Local News Archives for 2023-03

Ambulance Catches Fire, Closing Hwy 97 South Of Bend

BEND, OR -- An ambulance fire closed both directions of Highway 97 about five miles south of Bend, Friday afternoon. Bend Fire & Rescue responded to the report of a vehicle fire at about 4:05 p.m., across from the High Desert Museum. The ambulance was from a private company called Adventure Medics. 

The ambulance was headed south when the driver reported a loss of power. They pulled off the road and smoke started coming from below the ambulance. The driver and medic quickly evacuated their patient and got the person to safety. A Bend Fire ambulance assisted the crew with the patient until another Adventure Medic crew arrived to continue the trip to the patient's destination. 

Highway 97 was shut down in both directions while firefighters extinguished the blaze and drifting smoke limited visibility on the road. Northbound 97 fully re-opened after 20 minutes and southbound opened to one lane 15 minutes after that. Full opening was expected to be another hour, after the tow trucks removal of the vehicle. 

The cause of the fire was determined to be a mechanical failure of the transmission, which broke and hit the fuel lines. The 2011 Dodge ambulance was in good working order with no recent mechanical issues noted. Loss is estimated at $50,000. 

 

Image (top): courtesy of Bend Fire & Rescue. (Upper right) courtesy Roland Woods.

Multiple Food Carts, Cafes Burglarized Overnight

BEND, OR -- Bend Police are investigating multiple reports of food carts, other restaurant and coffee businesses burglarized overnight. All of the burglaries were reported when employees arrived to open their locations on Thursday and Friday mornings. 

Locations burglarized Thursday night include: 

  • Café Des Chutes on SE Scott Street
  • JJ Coffee Hut in the 20000 block of Cooley Road
  • Backporch Coffee Roasters in the 1000 block of SE 15th Street
  • Toasty and Bigfoot Barbecue Co. in the Podski Food Cart Lot in the 500 block of NW Arizona Avenue
  • The Bob Bend food truck at Silver Moon Brewing on NW Greenwood Avenue
  • IndoDaddy food truck at Spider City Brewing, 1100 block of SE 9th Street

In addition, Police took a report of break-ins at El Nava and Nosh Street Food carts and Industrial Joes Coffee, all located at or near Bevel Brewing on SE Armour Road. The suspects took money from the carts and broke doors and windows to get inside.

Among the items taken from the other locations were cash, cash registers, tablets and point-of-sale technology. The incidents caused hundreds of dollars in damage to each business. 

Investigators believe they were committed by the same suspect(s). Video surveillance images show a man and vehicle in the Toasty, Backporch and Bevel Brewing-area burglaries. The suspect vehicle appears to be a BMW or Mazda Miata.

If you believe your business may have been a victim, please contact non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911. Neighboring businesses are also asked to check video surveillance and share it with Bend Police. 

 

 

Downtown Businesses Hope To Profit From Summer Concerts

BEND, OR -- With more than 50 concerts planned for the Hayden Homes Amphitheater this summer, the Downtown Bend Business Association wants to make the most out of the estimated 4,000-8,000 people expected per show.

Executive Director Shannon Monihan says an effort is underway to promote downtown through partnerships in Portland and other markets, and work with the amphitheater directly, "So, we’re virtually reaching out to those concert goers, so they know we’re open and ready for them after and before a concert."

She wants those tourists to spend their money with local businesses, "Feedback to me was that the tourists go out to, like, Taco Bell after the concerts. We need to nurture those visitors, make them feel really comfortable navigating downtown." Monihan says about 70% of the people who shop and eat downtown are locals, with only about 30% from out of the area, "We should be more engaged with tourists; whereas Old Mill and Hayden Amphitheater is kind of the flip of that, or the middle, like 60/40. So, I want us to strive to target - with a new program, called the VIP pass program - the tourists that come to Bend, to be comfortable navigating parking downtown, to be comfortable navigating our hours downtown, and really feel engaged."

Previous Coverage: Amphitheater Looks To Reduce Concert Sound Carry

She tells KBND News there's also an effort to alleviate parking issues, "I’m working with Toby at the city of Bend Parking [Division], and the Hayden Amphitheater, to talk about a potential shuttle to go back and forth during concert days, so they don’t have to navigate parking. That’s in the works. I can’t say it’s for sure yet, but we’re trying to work out those kinks." 

To listen to our full conversation with DBBA Executive Director Shannon Monihan, visit KBND's Podcast Page

Development Of Thornburgh Resort Pushes Ahead

REDMOND, OR -- The most litigated development in Deschutes County is another step closer to reality, after nearly 20 years of planning and appeals. Kameron Delashmutt submitted the first plans for Thornburgh Resort in 2005. Since then, the project has faced unprecedented opposition, primarily from members of Central Oregon Landwatch concerned about water usage and wildlife impacts. 

On Wednesday, Deschutes County Commissioners granted preliminary approval for several plan modifications, allowing the resort to implement a new fish mitigation plan and reduce water usage. Oregon's Supreme Court rejected three other appeals on Thursday. "We have had positive rulings from the Board of County Commissioners, a hearings officer, the Land Use Board of Appeals, the Oregon Court of Appeals and the Oregon Supreme Court," Delashmutt tells KBND News, "I think that the total of those is 36 or 37 positive rulings, roughly, in the past three years." County officials say Commissioners will likely give final approval on the latest Master Plan changes on April 12, at which time opponents could file another appeal to the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). Delashmutt says, "It’s gone to the Supreme Court over and over again, and we’ve prevailed at the Supreme Court. There’s nowhere else for opponents to go." Click HERE for more on Deschutes County's action. 

Delashmutt owns more than 1,900 acres south of Eagle Crest, with access to another 400 acres of public land. The goal is to eventually open Thornburgh Resort with a hotel and houses, "It is permitted for up to 950 single family homes, 380 overnight lodging units, two golf courses," he says, "It was three golf courses, but we have voluntarily eliminated one golf course. And, it has some lakes; we voluntarily have reduced the number of lakes and irrigated areas."

Throughout the court battles, Delashmutt says he's pushed forward, "We’re under construction. We’ve got the golf courses fully shaped, we’re doing drainage, getting ready to do irrigation, our lakes are excavated and we have road work under construction. Our water reservoir was just installed and we’re getting ready to install our pump station so our water system is live." He adds, "We’re trying to get the golf course to the point we can get it seeded, where we could open in 2024. And we’ve got 24 sets of building plans at the Building Department in Deschutes County. Our goal is to start going vertical on 15 of those cabins, so we can close real estate in the spring of 2024."

 

RSD Promotes Decreased Social Media Use Among Students

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Schools officials are working to educate parents and families about the dangers of spending too much time online. Superintendent Dr. Charan Cline says what kids do and see outside of school has a significant impact on their behavior in the classroom, "Social media, when kids are really invested in that, they feel much more isolated. Through that isolation, they kind of lean into it. And it’s funny because what should connect you together actually isolates you from personal and human interaction."

He says principals report problems with kids as young as second grade, "All of them report how much modeling students are doing after social media feeds. They see something online and then they do it on the playground." Dr. Cline tells KBND News, "They have social media 'challenges,' where they go out and destroy bathrooms or they go and start a fight club. And they video these things and they’re interest, of course, is being liked on social media. But what it creates in our school environment are students that are overly aggressive, students that are imitating that as they go through it." There are also concerns about cyberbullying in what Dr. Cline calls an unsupervised space, "Kids bullying each other online; they have access to inappropriate content at a flick of a finger."

Cline tells KBND News he worries about the mental health impacts, "Kids that are involved in SnapChat and Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and TikTok, it all leads to increased feelings of depression and anxiety, poor body image, loneliness. Kids are doing a lot of their communication while looking at a screen and again, they’re not talking with other adults, and the influences that are coming in can be tough."

He offers a few clues that it might be time to take a break from social media: "Kids not having fun on their feed anymore or what’s coming in is very negative, they’re spending all their time comparing themselves to other people, when sometimes posting what’s happening is more important than enjoying the moment you’re in - that can be pretty unhealthy. Kids are feeling really anxious because they don’t have their phone with them at all moments, or you notice they just have these wildly swinging moods that go up and down."

Redmond Schools partners with mental health providers to connect families with resources, if needed. 

 

Redmond City Council Takes Time-Out During Meeting

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond City Councilors briefly left their Tuesday evening meeting, after a shouting match during the opening public comment period. Members of the far-right group People's Rights Oregon (PRO) took turns speaking to the Council. They defended themselves and fellow members, in response to comments made about PRO by a citizen at a previous Council meeting. 

Following four others, Scott Stuart stepped to the podium (above) and spoke about pandemic-era mandates; at one point, referring to the "plan-demic." He also expressed frustration with a previous request to meet with City Councilor Clifford Evelyn. Stuart is Chair of the Deschutes Republican Party and a member of PRO. He also admitted to the large crowd he dressed as a Confederate soldier in a 2021 parade in Redmond.

 

Councilor Evelyn (left) denied allegations he refused to meet with Stuart and Stuart pushed back. Mayor Ed Fitch asked Stuart to stick to current city business and eventually called for a brief recess, at which time Council left the room.

 

During the pause, Police Chief Devon Lewis tried to calm the agitated crowd (pictured, right) before Council returned and resumed the meeting without further interruption. 

 

Listen to the exchange: 
 

 

 

 

 

RPD Seeks Information On Cats Abandoned At Park

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are asking for the public's help tracking down the person responsible for 15 cats abandoned at Paul Hathaway Park, on the upper rim of the Dry Canyon. Officers responded to the park on NW Rockcrest Ct. Monday morning after 10 adult cats and five kittens were discovered in totes near the canyon edge. The cats smelled of urine and feces and didn’t have access to food or water. They also found a suitcase with cat food inside. 

The cats were taken to Brightside Animal Shelter in Redmond, where they were evaluated, treated, and vaccinated by veterinary staff. If you know who the animals, totes, or luggage bag belongs to, please call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.  Reference RPD case #23-8507.   

RPD thanks the young person who reported the abandoned cats and Brightside Animal Shelter for evaluating and treating the animals.  

As a reminder, it is against the law to abandon a domestic animal or equine at a location without providing minimum care. It is also against the law to fail to provide minimum care for an animal in a person’s custody/control.   

If you no longer wish to keep your cat or other domestic animal, please call your local animal shelter.  They will provide guidance and help you make the best decision for your animal(s). 

Central Oregon Unemployment Holds Relatively Steady In February

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County’s unemployment rate held at 4.4% in February, for the third straight straight month. The county gained 160 jobs, with Private Education and Health Services leading the way; followed by Government and Construction. The biggest losses were in Leisure and Hospitality, which cut 110 jobs.

Jefferson County’s jobless rate dropped a tenth of a point to 5.8% in February, gaining 70 jobs in the month.

Crook County’s rate rose a tenth of a percent, to 6.2%, despite a net gain of 60 jobs last month.

Mayor Kebler At Congressional City Conference

WASHINGTOND, D.C. -- Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler is in Washington D.C. this week, at the Congressional City Conference. The non-partisan event includes talks from government officials, and learning about new funding programs, with a special focus on infrastructure planning.

Mayor Kebler tells KBND News she’s made valuable contacts, “We have connected with a pallet shelter provider that is going to be providing shelters in Bend, but is also in a bunch of other cities. It was great to talk with them about how they’re kind of expanding their services in support for cities.”

She says the conference helps make high-level connections, “We’re really focused on infrastructure and so is the federal government right now. So that’s a good synergy we’ve got going on. And hopeful that we can secure some more funds to support infrastructure in Bend. Things like the Hawthorne Bridge concept which would connect downtown and our core area and would be a real game changer.”

A highlight for her was hearing from Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge, “She had a couple of distinct statements about how we have to ‘bring people home’ is what she says, and put people into housing that need it. She recognizes that that means we kind of have to push back against Not In My Backyard attitudes, and say we need to build housing everywhere.”

Kebler says the plan for "education to career" pathways could also help Bend, “That really hit home for me knowing that we have our own great community college and we also have OSU-Cascades and I know they’re both really good partners in trying to create new and innovative ways to get our youth hooked up into the career development that gets some good paying jobs in Bend.”

Kebler is set to meet with Oregon’s Congressional delegation Tuesday, the final day of the conference.

Bend Parks District Cracks Down On Off-Leash Dogs

BEND, OR -- Bend Park and Recreation District staff is looking for people who violate the city’s leash ordinance. As part of this week’s Dogs in Parks Awareness Campaign, the district is working with Bend Police, "The Community Services officers are joining us to be out there this week to give reminders to people about having their dogs on-leash, and just the importance of it," says Park Stewardship Manager Jeff Hagler. 

"We do a program of rewards for people that have dogs on leash. We hand out dog treats and other little items to encourage that," says Hagler, "And then we’ll just be reminding folks that they do need to have that dog on-leash, or there are consequences. It is a city of Bend law the police department can enforce." Violators face up to $200 citation from police; parks staff can also issue up to a 30-day park exclusion.  

"I want to emphasize that just where there’s an open grass area is not a good place to have your dog run off-leash to run or chase the ball. It really does cause problems for other park users," he tells KBND News,"A lot of people don’t realize it but just seeing an off-leash dog, to somebody who has a small child or they have a dog on a leash, brings up fear right away. What is that going to do? The unknown. And often we do have conflicts with other dogs, off-leash to a leashed dog."

BPRD has nine dog off-leash areas in local parks:

  • Alpenglow Community Park (61049 SE 15th St.) 3.9 acres, fenced with small dog area and agility amenities.
  • Big Sky Park (21690 Neff Rd) 5 acres, fenced.
  • Discovery Park (1315 NW Discovery Park Drive) 1.6 acres, fenced.
  • Riverbend Park (799 SW Columbia St) 1.1 acres, fenced with river access and small dog area.
  • Ponderosa Park (225 SE 15th St) 2.9 acres, fenced with small dog area.
  • Bob Wenger Memorial Off-Leash Area at Pine Nursery Park (NE Purcell Rd) 18.8 acres, fenced with seasonal splash pad and small dog park.
  • Hollinshead Park (1235 NE Jones Rd) 3.7 acres, unfenced.
  • Overturf Butte Reservoir (Skyliner Summit Loop) 4.6 acres, fenced.
  • Awbrey Reservoir (NW 10th and Trenton) 5 acres, partially fenced (not fully enclosed). Note: acreage is approximate.

Learn more on the district's Dogs in Parks webpage. Click HERE to listen to our full conversation with Jeff Hagler. 

 

After Almost Seven Years, Smith Rock Master Plan Nearly Complete

TERREBONNE, OR -- Smith Rock State Park will soon have a new Master Plan. Park Manager Matt Davey says the draft expected to be released in the next few weeks focuses on a few key themes, "Parking congestion, flow of visitation, trail enhancement and education and interpretive opportunities at the park." It's expected to be approved by the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission in June. 

Master Plans function as a 20-year vision for a State Park, and upgrades and needs not outlined in a plan don’t get funded. Davey tells me the last Master Plan for Smith Rock was developed in 1991, when it saw about a quarter of the visitors it sees now, "The park has changed a lot. Visitation has dramatically increased and there’s a need for some new physical infrastructure to help accommodate that too; more restrooms, we’re proposing a welcome center to help orient people who come visit the park." He says a parking reservation system could also be implemented, to help manage crowds during peak times. 

Davey tells KBND News Master Plans typically take two years to develop, but this one has taken nearly seven, "The Smith Rock Master Plan is an anomaly. It started in 2016, it had a series of three advisory-committee and public meetings in 2017 and 2018, all of the assessments were done - like wildlife and recreation assessments - and surveys were done back then. It stalled due to some staffing changes that happened right after 2018, and then the COVID pandemic." He adds, "The welcome center and that specific type of parking that we’re proposing with those projects, because they weren’t part of the ‘91 Master Plan, we couldn’t actually do them until we updated the plan. So, that’s why we’re pushing this process through so that we can move forward with those projects that were already set to go." 

A draft of the new Smith Rock Master Plan is posted HERE. Then, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department will host two meetings on April 10th to get public feedback:

  • An online Zoom meeting is set for 3-4:30 p.m. Register HERE
  • A 6-7:30 p.m. in-person meeting is scheduled at
    Bend Parks & Recreation Riverbend Community Room
    799 SW Columbia St. Bend OR, 97702

Once the plan is posted, comments can be submitted by email or online form or in writing to: 

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Attn. Jenna Marmon

725 Summer St. NE, Suite C

Salem, OR 97301. 

Comments received during the comment period (April 10- May 15) will be collected and reviewed for inclusion into the draft document, which will then be presented to the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission for adoption at the June 2023 meeting. 

Deschutes Co. To Award Wildfire Reduction Grants

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County is accepting applications for Fuel Reduction Grants to help pay for projects that create defensible space and reduce the risk of wildfire. Individual property owners are not eligible - applicants must be working at the neighborhood or community scale, and projects should go beyond regular maintenance.

Applications are due April 7 by 5 p.m. A total of $72,000 is available.

Preference will be given to communities or neighborhoods working to be recognized as a Firewise USA ™ site or are currently recognized as a Firewise USA™ site and are proposing projects consistent with their Firewise action plan and community assessment.

Interested applicants can learn more and ask questions about the grant opportunity by attending an in-person and virtual meeting Thursday, March 30 at 10:30 a.m. at the Deschutes County Road Department, at 61150 SE 27th St. in Bend. Please RSVP to Kevin.Moriarty@deschutes.org.

Find more information and an application HERE. by 

 

file photo

Drought Declarations Highlight Slow Recovery Despite Snowpack

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon is now in its fourth year of drought. Governor Tina Kotek declared drought emergencies for Deschutes and Grant counties Friday; Crook and Jefferson counties received their declarations in mid-February. State Climatologist Larry O’Neill sits on the committee that recommended the declaration, "The soil conditions are actually the most worrying right now. What that means is there will be a lot of ground left fallow, but of the people who do plant, they’ll be planting crops that don’t use as much water. Because of the dry soils, we actually expect an increased demand in irrigation water when we have very little supply of it."

Oregon's snowpack is strong, with every basin currently more than 120% of normal for this time of year. But, the High Desert needs rain. "Right now, about 50% of the state is below 75% of its average for this water year, which began at the beginning of last October. That’s despite the really good snowpack, and that also includes the snowpack too. It’s just been persistently cold all winter, which has helped preserve that snowpack," says O'Neill, "That snowpack really influences more the water supply, rather than the general landscape conditions. So, there are a lot of fields, some dry land agriculture and things like that - if those fields aren’t under snow, which a lot of them aren’t, they’re actually in quite a bit of trouble right now because not enough rain fell on them." He tells KBND News, "Crook, Jefferson and parts of Wasco County, and then going down into the Klamath, since October 2019, this region has missed out on at least a full year’s worth of precipitation." O'Neill says, "We’re not expecting any sort of significant recovery in this region. Unless, you know, there’s 10 inches of rain or something, and then we might see some movement."

Other drought-stricken areas are recovering, thanks to recent atmospheric rivers that just missed Central Oregon, "Just to the southeast, in Harney, Lake and Malheur counties, there have been some good improvement. These regions haven’t fully recovered from the drought, but they’re seeing some really good partial recovery," says O'Neill.

He believes climate change has prolonged the drought and he expects to see longer dry cycles in the future. 

 

Image: Oregon's snowpack as of 3/27/23, according to the NRCS

Studded Tires Season Ends Friday

BEND, OR -- Despite recent snowfall around the state, drivers need to switch out their studded snow tires before this weekend. ODOT's Kacey Davey says Friday is the last day you can legally drive with studs, "That is the end of studded tires season, so it is time for the studded tires to come off. The sure sign that spring is hopefully coming."

Davey tells KBND News if you’re caught driving with studded tires after March 31, the ticket is nearly $200 dollars, "You can be cited by law enforcement; it’s a Class C traffic violation if you have them on longer than the season allows. And in the past, there have been instances where the studded tire season was extended, but we’re not seeing that happening this year."

She says it’s also a good time to consider all-weather or studless snow tires, "There’s a really narrow window of conditions that studded tires really work on. So, if you are on clear ice, right around the freezing point, your studded tires are going to out-perform other tires out there. But in pretty much all other cases, your studless snow tires are going to really out-perform the studded tires." Oregon Department of Transportation Studies show studded tires cause an estimated $8.5 million in damage every year to roads. 

 

OSP Seizes 36 Pounds Of Meth In La Pine Stop

LA PINE, OR -- State Police seized 36 pounds of meth and two pounds of heroin from a car pulled over in Deschutes County for a traffic violation. The trooper stopped the car on northbound Highway 97, just north of La Pine on March 21, and was suspicious of the pair from Sunnyside, Washington. 

An OSP narcotics K9 alerted to the presence of drugs, leading to the search. The driver, 38-year-old Anabel Torres, and passenger, 38-year-old Audel Torres Perez, were interviewed and released, pending charges.

Madras Men Suspected Of Trafficking Fentanyl From Mexico

MADRAS, OR -- The U.S. Attorney’s Office is considering federal charges against two Madras men accused of trafficking drugs into Central Oregon from Mexico. On March 15, detectives with the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team, DEA, FBI, State Police and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office simultaneously raided a home on Timothy Drive, in Culver, and an apartment on Jefferson Street, in Madras. Authorities say they found commercial amounts of counterfeit oxycodone pills, believed to contain fentanyl, along with cocaine, meth and multiple firearms.

Also March 15, CODE arrested 29-year-old Israel Serabia and 22-year-old Sebastian Norato. The case was forwarded to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Portland, and the two suspects were lodged in the Multnomah County Jail on several drug-related charges. The jail in Portland is where federal suspects are held.

CODE says the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are expected. 

 

file photo: fentanyl pills

Drought Relief Among Topics At Commissioners' Legislative Update

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners are carefully monitoring a proposed drought relief package in the legislature. Commissioner Tony DeBone wants local experts to weigh-in, “On the topic in Central Oregon we can get a lot of people in a room that can talk about what we have done in the last 20 years. So, whatever that looks like, maybe there’s a roundtable or a hearing. Hopefully we can add some substantive information from Central Oregon on that.” Commissioner Phil Chang wants the county to lobby in support of drought relief, “I am very interested in seeing that package, or at least some key components of that package be funded. The dollar decisions are the hard part it seems.”

Drought relief is one of many proposals progressing through committees, including funding renovations at the Deschutes County courthouse, affordable housing, and homelessness.

Bend State Representative Jason Kropf says there is progress on many pieces of legislation, but lawmakers are eyeing the financial impact, “You get the governor’s recommended budget. You get the co-chair’s framework. I think it points us in the direction that we’re heading in broad strokes but we’re still waiting for that May (revenue) forecast for what those actual numbers are going to be.”

Commissioners also finalized a letter to the legislature asking for a guidance on temporary RV Parking projects.

Bend Man Arrested Following Domestic Disturbance

BEND, OR -- Bend Police say a 41-year-old man fired a gun into the floor of a home during a domestic dispute Sunday evening. Officers responded to NE Cobble Creek Avenue at about 5 p.m. after witnesses reported hearing people screaming and at least one gunshot. The suspect left the house before police arrived and was believed to be armed.

Authorities were able to talk with the suspect, identified as Micah Reid, but they say he refused to share his location. Police used armored vehicles and drones during the search. Following two hours of negotiations, Reid turned himself in near NE Purcell and Lynda Lane. He was arrested for menacing, harassment, reckless endangerment, unlawful use of a weapon and being a felon in possession of a firearm. 

During a subsequent search of the house, officers say they found a 9 mm handgun. 

East Bend Managed Homeless Villages Set To Open

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Villages expects to open its first managed village by mid-May. Board President Jim Porter tells KBND News there were a few delays during the permitting process, but the site at 27th and Bear Creek is almost ready for the small pre-fab shelters. Electrical wiring is installed, along with gravel to level the property, fencing is on the way and a grant allowed for an additional key piece of equipment, “We were able to locate and we’re going to be purchasing a shower trailer, which is on wheels, kind of like what they use on forest fires for firefighters. It’s ADA compliant; it has a ramp for people with ADA challenges. And we’re very excited about that, that we’re actually going to be able to provide a humane shower and toilet facility for the residents of the village,” said Porter.

Eventually, the site will have 20 Pallet shelters, “They literally, the walls fold up together and you pin them in place, then you put the roof on. And then they have two to four beds in them, depending on the size of them; they have a small working desk, and a heater and an air conditioner in it, and they also have a plug in for charging devices. The nice thing about those is, if we need to move them, we can easily move them.”

Service providers have also been employed, “We’ve hired a case manager to help people through; a navigator, case manager. We also have a camp host hired. Our next step is to set up the shelters.”

Porter acknowledges not everyone is happy with the idea of a managed camp in their area, but says it’s unrealistic to site them outside the city, “If you want these people to get access to mental health, to get food, they’ve got to be close to that. And there’s the balance: where do you find someplace close to that, that doesn’t threaten neighborhoods?” Primarily, Porter says, the facility is for at-risk women and children. 

To listen to our full conversation with Jim Porter, visit our Podcast Page

 

Four Local Organizations Receive Arts Grants

BEND, OR -- Four Bend-based organizations will receive funding from the Oregon Arts Commission. BEAT Children’s Theater, the Deschutes Public Library Foundation, Out Central Oregon and World Muse each get $5,000 from the Arts Build Communities grant fund, to promote arts access for underserved audiences:

BEAT Children’s Theater To support BEAT’s Community Outreach Educational Program. Funds will be used for artist fees, supplies (costumes, makeup, music, set pieces, etc.), royalties, printing and transportation.

Deschutes Public Library Foundation To support the community read program, “A Novel Idea,” where residents are encouraged to read, discuss, create and explore the selected books together. The Library Foundation is seeking to bridge the socio-economic and cultural differences and foster a sense of community. Funds will be used to pay for bilingual author María Amparo Escandón’s honorarium, Spanish-speaking cultural experts and books in Spanish.

Out Central Oregon To support the inaugural Winter Pride LGTBQ Film Festival in partnership with The Tower Theatre Foundation. Funds will be used for artist fees and staffing.

World Muse To support the production of "A Reflection of Life," a full-length documentary film focusing on water issues and featuring Indigenous experiences and voices from five Northwest tribes as well as public policy makers and scientists. Funds will be used for artist fees.

The commission awarded a total of $265,000 to 53 organizations in Oregon. In recent years, the Arts Build Communities program has generated more than $600,000 in additional community investment, much of it representing salaries paid as well as products and services purchased in the funded communities. These grants are made possible through a funding partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

Indigenous Languages Conference Starts Sunday

BEND, OR -- The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs hosts a four-day language conference in Bend, starting Sunday. The grant-funded event offers classes and presentations on linguistics, computer technology, and youth leadership.

Gina Ricketts, with the Warm Springs Culture and Heritage Department, says it’s important to preserve indigenous languages, “We’re seeing now this surge of learning our languages and the importance of how it increases student’s retention, and it lowers depression and suicide rates, and increases GPA.”

‘Healing Through Our Languages’ is the first of its kind in Central Oregon in almost 20 years. Experts say in that same time, fluency of languages spoken by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs decreased.

Guest speakers will have a special focus on teaching youth. “The conference is all about how language can be used to heal generational trauma. We have a lot of instructors actually modeling how to teach indigenous languages in classes,” says Ricketts.

The Culture and Heritage Department’s Lori Switzler tells KBND News fluency of the three languages spoken by the confederated tribes has decreased, but schools are trying to reverse the trend, “The language department has really kicked it into gear to just keep the language alive. It was determined that children that learn their language in culture have more self-esteem and confidence and do better with their educational studies and goals.”  She says language programs run through all grade levels on the reservation, and have been very popular. 

‘Healing Through Our Languages’ runs Sunday through Wednesday at OSU-Cascades.

Gov. Declares Drought Emergency In Deschutes County

BEND, OR -- Following a request by Deschutes County Commissioners earlier this year, Governor Tina Kotek issued a drought declaration Friday morning for Deschutes County. The Executive Order also includes a declaration for Grant County, in eastern Oregon. Her order directs state agencies to coordinate and prioritize assistance to the region.
Both counties have portions of extreme drought (D3) and are experiencing well below average water year precipitation. Streamflow has also been well below average in both counties over the water year, with Deschutes at 78% and Grant at 44% of its average streamflow. Likewise, streamflow at their respective basins have been below average, with Deschutes at 71% and John Day at 39%.
Reservoir conditions in the Deschutes Basin are approaching historic lows and soil moisture conditions across surface, root zone and shallow groundwater profiles are extremely dry. Above average snowpack conditions, 117% in Deschutes and 154% in John Day, will provide limited relief to drought conditions in some parts of each county.
According to the Governor's office, the drought declaration unlocks a number of drought-related emergency tools for water users, including assistance to local water users. Drought declarations also allow the Water Resources Department to expedite review processes and reduce fee schedules.
The Oregon Drought Readiness Council received requests from the Grant County Court and Deschutes County Board of Commissioners in March requesting Governor’s drought declarations. The council received input from Oregon’s Water Supply Availability Committee on regional water supply conditions. The Council recommended the Governor declare drought in Grant and Deschutes Counties for the 2023 calendar year, pursuant to Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 536.740.
As state and local officials coordinate with federal partners, Kotek's office says conditions will be closely monitored by the state’s natural resource and public safety agencies, including the Oregon Water Resources Department and the Oregon Department of Emergency Management.

 

Image: Map issued 3/23/23 by the U.S. Drought Monitor
 

Mule Deer Zoning Meetings Planned

BEND, OR -- A Deschutes County proposal would create new zoning regulations to protect mule deer habitat. Senior Planner Tanya Saltzman tells KBND News the data used for the current Winter Range zone is 30 years old. "Mule deer populations have been declining in the county, and this is due to a number of reasons. Some of it is because of development, so we’re looking to explore a potential update to this area and kind of issue some regulations that would pertain to those areas, to help protect that habitat." The existing Wildlife Area Combining Zone would remain unchanged.

The new proposed zoning rules would impact mostly commercial uses on properties over 20 acres, "Things that have been noted by ODFW as disturbing to the deer or the deer habitat; things like shooting ranges and BMX bike parks, solar farms, that kind of thing," says Saltzman, "So, larger scale commercial things."

Saltzman says the goal is to find a balance to protect both mule deer habitat and and the rights of property owners, "People are very interested in conservation of habitat, but they’re also really interested in being able to utilize their property as they way they are entitled to by the zoning. So, our goal with these regulations is to try and center it." She says the hope is to work with property owners, "We’re trying not to ever say ‘no,’ essentially. There might be some limitations but our goal is, at the moment, to not prohibit anything because we want to allow people to have these uses available."

The proposed zone is about 180,000 acres. But because much of that is federal land, Saltzman says it would only impact owners of about 80,000 acres, "The main area, I would say, of this new proposed area, is kind of in a triangle between Redmond and Sisters and Bend." Click HERE for more on the proposed Mule Deer Winter Range Combining Zone. 

Public information sessions are scheduled for April 4-10. Click on the link of a meeting to RSVP (not required but helpful for planning purposes). 

The Deschutes County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on April 13 at 5:30 p.m. The hybrid public hearing takes place at the Deschutes Services Center, Barnes & Sawyer Rooms (first floor) at 1300 Wall Street, Bend. Additional hearings may be scheduled after the April 13th meeting.

 

To hear our full conversation with Senior Planner Tanya Saltzman, visit KBND's Podast Page

New Art Considered For Colorado & Columbia Roundabout

BEND, OR -- Bend’s Art in Public Places team is in the process of selecting new roundabout art for the middle of Colorado and Columbia Street. Renderings of the five finalists will be on display at the Larkspur Community Center, from March 25 - April 1, then at the downtown library from April 3-10. 

The finalists were chosen from among more than 90 submissions. Once a sculpture is chosen, it will be installed either this fall or next spring and added to Bend’s public art collection.

Click HERE for more information on each piece.

Commissioners Updated On 'Safe Parking Program' Code Creation

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County will ask the legislature for help creating a code for a Safe Parking Program. Deputy County Administrator Erik Kropp told Commissioners Wednesday county staff is making progress in establishing limited overnight parking in unincorporated areas , “Safe parking is likely more restrictive in the county versus the city, because of Oregon land-use laws. At this point it’s unclear if Safe Parking would be allowed in certain zones in the county. Based on preliminary research it looks like its allowed in unincorporated communities and urban growth boundaries. So, at this point staff plans to come back in April with some options for the board.”

Commissioner Phil Chang suggested asking the legislature for help in overcoming land-use restrictions since they have a similar law already, “Some minor tweaks to that existing legislation could probably get us what we need in terms of clearance to allow this kind of use in the unincorporated county.”

County Staff will draft a letter to lawmakers asking for assistance. Commissioners will review the letter at Friday’s legislative update meeting.

Also at Wednesday’s board meeting, Commissioners agreed to fund full-time positions in Behavioral Health, and Outreach Services to help those experiencing houselessness. 

Rescued Farm Animals Ready For Adoption

BEND, OR -- Dozens of farm animals seized during a neglect investigation in Terrebonne earlier this year are now ready for adoption. 

Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Captain William Bailey says pigs, hogs, and goats were nursed back to health at the Sheriff’s Office rescue ranch, and multiplied, “A number of the pigs that we got were female and pregnant, and so I’m told as of yesterday we have about 18 piglets at the ranch. Those things are cute, running around with their moms. We had to do a little bit of adjustment at the ranch to help accommodate the mothers and the babies, just to make sure they were warm. We have about 16 goats that are available, 14 females and two males. We’ve been going through and getting their hooves all ready to go, dewormed, vaccinated, some of them will get fixed before they’re released to a family.”

Bailey says there is no cost to adopt from the Rescue Ranch, “The Sheriff’s Office does some basic background checks. We want to make sure that we’re giving animals to people that need to have an animal. So, people who are interested right now, we have approximately 50 females. They’ve all been dewormed and vaccinated.”

Contact the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office for more information.

Oregon Prepared Conference In Sunriver

Sunriver, OR -- The Oregon Department of Emergency Management hosts its Oregon Prepared conference in Sunriver this week. Deputy Director Matt Marheine tells KBND News the seminars and demonstrations helps governments and private agencies prepare, respond to, and recover from disasters. “We most certainly see the potential for earthquakes. We deal with wildfires, and floods, and winter storms, and landslides. So, there are a significant number of hazards that impact Central Oregon. And really across the entire state we see an increasing impact on drought,” says Marheine, adding the workshops help attendees build relationships, “Those hazards can be very difficult to plan for. The reason theses conferences are so special: it really builds the network. This conference allows these folks to build the relationship so that they can be that much more effective when things go bad.”

The approximately 500 participants also get hands-on training with techniques and equipment, “We offer the opportunity for people to see things like our emergency communications capabilities. We have Federal Emergency Management Agency resources here. We have our own agency resources from amateur radio. And really what this is trying to show people is how we can communicate during an event.”

Marheine says it's crucial to be alert for the eventuality of a disaster, “The people of Oregon need to put themselves in the driver’s seat about what could impact them, and what they’re going to do for themselves and their family. We live it 24/7. It is not if, it’s when.”

The Oregon Prepared conference continues in Sunriver through tomorrow.

 

Roadwork To Affect Mt. Washington-3rd St Turn Lanes

BEND, OR -- ODOT crews are rebuilding sidewalks and curb ramps in northeast Bend that could cause traffic delays over the next two weeks.

ODOT Community Affairs Coordinator Kacey Davey says the work is near the Riverhouse and Bend River Promenade, “Right where Mt. Washington meets Third Street, or Business 97. So, there’s going to be a few right turn lanes that are impacted as we’re rebuilding some corners. This week, it’ll be on to Third from Mt. Washington is going to be impacted. And this next week, it’ll be from Third to Mt. Washington. We’ll make sure people can make the right turn, but they’re going to have to share a lane with people that are going straight.”

Prep work continues on the major project in the area: North Highway 97. But Davey says that shouldn’t start impacting travel until later in the spring. 

May Election Positions Filed, Some Remain Open

BEND, OR -- A few Deschutes County Fire and Sanitary district positions remain open for May’s Election. Last Thursday was the filing deadline.

Many board candidates including positions with Redmond Schools, and COCC will run unopposed. County Clerk Steve Dennison says this can happen in off-year elections, “We do typically have a handful. I think last time around we had probably somewhere around 5 in 2021, and 2019, I think we had as many as 10 seats with no candidate filed,’’ adding some candidates waited to file, “We did have a lot of filers on Wednesday and Thursday. Some of these seats are tougher to fill, too. These smaller water and sanitary districts tend to have less interest.”

Ballots for the May special election will be mailed next month.

Today, the Clerk’s Office conducted another ballot count from last week’s election to establish Terrebonne’s Sanitary District. Unofficial results show the measure passing 24 to 16. Terrebonne Sanitary District Director has Tim Brown and Guy Vernon both receiving 23 votes.

 

Redmond Airport Welcomes New Therapy Dog

REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond Airport's newest therapy dog joined the program this week. "Jasper" and handler Beth are among more than a dozen teams regularly volunteering for a few hours a week in the terminal. 

Erinn Shaw helped bring therapy dogs to Roberts Field almost a year ago; she now oversees the program. "Traveling can be stressful for passengers, and sometimes certain circumstances create a little more anxiety than others," Shaw tells KBND News, "And sometimes people leave their dogs at home and they’re upset that they’re going to be missing their dogs. [We] just wanted to provide a sort of comfort and stress relief for our passengers and our staff here at the airport." Shaw says, "Our teams generally try to approach passengers and just ask them if they’d like to pet the dog. And it’s nice because they sit and spend a little time chatting about their journey, where they’re headed or where they’re coming from."

Jasper will, no doubt, become as popular with travelers as Gunner, Tilly and the others. "Passengers love them, kids love them, our staff loves them. They’re a really welcome addition to the airport. Our TSA looks forward to the dogs coming." Shaw says they've become local celebrities, "All of the staff, and even a lot of passengers follow the dogs on Facebook and our social media. Most people even know the dogs by name now." She adds, "You know, there’s a handler that’s a part of the team. Most of the time, people talk to the dogs, they know the dog’s name and they kind of forget about the handler."

Redmond's program is modeled after therapy dog programs at around 100 other airports in the U.S. Locally, dogs are certified through Compassionate Canines of Central Oregon. In addition to the airport, many also volunteer at local schools, libraries, assisted living facilities and hospitals. Training takes six to eight months, and Shaw says the Redmond Airport prefers at least one-year of therapy dog experience after certification.

 

Bend Opens E-Bike Rebate Application Process

BEND, OR -- Low-income Bend residents can now apply for a rebate to purchase an electric bicycle. There are a total of 75 $2,000 rebates available. Cassie Lacey, with the city, says the amount is designed to make e-bikes affordable for everyone. "When we talked with e-bike retailers, they were suggesting that the average cost of a base model e-bike is around $2,500, so the estimated out of pocket expense for an e-bike would be about $500. That said, there are some that are even more affordable than that."

She tells KBND News the City Council believes it could help ease traffic congestion, "It supports our transportation goals by supporting alternative transportation. It also supports equity goals the city has around supporting vulnerable populations meet some of their basic needs like transportation."

The goal is to build on the popularity of Bend’s e-bike-share program, launched last year, "Compared to other cities of similar size, our usage for those bikes is very, very high, so we know that we have a population that is using those to a great degree." Lacey says researchers looked at the routes taken regularly by users, "And they were able to track how many people appeared to be using the bikes for commuting. We, again, had a very high number."

Funding comes from a $150,000 state Clean Mobility Grant, managed by Pacific Power. "It’s not coming from the City of Bend’s discretionary funds," says Lacey, "So, these are not funds that the city would be able to use on other projects. These are coming from the state, basically, that can only be used for these types of projects."

Applicants must make 80% of the area median income or less, live inside the Bend City limits and be a Pacific Power customer. Rebates will be awarded in three lotteries: April 17th, May first and May 15th. After being selected, recipients then must purchase an e-bike from a local retailer. Click HERE for more information, including the application. 

 

Interior Secretary Announces Oregon Tourism Projects

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler met with recreation enthusiasts, local business representatives, and outdoors-related organizations at Bend’s OSU-Cascades campus Friday to discuss Oregon’s outdoor recreation economy.

Secretary Haaland said it was helpful to hear ideas to increase access to public space, “The horsemen that actually need some parking. They do a lot of backcountry work on the trails and so forth back there, so that’s an issue. We recognize that this outdoor economy just like the mayor said is an important one here in Bend and across Oregon. We got some suggestions. We’ll follow up.”

She noted it was good to hear a local perspective, “I feel that it’s my responsibility when I’m in places like this that I want to listen more than I talk. We got some great ideas about how we can move forward.”

Secretary Haaland said the intergovernmental multi-agency group, FICOR is dedicated to getting more Americans outdoors, “We all agree we need to make opportunities for children to be outdoors so that they can feel that connection at an early age.”

The Secretary’s trip to Oregon also included a meeting with state Indigenous leaders to discuss clean water projects. She also announced federal funding for maintenance projects and wildfire mitigation. 

The Great American Outdoors Act will enable $130-million in deferred maintenance on State public lands. A $45-million project will rehabilitate East Rim Drive at Crater Lake National Park. Nearly $50-million in new allocations from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will support wildland fire management in 2023.

 

Spring, Summer Paving Projects Planned For Bend

BEND, OR -- Drivers can expect even more road work next month. Bend City Council has approved $3.2 million in contracts for street preservation efforts through the summer. "Some roads, we need to grind out the asphalt and put in a new layer of asphalt. Other roads that are maybe less traveled on, some of the residential roads, we can put on a ‘slurry seal,’ so think like a coat of paint to keep them from getting worse," Bend City Manager Eric King tells KBND News, "About 37 lane mines of the city’s about 800 or so lane miles will be touched; meaning they’ll either get the slurry seal or the grinded inlay, all over town, all corners of the city." 

Asphalt grinding will happen over about 18 lane miles of arterials and collector roads, "There will be projects ranging from 15th Street, in southeast, to Pinebrook, Butler Market, OB Riley, 27th - those are some of the busier streets that will get that kind of overlay treatment. They’ll get the grind of the old asphalt and a new layer of asphalt put on top." Another 19 lane miles of mostly residential roads will get a slurry seal.

Click HERE for a map of planned projects. King says, "Typically, those paving projects aren’t that disruptive. A lot of that work can happen without major closures."

 

CRR Outbuilding Destroyed By Fire

CROOKED RIVER RANCH, OR -- An early morning fire destroyed an outbuilding in Crooked River Ranch, Saturday. Crews were called just after 1 a.m. and found the small structure fully engulfed in flames.

There were no hydrants in the area, so two tenders brought water to the site. Neighbors reported hearing multiple explosions during the fire. Firefighters later determined multiple propane tanks were stored in the shed.

Crews worked for 30 minutes to knock down the blaze and prevent it from spreading to nearby brush. No one was hurt, but the building was a total loss, including a tractor and flatbed trailer.

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month Highlights Importance Of Screening

BEND, OR -- A new report by the American Cancer Society shows an increase in colorectal cancer among people under the age of 50. "Overall incidence of colorectal cancer is going down; and they looked at this between the years of 2011-2019. But, interestingly, the rates of colorectal cancer are going up in those under the age of 50," says Colon and Rectal Surgeon Dr. Dave Parsons. In response to those updated stats, the recommended screening age for colorectal cancer was lowered to 45 in 2021. "Colon Cancer is one of the few cancers in humans that can be prevented through screening."

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. "Most of us probably know someone who has had colon cancer, if you’ve lived long enough," says Dr. Parsons, "It’s very common. 150,000 people diagnosed every year with colorectal cancer in the United States, approximately." But, when caught early, 9 out of 10 are cured. "We know, overall, that the death rates from colon cancer have been going down. And, it’s presumably due to better screening, for the population that’s getting screened." However, he says only about two-thirds of the people eligible for a screening actually get it done, either by colonoscopy or home test. "I’d like to see 100% of people who are eligible getting screened, because - it may put me out of business - but I think it would be great."

March is colorectal cancer awareness month; the perfect time to start that conversation with your doctor. 

To learn more about the importance of screenings, listen to our full conversation with Dr. Dave Parsons, Colon & Rectal Surgeon for Kaiser Permanente Northwest:

 

Bend Officials Hope For Funding From State Homeless Pkg

BEND, OR -- Plans to clear the unsanctioned homeless camp at Hunnell Road remain stalled after Deschutes County Commissioners backed out of a deal to help create a managed camp. 

Bend City Manager Eric King says the city doesn’t have the financial capacity to take on such a project on its own, but help could soon come from the state, "There’s some potential additional resources coming from the Governor’s budget and, it might not be the city, but other providers that are trying to expand services." King tells KBND News, "The Governor’s budget dedicated $130 million. It looks like it’s going to pass this week. There’s funding going out to regions of the state, Central Oregon’s slated to get about $14 million. There are some proposals from local service providers to expand capacity in the system."

He says applications are already submitted for that funding, "We hope to hear back by the end of this month, which projects are selected. As I’ve been hearing, the Governor plans to sign - I think it’s passed the House and on to the Senate. I think this is a high priority, so the sense of things is the money will come shortly thereafter, in the next couple of weeks."

Trying to clear unsanctioned camps, like at Hunnell Road or China Hat, without more programs in place just spreads the problematic situation to another neighborhood, says King. It's a sentiment echoed recently by Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang. King says Bend has created more shelter space in the past two years, but not enough for the estimated 100 people living at Hunnell Road, "It’s a very fluid system. So, folks might stay at a shelter one night, they might graduate to a hotel room that’s part of the Stepping Stone shelter, so there’s movement. I think we’d like to see a little more capacity in the system to accommodate folks. But I don’t think it’s possible to construct a space for everybody; we don’t have the resources. And that’s some of the challenge that we are facing at the city."

To hear our full conversation with City Manager Eric King, visit KBND's Podcast Page

 

file photo

Construction Underway On New Redmond Library

REDMOND, OR -- With a temporary library branch on the south end of Redmond, the new permanent Redmond library is now going up, slightly ahead of schedule. "This is a really exciting moment for us," Deschutes Public Library Director Tod Dunkelberg says, "We’re starting construction this week and that should be opening in early fall of 2024."

The new 40,000-square foot facility is being built on the same property as the previous Redmond Library, which was housed in the historic Jessie Hill School. Dunkelberg tells KBND News he and the library board recognize tearing down the more than 90-year-old building is a loss to the community. They paid homage during the recent groundbreaking ceremony, "We really did a good job of honoring that building. We gave out bricks from the building to people who came, and they really appreciated that." He adds, "Right now, we’re creating a little movie - a little film. We interviewed people all around town about their memories from the building, and we found that will be a nice way to preserve the legacy. But also, at the same time, people are really excited about what’s coming because it’s going to be a real game-changer for Redmond."

The new Redmond branch will be "state of the art," and larger than the downtown Bend location. Click HERE for more details. It's one of four major library facility projects happening now, thanks to a 2020 bond measure. 

Until its 2024 opening, a temporary branch is located on South Highway 97, next to Wilson’s of Redmond. 

 

Second Deadly Avalanche Strikes Central Oregon In As Many Weeks

LA PINE, OR -- A Bend snowboarder was killed in an avalanche on Paulina Peak Wednesday, east of La Pine. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, 33-year-old Erik Hefflefinger was carried over a cliff band by debris, and may have struck a tree during the fall. 

Investigators say Hefflefinger and two friends used snowmobiles to access the area, then made their final approach - Hefflefinger on a snowboard and the other two on skis. The two skiers went down one side fo the slope and Hefflefinger followed on the other side. The avalanche started on his descent. All three were wearing safety equipment, including avalanche safety gear. Just before 1 p.m., the International Emergency Coordination Response Center notified DCSO of an SOS alarm from a device, and provided GPS coordinates. About 10 minutes later, one of the skiers notified the IERCC there was an avalanche and one person was not breathing; they were performing CPR.  

DCSO Search and Rescue arrived via Airlink helicopter and reached Hefflefinger at 4 p.m. They took over life-saving efforts after discovering a faint pulse. At 5 p.m., it was determined he was "beyond help" and his body was transported to the 10-Mile Snow Park. 

Avalanche Danger Persists

It’s the second time this month, a local avalanche has claimed a life. A Bend man was killed in a slide while skiing at Black Crater. Prior to March second, it had been nine years since DCSO last responded to an avalanche-related death. 

"I think it’s probably a combination of factors, Gabriel Coler tells KBND News, "And, the most obvious factor that’s kind of undisputable, is just how many more people are in the backcountry." Coler is a forecaster with the Central Oregon Avalanche Center, which rates the current risk as Moderate (pictured), "We forecast avalanche danger for Central Oregon Cascades, which is a zone roughly from Mt. Bachelor up to Santiam Pass. We don’t currently forecast for Paulina Peak. That Moderate danger does not apply to Paulina Peak. None of our forecast team has been there recently to assess the danger."

Even for areas included in their forecast zone, Coler says skiers, snowmobilers and snowboarders need to heed warnings, "I think they often look at the danger rating and they just judge, ‘okay, what level is too scary for me?’ Or, ‘what level am I likely to get killed in?’ But it’s more specific than that. There’s actually advice that goes with each danger rating. And avalanches are possible under all of the danger ratings." He says an avalanche can occur on any snow-covered hill with a pitch between 30 and 45 degrees, "But, for a lot of people, that steepness - like a 35-degree slope - is a really fun slope to ride on. In the Venn Diagram of what is fun for some people and what is dangerous, there’s definitely a lot of overlap there."

For more information on the danger scale and avalanche risk, visit the Central Oregon Avalanche Center's website

 

Deschutes County Dissolves Drug Court

BEND, OR -- After more than two decades, Deschutes County’s Drug Court is ending. It provided drug offenders with court-supervised treatment. District Attorney Steve Gunnels is disappointed, "I was the prosecutor who was originally part of the planning process, and I have been the drug court prosecutor now for 23 years."

He tells KBND News dissolving Drug Court wasn't a choice anyone wanted to make, "That’s really a result not of a decision by the court to end the program; although, ultimately, that’s the decision they had to make. It’s a decision that was based on the fact that we could not find a treatment provider for the participants in the drug court program, or a coordinator." Gunnels says the coordinator position was lost when the salary offered was not enough for someone from out of the area to find housing. And, past treatment providers are no longer available, "The rules about what has to be offered by the treatment provider have been very stringent and nobody in Central Oregon is capable of meeting all of those standards at this time." 

He says many offenders took part over the years, "Typically young people who have drug addiction issues and children, and try to get them turned around, get them into drug and mental health treatment and parenting classes. They have to stay clean and sober, they have to get a job and they have to reestablish their relationship with their children, which is oftentimes the motivating factor." And he considers the program a success, "Some people have had their lives turned around from really miserable paths that they had chosen with their drug addiction, and they are now productive members of society who are raising their children and living good lives."

Drug offenders will now only be prosecuted in the traditional way, and a judge could order treatment as part of a sentence or settlement. Gunnels hopes the re-start the program in the future. 

Visit our Podcast Page to listen to our full conversation with Deschutes County DA Steve Gunnels. 

Bend Approves Houseless Fund

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors have approved the creation of a Houseless Fund, within the city’s budget. City Finance Director Jeanette Townsend told the Council Wednesday it changes how revenue and expenses are tracked. "Creating a separate Houseless Fund will improve the transparency of the houseless operations and promote control and accountability over those resources," she said, "The Houseless Fund will include revenues and expenditures related to owning and operating shelters, managing the right of way and other related services, as well as support provided to the community along the housing continuum."

Under the current system, homelessness programs and services are paid for through the general fund, "The proposed budget adjustment moves existing appropriations relating to houseless operations from the general fund to the new Houseles Fund," said Townsend, "There’s no new funding or expenditure appropriations in this proposed budget. It is simply a move from one fund into a new fund."

Several people testified in opposition to the fund because they disagree with how the city is managing the homeless crisis. Council reiterated the Houseless Fund doesn’t change how or how much they spend on homelessness programs, only how those expenses are tracked.

Townsend says creating the fund before the next budget is approved will make it easier to prepare for the next biennium, "Having this fund in place now allows us to budget for those houseless activities in this new fund, so that when that proposed budget comes before you, I think it will further promote that transparency in monitoring of the houseless expenditures."

Revenue, expenses and all financial tracking for those programs will be relabeled under the Houseless Fund at the start of the new fiscal year, June first. 

Gun Stolen From Unlocked Pickup At Bend Bottle Drop

BEND, OR -- Bend Police say a man stole a flashlight and loaded pistol from an unlocked pickup last week.

On March 7, Bend Police responded to a report of a vehicle break-in at the Bottle Drop on NE Second Street. The Ford Ranger pickup was unlocked in the parking lot. The vehicle’s owner reported that a variety of items, including a flashlight and a fully loaded 9mm pistol, were stolen from the truck. 

Officers reviewed surveillance footage and identified a suspect who first entered the Bottle Drop, then entered the Ford Ranger through the driver’s side door and took items before leaving the area in a mid-2000s red Kia Spectra. Investigators determined the suspect was 27-year-old Dakota Jess Tittle of Bend. Tittle is a convicted felon who is not allowed to possess or own a firearm. 

At about 1:15 p.m. on March 14, officers saw Tittle’s car in the parking lot of the Westside Tavern on NW Galveston Avenue. As he drove the car out of the parking lot, officers blocked it in and conducted a high-risk traffic stop. Tittle was arrested without incident. 

A firearm believed to be the one stolen from the pickup was found in a backpack in Tittle’s car. Its serial number was scratched off and it had been repainted. The stolen flashlight was also recovered.  

Bend Police reminds the public to never leave a parked vehicle unlocked. When parking their vehicles, people should HIDE their belongings, LOCK their vehicles and TAKE their keys with them

Bend Woman Accused Of Stealing Car Left Warming Up In Parking Lot

BEND, OR -- A Bend woman is accused of stealing a car from a local restaurant, then driving while under the influence of drugs. 

Bend Police were dispatched to a report of a stolen vehicle in the parking lot of Burger King on North Highway 97, just after 11 p.m. Tuesday. The vehicle’s owner had been warming up the purple 2008 Hyundai Elantra. The car was unlocked and keys were in the ignition. 

Officers interviewed multiple witnesses who saw a woman acting erratically near Chevron and Burger King  moments before the vehicle was taken. One witness had video of the suspect. Officers recognized the suspect as 34-year-old Maritza Ivy Gomez. She'd been trespassed earlier in the night from Best Western on Grandview Drive.

They found the vehicle and Gomez in the parking lot of the Best Western. The vehicle was released to the victim at the scene. Gomez was arrested for DUII – drugs and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and taken to jail. She was also cited for a violation for possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine.

The Bend Police Department reminds everyone to never leave a car running and unattended. Remember when you park your vehicle to HIDE your belongings, LOCK your vehicle and TAKE your keys with you.

BPD launched the Hide, Lock, Take initiative this week. 

BPD Launches Theft Prevention Initiative

BEND, OR -- A new Bend Police initiative launched this week aims to reduce the number of property crimes in the city. "People tend to leave valuables in their cars here; it’s a safe community, so they feel their valuables may be safe left in their car," Police Chief Mike Krantz tells KBND News, "We have reports of wallets left on seats, computers left in bags, purses left and leaving the cars unlocked." But he hopes the "Hide, Lock, Take" initiative will help. It was created by a BPD officer who saw many thefts from vehicles were crimes of opportunity.

Krantz says officers are now distributing free signs, "In certain areas where there’s more parking or more people tend to park their vehicles - maybe a business area, park areas, apartment complexes where there’s more groups of parking - and encourage people to either hide their items or take their items, and lock their cars." Officers are also meeting with business owners, apartment managers and others in the community who can help educate drivers.

"Our highest crime categories are typically property crimes, in the city - car thefts and thefts from cars. Those typically lead to ID theft, forgery, because people take those credit cards, they take checks, they take personal identification immediately; and go on a fraudulent run with it, until the credit card gets turned off," says Krantz, "This kind of hits multiple areas where we’re really trying to keep people safe, trying to keep people’s credit safe and we’re trying to keep their items safe by just encouraging some very small, basic crime prevention."

To listen to our full conversation with BPD Chief Mike Krantz, visit our Podcast Page

 

Stevens Ranch Library Plans Released

BEND, OR -- Plans for a new Stevens Ranch library in southeast Bend are taking shape. Deschutes Public Library Director Todd Dunkelberg says at 100,000-square feet, it’ll be the district’s largest branch, "his building will have a cafe, which was the number one thing that people asked for when we went out and talked to people across the county." He says it'll also be the first three-story library in the region, "One whole floor will be dedicated to children, one whole floor dedicated to adults, and then we’ll have a great lobby where people can come in; that’ll be where our big meeting spaces are and where our cafe will be, as well."

Dunkelberg adds, "It also will house all of our centralized services for the entire county. So that will actually free up space for us in our downtown Bend branch, and we’ll be expanding the public space in that building by about 25%."

The Stevens Ranch branch will be built on the east side of SE 27th Street, south of Stevens Road. An open house this week allowed neighbors a chance to check out the design and ask questions, "I heard from a lot of people, especially from people who live on the east side of Bend, that they really don’t have services like this," Dunkelberg tells KBND News, "So, they’re really excited to have this facility coming."

Construction is slated to begin in February of 2024, and Dunkelberg expects it’ll open by January of 2026. The $138 million project will be paid for through a bond approved by voters in 2020. 

 

Comm. Chang Speaks Out On County Homeless Plan

BEND, OR -- A week after the deal to develop a managed homeless camp in Bend fell apart, Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang believes there may still be a path forward. He was the lone Commissioner opposed to backing out of the plan, "I think that there is a major strain between at least two of the Board of Commissioners and the Bend City Council," Chang told KBND News Tuesday, "And, we’re going to have to mend some fences, build trust, communicate a lot and come up with some well thought out partnership plans in order to patch that up."

After initially agreeing to help secure a service provider to manage the city's planned camp on Murphy Road, Commissioners Tony DeBone and Patti Adair voted to back out. Chang says, "I don’t think that they are entirely closed to the idea of managed camping or safe parking anywhere in the Bend vicinity. But, they did not indicate a willingness to proceed with seeking developers and operators on Wednesday. My hope is that there will be some movement, maybe when emotions cool a little bit."

He believes a managed camp can work. Chang points to Medford, where he says a managed camp is helping protect campers and neighbors, "It’s got a fence that is closed at night. It has some temporary carport structures over wood shipping pallets that people can set tents up on, water tank, porta-potties. So, basic infrastructure. But what’s really, really important about Medford Urban Campground #1 is that it has 24/7 management." Chang says that management includes established structures, pre-screening and rules. And, space for service providers to help campers take steps out of homelessness. 

Chang says in the past few weeks, he's heard from dozens of people; some oppose the proposed Murphy Road location, others worried about the current sanctioned camp at Hunnel Road - a site that needs to be cleared for road construction, "I have heard from people in the China Hat area who are concerned that dispersing people from Hunnell Road will send more people to China Hat Road." He believes that’s exactly what will happen without a plan, "When you close one unauthorized homeless encampment without presenting people an authorized, planned, developed, managed, serviced place to go, they just go some other place that’s unauthorized."

He says he sent a letter to each of the people who reach out to him, explaining his position and what he believes the city and county can accomplish (below) . Chang told KBND News, "I would love for the county to be a partner with the city in both developing the places for people to go and also providing the wrap-around services that are necessary for people to take steps out of homelessness. We need them both."

Dear constituent,

Thank you for contacting me about homelessness in the Bend area, Hunnell Road, or a proposed managed camp at Murphy Road. As you may have heard, in a 2-to-1 vote the County Board of Commissioners withdrew from a planned partnership for a managed camp with the City of Bend on Wednesday and did not seek to identify other locations for a managed camp. I wanted to share my perspective on homelessness in our community and the role of managed camps in reducing it. 

Unauthorized, unmanaged homeless camping has reached unacceptable levels in our community. Unplanned camps like Hunnell or China Hat Road were not deliberately established to shelter people and do not have appropriate infrastructure or services for people to be living there. These places do not offer a pathway out of homelessness and do not serve anyone – not the community, not nearby residents and businesses, and not the homeless themselves.

Hunnell Road needs to be cleared and closed to camping. But we need appropriate places for people to go when that clearing happens. Ideally we would have enough affordable housing, indoor shelter, and transitional housing and adequate supportive services to offer to each person who is ready to take the pathway out of homelessness. Until we have enough of these indoor options, we will need managed camps and safe parking as interim solutions.

A managed camp is not what we see at Hunnell Road. Currently, there is no managed camp to look at as an example in Central Oregon. One of the better examples in Oregon is Medford Urban Campground, a facility operated by Rogue Retreat in Medford: https://www.rogueretreat.org/housing-shelter/

This facility offers basic sanitation, dry sheltered tent sites, and is fenced and gated. To be allowed to stay at Medford Urban Campground, people go through screening, agree to follow site rules, and sign up for a progress plan. 24-7 site managers and a range of service providers help residents move forward with their progress plans and to take steps out of homelessness. The site managers ensure residents are following the rules and keep the camp safe.    

If the City of Bend or Deschutes County clears people from an unauthorized location like Hunnell Road without appropriate housing, shelter, managed camps, or safe parking sites lined up we are not solving a problem, we are just moving unauthorized camping to a new location and causing stress to a new set of nearby residents and businesses. 

We need to get serious about developing the managed camp and safe parking sites our community needs to reduce unauthorized camping and provide people real stepping stones out of homelessness. The city-owned property at Murphy Road was just one option for a managed camp. On Wednesday March 8th, the Board of County Commissioners had the opportunity to request proposals from community service providers to develop and operate managed camps or safe parking sites anywhere in the Bend area, not just Murphy Road. My fellow Commissioners chose not to request any proposals for any Bend area locations on Wednesday, not just to withdraw County partnership on Murphy. They chose for the County to do nothing about homelessness in the Bend area.

I will continue to push for the County to play an active role in helping to create the affordable housing, indoor shelter, transitional housing, mental health and addiction treatment facilities, managed camps, and safe parking that our community needs to reduce unauthorized camping and unsheltered homelessness across the entire County. 

With the right support services and places to temporarily live there are many people in our community who can transition out of homelessness – youth and families with children, working people who can’t afford rent, seniors with chronic illnesses, and veterans. The vast majority of our local homeless population are long term Central Oregonians. If we dramatically reduce the number of unsheltered homeless in our community by providing real pathways out of homelessness, the remaining homeless population will be much easier to deal with.     

Thank you again for contacting me and I hope you will continue to be part of the discussions and planning efforts to develop the facilities and services we need to reduce homelessness in our community.

 

 

Madras To Use Goats On City Property

MADRAS, OR -- Following successful programs in Redmond and Bend, Madras is using goats to clear hazardous fuels from city property. Starting Wednesday, about 150 goats will converge on a section of Willow Creek Trail, east of First Street and north of "B" Street. They’ll graze on overgrown brush and weeds for about a week, and then move to the north side of the "M" Hill Trail.

Officials say the animals are safer, cheaper, more effective and quieter than using heavy equipment.

While the goats are working, the area will be sectioned off with electric fencing and the herd will be monitored 24/7 by a human goat herder and guard dogs. The section of affected trail will be closed during the operation and people are asked to stay clear during these time periods. The City will post notices at the affected trailheads and on Facebook.

“We’re really looking forward to this pilot project,” Public Works Coordinator Michel Quinn said in a statement. “This type of program has been highly successful in other areas and if it works well for us, it’s something all of us on the team are willing to utilize for future projects.”

Crews from Jefferson County Fire & EMS will perform tree removal and tree limbing to further reduce fuels and enhance training opportunities for their staff. In addition, a work crew from Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council will take out dead brush material not edible by the herd.

Once the goats have cleared the areas, Public Works will treat for noxious weeds and cheat grass to encourage regrowth of native and perennial grasses. 

Another Member Of The "Redmond Five" Granted Parole

BEND, OR -- Two members of the infamous “Redmond Five” have now been granted parole, and two more could be out by summer. "It’s a devastating decision for the family of Barbara Thomas, who thought that they had closure to this horror story," Deschutes County District Attorney Steve Gunnels tells KBND News, "Every time one of these young murders comes back for a resentencing or a parole hearing, the family has to relive what they went through in 2001." Despite his original life sentence, the Parole Board approved Justin Link's release earlier this month.

"Justin Link was 17 years old at the time," says Gunnels, "There was an 18-year-old, another 17-year-old, and two 16-year-olds who were involved in the murder of Barbara Thomas in 2001, out on the Old Bend-Redmond Highway." One of the killers, Adam Thomas, is the victim's son. "These five wanted to take her car. Instead of just taking her car, they decided to murder her so she wouldn’t be a witness and they wouldn’t get caught."

Because four of the five killers were minors at the time, Gunnels says their life sentences were reduced a few years ago, "Justin Link’s sentence was subsequently reduced to 30 years to life, after a U.S. Supreme Court decision held that a true life sentence - a life sentence without the possibility of parole sentence - was unconstitutional for juvenile offenders." But, he didn't have to wait 30 years for a parole hearing. Before Gov. Kate Brown left office in 2022, she commuted the sentences of a number of juvenile offenders, allowing them to go before the Parole Board after just 15 years. "Justin Link has now served approximately 22 years, so he was eligible to go before the Parole Board," says Gunnels, "The Parole Board held that he was eligible for parole because he had not been getting in trouble in prison. And, the only thing they’re really asked to consider is whether the disciplinary record indicates the person has matured while in prison and has been rehabilitated." Link is expected to be released late next month.

One of the two 16-year-old girls involved in the case is already out on parole. Gunnels says hearings for two others are scheduled for April and May.
 

 

City Council To Look At Bend's Tree Code

BEND, OR -- Bend City Council will discuss preserving tree shade, at a work session Wednesday. Updating the Urban Tree Canopy code has been on the list of Council goals since 2021, according to Mayor Melanie Kebler, “I heard in the 2020 election about this. And then of course, it was still an issue that community members are concerned about now. When you visually see a lot where a bunch of trees have been cut down, I think there is concerns about shade and heat effect. There is concern about carbon sequestration. There is concern about the value of large trees.  And so, we just want to get the process started on finding out where council is at. What kind of action do we want to take, and how do we direct staff to take the next step.”

Kebler tells KBND News it’s important to find a balance for sustainable growth, “I don’t want to do any policies that are going to block needed housing that we really need right now. That’s a number one concern of our community. But at the same time, I think there may be some changes we can make to help promote the urban tree canopy as a whole.”

“Personally, I would love to see something in our code about replanting. If you do need to take trees down, either you replant new trees, based on how many trees you cut down. Or even pay into a fund that we can use to plant trees maybe in another place,” the mayor said.

Wednesday's work session starts at 5 pm, ahead of the regular council meeting.

 

Deschutes Co. Commissioners Discuss State Housing Legislation

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners appear supportive of a bill in the legislature aimed at increasing housing options. 

"This bill, as presently written, would mandate that all counties allow recreational vehicles in rural residential areas," County Community Development Director Peter Gutowsky told the Board Friday, "I see it as an extraordinary opportunity to help address our housing challenges and matters even relating to Code compliance." But, he says the bill needs work, "It should be temporary, and that would be ‘to be determined.’ But there also should be some siting standards, relating to ensuring that the septic system can accommodate waste stream from an RV." There’s also a concern for safety in the winter, "You’d want to make sure that in certain areas in the county there was a ramada to protect snowfall from accumulating on an RV and impacting its integrity with that weight." Gutowsky also would like to see it changed from something counties must allow to something they can allow. 

That bill remains in committee. It got a public hearing last week but is not yet scheduled for a work session. 

Also at Friday's Legislative update, Commissioner Tony DeBone spoke out against the Governor's housing and homelessness package and what he sees as a failig process. He told those at the virtual meeting, which consisted of mostly county agency heads, "City of Bend’s asking the County to do something about a homeless managed camp in the city and media was all over it this week. State legislature’s putting out a bill with some money in it, so there’s a lot of activity around that. Department of State Lands - Vicki Walker sent us a letter saying, ‘well, you guys just go clean up the land you want to swap with us and the state’s going to do this big funding package, so that’s going to help.’ There’s just a cultural disconnect between leadership and implementation on this right now." DeBone blames the Governor, "Governor Kotek may just need to give us all direction, so we can maybe move in the same direction." He says the emergency order and bills are an end without a process to get there.

file photo

Officials Attend Mini-Fire Academy

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors and Deschutes Rural Fire District board members got a first-hand look at Fire Department training Thursday. The mini fire academy offered CPR, structure fire, and vehicle extrication demonstrations.

Fire Chief Todd Riley tells KBND News he's impressed with their eagerness to take part, “When I asked who wants to be involved in these evolutions every hand shot up. Our rural district board members, our city councilors. Everybody suited up, everybody is ready to participate and it’s fantastic. The smile on their faces made this whole thing worthwhile.”

Riley called the event instrumental for the relationship between the Department, and elected officials, “Until you get to witness first hand or even experience the struggles, the challenges…When we’re asking for support from council or the rural district, if they can appreciate what goes into this job, the more likely they are to support us in whatever we’re asking for.”

Officials put on firefighting gear and operated equipment at the Bend Fire and Rescue Training Center. City councilors Mike Reilly, and Megan Perkins were impressed after handling a fire hose. “I can see why people very actively train. Keep yourself healthy, right. If you’re not strong enough you’re going to get injured,” said Reilly, with Perkins adding, “Not only how physically fit you have to be but how well you have to work together.”

These were standard training exercises practiced regularly by firefighters, “We have to simulate fire attacks. We have to simulate vehicle extrications. And so, when we can put it altogether and have the audience of our elected officials it’s just that much more special,” Chief Riley said.

 

Sen. Knopp's Package Of Sex Crime Bills Awaits Hearings

SALEM, OR -- A package of Republican-backed bills in the state Legislature aim to change how alleged sex offenders are prosecuted, and how the Parole Board assesses convicted sex offenders for release. and evaluated for parole.

In 2015, lawmakers doubled the statute of limitations for sex crimes, from six to 12 years. Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) is behind a new effort to bump that to 20 years. "We think this is necessary to make sure that every victim has the opportunity for justice," he said at a press conference this week, "And that we don’t create more victims by not prosecuting those that have committed violent sex crimes."

The other two bills would change the state's assessment system used to consider the release of sex offenders, and would redefine who is considered a "victim" and therefore qualified to testify at a parole hearing.

Tiffany Edens and Danielle Tudor are victims of the "Jogger Rapist." They say Richard Gillmore is an admitted serial rapist. He was paroled as a "Level One" offender in December after 36 years in prison. Edens says the Parole Board's system is broken, "These are rapists, they’re sex offenders, they’re child abusers and it doesn’t work and it’s not adequate, and it’s not protecting our community. And, it’s not protecting me." She added, "I think what people need to see is what rape does to people - to young boys and young girls, to older girls, older boys; it effects you forever."

Tudor said, "This is not a party issue. I hope that everybody can come on board with this because this is really a community issue and a society issue." 

Senator Cedrick Hayden (R-Fall Creek) believes the changes would hold the state accountable for the laws it passes and give victims more of a voice, "And I feel like the Parole Board has not been held accountable. And, the fact that a victim could go back and say, ‘I want to review that. I want a say in that assessment.’ First of all, we’ve got 15,000, and about half of them out there that haven’t been assessed. That’s a problem; that’s a dereliction of duty by the Parole Board."

None of the bills are scheduled for a hearing. Bills not posted to a committee agenda by March 17 will not advance this session.

 

SWAT Team Called To SW Redmond Home

REDMOND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Street Crimes Unit (SCU), Sheriff’s Office SWAT team and the Redmond Police Street Crimes Unit (SCU), executed a search warrant at a home on the 2300 block of SW Salmon Ave. Wednesday, following a long-term drug investigation.

Detectives received numerous tips from the community regarding suspicious drug-related activity, including reports of suspected drug trafficking and general quality of life complaints stemming from the suspected drug trafficking in their neighborhood. 

Investigators say the primary resident, 39-year-old Thomas Cole Grubb, was selling methamphetamine from the home. Additionally, there had been several reported overdoses, and tips indicated counterfeit oxycodone (fentanyl) pills were being sold out of the house. 

DCSO applied for and were granted a search warrant for the residence. Investigators learned through the course of the investigation numerous people with significant criminal history frequented and resided at the house. Due to this information, the DCSO SWAT team was requested to execute the search warrant. 

The SWAT team encountered eight people inside during the search warrant and detectives seized commercial quantities of methamphetamine and counterfeit oxycodone pills made of fentanyl.

Grubb was arrested and charged with Possession and Delivery of a Schedule I Controlled Substance. Zecheriah Newcomb, age 27, was arrested on a felony parole violation warrant.  

While lodging Newcomb at the Jail, booking deputies say he had secreted counterfeit pills in a body cavity. He was subsequently charged with introducing contraband into a public safety facility. 

Bend Man Accused Of Rape, Police Search For More Victims

BEND, OR -- Bend Police say a 22-year-old accused of raping an 18-year-old he met on Tinder may have committed other sex crimes. Investigators say the young woman began communicating with Hutson Naylor on Tinder in mid-February, then continued talking with her via Snapchat. 

They arranged to meet at his home in the 1400 block of NW Cumberland Ave. on February 21. She says Naylor gave her alcohol. The 18-year-old reported they initially engaged in consensual sex, but when it became painful, she said "no" and told Naylor it hurt. He did not stop. As the teen tried to leave after this incident, Naylor allegedly forced sexual contact and did not stop when she said no, then choked her and attempted to initiate a third sexual encounter.  

On March 8, Naylor was arrested at his job in the 1100 block of SE Centennial Street on charges of first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy and strangulation. 

Through their investigation, Bend Police detectives discovered Naylor had previously been accused of similar incidents in the Eugene area. He was the subject of four reports alleging sexual assault filed with Eugene Police Department in 2017, as well as a fifth in 2021, but was never charged with a crime in relation to those reports. The circumstances alleged in Eugene are similar to what's reported in Bend.

BPD want to speak to anyone who may have connected with Naylor on Tinder, Snapchat or other online dating apps. His Tinder profile username is “fudgebadger” and his Snapchat username is “tweak101.” Anyone with additional information is asked to contact nonemergency dispatch at 541-693-6911 and reference case #2023-00011636.

EDCO Asks County For Funding Increase

BEND, OR -- Economic Development for Central Oregon is asking Deschutes County for a 6% budget increase to more than $306,000 to keep up with rising expenses.

EDCO’s CEO says they assisted almost 600 businesses last year, and helped create 300 jobs. 

John Stark talked with County Commissioners Wednesday about challenges related to materials and labor shortages, “The last two years we’ve had a bit of lag. That’s because it’s taking longer to move out of these pending projects. But we’ve still had a pretty good year, comparatively speaking.”

Advanced manufacturing and lifestyle products are the leading sectors for Central Oregon.

“Even though we’re facing the economy's up and downs and these headwinds, people still want to relocate their businesses to Central Oregon. We are in demand,” Stark told the commission. “The challenge we’re facing is time. Materials availability, materials cost. Labor availability both to construct the business, and the business to be ready expand.”

Commissioners said they’ll take the budget request under consideration and will make a decision once the lottery funding report is in next month. 

Economic development grants are made available through the Video Lottery Fund, which is supported by state lottery proceeds.

Encampments Put Redmond Airport Funding At Risk

REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond Airport is out of compliance with federal rules because of three unsanctioned homeless encampments inside an area designated as the Runway Protection Zone (RPZ).

Airport Director Zach Bass told City Council and County Commissioners this week, "In 2021, the FAA came out and said, during an inspection, they can’t be there." He explained, "Basically, if there is ever an incident with aircraft, it almost always takes place in that area. So, the FAA requires that that area be cleared, for both individuals that might be down there, let’s say living, or of course for any kind of issues that might occur with an aircraft as they land."

It also violates federal grant assurances, "Grant assurances are what we sign when we take federal money." And, Bass says, that could put future funding at risk, "A reminder that we’re in the very beginning of a very large project that requires FAA money to increase our terminal size."

Bass says the FAA sent a notice stating, "'It’s an incompatible land use in violation of an airport sponsor’s federal obligations,' Which is a nice way for the FAA to say it needs to not be there," adding, "Now, how do we make that happen? The easiest way for us to do, and to make sure it occurs for a long period of time, is to fence the 61 acres on the north side of 126." He estimates about 40 campers are living in that area north of Runway 523 (pictured).

Redmond Mayor Ed Fitch tells KBND News those camps will be evicted this summer, "Not only the Runway Protection Zone, but there’s other county property up there that has to be also cleared of encampments. We estimated that there might be 140 people affected this year by these displacements. So, the number one objective of the county and the city is to work together to help coordinate a relocation process." That county-owned parcel on the eastern edge of Redmond is involved in a long-anticipated land swap with Oregon's Department of State Lands. Officials have said that deal can't proceed while people are camping on the property. 

Fitch says, "We are working diligently on the Oasis Village and some RV parking north of that, east of town. Timing on that hopefully will somehow coordinate with some of the displacements." 

To hear our full conversation with Redmond Mayor Ed Fitch, visit our Podcast Page.

 
Image courtesy of Redmond Airport

County Backs Out Of Plan For Bend Managed Camp

BEND, OR -- In a sudden reversal Wednesday, Deschutes County Commissioners pulled support of a proposed managed homeless camp on city-owned property at Murphy Road and Highway 97. Commissioners initially agreed, last week, to contract with a service provider to manage the site. 

"I’d like to not accept Bend’s request for citing on that one-acre parcel and cease and desist from looking for opportunities right now," said Commission Chair Tony DeBone. He and Commissioner Patti Adair cited the outcry from neighbors at recent city and county meetings. "I’m not supportive of proceeding with the one-acre site owned by the city of Bend. It’s just a terrible location; we’ve had lots of great community response. A lot of negative response directly towards us and City Council," said DeBone, "I’m fully comfortable in just letting the city put something there if they want, but we don’t need to get near that."

Adair added, "It sounds like there are plenty of homeless people already in south Bend." At Wednesday's meeting, she said the medically fragile campers at NE Hunnell Road should seek shelter at the Bethlehem Inn. Commissioner Phil Chang pointed out the Inn has a work-search requirement and said medically disabled people can't look for a job. Adair responded, "I'm sure that they can make an exception."

Following a staff presentation on a potential timeline for securing a service provider and discussion by Commissioners, DeBone said, "I’m comfortable informing the city of Bend that we’ve changed our mind and we need to regroup on this whole thing." The final vote was 2-1, with Chang opposing.

Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler says the city was blindsided by the decision, since the Commissioner's meeting agenda only stated they were getting an update from staff, "With some timelines about, ‘OK, we’re going to put out a request for information from service providers to see who might be the service provider who could lead this project.’ Then we would have an intergovernmental agreement. We were expecting the timeline to move forward, not a sudden, abrupt halt and yanking it off the table." She says the city was notified of their decision with an emailed letter from DeBone and Adair after the meeting.

Kebler says those campers were to receive addiction, mental and behavioral health treatment - services provided by public health, which is governed by County Commissioners, "Instead, Commissioner DeBone and Adair have abruptly taken this option away, without any attempted discussion with their city leaders before abandoning this collaboration."

The city delayed plans to clear campers from Hunnell Road last week, Kebler says that decision came only after several meetings with the county about the plan for the managed camp on the south end, "The safe parking opportunity was designed to get vulnerable, medically fragile people into a better situation so we can reduce unsanctioned camping and they can get off the street." She added, "The city relied on information from the county in its decisions about Hunnell Road, and we trusted that they were our partners on this solution."

At a Wednesday afternoon press confrence, she added, "The county abandoned this pilot project before it even began, and has provided no alternate site or concrete options for the short-term solutions that we know we need right now." Kebler says the city is committed to moving forward but is unsure how that will happen. 

She’s urging Commissioners to reconsider and says it’s unclear what it means for the unsanctioned camp on Hunnell Road.

 

Bend Man Arrested Following Chase, Search

BEND, OR -- A man with several outstanding warrants was arrested Wednesday after Bend Police say he ran from a traffic stop. Officers tried to pull over a VW Passat at about 5:20 p.m., near NW Jefferson Pl and Delaware Ave, in an effort to arrest 29-year-old Stephen Owen Davies. He was a passenger in the car, but police say he ran off.

Officers set up a perimeter and searched the area, employing multiple K9 units and a drone. At approximately 7:30 p.m., officers found Davies hiding in a shed on a property in the 400 block of NW Broadway Street. He was taken into custody without incident or injury. 

Davies had two warrants for his arrest: a parole violation from the Oregon state parole board related to a previous second-degree assault conviction, as well as a warrant out of Washington County for failure to appear on a larceny charge.

 

BLS Debuts Electric Bus

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools' new electric bus ran its first route Tuesday for students at Silver Rail Elementary.

Superintendent Dr. Steven Cook says the district is proud to join the move toward clean transportation with the first EV school bus operating east of the Cascades, “To finally have it here out in the routes, and actually serving the kids of our school district in our community is just such a great day for us. We’re really excited. It represents so much of what we’re committed to in this community.” Dr. Cook says the goal is to secure more funding for additional buses.

The school district and The Environmental Center collaborated for more than 3 years to apply for the $157,500 grant to purchase the bus. The Environmental Center’s Neil Baunsgard tells KBND News the bus is a teaching tool, “Bend-La Pine School District is planning on rotating this bus around, so different schools get to experience it, different drivers get to experience it. We can really learn all that we can from this bus, and be able to share those experiences with other districts in the region.”

There was production delay for the bus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the district’s Director of Transportation Kim Crabtree says it was worth the wait, and gets BLS closer to its environmental goals, “We’re continuing to explore low-emissions or no-emissions buses. Currently we’re at over 50% propane and then a mix of diesel and gas. So, bringing on this first electric bus is exciting.”

The electric school bus was also the first bus supported, in part, with Public Purpose Charge funds. The Public Purpose Charge program, administered by the Oregon Department of Energy, is funded through the state’s two largest electric utilities, Portland General Electric and Pacific Power.

 

Deschutes County Issues Measles Advisory

BEND, OR -- Local Public Health issued an advisory this week, after officials in Kentucky discovered someone with Measles attended a massive religious event, "The event that happened in Kentucky, there were over 20,000 people in attendance, from different states. And that could mean people from Oregon were also present at that event," says Dr. Rita Bacho, Deschutes County's Communicable Disease Program Manager. "Because we don’t really know who was six feet close to him, or who was at the event, even, this is something that every state is trying to take precautions and proactively messaging to prevent any outbreaks." 

She says the two-dose MMR vaccine is 97% effective. But among the unvaccinated, Dr. Bacho tells KBND News, Measles can spread like wildfire and symptoms can be severe, "Measles can lead to high fever, severe cough, runny nose, red eyes or conjunctivitis. It could also lead to tiny white spots; these may appear in the mouth 2-3 days after symptoms begin." There’s also a rash that can spread all over the body. 

The Deschutes County and statewide vaccination rate is 88%. "We’ve received questions from the public about whether they need a booster vaccine," says Dr. Bacho, "And the answer to that is ‘No.’ If you’ve been vaccinated with two doses of the Measles vaccine as a child, or even as an adult, you are pretty much almost 100% protected."

So far, there are no reported cases of Measles in Oregon. Anyone who attended last month’s religious event at Asbury University and is not fully vaccinated, or who is showing symptoms, is urged to quarantine and contact local public health.

 

Frozen Pizza Co's Redmond Relocation Pushed Back

REDMOND, OR -- A frozen pizza company’s plans to relocate to Redmond are delayed. Wild Mike’s Pizza tells KBND News construction on their 270,000 square foot facility likely won’t begin until July. However, their Enterprise Zone agreement, which provides tax breaks and some fee waivers, expires at the end of March.

Redmond Economic Development Director Steve Curley told County Commissioners the company is excited for the move, “They purchased property, a few years ago, on the corner of 9th Street and Antler in Redmond. That property will eventually become a campus, as they call it. So, they’re very invested in paying their employees well.”

Curley said the company is motivated to move from Clackamas, “They’re a growing company. The last couple of years have put them behind in the school lunch program because schools weren’t delivering lunches because there weren’t students in schools. Now they’re coming out of that.” 

Commissioners on Monday approved an extension to the Enterprise Zone agreement until the end of the year. Redmond had already agreed to extend the deal.

Curley told County Commissioners extending that deal is good for the community, “It’ll encompass 114 jobs; they’ll bring about 64 over and add 50 new jobs. The wages will exceed the county average. The initial building is about 170,000 square feet.”

Company officials expect construction on the first facility to take 18 to 20 months. 

Redmond Businesses Seek Workforce Housing Solutions

REDMOND, OR -- Central Oregon’s lack of housing inventory continues to plague local businesses. 

Bruce Barrett, with Windermere Commercial Real Estate, says some companies want to expand and bring in new talent, if they could find somewhere to live, “A Milken Institute 2022 report that said Redmond, for example, is one of the best performing cities in resiliency and opportunity. Redmond is fifth in the nation for employment growth, ranked third for five-year wage growth, third for five-year high tech GDP growth; so, we can see that there’s a demand, and there’s some people who want to come.”

Barrett believes the Governor’s proposal to create 36,000 homes a year over ten years could help, but development could be limited in Central Oregon, “I think it’s going to be a challenge for us, because of our limitation of resources, especially land.”

Companies wanting to expand find it hard to attract new talent, according to Barrett, “I’ve heard from some of the large employers in the area that that’s their big problem. They can tap into some resources from out of the area, and people want to move here, but they don’t have a place to live.”

He’s launched an initiative he thinks could help; working with large employers in the region, “Contract rental arrangement with some multi-family housing, so they would be the master landlord and they would provide this housing resource to people they’re trying to recruit.”

Barrett believes it would allow companies to grow, with the guarantee new staff can find housing. 

Amphitheater Looks To Reduce Concert Sound Carry

BEND, OR -- With concert season approaching, the Hayden Homes Amphitheater is working to mitigate noise issues. The first concerts of the season are scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend. 

Amphitheater officials met with City of Bend staff in December to discuss a plan to dampen the noise heard in neighborhoods, and even in homes.

Bend Police took six noise complaints during the October concert season finale. The subject of loud concerts even came up during a mayoral candidate forum last Fall.

An Old Mill District spokesperson told KBND News in an e-mail they are still finalizing which tools and technology will be most effective for the amphitheater. And promised to provide more details when they are available.

The city’s noise ordinance allows for no more than 70 decibels from 7 am to 10 pm, which the amphitheater did not exceed last year, according to reports.

The amphitheater held over 50 concerts last year, and have so far, announced 32 for this season. We’ve got the full schedule here

Scholarship Credited For Parks & Rec Staffing Goal

BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Rec says a new college scholarship incentive offered to employees of KIDS Inc is working to shore up staffing.

Communications and Community Relations Manager Julie Brown says students at OSU-Cascades or COCC get a $5,200 annual scholarship in addition to earning an hourly wage, “We anticipated and planned for having about 12 scholarships available this year, and we’ve exceeded that goal. We have 15 employees that are making use of it this year. Our hope is to be able to increase it and have 24 spaces next year.”

The program launched last summer, as a recruitment effort for the chronically understaffed after-school program. 

Brown says it’s unclear how many will return next year or stay on after graduation, “If what we get is a committed employee for even the duration of time that they are in college, that is a win for us. It’s an investment in, not only these individuals, but also into the community. I think it enriches the program when we have students who may be interested in sciences or humanities. These are not necessarily students who want to go into Early Childhood Education.”

Brown says around 1,100 children participate, “For taking care of that many kids in KIDS Inc, we need between 80 to 90 staff members and it is a very specific part time job that has very specific hours, Monday through Friday. For college students, it can be an opportunity to get a nice scholarship and be able to have those nights and weekends free.”

County Votes To Support Legislative Homelessness Response Bill

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners appear supportive of a homelessness response bill currently in a legislative subcommittee. The bipartisan plan increased the Governor’s package from $130-million to $155-million.

County Houseless Strategies and Solutions Director Cheyenne Purrington told Commissioners Friday the bill could accelerate housing production. “It emphasizes modular building which helps to overcome the very long timelines. Typically, it takes about 18 months to produce a housing unit and modular can take that down to about 12 months.”

Purrington says the package covers a lot of important housing policies in one large bill, “So it’s another tool in the toolkit for counties, cities, and local communities to invest in housing production which we sorely need at every level here in Central Oregon. The emphasis has been on the funding, but there are a handful of other policy tools and protections that I think are valuable to the residents of Central Oregon and Deschutes County.”

Purrington is scheduled to testify Tuesday before a subcommittee, on behalf of the county. 

Madras Mayor Appointed City Administrator Pro Tem

MADRAS, OR -- The Mayor of Madras will serve as Pro Tem City Administrator. City Council made the appointment during a special meeting on Saturday. Former City Administrator Gus Burril submitted his resignation last week.

Mayor Mike Lepin (pictured) is also Deputy Chief of EMS at Jefferson County Fire. According to officials, he will use vacation leave from that full-time job to be available at City Hall until an interim Administrator is found.

Human Resources says the city has already been contacted by several qualified candidates. Recruitment efforts will continue, with more information posted to the city's website this week. 

Pro tem has the power and duties of the administrator, but cannot appoint or remove personnel without consent of City Council. 

“I don’t anticipate serving as pro tem for very long and look forward to getting an Interim City Administrator in place as soon as possible so we can restore continuity in the day-to-day business of the city,” Mayor Lepin said in a statement.

“The city charter outlines that a pro tem can serve no longer than six consecutive months. However, the Council has directed staff to begin the recruitment process immediately,” said Councilor Gabriel Soliz.

Two Arrested After Redmond Mugging

REDMOND, OR -- Two people were arrested Friday evening, after a Redmond mugging. Police say a 54-year-old woman was targeted while leaving the Lucky 7 Deli and Lottery on South Highway 97, just before 6 p.m.

A 31-year-old woman is accused of stealing the victim’s wallet, including $1,000. The victim said she was pushed down and spit on, before the woman took off. Police say a 57-year-old man was driving the getaway car.

The suspect vehicle was found at Moe’s Food Mart, in downtown Redmond. When confronted by Redmond officers, the man ran off but was discovered in a nearby dumpster. Both suspects were taken into custody, charged with Theft and other crimes.

Police recovered the victim's wallet, and $700 of her cash.

 

File photo

Bend Skier Killed In Black Crater Avalanche

BEND, OR -- A backcountry skier died in a Thursday avalanche at Black Crater, a steep-sided shield volcano in the Cascade Range, north of the Three Sisters and east of McKenzie Pass.

A man called 911 and reported he and his friend were skiing in the caldera at Black Crater when an avalanche was triggered. He said his friend was caught up in the avalanche and was no longer visible. 

Both skiers were equipped with backcountry safety items, including avalanche beacons, shovels, helmets and avalanche probes. The man used his avalanche beacon, and found his friend. Life saving measure were conducted. However, the 46-year-old Bend man had succumbed to his injuries.

A SAR unit, along with the United States Forest Service, responded to the area and assisted the surviving skier to safety. Due to extreme avalanche danger and failing light Search and Rescue personnel halted recovery efforts until daylight.

As of Friday, SAR personnel are working with community partners to safely recover the victim. 

OHA To Lift Mask Mandate In Healthcare Settings April 3

SALEM, OR -- One of the last hold-overs from the COVID-19 pandemic will be gone next month. The Oregon Health Authority announced Friday patients, staff and visitors in health care settings will no longer be required to wear masks starting April 3.

OHA is rescinding provisions that require workers in health care settings – such as hospitals, mobile clinics, ambulances, outpatient facilities, dental offices, urgent care centers, counseling offices, school-based health centers, complementary and alternative medicine locations – to wear masks. The requirement has been in effect since August 2021.

The decision to end statewide health care mask requirements aligns with decisions in other states, including Washington. Dr. Dean Sidelinger, health officer and state epidemiologist at OHA, said the lifting of Oregon’s health care mask requirement stems from data in recent weeks showing overall decreases in circulation of the three respiratory pathogens that triggered a surge in visits to hospital emergency departments and intensive care units last fall. As of Friday, COVID-19 test positivity is at 10% and is expected to continue dropping; influenza test positivity is at 1.2%; and RSV test positivity is at 1.6% (antigen tests) and 3.5% (molecular tests).

The month-long lead-up to the ending of Oregon’s health care mask requirement gives the health care system, local public health authorities and other health partners time to prepare for the change, including adjusting policies, training and procedures that ensure continued patient safety and access. It also gives members of the public, particularly populations at increased risk of severe disease—communities of color, tribal communities, rural communities, lower-income communities, those with underlying medical conditions, seniors, and parents of vulnerable infants – a chance to plan health care visits and protective measures.

OHA suggests people at higher risk for severe disease, or who live with someone at higher risk, still consider wearing masks in health care or any settings, to better protect themselves and those most vulnerable around them. Some health care settings may continue to require masks even after the state requirement is lifted.

In addition, Executive Order 22-24 expires Monday, March 6. The emergency gave hospitals flexibility to respond to a surge in respiratory infections, including COVID-19, RSV and influenza.

May Election Filing Deadline Nears

BEND, OR -- Deadlines are approaching for candidates to file for the May Special Election including seats on various Fire District, Parks and Rec, and School boards. Several Deschutes County positions are still open or unopposed.

County Clerk Steve Dennison tells KBND News he hopes people will step up to serve on these critical community boards, “Most of these School District positions have at least a candidate filed. But some of these smaller districts, the water, the fire districts, tend to be a little bit later of a filing. Being local positions, they’re really important. I certainly do hope that folks come out and put their name forward to serve on these boards because they’re critical in the way that our community is run.”

March 16th is the last day to candidates can file. Ahead of that date, there’s an election for the Terrebonne Sanitation District on Tuesday, March 14th. In preparation for the Special Election, the Clerk's Office will test the County's vote counting system at 9 a.m. on Monday, March 6th. The certification is conducted before each election and occurs at the County Clerk's office in Bend. It is open to the public with an RSVP.

A new Redmond ballot drop site is now available in the parking lot near Centennial Park temporarily replacing the one at the library. There is also the drop site at the Fairgrounds.

Candidates looking to file for board positions can go to the Deschutes County website.

 

Bend Distilleries Support Creation Of Oregon Spirits Board

SALEM, OR -- Oregon would create a “Spirits Board,” under a bill in the legislature. Supporters say it would do for distilleries what the Oregon Wine Board does for wineries; but it faces strong opposition from addiction treatment advocates.

Brad Irwin owns Bend-based Oregon Spirit Distillers and says the proposed board would be modeled after the Wine Board, "It will assist small and medium sized distilleries to navigate the entrance and expansion into national and international markets. Secondly, it will build national and international recognition of the high quality spirits produced in Oregon; and we will truly brand Oregon. And finally, this bill will promote tourism."

Bendistillery makes Crater Lake Spirits in Bend. CEO Alan Dietrich also testified before the House Committee on Economic Development and Small Business Thursday, telling lawmakers, "A combination of market forces has constricted our path to market like never before. But, consumer demand still cuts through all the barriers. And having a cohesive brand image for Oregon spirits, much like what was created to support Oregon wine, is the surest, most proven way to build national recognition and to help us compete on our strengths."

Emily Jensen, founder of Eugene-based Thinking Tree Spirits, believes it would make it easier to bring out-of-state money to Oregon. She told the committee it took two years to find a distributor, but her gin is now available in Dallas, Texas, "While our margins are slim and the path ahead is very steep, I’m proud to say we are finally cashing Texas checks to make Oregon payroll."

However, addiction specialists say state resources shouldn't be used to promote a deadly product. Tony Morris, with Oregon Recovers, told lawmakers, "Alcohol is a toxic, addictive carcinogen that kills more Oregon residents than all types of drug overdoses combined." He says excessive drinking costs the state $4.8 billion; three times the revenue of Oregon distilleries. "There is no economic argument that justifies the outsized role that the alcohol industry continues to play in Oregon’s lethal addiction crisis."

Sonja Grove lost her son to alcohol addiction. She’s disappointed the bipartisan bill has so much support, "Has anyone acknowledged that alcohol in any amount is damaging, and for those with the disease it can be death? Spirits are especially high in alcohol content, reaching 40% for some."

The bill remains in committee.

 

Photo: Oregon's House Committee on Economic Development and Small Business hears testimony on March 2, 2023 for HB 2976.

DCSO Investigates Report Of Shots Fired Near Jail

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office is investigating a report of a person firing a gun outside of the jail in northeast Bend, just before 10 p.m. Thursday. After securing the Sheriff's Office and Jail, the suspect was found near the Sunriver Business Park.

Authorities have released few details but say the suspect led deputies on a pursuit down Highway 97. An arrest was made after the driver ran over spike strips.

DCSO says there is no longer a threat to the public but it is an active investigation. 

 

(4:30 p.m. UPDATE) -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office says the man who led deputies on a pursuit in South County Thursday night, also fired one round into the administrative entrance of the jail. Investigators believe he was trying to initiate a confrontation with law enforcement. 

They say 25-year-old Nicholas Preston-Cooper drove to a parking lot across Highway 20 from the Sheriff's Office after the shot from a high-powered rifle. When no one confronted him, he returned to Sunriver. At the Sunriver Business Park, investigators say he loaded three firearms, a ballistic vest (that didn't contain ballistic plates) and a lot of ammo into his vehicle. 

After the initial report of gunfire, deputies put the jail in lock down, but did not find any suspects nor any evidence a round had actually been fired. With information provided by the original 911 caller, detectives tracked the suspect to the Sunriver Business Park. They say Preston-Cooper sped off, once he realized law enforcement was trying to stop him. Over the course of several miles, he drove the wrong way on Highway 97, which was closed briefly during the chase. 

Deputies used spike strips to slow his vehicle and he was eventually stopped with the Pursuit Immobilization Technique (PIT) at the Cottonwood Road exit, where he was taken into custody without further incident. 

Preston-Cooper faces numerous charges, including Attempted Assault, Telephonic Harassment and Discharging a Firearm Across a Highway. 

Investigators located the damage created by the single round fired at the Jail. The round was able to penetrate the exterior wall of the building, however, came to rest in the interior cinder block wall in the foyer. No Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office employees or civilian staff were present where the round was lodged.

 

File photo: Deschutes County Jail

Sunriver Business Owner Accused Of Luring Teen Job Seeker

BEND, OR -- A 54-year-old La Pine man is accused of sending sexually explicit text messages to a 17-year-old he claimed he wanted to hire for part-time office work. The girl had posted on social media, looking for a job and investigators say John Matthew Cooper responded; he owns Cooper Racing and Repair in Sunriver.

The teen later reported to her mother she was uncomfortable with his messages, and her mother reported the incident to Bend Police. Officers continued messaging with Cooper, who believed he was still communicating with the 17-year-old. Over the course of the investigation, they say he offered the girl alcohol, sent her explicit photos, and requested explicit photos and sexual favors. He also indicated he’d had other teens work for him in the past, including customers’ daughters. 

Cooper was arrested Thursday at his business Cooper Racing and Repair in the 56000 block of Venture Lane in Sunriver. He is charged with second-degree online sexual corruption of a child, luring a minor for sexual conduct, and attempted use of a child in display of sexual conduct. 

Bend Police are concerned there may be additional victims. Anyone who may have had inappropriate contact with Cooper is asked to contact nonemergency dispatch at 541-693-6911 and reference case # 23-00011214.

Redmond Carry-On Bag Leads To Drug Bust

BEND, OR -- Three people were arrested after a joint investigation by the Deschutes County Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team and the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team. It started when the TSA at the Redmond Airport found a commercial quantity of cannabis concentrate in a carry-on bag. Some of those packages were labeled from an illicit Bend grow detectives say traced back to 34-year-old Daniel Jose Aguiar. They believe he ran a lab to process illicit marijuana in a residential area of Three Rivers, before exporting it around the country. 

On March 1CODE, DCIME, DEA Agents, DCSO Street Crime Unit and Redmond Police Detectives with the assistance of the Deschutes County Sheriff's SWAT Team, executed simultaneous Search Warrants on the 55000 block of Lazy River Drive and the 61400 block of Linton Loop, both in Bend. During the search, Aguiar and an uninvolved house guest was contacted inside the grow operation. Detectives say they seized 60 lbs. of processed marijuana flower, 101 marijuana plants in various stages of growth, one firearm, and a large amount of cash. The cannabis extraction lab was also dismantled and seized. 

They also found cannabis harvest infected by viruses or viroid pathogens.  Although these viruses generally impact the plant’s potency and yield, the danger to humans comes from pesticides used to treat the virus, transferred to the final product. The property also had dangerous electrical wiring conditions, non-permitted electrical panels, exposed electrical wires, unpermitted interior walls, and lacked any safety equipment, proper ventilation, or unsanitary conditions. Aguiar was cited for several marijuana crimes. 

A Deschutes County Building Code Compliance Officer assisted after detectives observed numerous building code violations. These compliance issues have been referred for enforcement against the property owners who live out-of-state. 

During the search of Linton Loop, detectives say they found various processed marijuana products, evidence of the exportation operation, three firearms, and a large amount of cash. They detained 41-year-old Paige Lyn Sidler - whose carry-on bag launched the investigation - and her boyfriend, 44-year-old Mark Arie Mehrhof, of Bend. Detectives believe Mehrhof is a co-conspirator. Both were also cited for several drug-related crimes. 

Redmond Directs Funds Toward Housing Projects

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s City Council plans to send $980,000 to low-income housing and shelter projects. The money comes from an extra $2 million in the general fund, thanks to recent land sales. 

Councilor John Nielsen wants the city to help Shepherd’s House bridge its $750,000 fundraising gap, so its full-time shelter can open this summer, “Part of the request from Shepherd’s House is a common room. And, right now, they are going to be the only hot and cold weather day shelter. So, I think helping get them up and running before we hit the 110-degree summers, I think it benefits all of us.”

The council also agreed to send a small amount to the safe parking program, which Redmond Housing Program Analyst Linda Cline says won’t qualify for state resources through the Governor’s homeless emergency plan, “The state and the feds have decided, at this point, they don’t consider RVs any sort of sheltering. So, things like managed camps and RV parks would not be applicable for this money.”

Cline is part of the Multi-Agency Coordinating Group working on the local plan, assuming the Governor's package is approved by the legislature, “The anticipation is that we’ll get about $14 million into the region in late March or early April. And, all of those funds need to be expended before the year is up; so, before January 10th of next year. We know that it’s best suited for one-time strategies, we know that it’s good for assistance associated with rehousing the unsheltered, we know it’s good for acquisition and renovations of shelter space; that is a challenge here because we just don’t have empty buildings to renovate. And, it can be used for services directly associated with prevention, sheltering and rehousing.”

City funds are also going toward Housing Works’ 66-unit apartment complex and a Habitat for Humanity townhome project.

 

Hunnell Rd. Clearing Delayed; Neighbors Oppose New Camp Location

BEND, OR -- The unsanctioned camp at Hunnell Road, on the north end of Bend, will not be cleared by March 16, as originally planned. City Manager Eric King announced the delay at Wednesday night's City Council meeting, to allow time for development of a managed campsite in southeast Bend approved by County Commissioners Monday. "The city has postponed the complete closure of the Hunnell area until that south Highway 97 site is ready and a service provider is established," King told Councilors and the large crowd, "We’ll continue to support our county partners and nonprofits in providing resources to serve the needs of the people living around Hunnell and other unmanaged camps across the region." He added, "The city and county will develop an agreement on how this land can be managed, and the county will contract with a service provider to manage the site. The work will also include outreach and communication with nearby businesses and residents."

King also said safe parking sites are already open and successful elsewhere in Bend, "We anticipate the Coordinated Houseless Response Office will apply for a safe parking program for this site. That safe parking program requires sites to have supervision and sanitation plans."

His statements did little to dissuade the crowd. Joe Wheeler is the manager of the Les Schwab that will share a driveway with the managed camp, under the city/county plan. He told Bend City Councilors, "[I'm] Concerned about the safety of our crew who park in our parking lot after dark, and we close after dark, a lot of times; and our customers who pick up their vehicles after dark; the sanitation of the facility being right next door, and what is the police’s response to our calls when we call?" 

Others shared frustration over the number of projects slated for the south end of town. One neighbor said, "I don’t know why you can’t put these homeless people in the four quadrants of Bend. You’re sticking them all on the south." Another said, "I would invite you to examine the amount of skin you have in the game. You know; I’m assuming none of you live near this proposed homeless camp."

Earlier Wednesday, Deschutes County Commissioners also found themselves forced to address safety concerns brought by neighbors. One resident told the Board, "The biggest issues we have is security and accountability."

Commissioner Phil Chang said the plan would create a different situation than what’s seen at Hunnell Road, "What we are talking about is a managed campsite that has rules of conduct, that has screening, that has management, that has fencing with gates that will be open at a certain point in the morning and closed at a certain point in the night."

Commissioner Tony Debone added, "We’re talking about medically fragile people. People that are looking for help, people that probably want a better situation. The really struggling, trouble-maker types, they’re not going to be told what to do and they’re not even going to go there anyways." And, Commissioner Patti Adair insists the 25-30 campers allowed at the new site would be screened for eligibility, "Apparently, there’s some incredibly vulnerable people living on Hunnell Road. And if that is truly the case then definitely, they should be allowed to go there." Adair says she understands neighbors' worries but believes there will be adequate security at the new camp.

The estimated 100 people living on Hunnell Road will eventually be forced to leave, to allow for construction of the Hunnell Road Extension and North Highway 97 Corridor Project.

 

DCSO Investigates Tiny Home Theft

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a tiny home stolen from Deschutes River Woods. Deputies were called to the area Tuesday night, but say it was likely taken between February 11th and 16th. 

Investigators are asking the public for help tracking down the small wood and metal house and trailer on which it was mounted. Anyone with information is asked to contact non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911; reference case #23-11125.

Redmond High Celebrates 5A State Wrestling Title

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond High honored their 5A State Champion Wrestling Team at a school assembly Tuesday.

Redmond High Coach Kris Davis tells KBND News how it felt when he realized the team would win State, “Totally surreal. Like, this is actually happening. Once you’re in that kind of zone, and you’re trying to figure out the math and going through the process of it all. You’re just engulfed by it and every match counted at that point. And we were just racking up wins at the end of the tournament. And it was like hey, were doing this the way that we planned it.”

It has been 64 years since the last time the Panthers won the Finals.

“My grandfather was the coach on that team in 1959 and so, that’s a huge thing for me. My dad coached here when I was going to high school here, and now, I’ve took over. It’s just a really special thing for me and my family. And obviously the community of Redmond has really rallied around us,” said Davis who credits his athletes and their parents, for their hard work and dedication to the program, “We peaked at the right time at the end of the year. It was just a fun experience.”

Senior Ryan Batti says Saturday’s win was unforgettable, “It was like a cold chill down my back. Just like, was super shocking and overwhelming with excitement.”

This was Junior Jared Ake’s mission from the start of the season, “Our team goal was to win a state title and my personal goal was to place top 3 at state, which I achieved this year.”

The Panthers finished 4th in 2021 and ’22; after winning this year, Coach Davis predicts the team could be even better, and back on top of the 5A podium in 2024.

 

USPS Aims To Hire Hundreds Of Oregon Mail Carriers

BEND, OR -- The U.S. Postal Service is on a hiring frenzy in Central Oregon. Like every industry, mail service is struggling with staffing shortages. "As an example," says USPS's Kim Frum, "In Bend, we don’t have enough carriers. So, what we actually have been doing: we are bringing in volunteers from other locations, sometimes from neighboring states to help get the mail delivered and help maintain that service." She acknowledges using "borrowed" carriers has led to delivery slow-downs, especially in the High Desert, "Those carriers are not as familiar with the neighborhoods as, say, a regular carrier. So, on very rare occasion, in some cases, not all deliveries may be made in one day." When that happens, Frum says, that mail is prioritized for next-day delivery. "We all want to do the best job we can and it bothers us that there are issues with the mail delivery."

"We are in very difficult staffing needs, but we’re not cutting back service or funding in our offices. We are just aggressively trying to hire staff for our offices, especially in Oregon. We are looking for good, competent people to join the postal service, to enjoy the benefits that we have." Frum says those benefits include starting pay between $19 and $20 an hour, paid holidays and room for advancement. 

While there is a big push to increase staffing in Central Oregon, Frum says the agency is trying to hire more workers everywhere, "We are trying to blanket the state and get as many people as we possibly can. Our goal is hundreds of people. However, we will take more than that if we get qualified applicants." She says rural areas are the most difficult to staff.

USPS held severel job fairs in Bend and Redmond last month; Frum says there was a lot of interest from Central Oregonians and she's optimistic about new hires. The agency hosts three more hiring events in the Portland area this month. Frum says applications can also be submitted at any post office and online

 

March USPS Job Fairs:

Date
Location
Time
Saturday, Mar. 4
Oregon City Post Office
19300 Molalla Av.
Oregon City, OR 97045
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Saturday, Mar. 4
Portland Processing &
Distribution Center
7007 NE Cornfoot Rd.
Portland, OR 97218
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Saturday, Mar. 18
Gresham Post Office
103 W Powell Blvd.
Gresham, OR 97030
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Archives:

2024-04 | 2024-03 | 2024-02 | 2024-01 | 2023-12 | 2023-11 | 2023-10 | 2023-09 | 2023-08 | 2023-07 | 2023-06 | 2023-05 | 2023-04 | 2023-03 | 2023-02 | 2023-01 | 2022-12 | 2022-11 | 2022-10 | 2022-09 | 2022-08 | 2022-07 | 2022-06 | 2022-05 | 2022-04 | 2022-03 | 2022-02 | 2022-01 | 2021-12 | 2021-11 | 2021-10 | 2021-09 | 2021-08 | 2021-07 | 2021-06 | 2021-05 | 2021-04 | 2021-03 | 2021-02 | 2021-01 | 2020-12 | 2020-11 | 2020-10 | 2020-09 | 2020-08 | 2020-07 | 2020-06 | 2020-05 | 2020-04 | 2020-03 | 2020-02 | 2020-01 | 2019-12 | 2019-11 | 2019-10 | 2019-09 | 2019-08 | 2019-07 | 2019-06 | 2019-05 | 2019-04 | 2019-03 | 2019-02 | 2019-01 | 2018-12 | 2018-11 | 2018-10 | 2018-09 | 2018-08 | 2018-07 | 2018-06 | 2018-05 | 2018-04 | 2018-03 | 2018-02 | 2018-01 | 2017-12 | 2017-11 | 2017-10 | 2017-09 | 2017-08 | 2017-07 | 2017-06 | 2017-05 | 2017-04 | 2017-03 | 2017-02 | 2017-01 | 2016-12 | 2016-11 | 2016-10 | 2016-09 | 2016-08 | 2016-07 | 2016-06 | 2016-05 | 2016-04 | 2016-03 | 2016-02 | 2016-01 | 2015-12 | 2015-11 | 2015-10 | 2015-09 | 2015-08 | 2015-07 | 2015-06 | 2015-05 | 2015-04 | 2015-03 | 2015-02 | 2015-01 | 2014-12 | 2014-11 | 2014-10 | 2014-09 | 2014-08 | 2014-07 | 2014-06 | 2014-05 | 2014-04 | 2014-03 | 2014-02 | 2014-01 | 2013-12 | 2013-11 | 2013-10 | 2013-09 | 2013-08 | 2013-07 | 2013-06 | 2013-05 | 2013-04 | 2013-03 | 2013-02 | 2013-01 | 2012-12 | 2012-11 | 2012-10 | 2012-09 | 2012-08 | 2012-07 | 2012-06 | 2012-05 | 2012-04 | 2012-03 | 2012-02 | 2012-01 | 2011-12 | 2011-11 | 2011-10 | 2011-09 | 2011-08 | 2011-07 | 2011-06 | 2011-05 | 2011-04 | 2011-03 | 2011-02 | 2011-01 | 2010-12 | 2010-11 | 0000-00

On Air Now

Lars Larson
Lars Larson
12:00pm - 3:00pm
Lars Larson

FlashAlert

KBND ON FACEBOOK

News Disclaimers