the increase in resources will help provide a more accurate count, "We have been able to identify more folks in the community, build relationships and so that helps us during this week, for Point in Time count, to collect more data because we know where people are at and we have more resources to meet the need."

The data is required by the federal government to access funds through the office of Housing and Urban Development. Results are expected to be publicly released in late spring. 

 

Image: Volunteers gather demographic data from those experiencing homelessness in this 2017 photo.

Pollinator Paradise Plate Gets Drivers Buzzing

CORVALLIS, OR -- A proposed “Pollinator Paradise” license plate appears well on its way to becoming reality, thanks to the efforts of Oregon State University.

Like all good ideas, the plate started on social media. OSU Assoc. Prof. of Horticulture Andony Melathopoulos says, "I think it was a person down in Talent, Oregon put on Facebook, ‘There’s a whale plate. Why don’t we have a bee plate?’ And that got us started." Melathopoulos is Oregon’s Pollinator Health Extension Specialist. He says sales of the plate benefit ongoing research, "Our department has two really large programs: The Pollinator Health Program and the Apiculture Program. We have a key position that makes the Oregon Bee Atlas run. We’ve got a specialist who goes through hundreds of thousands of wild bees that volunteers have collected from hither and tither. That program will be made sustainable through this plate." 

The design features two of Oregon’s most iconic bees: the managed honey bee and the wild yellow-faced bumble bee. They're positioned on either side of a field of red clover, which Melathopoulos says is quite intentional, "Not only is Oregon a leader in it, it’s bee pollinated, and it’s one of the few crops in the United States - I’d say the only one - where you’ll find such a diversity of bumblebees on the crop." He adds, "I’ve also been really excited by the reception of the artist. This is an Oregonian, 16-year-old, the biggest bee nerd in the state. Everybody loves that. And I think Marek Stanton is a remarkable individual." Stanton [pictured] is a high school student in Estacada. 

The DMV won’t offer the plate unless OSU sells 3,000 pre-order vouchers. In the first five days of the campaign, the school sold nearly 2,600. Melathopoulos tells KBND News he heard from the DMV that it may be the fastest pre-sale ever. Oregon DMV officials were unable to confirm that, but said it usually takes six months for the plates to be available, after the initial 3,000 vouchers are sold. 

 

Trees And Signs Destroyed In NW Bend

BEND, OR -- Bend Police are investigating the recent destruction of 32 trees, along with vandalism of 10 street signs in Northwest Crossing. Vandals also damaged signs at Summit High School and spun “donuts” in the lawn.

Bend PD’s Sheila Miller says it rises to the level of first-degree criminal mischief, “Public Works had estimated that total damage was at least $35,000. Although I’ve heard from people at the city that they are looking maybe at more like $45,000. They had estimated to us that it was about $1,000 per tree, and then $3,000 to repair or replace the signs.”

Miller says police received several calls Saturday morning about the run-over trees and signs. “We believe it’s a single vehicle. We think that the vehicle that did donuts on the lawn in front of Summit High is the same vehicle that did the damage on the side road. We were thinking perhaps the vehicle had an attachment on the front like a snowplow or a brush guard.  Could also just be a big, powerful vehicle.”

This type of destruction is far from routine, according to Miller, “This crime would constitute first degree criminal mischief. This is really quite significant and so while we see criminal mischief and vandalism with some frequency, this is an intentional act that kind of goes beyond what we typically what we see as a police agency.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Bend Police at 541-693-6911. 

Knopp, Senate GOP Lay Out 2023 Priorities

SALEM, OR -- Oregon Senate Republicans laid out an optimistic list of priorities for this legislative session at a Tuesday press conference. 

The GOP wants to address rising inflation by sending this year’s record-breaking kicker directly to Oregonians, instead of waiting for a tax refund in 2024. "According to the Oregon Legislative office, $5200 per household, on average; which is very significant," said Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend), "And we would actually like to deliver that to them this year, in the form of a check." Sen. Knopp also supports freezing property tax payments for senior homeowners and urging Congress to balance the federal budget. 

Sen. Daniel Bonham (R-The Dalles) says the GOP wants to modernize education and empower teachers and parents, "Republican priorities will include access to educational opportunities, whether it be a pilot program for the homeless student population, expanding virtual public charters or open access in school choice considerations; we’re going to focus on pathways to technical education and, again, something that’s been very important to us is transparency in curriculum."

Also on the list of Republican priorities: re-criminalizing some drug offenses, restoring school resource officers, increasing penalties for violent threats against schools and revoking the wildfire risk map.

Overall, Sen. Knopp says he wants increased bipartisanship in the process, "What we want is all voices to be heard, listened to and included and we challenge our colleagues to do the same because if we’re going to be one state and not have an urban rural divide, then we have to include everyone." Knopp says he had a good conversation with the Governor Tuesday morning and hopes that positive relationship will continue.

 

River Access Focus Of Feb. 1 Meeting

BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Rec is asking for public input on design concepts for eight miles of riverfront that have seen heavy use in recent years. Julie Brown, with the parks district, says work is needed along the banks in McKay, Miller’s Landing and Columbia parks, "We have about 25 access points that are intended for people to get into the river. But there are about 70 more that people and dogs have created for themselves, and that’s really deteriorating the banks."

Brown tells KBND News, "We’re looking at: How can we have an access point for launching watercraft that might be more accessible for river users who have mobility challenges? Some of those types of questions, we have opportunities - in particular at Miller’s Landing - that might not have been realized if we hadn't thought about these three parks in relation to one another." She adds, "At Miller’s Landing, there’s an access point that was not intended, but it’s being used right now. So, in the drawings, one of the options is to facilitate it and turn it into an access point; the other option is to close it off and repair the banks. That is a pretty significant difference in those two options and we’re looking to the public to help us with that one." 

An online survey is available through February 8. Next week, the district hosts in-person meetings to look over design concepts, "We’re looking for that public input so that we can come back in the summer and have some more information," says Brown, "Then we’ll ask for the public’s input again."

Meetings are February first from 10 a.m. to noon and 5 to 7 p.m. at the Bend Parks and Rec office on Southwest Columbia. 

To listen to our full conversation with Bend Parks & Rec's Julie Brown visit our Podcast Page

Neff-Purcell Construction Closure Coming

BEND, OR -- Construction will tie up traffic near a busy northeast Bend intersection, starting in about a month. 

“The Neff and Purcell intersection will be closed for six months and the detour goes way around on Highway 20 to 27th Street, or way around on Butler Market to 27th Street,” Kim Curley, with Commute Options, urges drivers to find alternate modes of transportation to help alleviate congestion. “When folks see the diggers and the ‘road closed’ signs and they lose their minds trying to get to work on time, we offer free carpool matching through our website Get There,” Curley suggests.

The closure is scheduled to begin February 22nd. Crews will extend Purcell near the hospital and add striping for area bike lanes. Click HERE to learn more about the project.

“For this group of employees in the medical district, residents in that part of northeast Bend, I have lots of great opportunities for you to do the same - carpool match, offer a ride, figure out a bike route, something different other than sitting in detours,” said Curley.

Detours, timelines, and other project updates will be presented at a pre-construction public meeting on February 2nd from 4:30 to 6:30 pm at the Deschutes Children’s Foundation on Daggett Lane.

CET Navigates Driver & Road Construction Challenges

BEND, OR -- Cascades East Transit continues to alter bus schedules, due to an ongoing driver shortage. CET's Derek Hofbauer says buses on fixed-routes are now running less often in Bend, “And then additionally, in the past, we provided Saturday service for our regional system. Service would extend all the way from Warm Springs down to LaPine, over to Prineville, but we had to pull that service because we didn’t have enough drivers.” CET is actively recruiting drivers.

Road-construction also makes it tricky to manage schedules according to Hofbauer, “We do a good job of coordinating with the City of Bend and with ODOT in terms of their construction activities and doing some detours, but with the improvements that they’re making along the parkway north of town and with the series of Tumalo roundabouts, that’s sometimes challenging.”

Fixed route buses and some other services will remain free until regular schedules resume. Fares are charged for recreational services like the Mt. Bachelor Shuttle, which has proven popular again this season, Hofbauer said, “We’ve had a really great turnout. We see a lot of parents putting their teenagers on the bus. We also just have folks that just don’t want to drive those roads, and save money on some gas and do good for the environment, and use public transportation. It’s a very frequent service.”

Recreation Liability Reforms Proposed In State Bill

SALEM, OR -- Fitness and recreation companies want state lawmakers to allow enforcement of liability waivers.

"Court rulings starting back in 2014, and then another one that kind of followed on that precedent this summer, have nullified liability waivers," says Jordan Elliott, President of the Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association, "It’s taken things out of balance between personal responsibility -  that I think all Oregonains recognize when they’re doing something inherently risky - And then also, the business accountability when grossly negligent operations start to happen."

Senate Bill 754 was introduced with bipartisan support and is now in the Judiciary Committee. Elliott says it would align Oregon with other western states, and restore liability laws to how they were practiced prior to 2014. He tells KBND News, "When people sign up to do an inherently risky activity and they’re paying a business of any recreation or fitness type to help facilitate that, it would mean that personal responsibility of doing an inherently risky thing is acknowledged unless that business provider is grossly negligent." He adds, "Without this reform, consumers are going to start to face higher costs of insurance and recreation opportunities are going to start to become fewer. We’ve seen insurers pull out of the state in some sectors. We’ve seen providers already limit activities; and that’s going to continue." 

Mt. Bachelor President and General Manager John McLeod issued a written statement in support of the bill, saying in part:

Without this needed liability reform, ski resorts and other recreation organizations face significantly increased costs as compared to recreation businesses in other western states, as well as the very real prospect of having to significantly modify operations, such as potentially closing areas of our ski resort when certain natural conditions exist.

We firmly believe this legislation is needed to restore the balance between the responsibilities of recreation and fitness organizations and the responsibility of individuals participating in sports and fitness activities that involve inherent risks. On behalf of Mt. Bachelor, I look forward to engaging members of the Oregon legislature to share our perspective and work with them to bring this important legislation to the Governor’s desk.

Central Oregon State Senators Tim Knopp and Daniel Bonham are sponsors of the SB 754. 

St. Charles Details New Redmond Cancer Center

REDMOND, OR -- St. Charles plans to build a new Cancer Center next to the Redmond hospital, expanding services beyond the current facility in Bend. 

"About 40% of our patients have to travel rather long distances. And they would be better served closer to home if we had those services in Redmond," says Cancer Center Medical Director Dr. Linyee Chang. Currently the Redmond hospital offers limited cancer services, like infusion and chemotheraphy. But radiation and other treatments are only available in Bend, "When it is such a burden for some of our patients - they live alone, they don’t drive, they don’t have family support - they then sometimes choose to forgo that treatment to their detriment."

Despite ongoing financial struggles, St. Charles will spend $90 million on the project. Kayley Mendenhall says the funds come from bonds secured in the fall of 2020, "When interest rates were quite low, so it was a good time to borrow money, comparatively." She tells KBND News, "It is designated and must be used for capital construction-type projects. We cannot use it to fund operations." 

It’ll be built at the corner of Canal Boulevard and Kingwood, next to the Redmond hospital. The health system is now working with architects to design the new facility, which is expected to open in 2025. Like many hospitals and health systems, St. Charles has struggled to maintain full staffing in recent years. Cancer Center Administrative Director Mari Shay believes it won't be difficult to hire for the new Redmond center. "I don’t think we’ll have any problem with our caregivers from Bend making that transition. And then the other piece is, this is actually going to serve us well as a recruiting mechanism, because we provide top-quality, high level, technical care here and we are a big draw for - obviously, all of Central Oregon - but we are becoming a destination site for cancer care, within Oregon itself and even some surrounding states."

 

One Killed In Crash East Of Bend

BEND, OR -- A 74-year-old was killed and two others injured in a Monday morning crash east of Bend. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, Manuel Davis was driving north on Byram Road and did not come to a complete stop at the stop sign at Bear Creek Road. His car struck an eastbound pickup, at about 9:15 a.m., flipping his vehicle onto its side.

Davis was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger was taken to St. Charles with life-threatening injuries. The driver of the pickup was also taken to the hospital.

The road was closed for nearly four hours for that investigation. 

In-Depth With A BPD K9 Handler

BEND, OR -- Earlier this month, Bend Police announced the addition of two new K9 officers: “Doug” and “Harry.” KBND News talked with Harry's handler Officer Leigh Anne Boileau about her partner, their training and the hardest thing about working with a dog.

Officer Boileau's thoughts, in her own words:

 

Student Athlete Concussion Testing Expands To Rodeo

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Concussion protocols for student athletes are now common for mainstream sports like football and soccer. The Center Foundation, which provides the program to local athletes, is now expanding its reach to rodeo this spring.

Foundation board member and Crook County Judge, Seth Crawford, tells KBND News he realized there was a large group of underserved students, "We thought it might be a really good idea to expand into the Western Culture community in Central Oregon and so we targeted the Tri-County High School Rodeo team."

Center Foundation Executive Director Sandy Visnack says she’s pleased so many rodeo contestants now wear helmets, but concussions are still dangerously common, especially in roughstock. "With a concussion, the doctors need something to compare it to, and that’s what we provide. We provide that baseline concussion testing. And on a national and state level, the high school rodeo associations are needing to develop their own concussion protocols. And so, since we already have them, we’ve developed them in Central Oregon; it’s just a really natural progression of what we’re doing and who we’re serving." She adds, "There’s a very large team in Central Oregon, the Tri-County High School Rodeo Club. And the kids come from Bend-La Pine Schools, Crook County, Madras and Sisters, and I think even Burns and some other places. So, to have them have access to our services, especially those baseline concussion tests, as part of their normal concussion protocols, is really important."

Visnack says the nonprofit will also provide certified athletic trainers for the Oregon High School Rodeo Finals, scheduled for this summer at the Crook County Fairgrounds.

To help pay for the expanded program and others in the region, the foundation hosts a fundraiser February 11 at Brasada Ranch. "The Center Foundation is a nonprofit, so we raise all the money we need. We don’t charge athletes or families anything for our services," says Visnack. 

 

 

Camper Fire Quickly Extinguished On Hunnell Road

BEND, OR -- A camper was destroyed by a Saturday afternoon fire on Hunnell Road, near Cooley Road. When Bend Fire and Rescue arrived just before 4 p.m., they found the pickup-style camper fully involved. They also discovered another motorhome parked in front of the fire hydrant.

Crews were able to put out the fire before it spread to other vehicles or nearby brush. The person living in the camper left before firefighters arrived. Bend Fire says the fire was an accident, likely caused by someone smoking inside.

87 Animals Seized From Terrebonne Ranch

TERREBONNE, OR -- Dozens of animals were rescued Friday from a Terrebonne ranch, following an investigation into neglect. Sheriff’s deputies say livestock living at the 17-acre ranch on 10th Street were in dire need of medical care and proper feed.

The Sheriff's Office received a tip about possible animal neglect involving Kune Kune pigs, Guinea hogs and dairy and meat goats. After visiting the property, deputies relocated 71 pigs and 16 goats to the Sheriff’s Office Rescue Ranch.

The property’s owner, 73-year-old Linda Sue Evans, was issued a citation for Second Degree Animal Neglect and the case is now with the District Attorney's Office. 

2023 Bend Brewfest Canceled

BEND, OR -- Organizers of the Bend Brewfest say they’re canceling the 2023 event, typically scheduled for May. A note on their website says it will return when the brewfest can take place in the Hayden Homes Amphitheater - it’s original location. Bend Brewfest is the second largest craft beer festival in the Pacific Northwest. 

After a pandemic pause, the event was held in The Old Mill last year, due to work at the amphitheater. Organizers say it raised more than $15,000 for the Latino Community Association, Northwest Youth Discovery, Bend Fire Community Assistance Program and OUT Central Oregon. But with more construction expected at the amphitheater this winter and spring, they've opted to wait until work is done.

The news comes just a week after the Oregon Brewers Festival canceled its 2023 event in downtown Portland.  

California Pair Rescued From Swamp Wells Butte

BEND, OR -- A California pair needed rescuing from the Swamp Wells Butte area southeast of Bend on Thursday afternoon. Just before 3:30 p.m., Deschutes County 911 received a call from a 20-year-old man reporting that he and his 19-year-old friend were driving on Forest Service Rd. 1810 when their vehicle slid off the road and high centered in deep snow and ice. 

The caller reported he could not get his 2020 Subaru Forester unstuck and they needed assistance. They were uninjured, and had food, water, and plenty of gas to run their vehicle until help arrived. 

A Special Services Deputy made phone contact with the stuck motorist and attempted to drive to their location, but the depth of the icy snow conditions prevented the deputy from reaching them.  Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue was activated, and two SAR volunteers responded to the location in a tracked vehicle. 

At approximately 6:45 p.m. SAR volunteers reached the stuck motorists.  They were then transported out of the area and provided with a ride to a nearby hotel so they could make tow arrangements the following day. At about 8:30 p.m. all SAR members returned to the Team Office completing this mission.

Bend Commission To Hold Hearing On Affordable Housing Master Plan

BEND, OR -- Bend’s Planning Commission holds a public hearing Monday  on a master plan for an affordable housing development called Parkside Place.

The development is the product of House Bill 4079, passed in 2016 allowing for 35 acres on the east boarder of Bend to be brought into the urban growth boundary through a non-traditional process. The goal was to aid in the effort to build more affordable housing.

Plans for the property, which stretches from Bear Creek Road to Highway 20, include 346 units of housing, 40% of which are designated for affordable housing. Affordable means the housing is affordable for a household making 80% of Bend’s area median income, which is roughly $71,900 a year.

The site plan includes a variety of housing types, including apartment units for rent and single detached homes for ownership. The plan also includes four acres for a park, as well as trails and paths through the neighborhood.

"Parkside Place is an exciting opportunity to explore how we can develop affordable housing using unique and innovative approaches," said Lynne McConnell, the city’s housing director.

“Nearly all affordable housing in Bend requires public investment or subsidy of some kind,” McConnell said in a statement. “Because of our high land values and the costs of infrastructure and construction, it’s nearly impossible to build affordable housing today without subsidy, but that’s what this pilot is trying to do.”

“This pilot will provide for additional housing choices as well as for the deep need for affordable housing,” McConnell continued. “We’re pleased to work collaboratively with the developer to create a community that will add amenities and connectivity to the larger neighborhood.”

Monday, the Planning Commission will make a recommendation to the Bend City Council, which is scheduled to hold a public hearing on February 15 to consider the master plan and annexation of Parkside Place.

For this pilot project, the master plan must be consistent with the Revised Concept Plan approved by a previous Council and authorized by the state Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD).

If Council approves the master plan and annexation, it would be effective starting March 31.

Public comments can be sent to Karen Swenson or provided at the Planning Commission meeting at 5:30 p.m., Jan. 23, at City Hall or in virtual attendance.

For more information, visit the city's website.

 

file photo

Teens Accused Of Pine Nursery Assault

BEND, OR -- A 50-year-old Bend man says he was assaulted by teens at Pine Nursery Park Thursday evening. Deschutes County deputies responded at about 7:45 p.m. to a report of a possible robbery. Initial reports indicated the victim was assaulted by someone who attempted to take his money.

The victim advised Deschutes County 911 three to four assailants left in two separate vehicles travelling east on Yeoman Road. Deputies responded to the area and contacted the victim while other responding deputies attempted to locate the suspects' vehicles.

Investigators say they later determined the victim was dropping a family member off at Pine Nursery Park, and witnessed multiple vehicles driving in a dangerous manner, spinning their tires causing the vehicles to move in a circular motion, commonly referred to as “cookies” or “donuts”.

The victim was approached by a male who threatened violence and provoked the victim to fight. When the victim refused to engage, he began assaulting him. The victim was restrained by a second person and tried to defend himself with a leatherman style tool; he was eventually able to break free. The victim received non-life-threatening injuries as a result of the assault. 

Deputies eventually located one of the suspect vehicles and initiated a high-risk traffic stop at the corner of Hamby Road and Neff Road. A 15-year-old suspect was taken into custody without incident, and transported to the Deschutes County Resource Center, charged with third degree assault. The second suspect, another 15-year-old male, was not located and is being sought by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office for questioning.

The investigation is on-going, and updates will be released when available. 

California Woman Arrested On Drug Charges North Of Bend

BEND, OR -- A California woman was arrested during a traffic stop just north of Bend Thursday evening. At around 5 P.M., an Oregon State Police Senior Trooper stopped an SUV for a lane use violation on northbound 97 near milepost 132.

During the traffic stop, the Trooper noticed signs of criminal activity, and conducted a consent search of the vehicle. OSP says the Trooper located around 10 pounds of suspected methamphetamine and about five pounds of suspected powder fentanyl hidden in the vehicle.  The K-9 assisted in the investigation by alerting the Trooper to the odor of controlled substances in the location where the drugs were hidden.

The driver was identified as 28-year-old Dania Marbella Banegas-Ramos of Oakland.  Banegas-Ramos was taken into custody and lodged in the Deschutes County Jail for various drug offenses.

OSP Troopers were assisted during the investigation by Detectives from the OSP-Criminal Investigations Division-Drug Enforcement Section (Domestic Highway Enforcement Initiative), Special Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration – Bend Task Force, and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

The Oregon State Police-Domestic Highway Enforcement Initiative is supported by the Oregon-Idaho High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).

The Oregon-Idaho HIDTA program is an Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) sponsored counterdrug grant program that coordinates with and provides funding resources to multi-agency drug enforcement initiatives, including the OSP-DHE Initiative.

NeighborImpact Breaks Ground On New Food Warehouse

REDMOND, OR -- NeighborImpact plans to build a nearly 11,000-square foot food warehouse in southwest Redmond. The nonprofit hosts a groundbreaking celebration Friday morning. 

Food Program Director Carly Sanders tells KBND News the current warehouse was built in 1990 when they served around 28,000 people a year. Now, that number is closer to 60,000. "Our service area is about the size of New Jersey - three counties and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. With the growth of Central Oregon, cutbacks in safety net programs, pandemics, we have just seen a huge increase in the demand for food." Before COVID pushed the need even higher, NeighborImpact distributed more food than any other food bank in the state’s food bank network.

Sanders says the 30-year-old facility was built for mostly shelf-stable and canned food. But, the type of products distributed by food banks has changed in the past decade, "About 50% of the food we bring in and distribute out is fresh and produce and perishable foods. And our cooler is like 300 square feet - really tiny. For us, in order to meet the growing demand, our warehouse is just very inadequate in size."

She believes, at nearly four times the size, the new warehouse will accommodate 173,000 more pounds of food at any given time, and will allow the nonprofit to expand services and bring in more partners, "We have some organizations that want to do houseless population outreach and expand mobile pantry. So, right now, it’s the same amount of food with more people coming. So, our hope is greater variety, more food food for folks."
NeighborImpact still needs to raise $225,000 to pay for the $5 million project. Friday morning's groundbreaking is ceremonial; construction will begin this summer, and Sanders hopes the new warehouse will be operational by June of next year.

Crook County's Pioneer High Celebrates New Building

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County’s Pioneer High School opened in its new building last month, but the district finally held an official ribbon cutting Wednesday. Superintendent Dr. Sarah Johnson is pleased with the facility, "Six classrooms, it has a conference room, a counseling space, it actually has a courtyard out behind it; so there are some picnic tables out there." She tells KBND News it also has a kitchen, testing center and CTE shop space, "In the center, there’s a long row of tables where the students eat and can collaborate and join together. There’s also a pingpong table near the end of it and windows all across that south end. So, it’s just a very nice spot to learn."

The school district bought the property next door to Crook County High School just before the pandemic. Dr. Johnson says constructing the $4 million, 9500-square-foot building was made possible sooner than expected, thanks to pandemic relief funds approved for schools by Congress. 

"It was a modular building. But the quality of the modular units is just very impressive." And, she says it’s a big improvement over what Pioneer had before. The alternative high school has moved four times since opening in 2005, always sharing space with an elementary school. While some students enroll at PHS because they want smaller classes, Johnson says others need the sense of permanence this new facility provides, "Kids who have experienced some kind of interruption or difficulty in their education and they just weren’t thriving in the regular setting." And, its placement next to CCHS provides easier access for the handful of students enrolled at both schools.

Dr. Johnson says the kids are glad to have a place of their own, "Students were very happy about it. It feels really good inside of there. It’s spacious, it smells new, everything’s new and it’s very pretty."

 

Smith Rock Footbridge Work To Block Some Access

TERREBONNE, OR -- Smith Rock State Park is slated to get a new, wider pedestrian bridge this summer, which means there will be no bridge access for up to four weeks during construction in mid to late summer. The exact dates depend on nesting season and streamflow.

The bridge spans the Crooked River and connects the entrance of the park with many, but not all, of its hiking trails and climbing destinations. There will be no temporary bridge, and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department discourages wading across the river due to sensitive habitat and safety concerns.

“We know that this closure will have an impact on our park users, but our current footbridge must be replaced,” said Park Manager Matt Davey.

“Fortunately, we have many areas of the park for visitors to explore that don’t use this bridge, including Rim Rock Trail, Homestead Trail, Canyon Trail and North Point loop. Stop in to the welcome center, visit our website or go to SmithRock.com to learn about these other great areas. Thank you for your understanding and patience while this critical project takes place.”

The old bridge was built nearly 50 years ago and reconstructed about 30 years ago. The new bridge will measure 8 feet wide, about 2 feet wider than the current bridge, and better accommodate visitors and first responders during the park’s frequent rescue operations. 

Crews will begin the initial work in July and continue through September if needed, but the biggest impact to visitors is the 4-week bridge closure. The goal is to complete as much of the bridge construction as possible between Aug. 1 and Aug. 15, although dates have not been finalized.

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department will update information on the footbridge closure dates and times on the Smith Rock webpage and through smithrock.com as information becomes available. 

  • Trails that will stay open include: Rim Rock Trail, Homestead Trail, Rope-de-Dope Trail, Canyon Trail and North Point loop
  • Climbing areas accessible during construction include: North Point area (accessible from the Homestead and North Point loop trails), Rope-de-Dope boulder (accessible from the Rope-de-Dope trail and Canyon Trail) and The Lower Gorge (Climber Access routes)

BPRD Wants Input On River Access Designs

BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Rec is looking for public input on design concepts to improve access at three riverfront parks: McKay, Miller’s Landing and Columbia Park.

In 2020, BPRD embarked on a two-year planning process to best manage the increased recreational river use and improve the experience for all users at these parks and protect the surrounding river bank and habitat. The Deschutes River Access & Habitat Restoration Plan identified 28 projects for approximately a 10-year period.

Three individual projects from the river plan (projects #20, #21 and #22), have been combined into a single, larger project: the McKay, Miller's Landing and Columbia Park's River Access Project (MMC), which include four river access points, to manage the increased recreational river use and improve the experience for all users. 

Community input about these initial design concepts is being collected via:

The first public input session is Wednesday, Feb. 1 from 10 a.m. to noon or from 5 to 7 p.m. at the BPRD Community Room, 799 SW Columbia St. in Bend. Spanish language interpretation services will be provided.

Two initial concepts are provided for each river access location and are intended to present the widest range of possible solutions. Timing and funding sources are yet to be determined and are likely years from being realized, according to Ian Isaacson, BPRD landscape architect and project manager.

“BPRD’s 2018 Comprehensive Plan identifies ‘areas to access the river’ as a high community need, and improved access at these three parks for a site-specific appropriate combination of water craft launching, wading, swimming and hanging out by the river would go a long way in addressing that need,” said Isaacson.

BPRD has completed the initial phase of work, which included site surveys, data collection and development of initial concept drawings. The initial concepts were developed based on data collected at each location, the opportunities and constraints of each site, BPRD planning documents, and from recommendations by the team of external consultants.

At the Jan. 17 BPRD board of directors meeting, additional funding was approved to further refine the concept designs with public input being gathered now. Partial funding for phase one of this project was provided by the Oregon State Marine Board Waterway Access Grant Program, investing 10-foot and longer nonmotorized boat permit fees paid by nonmotorized boaters for boating facility improvements.

The public input will assist the project team in the development of a preferred concept design for each location this summer.

Highway 97 Getting Fast Charging Stations

BEND, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Transportation will soon start dolling out $65 million dollars in federal funding, as part of a five year plan to build electric vehicle charging infrastructure. "Year one: US 97 is on the list for us to contract with private companies to then install, build, operate and maintain brand new EV fast charging stations," says ODOT's Matt Noble. 

The agency launched an online open house to get feedback about where the stations should go, "Simple considerations like: does the charging station have room for someone towing a trailer to pull up and charge at? So, we’re really trying to think through localized factors like that to make sure that the way we contract to have these stations built really meets the needs of the people who are actually going to be using them," says Noble.

Each location will have four chargers, "The stations need to be no more than 50 miles apart on any given interstate or highway that they’re installed on, and they have to be within one mile of an exit," Noble tells KBND News, "So, in the next couple of years, on 97, we’ll have intervals of fast charges all the way from 84, down to the border."

I-205 near Portland and I-5 south of Eugene will also get a chunk of the money. Other states are getting funds, as well, to upgrade EV infrastructure, "The idea is that your charging experience, no matter where you are, at one of these stations will be roughly the same because they’re all built to the same federal standards."

The online open house is available through March third.

To listen to our fill conversation with ODOT's Matt Noble, visit our podcast page.

Bookstore Burglary Suspect Arrested In Sisters

SISTERS, OR -- Deschutes County Deputies arrested a man they say burglarized a Sisters bookstore armed with a hatchet, Tuesday evening. A passing driver called 911 at about 6:15 p.m. to report a man in a ski mask appeared to be breaking into the Lonesome Water Bookstore.

When deputies arrived, they say 21-year-old Hendrix Pursell was exiting the store wearing a ski mask and holding a hatchet. The Bend man was arrested with help from Black Butte Ranch Police.

Pursell faces charges of Burglary in the Second Degree, Criminal Mischief and Possession of a Burglary Tool or Theft Device.

BPD K9 Ladybug Retires

BEND, OR -- After four years on the job, K9 Ladybug retired in December 2022. A drug detection K9, Ladybug is a 9-year-old Belgian Malinois. She trained as a passive alert detection dog, meaning she sits and stays or lays and stares when she detects the source of narcotic odors. 

She and her handler, Detective Rob Pennock, completed an initial 240 hours of training at the Washington State Department of Corrections Narcotic Dog Academy. She was certified in Washington, Oregon and California and never failed a certification test, passing them in March and April of 2019, January, April and July of 2020 and April and November of 2021. In 2022, the pair joined the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team

In 43 months working, from March 2019 through November 2022, Ladybug was deployed 505 times. She seized 14,804 grams of methamphetamine, 10,959 grams of heroin, 3,588 grams of cocaine and 4,317 fentanyl pills during that time. In addition to her drug seizures, Ladybug also recovered $18,400 in cash, 13 illegal guns and was part of 233 arrests. 

Of note, Ladybug’s role on patrol decreased dramatically after a 2021 Oregon Court of Appeals case changed how drug detection dogs could be used on traffic stops.  

Over her tenure, Bend Police say Ladybug was an invaluable member of the team. Her handler, Detective Rob Pennock, now works with K9 Bonnie.

Bend Council Hosts Listening Sessions

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors begin the process, this week, of setting goals for the next two years. Two listening sessions are scheduled for Thursday, with community groups, commissions and committees. Mayor Pro Tem Megan Perkins says in the past, Councilors were not allowed to ask questions of the speakers, "This time around, we have a couple of open sessions, where people can talk about anything they’d like. But then we have a set of four focused round tables."

Those round tables are a new option for the Bend City Council, when Councilors are allowed to engage in conversation with participants. Perkins tell KBND News, "We really wanted to expand our reach. We wanted to improve access and we also wanted to improve the quality of dialog. This is why we’re doing two sessions - a daytime and an evening time - and we’re also doing some focusing on the main issues in Bend, with the topic sessions." She says those topics are critical issues for the city, "One is on housing and economic development, one is on houselessness and affordable housing, one is on transportation and the last one is on equity, access and engagement."

Following the 11 a.m. Listening Session, Council will take part in a round table discussion with experts in economic development and affordable housing. The 5:30 p.m. Listening Session is followed by round table meetings with experts in transportation and equity. "This is what we should be doing as a Council," says Perkins, "We should be listening to people that know what they’re talking about and having a conversation with them about where they think we should be headed as a Council and really take all that information in."

All of the sessions will be live streamed on the city’s website for the public to watch. Click HERE for more information on Bend City Council meetings. 

 

Central Oregonians Volunteer On MLK Day Of Service

BEND, OR -- More than 20 Central Oregon non-profits took part in Monday’s MLK Day of Service. Volunteer events were coordinated by Connect Central Oregon, United Way of Central Oregon, OSU Cascades, COCC, and Americorps.

The Council on Aging of Central Oregon asked people to stock items at their Donation Store says volunteer-manager Marianne McClure, “We did a reflection at the end of the volunteer opportunity where we reflected on Martin Luther King, and what this day of service meant for all of us who were involved.” McClure says it was also a good chance for people to find out what services the Council on Aging provides, “They learned more about our organization; who we serve, what volunteer opportunities that we have. They aren’t current volunteers. I believe at least one of them will come back and volunteer in a different capacity. It was good for us because we don’t offer one-time volunteer opportunities that often. And so, it was a good chance for the community to see what we’re all about on this Martin Luther King Day of Service.”

Overall, around 200 people signed up to volunteer at events throughout Central Oregon for the annual event to honor Dr. King’s legacy.

Housing A Priority For Levy In Legislature

SALEM, OR -- State lawmakers have made housing a top priority of this legislative session. A key committee holds its first meeting Tuesday morning.

Central Oregon State Representative Emerson Levy is one of three freshman lawmakers appointed to the House Committee on Housing and Homelessness.  “Housing is maybe the number one issue going into the session. I think the governor made that clear in her inauguration address, that we needed to address the housing crisis and take it on in a very, very serious way,” Levy said. 

“This first week is really going to be a chance to listen to the experts, and the experts are really going to be focused on that needs analysis so we can know where we’re aiming at and what we need to build up, housing supply-wise. On my end, I’ll be bringing a couple bills to create middle-income housing,” said Levy speaking of a bill that would offer incentives for building homes for people who make 60% to 120% of the Average Median Income, “So, in Bend/Redmond, you’re looking at $250,000 to $300,000 house. The market can’t naturally build that right now, because of the land itself. So, if we can give, in some cases, a 10-year tax break, or something like that, then that housing can be built.”

Overall, the Democrat hopes it will be a fruitful session, “We’re pretty aligned on housing and safety and, I think that you’re going to hopefully see a legislature that’s really committed to serving the whole state of Oregon and not very committed to antics.”

Solid Waste Committee Hears From 100+ On Possible Landfill Locations

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee meets again Tuesday for the first time since releasing a list of 12 sites under consideration for a new landfill. More than 100 people have, so far, provided feedback on the proposed sites; many of those comments are in opposition to the inclusion of several properties near the Badlands, southeast of Bend, "We do understand the passion and concern that people have here. We are sensitive to that," Solid Waste Director Chad Centola tells KBND News, "There is no perfect site. Every site has its challenges. Some of them social; proximity to residence. Certainly, the Millican Valley, there’s people who are passionate about that, just as much as we get the fact that this could impact a residence nearby."

Centola reminds everyone it’s still very early in the process, "The people that live near these sites are concerned about the proximity of the landfill to their residence. We certainly get that. But, decisions on a policy level where, even though it’s allowed there, the county may elect not to put it there, that’s a decision that has to be made with guidance from the board of County Commissioners."

The existing Knott Landfill facility is expected to reach capacity by 2029. Centola hopes to have a ranking of proposed sites by this March, and a new site selected with construction underway by 2027. 

Centola says the public can speak directly to the committee at Tuesday's meeting, "We’ve had an open comment section at each of these meetings. These are public committee meetings; these are not hearings. We’re accepting comments. They can submit them to me today, there is no cutoff date on any of this." That meeting is scheduled for 9-11 a.m. at the County Road Department on SE 27th Street. Click HERE for the agenda. 

 

Body Of Missing Woman Recovered In Shevlin Park

BEND, OR -- The body of Melissa Trench was recovered Sunday afternoon. Authorities began searching for the 38-year-old Bend woman after she was reported missing December 27. 

Deschutes County 911 received a call at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday from a group searching for Trench in Shevlin Park. The caller reported finding what they believed was a body on the south end of the park, near Tumalo Creek and Forest Service Road 4606. Because the location is outside city limits, Deschutes County deputies responded with the Medical Examiner's Office and confirmed the body was that of Trench. 

The investigation continues, but DCSO says there is no evidence of foul play or criminal wrongdoing.

Human Trafficking Awareness Trainings

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon's Anti-Trafficking Project hosts two events next week in recognition of Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The project responds to local incidents for the Federal Office on Trafficking in Persons.

Program Manager Breanne Barrett says it handled 83 cases last year, “We do a little bit of crisis intervention services where we might respond with local law enforcement. Provide basic needs, navigational services. And then we offer long term case management so we can work with somebody for a couple of hours all the way up to a couple of years.”

The Anti-Trafficking Project partnered with the Kids Center and local law enforcement for two training seminars on January 24th and 26th.

“This training is really focused on helping parents and community members keep kids safe online. What we have seen from a lot of the trends is that youth are often groomed online… That’s where it starts, and then at some point they might say let’s meet up in person. And that’s when the trafficking can actually occur…So how we can work with parents to have those tough conversations,” says Barrett.

Learn more or register for Understanding and Addressing Human Trafficking in our Community 

 

Bend Parks & Rec Announces Spring Registration Plans

BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Rec is again tweaking its seasonal registration process. This winter, the district spread out online registration over three days to mitigate overcrowding that crashed computer systems in the fall. The district opens spring registration February 6-8, but will offer sports programs, clinics and camps all on day one. Swim lessons and aquatics programs will open day two, and sports leagues on day three. 

District officials say the modification should allow families to plan and register "more readily" for different types of programs on Day One, while not challenging the system with a large number of swim lesson or sports leagues sign-ups.

Summer registration is slated for March 20-22.

 

SPRING REGISTRATION:

  • Thursday, Feb. 2: Program descriptions and schedules are available for preview in the Spring 2023 Online Playbook or at the registration website.
  • Friday - Sunday, Feb. 3 - 5: Program preview continues. Add programs to your Wish List and make sure your account is ready for registration. Make note of opening dates of the programs you're interested in.
  • Monday, Feb. 6, 6:00 a.m.: Recreation, enrichment and sports programs registration opens. This includes art, crafts, sports, technology, fitness, cooking and more.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 7, 6:00 a.m.: Swim lessons and aquatic programs registration opens. This includes lessons for youth and adults.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 8, 6:00 a.m.: Sports leagues registration opens. This includes adult and youth roller hockey, adult softball and adult and boys volleyball leagues.

SUMMER REGISTRATION

  • Thursday, March 16: Program descriptions and schedules are available for preview in the Summer 2023 Online Playbook or at the registration website.
  • Friday - Sunday, March 17 - 19: Program preview continues. Add programs to your Wish List and make sure your account is ready for registration. Make note of opening dates of the programs you're interested in.
  • Monday, March 20, 6:00 a.m.: Recreation, enrichment and sports camps and programs registration opens. This includes summer camps, art, crafts, sports, technology, fitness, outdoors, cooking and more.
  • Tuesday, March 21, 6:00 a.m.: Swim lessons and aquatic programs registration opens.This includes lessons for youth and adults.
  • Wednesday, March 22, 6:00 a.m.: Sports leagues registration opens. This includes adult cornhole, adult fall softball, adult golf, adult kickball, adult roller hockey, youth flag football, kindergarten soccer, youth soccer and middle school tennis leagues.

Kor Land Trust, Bend Chamber Offer Affordable Housing Opportunity

BEND, OR -- Kôr Community Land Trust will build seven new homes in Southwest Bend’s Poplar Community in an effort to aid Bend’s affordable housing crunch. The development is a pilot project where employers help workers purchase their first home by covering some closing costs.

Kôr Executive Director Jackie Keogh says everyone feels the pinch from a lack of workforce housing, “As a community-based non-profit we wanted to be part of the solution to that. So, Kôr was able to get the first preference of its kind to give priority in select homes to our local workforce.”

The homes will be built with sustainability in mind. “What Kôr believes is that income shouldn’t negate choice in that our homebuyers should have the same access to these high-quality designs, as anyone else does. The only difference is we’re selling them for much less. Our average purchase prices are going to be $250,000,” according to Keogh, adding the southwest Bend location was carefully chosen, “Kôr is really excited to bring geographic equity to the city of Bend in terms of where it’s affordable housing is built. The majority of our pipeline is now going to be on the Bend westside. So that our homebuyers have access to walkability, schools, trails, and greenspace that any market rate buyer has on the westside.”

The Bend Chamber of Commerce, and its partners are sponsoring four of those new homes. The sponsorship helps support the difference between the cost to build these homes and what income-qualified home buyers can afford.

Employers and their home-buying employees must meet eligibility requirements. The employer application process opens on February 1st. 

New Bend City Councilor "Fully Understands The Commitment"

BEND, OR -- Megan Norris will be sworn in Wednesday as the newest Bend City Councilor. She was appointed this week to serve the rest of Melanie Kebler’s term, following Kebler's election to Mayor. 

Norris has lived in Bend almost four years and is a planning manager for Hayden Homes. "Having worked in affordable housing and advocating for a permanent source of funding in California in the past, supplying homes and encouraging homes that all working families in Bend can afford, is something that’s really important to me," She told KBND News a day after her selection. 

Shortly after moving to Bend in 2019, she was tapped by the Chamber of Commerce to become the Central Oregon Childcare Accelerator. She worked in that position for one year. "Having the background and having really gotten into the issue for a year is something that I can really hopefully work with my fellow Council members in," says Norris, "To start coming up with some real solutions that can start addressing the crisis in Bend."

When asked why she didn’t run for election in November, Norris said it wasn’t the right time; but that has since changed, "I was approached by my former boss, Katy Brooks at the Chamber, and she thought this would be a really good fit and position for me. I decided that that timing fit best for me, personally." She launched a campaign in 2021 to run for a seat on the Bend-La Pine School Board but later dropped out of the race.

Norris was chosen from among 14 applicants; four were interviewed by Councilors Wednesday afternoon, which included questions about coping with disagreements and challenges. She told KBND News Thursday she's prepared, "I come from a family that has been engaged in public service, I’ve been around politics a lot in my life, I’ve worked on various campaigns and for various legislators. I understand what it takes in the critical arena, I understand the scrutiny, I understand the time. I come into this with my eyes wide open. I fully understand the commitment and I’m really excited about the opportunity to serve my city."

 

Cat Killed In La Pine House Fire

LA PINE, OR -- More than a dozen La Pine firefighters responded to a home on Fir Lane early Friday morning, and found flames coming from the second story and attic.

Crews were called just after 4:15 a.m. by the homeowner who reported being awoken by smoke alarms. He tried unsuccessfully to put the fire out on his own. He evacuated with his dog, but La Pine Fire officials say a cat was lost in the blaze. 

Fire crews knocked down the fire within 26 minutes but remained on scene for two hours. The cause remains under investigation.

The homeowner declined help from the Red Cross. 

RSD Board Discusses Opposition To Potential Pot Plan

REDMOND, OR -- With two City Council meetings now under his belt, newly elected Redmond Mayor Ed Fitch believes there is a lot to accomplish in the coming months. One of his ideas already faces opposition from the Redmond School Board. 

Fitch wants the City Council to consider allowing marijuana dispensaries. He tells KBND News, "Having the attitude that marijuana is not going to be in Redmond if we don’t have dispensaries is not a really well thought-out conclusion. People can grow marijuana in their homes, people can drive to Bend and bring it back to Redmond, we have doctors prescribing marijuana and their patients in Redmond have to drive to Bend to get it. A lot of that just doesn’t make any sense." Fitch says, "I think we should at least discuss it. I think there’s a lot of good reasons why we should have at least a couple dispensaries - over the past four years, we’ve lost a million dollars in revenue by not having dispensaries."

But, School Board members have discussed how to formally oppose a proposal, once it's officially raised by City Council. At Wednesday night’s board meeting, the group talked about a draft letter. Superintendent Dr. Charan Cline told the board he met with Mayor Fitch earlier in the day and learned the marijuana discussion may not happen in City Council until March or April. The board voted to table plans to send a letter, in favor of further talks with the Mayor and council members. Cline told the board, "Not to create friction between our two organizations. But we may - and we probably will eventually come out with something very similar to this that says ‘we would like to limit access for students to getting illicit substances.’ I mean, that’s more or less our goal." 

Several board members expressed interest in testifying before Council if it gets to a public hearing. 

 

New Redmond Mayor Hopes To Usher In Changes

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Mayor Ed Fitch says he has some lofty goals for his first term. "Our transportation plan, because of recent growth, is already outdated. We need to update that." He says he’s interested in pursuing a “beltline” around the city to reduce congestion on Highway 97. Fitch also told KBND News Wednesday, "We have to address homelessness very vigorously now because we haven’t done anything for the past few years." He's the city's first new mayor in 14 years. 

"We have a lot of goals for downtown Redmond, in terms of a family activity center, perhaps an art gallery and art workshop. So, there’s a lot of things on the table that we’re going to work aggressively to address and hopefully make the community a much better place." But, he says the work won’t compete with Bend’s standing in the region, "We don’t want to be the biggest city. What we want to be is the city that works for families, the city that provides employment and the city that can provide affordable housing." He adds, "I think we could transform the community to keep its values, but also to make it so much better. For example, we have a lot of areas in the older part of the community that don’t have sidewalks. I think we could use some grant money and a local improvement district approach to put sidewalks in a lot of different parts of our community."

He says, overall, he wants the City Council to be more transparent and more open to discussing issues brought to the table from the community.

 

Bend Firefighters Ice Rescue Training

BEND, OR -- Bend Fire and Rescue trained for ice rescues at Discovery Park Wednesday. Firefighters took turns as victims and rescuers, practicing techniques for safely recovering someone who fell through the ice. A specialized team runs through these scenarios annually to be certified for the training, equipment, and gear.

An emergency call of this kind is few and far between, according to Bend Fire’s Melissa Steele, “There hasn’t been an ice rescue in quite a bit. We did have the one of the dog last week. But hopefully the prevention message is out there about ice safety. We’ve been really lucky and blessed not to have some.”

“This is something that we try to take advantage of every winter. If we have the ice and good conditions to do that, we love to train like we actually will go to that emergency,” says Steele.

Bend Fire reminds the public no ice is 100% safe because a freeze-thaw weather pattern can make ice instable. Your best bet is to keep yourself and pets off the ice on rivers, and ponds. If a person does fall through, call 911. Don’t go on the ice yourself, but you can try to use something to reach them from shore.

 

Deschutes Commissioners Approve Eviction Framework For 'Unsafe' Camps

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners say dangerous fires have become increasingly common on county-owned land, caused by some homeless encampments. Specifically, they point to recent fires in the Juniper Ridge area, north of Bend, that spread quickly in thick brush. 

Commissioners voted Wednesday to adopt a new policy outlining a 72-hour eviction notice and guidelines for removing and storing personal property from an area deemed “unsafe.” Commissioner Patti Adair says it’s a way to protect everyone, "We really need to be mindful that there’s over 200,000 people that live in Deschutes County and, when we’re having those fires - and we were having a lot of fires last year - it’s great that we’ve got this document that will help with what we can do and how we handle it; and notifying and pictures."

Commissioner Phil Chang says it’s necessary but should only be used in extreme cases, "This is intended to deal with specific encampments that are presenting an extreme public safety risk. As opposed to a tool or a policy to enable us to do more wide-scale clearing activities in certain areas."

Commissioner Tony DeBone points out the county already has a policy banning long-term camping on county parcels, "We have a policy that says, you know, ‘if it’s a dangerous encampment.’ But really, the policy was ‘no camping,’ we’ve got a little disconnect, maybe. Which we need to work through as a society and a community right now."

County staff noted this policy won’t be used for campers east of Redmond, prior to a planned land exchange. That area will be cleared using the new Encampment Resolution pilot project.

Also Wednesday, Commissioners approved sending $500,000 in federal ARPA funds to the city of Sisters for an affordable housing project. And, they pulled back plans to expand the courthouse to four stories, reversing a previous decision and saying three stories are more feasible and affordable. 

 

File photo

New Bend City Councilor Selected For Vacancy

BEND, OR -- Following interviews with four finalists, the Bend City Council selected Megan Norris to fill the seat vacated by Melanie Kebler's move to Mayor

Norris is a planning manager at Hayden Homes and a board member for the Deschutes Children's Foundation. Several years ago, she was brought in by the Bend Chamber to serve as the Childcare Accelerator for Central Oregon. "I'm excited for Megan to join our Council team," Mayor Melanie Kebler said in a statement, "I appreciate that her viewpoint is rooted in her experiences as a Latina woman and her commitment to public service. She also has a strong personal history of working on issues that are top concerns for the Bend community, such as affordable housing, child care, and protecting our environment."

Norris is expected to be sworn in January 18. 

BLPS Youth Truth Survey On Now

BEND, OR -- Bend-LaPine Schools is asking students and families to rate their school in a variety of areas. The Youth Truth online questionnaire is meant to help the district better understand the student experience, according to Improvement Director Dave Van Loo, “We’ve got a lot of data around test scores, grades…a lot of performance data. But we have less perception data so this really gives us a more complete picture of what’s going on.” Van Loo outlined the survey topics, “Questions have to do with student engagement, academic challenge, school culture, sense of belonging and peer collaboration, relationships with teachers, college career readiness, diversity and inclusion, things like that.”

Van Loo notes it is important to recognize this is an assessment of school performance rather than of the students, “Then schools will dig into that, and base their school improvement plans for how they run their schools around that. And then at the district level we report these data out to the school board, as well. These provide some of the key performance indicators that we use to measure how our schools are doing in general.”

The anonymous online survey is available through this month.

Bend Police Look To Technology Amid Ongoing Staffing Shortage

BEND, OR -- Bend’s Police Chief is looking ahead to changes in 2023. Chief Mike Krantz says calls for service increased about 4% last year, yet the department remains at least five officers full of what's needed to respond to the current call load. He hopes Deschutes County’s Mobile Crisis Response Team will soon be ready to act, to reduce the number of times officers respond to non-law enforcement issues. "They’ve been really working forward, and we’ve been supporting the idea that they’re going to respond without law enforcement to certain calls that meet a criteria - that aren’t dangerous, there’s no weapons involved, but that are more the crisis-type calls." 

Krantz also hopes new gadgets will help close the gap, "We know that it’s going to be challenging to staff full-time personnel to the numbers that we truly need to respond to everything. But if we can use technology to the best advantage to increase the effectiveness and optimize the systems we have and the people we have, that’s what we look for." He says he doesn’t want to invest in toys, and will focus on technology proven to enhance police work, like drones. The department also plans to build on the body-cam system purchased in 2021, "This year we’re installing the in-vehicle camera systems, that is a partner to that body-worn camera system and they work together. The ability to use technology to really increase our effectiveness is what we look for." He adds, "Something we introduced this year, that hasn’t been utilized yet, is something called a BolaWrap. It’s similar looking, like a taser, but it simply deploys two wires that wrap around people’s feet or legs, when we need to do a restraint from a distance."

Krantz says hiring has improved. BPD started the year five officers shy of its ideal level; compared to 21 short, 18 months ago. He tells KBND News, "2023 is about growth, about meeting where we need to be in personnel, and continuing to work with our newly elected overall City Council body." Chief Krantz expects to be heavily involved in City Council’s upcoming budgeting process. 

Visit KBND's Podcast Page to hear our full conversation with BPD Chief Mike Krantz. 

 

Central Oregon Snowpack Declines In January

BEND, OR -- Winter storms have, so far, been kind to Oregon ski resorts and the stae's overall snowpack. The Deschutes and Crooked River basin is currently 109% of normal for this time of year.

NRCS Hydrologist Matt Warbritton says the season started with lots of snow in the northern part of the state, "As we moved into the end of December and into early January, those storm impacts shifted more south. And I’m sure many people have seen the news about the ‘atmospheric river’ that’s impacting northern California. In southern Oregon, the basins have been receiving a significant amount of snow from those storms." Snowpack in the Lake County, Harney and Owyhee basins are all more than 150% of normal for this point in the season. "The southern Oregon basins east of the Cascade crest have been well above normal since the storms in November, up until now," Warbritton says, "They’ve been receiving some pretty consistent storm impacts."

But, Warbritton says, it's a different story in Central Oregon, "The snowpack, in general, for that basin and for much of Central Oregon has been declining as a percent [of] normal." He tells KBND News, "Coming into December and then early January, there’s just been less accumulation." It could mean bad news for an already struggling region. Crook County is the only county in Oregon still under the “exceptional drought designation,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and Prineville Reservoir is just 18% of average right now. Ochoco Reservoir is at 24% and Crescent Lake, in the southern portion of the basin, is 16%. "We will certainly see that number increase as snow melts and that water turns into runoff, and then goes into the stream and starts to fill that reservoir," says Warbritton.  He adds, summer reservoir numbers are dependent on the next few months; peak accumulation typically comes in March and April. 

 

BPD Welcomes New K9 Teams

BEND, OR -- Two new K9 officers recently joined the Bend Police Department. Doug and his human partner Officer Jeff Perkins, and Harry with his human partner Officer Leigh Anne Boileau were certified in December. 

They are “apprehension dogs,” which means they are trained to nab a fleeing or hiding suspect. BPD officials say deploying a K9 "can provide a faster resolution to a challenging and dangerous situation, and can increase officer safety."

Harry is a nearly two-year-old German Shepherd from Slovakia and Doug is a Dutch Shepherd from Germany, who turns two on Wednesday. Both come to Bend from Tarheel Canine Training, Inc in North Carolina. 

New Facilities Planned For The Giving Plate

BEND, OR -- The Giving Plate met its $3.5 million fundraising goal for building renovations, and now even more expansion is planned.

Executive Director Ranae Staley says the Bend non-profit food pantry will use its new First Street location as a distribution center and warehouse and will look for another building to house a community store, “We’ve outgrown the building. We’ve grown by 45% overall in 2022. Even if we were able to make it work and get in the building, we would have to instantly be looking at more strategies around to accommodate the growth.” Staley tells KBND News she is hopeful construction on the First street location can start in the spring, “This shift of using our First Street building as our warehouse and distribution center will be very strategic because it will allow us to grow in scale quite a bit…and continue to grow to meet the needs.”

Now, The Giving Plate is searching for a retail space to put the community store. “If all goes well with that, we are open to the idea of what it might look like to take these store-front models throughout Central Oregon in underserved communities. We sit right now in a very strategic position to be able to grow with the need,” says Staley, who expressed gratitude in reaching the fundraising goal after 15 months.

Deschutes County contributed $500,000 to the capital campaign through the American Relief Plan Act. Other funding came from sponsors and private donations.

Pilot Butte Fire Station Increases Staffing

BEND, OR -- Bend Fire and Rescue celebrates added staffing and a new engine at the Pilot Butte Fire Station, Tuesday morning. Station 306 opened on Northeast 15th Street in 2019. Since then, it has only housed a medic unit. Initially, adding a fire engine and crew was to wait until 2024, when more funding would be available through a levy. "What became apparent was that waiting for revenue from the levy the staff this station was just too far out into the future," says Chief Todd Riley, "We had two groups of elected officials come together and say, ‘Let’s provide funding for these positions ahead of the levy’."

He says hiring new firefighters is possible due to "bridge funding" from the city of Bend and the rural fire protection district. "The funds that the City Council used and appropriated towards these firefighters is not sustainable funding. It was a one-time gift through ARPA dollars. And the General Fund doesn’t support these additional positions, which is why we’re on a levy," He tells KBND News, "Same with the rural district; they reached into their reserves to help us pay for this. So now, to sustain them there into the future, we just need to pass this levy."

Previous Coverage: Bend Fire Launches Survey Ahead of Levy

That levy will be on the ballot this May; Riley says the final rate for the request has not yet been determined. If passed, it won’t take effect until July of 2024, which is when the temporary funding expires. Chief Riley says that money runs out whether voters pass the levy or not, "You’re hiring people with an asterisk, right? You’re like, ‘Wow! I would really like to say this is permanent, but we need to put it in the hands of the voters. Once we turned into a levy fire department back in 2014, that is our reality. There is no other way to say it than, 'jobs are tied to levy revenue.' It’s not comfortable. But, it’s what we had to do to try to at least keep up with the demands for our services." Three firefighters make up an Engine crew and three crews are needed to provide 24/7 staffing, which means the agency needed to hire nine new firefighters. Riley says they recently graduated academy and are now ready to be assigned throughout the city.  

Bend Fire & Rescue host a "push-In" ceremony today at 10 a.m. at the Pilot Butte fire station for the new engine, which is the agency's first since 2000.

Photo of Station 306 courtesy of the city of Bend

Bend City Council Search Narrows To Four

BEND, OR -- Bend’s City Council has narrowed the list of candidates to fill the Position One seat. They plan to interview four finalists later this week, for the vacancy created by Melanie Kebler’s move to Mayor.

Monday morning, a subcommittee, made up of Mayor Kebler, Mayor Pro Tem Megan Perkins and Councilor Anthony Broadman, discussed the 14 applicants. One was immediately ruled out for not living inside Bend's city limits. Councilor Broadman noted he wants someone who can hit the ground running and bring diverse perspectives, "I’m particularly mindful of the fact that I think I’m the only business owner on the Council, and that’s an important perspective to bring; somebody who’s familiar with housing, in particular, I think would be valuable."

The subcommittee recommended interviewing John Heylin, owner of an ax-throwing bar, Bryan Brown, a Construction Project Manager and Megan Norris, who works for a local home-builder. Later in the day, the full Council agreed to also interview community organizer Greg Delgado.

Overall, Councilor Ariel Mendez was pleased with the quality of the applications, "I think it’s a real testament to the passion and care that people have for our city and for our city government. It’s pretty cool to see that kind of energy and, frankly, quality. I was looking for someone with service experience, whether that’s in the business world or nonprofit world; someone with direct experience with the city, who’s going to be familiar with the issues."

Previous Coverage: Bend City Council Accepts Applications For Expected Vacancy

Councilor Barb Campbell hopes to infuse more diversity into the group, "Someone who’s not just another, frankly, white, middle-aged, home-owning person. I’m always, frankly, trying to get away from that demographic. I feel like, over the entire history of our city, the people who have been sitting up here, largely have looked like me." 

Also in Monday's afternoon meeting, Council discussed what questions to ask the candidates in interviews, and how to prepare them for the challenges of serving on Council. Mayor Kebler noted, "As much as possible, we’d like this person to stay for the full two years, right? And there’s things we can ask them, and we’ll work as a team to support everybody." Perkins responded, "We'd like to not do this again."

Finalist interviews are Wednesday at 3 p.m. in Council Chambers. 

 

Prineville Police Investigate Deadly Shooting

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville Police are investigating a possible homicide, after a 27-year-old was shot and killed at the Wild Horse Mesa Apartments. Officers found Kade Nichol shot inside an apartment just after 4:30 p.m. Sunday. He was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Within minutes, officers located and detained the suspected shooter, a 29-year-old Prineville man.  Prineville Police Department, assisted by Major Crime Teams, Crook County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police, Oregon State Police Crime Lab, Warm Springs Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, and the Crook County District Attorney’s Office worked throughout the night executing several search warrants in the collection of evidence in the shooting. 

The preliminary investigation determined the men involved knew each other. Nichol entered the 29-year-old's apartment where the two fought and the 29-year-old fired his gun.

Prineville PD says there is no danger to the public regarding this investigation.  Due to the ongoing investigation, no further details will be released.  

 

Story updated 01/10/23 with the correct apartment complex title after the wrong name was provided to KBND News. 

DCSO Searches For Hit & Run Suspect

UPDATE (4 p.m.) -- The Sheriff's Office says deputies were able to determine the full license plate and tracked down the registered owner. Deputies cited 89-year-old Richard Bassett, of Sisters, fo Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver to Injured Persons and Assault IV. 

 

SISTERS, OR -- Deschutes County deputies are searching for the driver who hit a person in Sisters Sunday afternoon. The incident was caught on a nearby surveillance camera. Click HERE to watch the video from DCSO's Twitter page. 

Investigators say at about 1 p.m. Sunday, a maroon GMC Yukon struck a pedestrian standing next to a parked vehicle on North Pine Street. The suspect car continued north and turned east on W. Main Street. The victim was treated at the scene for minor injuries. 

The SUV has damage to the passenger side front quarter panel, along with an Oregon license plate that includes "ZV;" the rest of the plate is not clear. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact nonemergency dispatch at 541-693-6911 and reference DCSO case # 23-1272.

COCC Signs Climate Pledge

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College President Dr. Laurie Chesley recently signed a national climate pledge for higher education institutions that initiates a series of steps to strategically reduce the college’s carbon footprint. COCC is joining more than 400 other colleges and universities in trying to achieve carbon neutrality.

The first step is a greenhouse gas inventory of vehicle and building emissions at the college, according to Sustainability Coordinator Noelle Bell-Copley, “They give us a year to do it. It’s a bit of an undertaking. Since we are commuter college, I think the most interesting part to me will be figuring out how to get a good estimate of our commuting emissions. That’s people driving into classes to our 4 campuses.” The college hopes to enlist the help of OSU-Cascades for the inventory work.

The COCC Sustainability committee felt signing on to the carbon commitment climate pledge was a priority. “The level of support needed to undertake all of this was more than we had garnered before. So, to bring it to the senior leadership team, and the president’s attention was really just getting more support for this work because it really needs to be a top-down initiative rather than grassroots in order to make the most impact,” says Bell-Copley adding that the agreement aligns with existing objectives including designations as a Bee Campus USA and a Tree Campus, “This will give us more of a larger framework and more of a comprehensive plan to put all of our initiatives in. We’ve been working away at different things over the years with waste reduction efforts, and lots of initiatives, so this will give us more of a guiding full pan.”

COCC will have a series of sustainability and climate action-oriented public events throughout this year.

Bend PD Investigates Shots Fired

BEND, OR -- Bend Police are investigating reports of a man firing a gun indiscriminately into the air early Saturday morning. Officers responded to the area of Parrell and Badger Road just after 2:30 a.m. and found the suspect who took off running.

They set up a perimeter and tracked his movements with a drone to Silver Sage Street, between Parrell and Benham roads, but were unable to locate him. Neighbors in the area were notified of the incident and asked to shelter in place during the search.

Investigators later recovered a gun and ask property owners to look for any shell casings, gunshot damage or other evidence. They also want any surveillance footage showing a person with a gun moving through the area Saturday, between 2:30 and 4:30 a.m.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to call nonemergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.

 

Story updated at 4 p.m. with images released by Bend Police of the suspect wearing a blue jacket, blue jeans and a gray backpack. Anyone who has information about this incident is asked to contact Cpl. Scott Salvage at 541-640-6319.

More Pile Burning Planned For This Week

SISTERS, OR -- Firefighters on the Sisters Ranger District plan to ignite 51 acres of piles about a mile west of Highway 20, in the Glaze Meadow area, if conditions allow. Those burns could begin Monday and continue through Wednesday. Smoke may be visible from Highway 20 and Black Butte Ranch. No road or trail closures are expected.

Piles may smolder, burn, and produce smoke for several days after ignition. Once ignited, firefighters monitor piles until they are declared out. Please do not report ignitions.

While smoke may linger in the area, removing these large accumulations of woody debris during the winter months minimizes fire danger. The piles are concentrations of leftover materials associated with vegetation management activities being done to help maintain and restore forest and ecosystem health while reducing hazardous fuels loading.

The possibility exists for smoke to settle in low-lying areas due to cool night-time temperatures.

  • When driving in smoky areas, drivers should slow down and turn on headlights
  • If you have heart or lung disease, asthma, or other chronic conditions, ask your doctor about how to protect yourself from smoke
  • Go to centraloregonfire.org to learn more about smoke safety and pile burning in Central Oregon

file photo

St. Charles Patients Targeted By Fraudsters

BEND, OR -- A nationwide scam is now using the St. Charles Health System name to dupe victims into turning over their personal information. SCHS Chief Information Security Officer Ron Buchanan says local patients have reported getting an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from St. Charles or Medicare, offering free or low-cost medical equipment, "Oftentimes they’ll put a sense of urgency behind it also. You know, ‘you need to act now because money is going to run out with Medicare,’ something along those lines." The scammers may offer things like knee braces, back braces, a wheelchair or walker. Buchanan tells KBND News, "Ultimately, what the goal is, they’ll try to get the person to give up their Medicare number and/or their Social Security Number."

Buchanan says Medicare, St. Charles and real equipment manufacturers won’t call you unsolicited, "Part of the definition of ‘durable medical equipment’ to be subsidized or covered by Medicare, is that it’s got to be medically prescribed. So, you have someone coming over the phone and saying, ‘hey, I’ve got this great offer for a free or a reduced price device.’ But, at the end of the day, that person isn’t the one who has prescribed it." He adds, "This is Medicare fraud. So it’s targeting, oftentimes, seniors."

If you get a call from someone offering healthcare products without a prescription, hang up and check with your doctor. "Protect your Social Security Number; protect your Medicare number. Don’t give it out to anybody unless it’s your doctor or insurance company." Buchanan also suggests checking your insurance or Medicare statements frequently to make sure you haven’t been billed for equipment you don’t need or didn’t order. And, if you do fall victim, call the Medicare fraud line.

 

OR House Minority Leader Looks Ahead To 2023 Session

PRINEVILLE, OR -- When the Legislative session kicks off in Salem Monday, a new leadership chapter begins for Oregon politics. The 2023 Legislative session begins with a new Governor and Senate Presiden, and a House Speaker who has been in place less than a year. House Minority Leader Vikki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville) is optimistic about the change, "With the new Governor, we can find some places to work together to try to do things that have real impact for the homeless situation in Oregon, and we can have some real impact with the lack of law enforcement that we’ve seen in just the last couple of years." She adds, "I do believe that we will have conversations as we go, and I maybe hesitantly say ‘better conversations’ than previous Republican leaders and Speakers have had in the more recent past. But even in that, we’re going to find some places where we don’t agree with what’s happening."

She believes Republicans will be more able to push what she sees as important priorities, now that Democrats have only a simple majority. "I think there’s real opportunity for us to have a different kind of conversation - a different way to approach the things that we need to take care of in this legislative cycle. Having said that, we do have quite a change on the Senate side." Breese-Iverson is concerned about the loss of Peter Courtney’s institutional knowledge after two decades as Senate President, given that both chambers have a lot of new faces. "Just in the House Republican Caucus, I have 11 new members, and I believe the Democrats have 10," Rep. Breese-Iverson tells KBND News, "That’s a considerable number of new members coming into this cycle." But, she says, there is an upside, "It also brings a new energy, which is the exciting part."

The Prineville Republican says in the session she’s most focused on homelessness, law enforcement, lower taxes and government accountability. 

 

DUI Hit & Run Leads To Serious Injuries

BEND, OR -- A motorcyclist was seriously injured when he was hit by a sedan in northeast Bend, Sunday afternoon. Bend Police say the 47-year-old rider was traveling  westbound on Cooley Road at a high speed when a westbound car turned left onto Hunter Circle, into the path of the bike, at about 3:30 p.m. 

The motorcycle collided with the car's rear bumper, but the driver left the scene. Officers found it parked near Hunters Circle and Joseph Way and arrested the driver, 50-year-old Justin O'Leary, on suspicion of driving under the influence and felony hit and run.

Medics took the rider to the hospital; their condition is unknown. Cooley Road was closed for several hours during the investigation. 

Visit Bend Adapts Leave No Trace Principles

BEND, OR -- Visit Bend has partnered with the Leave No Trace organization to encourage people to take care of the land while recreating outdoors.

The tourism board wanted to build on ‘The Bend Pledge’ created five years ago according to CEO Kevney Dugan, “Just an evolution of our effort to make sure that the way tourism plays out in our community is a model that leaves this destination intact for future generations, and that we are all being very thoughtful about our interactions with our natural resources and recreational aspects.”

Visit Bend has several ways they are getting out the message. “There will be a big digital focus on our social media channels. Just really encouraging people on the Leave No Trace principles, whether it’s pack it in, pack it out, there are ways to engage whether it’s through the webinar or on visitbend.com there’s a dedicated leave no trace landing page,” says Dugan who believes the Leave No Trace organization is well-respected making them an ideal partner.

He also noted that with record numbers of outdoor recreational users, the partnership comes at an important time “I think it's beholden on all of us that we engage in some meaningful way to make sure that we’re taking care of these places. The reason that people move here, visit here, you name it, is really about breathing fresh air and getting outside. And all of us have a role to play in how we take care of these special places.”

In addition to the Visit Bend webpage there is a new Leave No Trace mural at their downtown office.

Search Continues For Missing Bend Woman

BEND, OR -- As of Thursday, Deschutes County Sheriff's Office staff and Search & Rescue volunteers have dedicated more than 1,220 hours searching for 38-year-old Melissa Trench. The Bend woman was reported missing December 27th after she didn't return home whne expected. At this time, Bend Police and DCSO say they've found nothing to indicate foul play or criminal wrongdoing. 

DCSO SAR teams have searched more than 3,900 acres - about six square miles - on foot and horseback, with dogs and drones. They're focused on the area in and around Shevlin Park, where her car was found. Crews searched the trail system and off trail.

Two BPD detectives are assigned to the case and authorities say they've followed up on multiple tips, examined surveillance video and analyzed cell phone data. Examinations of her phone data and financial recordsd are ongoing.

Officials say more volunteers are not needed. However, the public is asked to be vigilant in the Shevlin Park area and report anything to nonemergency dispatch, at 541-693-6911.

Original Coverage:

(12/28/22) -- The search continues for a Bend woman missing since December 27. Bend Police are now asking for the public's help and say 38-year-old Melissa Trench may be in danger. 

Trench was last seen when she left her home on NE Olney Monday evening, December 26. Her family found her car at Shevlin Park Tuesday evening and Police later learned she may have had suicidal thoughts. BPD is now working with the Sheriff's Office to continue the search, but ask the public to be on the lookout, as well. 
Trench is white, with dark blonde hair and blue eyes. She's about 5' 11" and 135 pounds and was last seen wearing a green down jacket with fur around on the hood (pictured below), black yoga pants and dark boots. She has pierced ears and an infinity symbold tattooed on her right arm. 
If you see Trench or have additional information, you are asked to contact non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911, or call 911.
 

Bend Mayor Outlines Ideal Candidate For Council Vacancy

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors are moving ahead with filling an open seat in the next two weeks. Mayor Melanie Kebler says they'd received nine applications, as of Thursday morning. She tells KBND News Council wants to be open-minded about the candidate, "There’s no real hard requirements, other than you have to live in Bend and you  have to be a registered voter here in Bend." But, she says, "I really want someone who will fit in with Council as a team and be able to work well with us. That doesn’t mean they need to have agreement with every single person on the Council. I think it’s healthy to have disagreement, of course. But someone who is sharing a lot of those core values so we can all be moving in the same direction." Those core values include, "Making sure that we’re protecting our natural beauty and our environment that we all love here, making sure that as we grow we’re protecting our community spirit and not losing the feel of Bend, even though we know we’re growing and changing. And, really focusing on affordability and making sure that we’re providing homes and all the services that people need, no matter what your income level is."

To listen to our full conversation with Mayor Melanie Kebler, visit KBND's Podcast Page.

The vacancy in Position One was created when Kebler was elected Mayor mid-way through her term on Council. The appointment is to serve out that term, which ends in December 2024. Applications will be accepted through 5 p.m. Friday. Click HERE for more details. Council's Vacancy Subcommittee meets at 9 a.m. Monday to go through the applications and make a recommendation. At 3 p.m. that same day, the full Coucil meets to review the recommendation. Then January 11, at 3 p.m., they'll interview selected applicants and may meet again on the 12th, if necessary. 

"Our plan is to hopefully have someone appointed by the January 18th Council meeting," says Kebler, "And then that person will be on board when we go right into goal setting in the next week after that."

 

Smuggled Fentanyl Blamed For Five Jail Overdoses In Four Hours

BEND, OR -- A Deschutes County Jail inmate is accused of smuggling fentanyl into the facility, leading to at least five overdoses late Saturday night and early Sunday. Jail Commander Captain Michael Shults says every inmate is scanned and searched during booking, "But even with our best efforts, contraband does get into correctional facilities. And, we monitor that. That’s why we continue doing searches once they’re in housing. So, it’s a constant battle, trying to keep contraband, drugs and all sorts of things out of correctional facilities and prisons."

Capt. Shults tells KBND News 25-year-old Sean McDonald was searched, but is believed to have smuggled fentanyl-laced pills inside on December 31, "We use [the word] ‘secrete.’ He was able to pull it from a body cavity. And then once he got it there, allegedly he was able to hand it to some of his cellmates. That’s when we noticed that he was struggling with an overdose, and then we saw a number of others very immediately afterwards." The first two overdose emergencies were noted at about 10:45 p.m. Saturday. The next two followed a few minutes later; and the fifth occurred at about 2 a.m. Sunday. 

Deputies treated three of the inmates with Narcan and several received CPR. Capt. Shults says jail staff have prepared for such a response over the past year. "Fentanyl is within our schools, it’s in our community, it’s in junior highs, it’s in every aspect of our lives now," he says, "And we knew that there are individuals constantly trying to get it into the correctional facility. So our deputies have been trained up, and their training really paid off for them that night." All five inmates are recovering, including McDonald. But, Shults says the entire incident was traumatic for his staff, "When somebody makes the decision to harm themselves knowingly, then trying to bring them back to life - not just one individual, but when they’re struggling with four others. We’re lucky to have the firefighters, paramedics and our own law enforcement showing up to be able to bring calmness to the chaos that was occurring in that short period of time." 

Shults says an Administrative Review of the incident is complete and subsequent searches of the jail turned up an additional 50 fentanyl-laced tablets. The criminal review is ongoing, and McDonald is charged with a number of new drug-related crimes. 

Between December 31 and January third, DCSO jail staff responded to six suspected opioid overdoses, compared to four in all of 2021.

 

 

OSU Hosts Outdoor Recreation Expert Series

BEND, OR -- Oregon State University’s Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy hosts six weeks of workshops for people working in the outdoor industry. The “Be Bold Conversation Series” is a free virtual series be held via Zoom at noon on Feb. 8, Feb. 22, March 8, March 22, April 5 and April 19.

Workshop topics include mindset, or the set of beliefs that shape your approach to work and life; personal values; imposter syndrome, which is the doubting of one’s skills and accomplishments; difficult conversations; working through burnout and managing in a hybrid work environment. Attendees are welcome to join individual sessions or the full series.

Sessions will be facilitated by outdoor industry leaders Kristen Freaney and Geer Van Dyke. Freaney is the former director of the Outdoor Industry Association's Skip Yowell Future Leadership Academy and also led the development of the association’s outdoor industry business certificate program. Van Dyke is the founder of Windrose Coaching and Mentoring. She holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Naropa University.

“We're thrilled to bring industry experts in leadership like Kristen Freaney and Greer Van Dyke to lead these much needed discussions to build a professional and sustainable future workforce for the outdoor recreation economy,” said Lee Davis, CORE executive director.

The Be Bold Conversation Series can be taken as an introduction to CORE’s Outdoor Leadership Certificate program. This nine-month certificate program prepares participants for career advancement in the outdoor industry with topics in leadership fundamentals; communication; organizational change; diversity, equity and inclusion; and mission and vision setting. The certificate program will open for applications in spring 2023.

For information or to register for the Be Bold series, click HERE.

NE Redmond Shooting Under Investigation

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are investigating a shooting in the area of NE 17th Street and NE Greenwood Avenue. The shooting occurred on January 2, 2023, between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.  RPD is asking for help identifying the occupants of a late model SUV or similar vehicle seen leaving the scene at a high rate of speed. 

A male victim and a dog both received minor injuries during the dispute, and a vehicle was heavily damaged. A canvas of the area yielded witness statements and surrounding businesses have been contacted regarding video surveillance. 

If you witnessed or have information about this case, case #23-99, please contact RPD through non-emergency dispatch, 541-693-6911.  To maintain the integrity of the case, no further information will be released at this time.

County Strengthens Cybersecurity Defense

BEND, OR -- Ransomware and other cyberattacks are a growing threat to public and government services; prompting Deschutes county commissioners to agree to hire a cybersecurity company to safeguard the county’s computer systems.

Deschutes County IT Manager Kevin Furlong told commissioners it’s better to contract with a company rather than hiring a new employee due to the specialized nature of cybersecurity.

“These organization have highly qualified individuals that are kind of outside our ability to reach in terms of their skillset and in their earning potentials. This is a way for us to get that talent and the benefits that come with that in a more bite size fashion,” says Furlong who told commissioners that XentIT comes highly recommended and will provide 24-hour, 7-day a week service to the county, “This contract is for us to expand on our cybersecurity program. And obtain some skilled resources that can augment our defenses and engage in response to any indicators of compromise.”

Commissioner Patti Adair believes government computer systems are major targets, “I think we all need to be aware of the dangers of…what is out there. You hear about it all the time.”

The County will evaluate their deal with the Maryland-based company at the end of this one-year $210,000 contract.

Local Businesses Targeted By Gift Card Scam

BEND, OR -- Scammers bilked thousands from two Bend restaurants in the past week and police say more could be targeted. Staff at Bangers & Brews used a thousand dollars to purchase gift cards on December 28, believing they were helping to release the owner from U.S. Marshals custody. They sent another thousand from a personal account through a banking app. January fourth, a Shari’s employee fell for a similar con, using more than $3,000 from the till to buy gift cards to allegedly clear an IRS audit.

"These are sophisticated crimes," Bend PD's Sheila Miller tells KBND News. In both cases, the caller’s phone number was spoofed to look like the business owner or manager. It's a new twist on a well-known scam, "Being able to spoof the owner of the business or the regional manager’s phone number and having some of that information about the business, it is a little bit off-putting. So, all of these things kind of combine to make it a bit more of a sophisticated con."

Miller says these kinds of investigations are difficult because the scammers are often outside the country, "In the first case, the Bangers & Brews case, the scammer was able to get $1,000 from the employee’s personal bank account through an online app. We may be able to track that using the information they provided for that app. And then in the other one, they mailed these gift cards to an address. Perhaps we will be able to track that address."

It's easy to think you won't fall for the ruse. But Miller says, "When you’re in the moment and there’s someone being really forceful with you, who seems to know a lot about your business or your employees, and the phone call is coming from the phone number of your boss, you can get really scared."

Redmond Police report Cold Stone Creamery lost $317 in a similar incident on November 21. Lt. Jesse Petersen tells KBND News a caller told employees they were calling from a government agency and, "convinced the employee to take cash from the business to purchase Visa gift cards, which were transferred to the caller." The scammer tried again November 30 and December 30, at one point claiming they were from the "State Police Department" and threatened to arrest the employee if they didn't provide more money. Petersen says the business didn't lose any more than the initial $317.

If you get a similar call, hang up and call police, "Don’t provide any details," says Miller, "Certainly don’t go buy gift cards and send pictures of them or send them in the mail. That is absolutely a scam."

 

Bend Mayor, City Councilors Sworn In Wednesday

BEND, OR -- Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler, New Councilors Mike Riley and Ariel Mendez, and incumbent City Councilor Barb Campbell were sworn in Wednesday night during a meeting full of pomp, circumstance and tearful goodbyes. 

Prior to leaving the dais, former Mayor Gena Goodman-Campbell remembered when she first joined Council in 2018, "I spoke of how this work is all about creating a brighter future for the next generation of Bend and creating a brighter future for this entire community. And because of the work of this Council, I know that we’ve done that." She was appointed Mayor last year when Sally Russell abruptly stepped down. Goodman-Campbell went on to thank each Councilor for their service, as well as city staff, "We are building a brighter future for Bend every day and I’m so proud of the work that we have done as a Council and as a city in my four years behind this dais." Mo Mitchell and Stephen Seghal also left Council, choosing not to run for their positions in November. 

Following Mayor Melanie Kebler's oath of office, the group  officially declared a vacancy for her former Position One seat. They now have 30 days to appoint someone, based on the city’s charter. 

In Redmond, newly elected Mayor Ed Fitch also took his oath of office Wednesday night. 

 

Applications Submitted For Psilocybin Businesses

SALEM, OR -- Oregon Psilocybin Services - a division of the Oregon Health Authority - began accepting applications for psilocybin-related business licenses this week. Section Manager Angie Allbee ?oversees implementation of Measure 109, passed by Oregon voters in 2020. She says the OHA adopted more than 70 pages of regulations for "magic mushrooms" over the past year, "This legalized framework really takes all four license types to operate and function." Those licenses are for manufacturing, testing, service centers and facilitators.

On Wednesday, Deschutes County Commissioners approved time, place and manner guidelines after a failed attempt to ban psilocybin-related businesses in rural areas. That ordinance goes into effect April fourth. Facilities will also be allowed inside the Bend city limits. Voters in other Central Oregon cities and counties voted in November to ban the now-legal industry.  

Allbee tells KBND News OPS has so far received two applications for manufacturers licenses and 32 for worker permits, but it will be spring before the first clients are served, "There’s going to be a number of factors involved with when people can submit applications for licenses, but we’re hoping by the second quarter of this year, or perhaps not far beyond that date, we would have at least one of our service centers opening to the public." That timeline is due to the licensing process, "You would need to have the manufacturers cultivating the psilocybin products; you’d have to have those products tested by testing labs before they could be sold to service centers. And, you would need your licensed facilitators, whether they’re employees or independent contractors." Those facilitators are required to conduct preparation sessions with clients before administering psilocybin. 

Retail dispensaries are not allowed. Click HERE for more information from the OHA on the licensing process and what clients can expect. 

Housing Voucher Waiting List To Open Monday

REDMOND, OR -- Housing Works will open the waiting list for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, formerly known as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 8 program, on Monday, January ninth at 8 a.m. It will remain open through 5 p.m. Friday, January 13th.

This program is open to low-income qualified residents of Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook counties. Applicants must apply online.

The time you apply during the week does not impact your position on the list. All applications taken during this time frame will be randomized by a computer and placed on the waiting list to give all applicants an equal chance.

“It’s important to note that anyone who is currently on the waiting list needs to reapply to the 2023 list. This is a yearly requirement,” said Lesly Gonzalez, HCV Director at Housing Works.

Upon request, Housing Works staff will provide technical assistance either in person, over the phone or email from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on the dates listed above to anyone needing help filling out the online application. Housing Works highly encourages that applicants do not wait until the last day of waitlist week to reach out for technical support.

SE Bend Break-In Leads To Arrest

BEND, OR -- A La Pine man faces numerous charges following a burglary in southeast Bend. Just before 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, Bend Police responded to a report of a burglary in the 21000 block of Ritz Place. Callers reported people running down the street screaming, and residents of the home reported the suspect had entered through a back door and been in the home for an unknown amount of time. One of the women reported the suspect entered her bedroom, threatened her and her roommates and touched her without her consent.   

They chased the suspect and got into an altercation before he got away. The suspect was described as a white male in his mid-20s, approximately 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, wearing a blue hoodie and a backpack. 

Just over 24 hours later, around 2:56 a.m. Wednesday, a resident of a home in the 1600 block of SE Virginia Road called to report an unknown man was in his backyard looking through his windows. He was not home at the time and was watching the man on his surveillance camera. Police located the suspect, identified as 26-year-old Dakota Willis, and took him into custody.

Police believe Willis was responsible for the January third break-in on Ritz Place, and say he also had an in-state felony warrant. Willis was arrested and booked into the Deschutes County Jail for Burglary I, Harassment, Menacing, Sex Abuse III, Criminal Trespass II and a Felony Warrant

Bend Police ask people who live in the area to check their surveillance cameras for footage from the nighttime hours of January third and fourth to determine whether Willis is associated with any additional crimes. Anyone with information is asked to contact nonemergency dispatch at 541-693-6911 and reference case numbers 2023-00000375 and 2023-0000593. 

Madras Man, Child Killed In Klamath County Crash

CHILOQUIN, OR -- A Madras man and his son were killed in a Monday evening crash north of Chiloquin. State Police say troopers responded to a three-vehicle crash on Hwy 97 in Klamath County, near milepost 235.

Their preliminary investigation indicates a semi truck towing a fuel tank, was southbound on Hwy 97 when it lost control and crossed into the northbound lane, striking a Chevrolet Suburban.  The momentum carried the semi into a Dodge Ram pickup, parked on the side of the highway. 

As a result of the crash, 36-year-old Roberto Raygoza Rosales, of Madras, was declared dead at the scene. His 12-year-old son Roberto Raygoza Jr. was also killed, according to a GoFundMe Page created to raise money for the boy's funeral. Both were in the Suburban. Multiple other injuries were also reported.

OSP is currently conducting a criminal investigation of the collision.

 

Story updated 01/05/23 to include juvenile victim's identity and fundraiser information.

National Medal Of Honor Highway Nears Completion

BEND, OR -- A goal set five years ago by the Bend Heroes Foundation of a "Medal of Honor Highway Across America" is in the homestretch. Massachusetts will soon erect signs naming its portion of U.S. Highway 20 as the Medal of Honor Highway. It is the last of 12 states along the nation's longest road to make such a designation.

Dick Tobiason started the effort in Central Oregon. He tells KBND News, “It’s a great accomplishment to have the first coast to coast highway in the United States especially named for Medal of Honor recipients. Highway 20 is the longest highway so what better cause than designate it for Medal of Honor recipients.” Tobiason is excited to travel to Massachusetts this spring when the final Medal of Honor signs are erected, “We’re preparing a ceremony; it will involve carrying a Medal of Honor flag across the state, veterans’ groups, legislators, the governor probably. We want a great finale. Longest Highway, Medal of Honor - what could be better?”

Tobiason has spearheaded the campaign since 2017, getting Oregon and 11 others to designate state Medal of Honor highways. The next step is national recognition, according to Tobiason, “Now that we have all 12 states done, we can go forward. Congress will say you have to show support from a wide range of veterans’ groups. So, we have already got those in hand and they have agreed to do that.”

Oregon U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and Pennsylvania Representative Mike Kelly are cosponsoring federal legislation to designate Highway 20 as the National Medal of Honor Highway.

NFL Star's Collapse Highlights Need For Swift CPR

BEND, OR -- When Buffalo Bills Safety Damar Hamlin collapsed during a Monday Night Football game, medics responded almost immediately and began CPR. "If they wouldn’t have responded as quickly as they did, likely he would not have survived," says Drew Norris, Bend Fire and Rescue’s Deputy Chief of EMS, "Between six and ten minutes, typically brain damage occurs. And they responded in seconds and started CPR. People are two to three times more likely to survive a cardiac event or cardiac arrest if CPR is started within one to two minutes, versus six to ten minutes."
Bend Fire offers free community CPR training on the first Wednesday of every month. Norris says local businesses encourage employees to get trained so anyone can respond at a moment’s notice. "We have one of the highest survival rates in the nation because people are willing to do CPR right off the bat. If they waited [until] the fire department arrived with paramedics, likely we wouldn’t have the same numbers we do." Click HERE to sign up for CPR training with Bend Fire & Rescue. 

Even without formal training, Norris says anyone can start CPR if they witness a cardiac event. He tells KBND News, "We want to just start compressions, hard and fast in the middle of the chest - right about 100-110 beats per minute. If you can put your phone on speaker and call 911, they will talk you through it." He adds, "Our 911 system will ask you a few questions and if they can determine the patient is not breathing and doesn’t have a heartbeat, they will walk you through CPR and they actually have a metronome so you do it the correct rate; and they’ll walk you through what depth to go through." He notes breaths are no longer thought necessary to keep someone alive until medics arrive. 

 

Damar Hamlin, courtesy FOX News

Alfalfa Shooting Suspect Extradited From Mexico

BEND, OR -- The Bend man accused in a fatal shooting in Alfalfa over the summer is now charged with Manslaughter and Criminally Negligent Homicide.

According to the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, the body of 53-year-old Neil Martell was found near Mayfield Pond on June 30, 2022. Investigators first called his death a "possible accidental shooting."

Jesse Ray was initially released after being cited for Negligently Wounding Another. But a Grand Jury later indicted the 39 year old for Manslaughter and Homicide, and the District Attorney's Office issued a nationwide warrant.

In November, he was found in Tabasco, Mexico and taken by U.S. Marshalls to Los Angeles. On December 21, Ray was extradited to Deschutes County.

Funding Available To Expand Local Child Care Options

REDMOND, OR -- In an effort to address the child care crisis in Central Oregon, NeighborImpact will provide funding and educational opportunities to child care providers and those wanting to become child care providers in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson Counties, and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

Funding for the Child Care Expansion Project comes from an $8.2 million grant from the State of Oregon. Money is available to center-based and home-based providers, and to persons wanting to start a child care business. Award amounts range from $5,000 to $528,350, depending on the type of care provided, the number of children served and other considerations. Priority for funding will be given to providers who offer full-time care.

Providers can qualify at varying stages of their business. The intent is to help providers address their most pressing needs and learn how to get started in the industry. Some funding opportunities also include an educational component and direct business coaching, provided through a partnership with NeighborImpact Child Care Resources and the Small Business Development Center at Central Oregon Community College. This educational program focuses on best business practices to achieve and maintain financial success and strategy for creating child care businesses that encompass quality early childhood education. The program is built upon, and a continuation of, a successful pilot program developed for home-based child care providers between the two partners.

The lack of child care services in Central Oregon has affected many businesses and working families. One way to support this initiative and help address the need is by sharing this information with people interested in opening, or who currently have, a child care business. One of the biggest hurdles to opening or expanding programs is the lack of available commercial and residential space. If you know of facilities that may be available to child care providers, please contact Hannah Kuehl at ccep@neighborimpact.org.

For more information about this initiative and specific opportunities click HERE or email ccep@neighborimpact.org.

Winterfest Returns To Fairgrounds Next Month

REDMOND, OR -- Oregon Winterfest returns to the Deschutes County Fairgrounds next month.  Aaron Switzer, with Lay It Out Events, acknowledges some were critical of moving the annual event from Bend last year, but said it was necessary because no other venue is large enough.

“It was very cool in the early days, when we had all these non-traditional spaces. But, as the community’s grown and these festivals have grown, having a place like the fairgrounds is really incredible because it’s built for these types of events. And, the future for this event is very large, and that space is going to accommodate that. It allows us to do a lot more and we’re getting more people. I mean, we’re getting Central Oregon. This is the Oregon Winterfest; we promote this in Portland, we promote it in Eugene,” said Switzer, who highlighted some of those new additions, “We are bringing a Ferris wheel and a merry-go-round, this year. And we will have hot beverages and toddies for people when they ride the Ferris wheel, so they can stay warm. I think it’s going to be a pretty amazing view. If you’ve been at the fairgrounds and you’ve gotten up high, you know that mountain view out there is pretty incredible.”

Festivities begin on Friday, February 17th with two indoor music venues and an outdoor stage. Winterfest runs through Sunday the 19th. 

Bend PD Sets DUII Record In 2022

BEND, OR -- Bend Police say officers made eight DUII arrests over the holiday weekend, taking the 2022 total to 683. There were just 509 in the previous year. 

The first was New Year's Eve at 8:46 p.m. near NW 11th and Newport. Police arrested a driver whose blood alcohol content (BAC) was reportedly 0.08%. 

Just over two hours later at 10:59 p.m., Bend Police arrested a driver for DUII, second-degree criminal mischief and reckless driving in the 2000 block of NE Linnea Street. The driver of a gray Chevy Malibu had crashed into a parked vehicle. The driver received a blood draw rather than submitting to an intoxilyzer test, and results of that test are pending. 

About a half hour later, at 11:33 p.m., Police arrested a driver in a white Infiniti for DUII at the intersection of N Highway 97 and NW Mt. Washington Drive. The driver’s BAC was 0.13%.

At 12:51 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2023, Police arrested a driver in a black Lexus sedan for DUII at the intersection of NE 27th Street and NE Wells Acres Road. During the traffic stop, the driver parked partially on the sidewalk. The driver’s BAC was 0.14%.

Less than a half hour later, at 1:16 a.m., Police arrested a driver in a silver FJ Cruiser for DUII at the corner of NE First Street and NE Franklin Avenue. The driver was traveling with no headlights. The driver’s BAC was 0.11%.

At 1:55 a.m., Bend Police arrested the driver of a blue Dodge Durango for DUII at the intersection of NW Wall Street and NW Louisiana Avenue. The driver’s BAC was 0.11%.

At 2:21 a.m., Bend Police arrested an intoxicated driver in a gray Jeep for DUII at the intersection of NW Franklin Avenue and NW Bond Street after the driver was seen traveling the wrong way on Bond. The driver’s BAC was 0.07%.

And at 11:03 p.m. on Jan. 1, Bend Police arrested a driver in a white Subaru Legacy for DUII at the intersection of NW Lava Road and NW Franklin Avenue. The driver’s BAC was 0.13%.

Deschutes GOP Chair Sets Goals

REDMOND, OR -- Scott Stuart is the new chairman of the Deschutes Republican Party.  He takes over at a time when registered Republicans are outnumbered in the county by Democrats and non-affiliated voters.

Stuart wants to accomplish three goals over the next two years, “To grow the Republican party by numbers in the county, to increase the number of allotted Precinct Committee People…to find electable candidates to run for positions within the county and cities.”

Stuart says the strategy will differ from the previous board, “We’re getting back to the basics. We’re going to rebrand this party to be the party of truth, common sense, and individual rights. Over the course of the next two years, you’re going to see some amazing things coming out of this party.”

While Stuart wouldn’t yet reveal the rebranding plan, he does acknowledge the need to reach out to non-affiliated voters, “We can certainly increase the Republican voters at the polls. We can get them excited about that. And that’s where rebranding comes in place. When you rebrand yourself, what you’re really saying is ‘Hey we’re generating excitement. Hey, we believe these people; we’re willing to get behind them’.”

'Encampment Resolution' To Be Used In Bend, Redmond

BEND, OR -- Homeless advocates and service providers are developing plans for where campers will go when the Hunnell Road area is cleared, over the next three months. Cheyenne Purrington, Director of Central Oregon's Coordinated Houseless Response Office, says officials are working to open space at a Motel recently purchased by the city of Bend, "We will have about 50 units available at the Rainbow Motel. So our hope is that we can utilize the existing units in our shelter system as well as focus on actual housing - So, not just temporary solutions and sheltering, but actual long-term, permanent housing. If individuals do decide they want to stay, for instance in an RV, we are also looking at providing some ‘safe parking’ spaces."

Previous Coverage: Hunnell Road Slated For Cleanup

Purrington says the plan is part of the larger Encampment Resolution Pilot Project, which provides a framework for clearing areas deemed "unsafe campsites." Purrington says it’s modeled after what’s worked in other cities and will soon be used elsewhere in the region, "We are working with the city of Redmond on the Runway Protection Zone, which is adjacent to the runway and has been identified as a hazardous area that needs to be cleared of camps." That area is north of the Redmond Airport. She adds, "We’re working with [the city of Redmond] to identify a similar plan to conduct needs assessments and hopefully provide some resources."

Eventually, Purrington says, her office will work with the county, "For a parcel of land in east Redmond that’s been identified and slated for sale. And so our goal is really to focus on the human beings and provide a humanitarian response so that we are not just providing two weeks' notice and assuming or hoping that people will leave on their own. But rather, providing meaningful long-term options and intensive services."

On the north end of Bend, officials say Hunnell Road needs to be cleared to allow for work on the North Corridor Improvement Project on Highway 97. Purrington says the estimated 65 campsites in that area are a symptom of a region-wide problem, "We have one of the highest unsheltered homeless rates in the nation." She tells KBND News around 80% of Central Oregon’s homeless are considered unsheltered, meaning they live in a place not meant for human habitation. "A typical community might see 30% or 40% that are unsheltered, and the remainder might be living inside but with a family member or couch surfing. Or other communities may have emergency shelter beds available." Purrington sees it as a public health emergency, "The life expectancy for someone living unsheltered is about five years."

She says county teams are working to provide a health-based and housing-focused approach to helping those in large encampments like Hunnell Road and the two parcels in Redmond. 

File Photo: Camps east of Redmond were cleared shortly after this photo was taken in 2018.

Two Killed In Juniper Canyon Crash

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Two people were killed in a crash on Juniper Canyon Road, near Paulina Highway, Monday evening. According to the Crook County Sheriff's Office, deputies were dispatched at about 4:30 p.m. and arrived to find two vehicles on fire. One was fully involved, the other had flames coming from the engine compartment.

The drivers of both vehicles were taken to St. Charles Prineville. Two passengers from one car were pronounced dead at the scene. 

Juniper Canyon Road was closed for six hours for the investigation. Drivers unable to access their homes were encouraged to park at Crook County High School until the road reopened late Monday night. 

 

UPDATE: Investigators believe a northbound Ford pickup, driven by Marie Odum, crossed into oncoming traffic and collided with a Ford Edge, driven by Anna Gilbert. Gilbert remains in the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Her passengers, Shawn Solar and Garrett Dennis, both of Prineville, were killed in the crash. Odum was treated at the hospital for minor injuries and released.  

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