Local News Archives for 2023-04

Bend-La Pine School Board Candidates Discuss Student Safety At Forum

BEND, OR -- Candidates running for Bend-La Pine School Board zones 3 and 5 took part in a virtual forum this week.

The candidates explained why they’re running.  Zone 3’s Cameron Fischer, an educator said “…Having multiple lenses to bring to the table I think can be really powerful at the board level.”

“I’ve seen our current education system, the good and the bad, and hopefully I can bring a different look to it,” said Christopher Strengberg, an operations manager.

Zone 5 incumbent Amy Tatom, a nurse says “The work of our school board needs to be focused on our students and their outcomes, not only in education but also mental health.”

Challenger Sherrie Grieef, a retired health worker said, “I believe in a really strong basic foundation at an early age, and also believe in parental rights.”

The candidates were asked what role the school board has in ensuring student safety.

Fischer wants to increase relationships with School Resource Officers, “So students and families and educators feel safe not only physically but emotionally.” Strengberg wants to develop another tool, “I’d love to see more training on ‘see something wrong, report it’ get an adult involved.” Tatom hopes to focus on mental health and self-harm, “Ultimately when we’re seeing mass shootings, it is a form of suicide. And I think working on that as a school board and a district is something we can do.” Grieef thinks more staffing and technology will help, “I would like to see more School Resource Officers, single entry points, cameras…I realize it does all cost money.”

The candidates all agree on the need to focus on careers in technical education, student and family engagement, and teacher retention.

Ballots have already been mailed out for the May 16th election.


Deschutes Sheriff Says More Needs To Be Done To Fight Fentanyl

BEND, OR -- Recent drug seizures have taken thousands of fake pills containing fentanyl, and the powdered form of the drug off the streets, but Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson says a lot more needs to be done to eradicate this dangerous synthetic opioid, “Two pounds has the potential to kill 500,000 people. 2022 seizures for the DEA: enough seized to kill everybody in America.” He believes stronger security at our nation’s southern border would help prevent fentanyl from getting to Oregon, “A lot of this fentanyl is coming from Mexico. They’ve got these labs in Mexico where they’re making these counterfeit pills, which are very hard to tell from real pills, and that is coming into the United States.”

Nelson says parents need to start talking to kids early about the dangers of opioids. He tells KBND News a state bill expanding access to short-acting overdose reversal drugs like Narcan isn’t enough, “I don’t think that’s going to solve the dangers of fentanyl. That is going to save lives, so they can get back on the path to being a productive citizen. But that is just a response system. What we really need to do is make sure we’re having those conversations, and we’ve really got to get back to secure borders. We’ve got to put some of these political conversations aside and look at public safety.”

Nelson adds catching the local dealer is just the start, “Because you always want to try to go through that chain of supply and try and get the ‘larger fish,’ if you will - the bigger supplier, so that you can shut down that drug trafficking organization and hold those folks accountable.” Earlier this month, a local bust led to the seizure of more than 12,000 fentanyl pills. In the past week, state troopers found 88 pounds of powdered fentanyl and 100,000 pills in two busts near La Grande and Salem.  Sheriff Nelson says these types of investigations can be time-consuming, as detectives try to track down the suppliers responsible.


Deschutes County Contracts For Methane Mining

BEND, OR -- A new attempt to mine methane gas from Knott Landfill will soon get underway. Deschutes County Commissioners have agreed to a minimum 20-year contract with Cascade Natural Gas.

Director of Solid Waste Chad Centola says the utility will expand emissions collection already underway at the landfill, "Our current system at Knott Landfill, we operate strictly for regulatory compliance. We control surface emissions, as well as subsurface migration of landfill gas coming off the landfill. And Cascade Natural Gas will essentially take over operation of that system for gas collection. And, they’ll likely be expanding the field, adding additional gas roles to the site." He adds, "Their system will take that gas and clean it up, odorize it and distribute it into the local gas distribution network in Bend, here."

County Commissioner Patti Adair tells KBND News it’s a win-win agreement, allowing Cascade Natural Gas to increase production for local customers and bring in money for the county, "It is an opportunity for the next 30 years. And it could be as much as - our 30% - up to $650,000 a year in revenue for Deschutes County landfill." She admits the money isn't guaranteed, "It will, with this contract, be market dependent - our 30%. So, if natural gas goes down, our revenue will go down. But, the way that natural gas is, I do believe this is great. It’ll be something available for the local community."

Centola says it’ll take about two years for Cascade Natural to build the necessary infrastructure at the landfill.

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Crook Co. Suspect At Large After High-Speed Chase, Abandoning Trailer

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County Deputies are on the lookout for a man they say eluded a traffic stop Wednesday morning. Deputies report seeing a pickup pulling a trailer on NE Orchard Lane, at about 11 a.m., but the camp trailer had two flat tires. They tried to stop the driver, identified as 26-year-old Blake Harlan, but say he wouldn't pull over.

Harlan is accused of then leading deputies on a lengthy pursuit on Highway 26, east of Prineville. Eventually, the trailer was dragged on its axels only. And, at about milepost 31, it came unhooked from the truck. The driver left it behind and continued on Ochoco Highway, at time exceeding 100 miles per hour. 

Harlan had a misdemeaner warrant and now faces additional charges when he's caught. 


UPDATE: Deputies executed a search warrant on the abandoned trailer and say they found more than 350 pounds of marijuana inside. Harlan remains on the run. 


Deschutes County Courthouse Design Nearly Final

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners hope to finalize the design for renovations at the county courthouse by this summer. They received an update on the $41 million project Wednesday. 

Architect Mike Gorman says it was tough to stay on budget while creating paths for three key populations, "You’ve got the public circulation, you’ve got the staff circulation - basically, judges, and in custody. And you really don’t want those to cross at all." He says the addition will feature better security than the current courthouse, with separate elevators for staff and people in custody. 

The front entrance will also be at ground level, "So now, when you come in, you don’t have to go up steps. You’re coming in through security, there’s a bigger holding area; in other words, you can have a lot of people stacked and they're out of the weather. Because there’s those key times in the morning, right after lunch or whenever else, that you have people standing out in the weather." And, the plan includes more restrooms for the public and staff. 

This week’s crash into the pergola in front of the courthouse highlights the need for changes. Gorman told Commissioners the current building poses security concerns because of how close it is to the street. During construction of the addition, they’ll remove some parking and extend the curb, "From Bond down to the 2003 addition, we’ll bring that curb out to basically the street line. We’re also putting in - we might have to look at making it taller after seeing this vehicle fly through the air like it did - but we basically have these concrete blocks to hopefully stop exactly that type of thing happening."

He says the new building will be three stories and made of stone, "Trying to come up with how do you take the 1977 original building, how do you take the 2003 addition and how do you take the original courthouse; how do you try to make this thing look or feel or come together? And so our option that we came up with is distinctly different. You’ve got the 2003 that stands out. You have the new entrance, which kind of stands out differently as well. And then you have the corner building, because obviously it’s a very prominent corner in downtown, being on Bond and Greenwood."

Commissioners have not yet finalized funding sources for the project and hope some money will come from the legislature. Construction could begin in the spring of 2024.

Architectural rendering presented this week to County Commissioners

Redmond Airport Adding Sonoma County, CA Flight

REDMOND, OR -- Avelo Airlines announced Wednesday flights from Redmond to Sonoma County Airport, California will start this summer. Avelo’s Jim Olsen tells KBND News this is the only non-stop route for those wanting to visit California Wine Country, the northern California Coast or the Redwoods. It’s also a short flight, “Little over an hour. Probably about an hour and 25 minutes or so. And the timing is going to be great. It’s on Fridays and Mondays, so you can basically go on a long weekend. Leave on a Friday and return on a Monday. Or you can stay up there for a week or two.” The new route benefits both popular tourism destinations. “It’s going to be a win-win for Sonoma to host visitors from Central Oregon, but it’s also going to be a win for this community as well. We think there’s going to be a lot of folks from Northern California that are going to want to take advantage of a non-stop flight to get up here and experience all that this region has to offer,” says Olsen.

Redmond Airport’s Zach Bass says the renowned wine-tasting destination was specifically chosen, “People are already traveling from here to there, and there to here. We’re kind of saying right now: trade your beer for a glass of wine, and maybe down there it’s trade your glass of wine for a beer. So, I think it’s a great connection between the two areas.”

A low-cost, promotional fare is available leading up to the first flight on June 23rd. Avelo Airlines began flying out of Redmond two years ago to Los Angeles, and added a Palm Springs route last Fall.


Crook Co Schools Add Resource Officer

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County School District is bringing back a School Resource Officer from Prineville PD. Kathryn Bottoms was taken from schools to patrol during the pandemic, to address the department’s staffing needs. 

Jason Carr, with the school district, says Officer Bottoms re-joins current SRO Jeff Coffman, “Being concerned about student safety we really see the value of having 2 full time officers. One at the high school, one at the middle school to provide a combination of not only safety, but also engagement with students in getting to know them through building relationships.” Carr says SROs are more than just cops, “It’s really about building those relationships and connections so when there is an issue that arises with a student; those officers can handle it and hopefully work with those students to be productive members of the school.” He says they’ll also be available to check in on the elementary schools. 

The district installed security cameras and sensors around the high school four weeks ago and Carr says they’re already making a difference, “The communications to the students is first of all we want you to know what we can expect of you, and what the behaviors that are that we want out of you every day. And if you choose not to go down that road then we have some tools to be able to know when you did something and deal with it.” Video cameras can provide real-time alerts, and new sensors can detect vaping, smoking, air quality changes, and unusual noises.


Bend Killer Denied Parole

SALEM, OR -- The Bend man serving a life sentence for killing a jogger in 1982 has again been denied parole. On April 19, 2023, the Oregon Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision denied the request by Jeffrey Spoonire, finding he continues to have a present, severe emotional disturbance that would pose a danger to the safety of the community if he were to be released.

Mary Ann Thomas was a 29-year-old Registered Nurse at St. Charles Hospital in Bend. On July 13, 1982, she went for a jog with her two dogs on the Brooks Scanlon Logging Road west of Century Drive. As she ran along the road, she was shot in the head by 22-year-old Jeffrey Spoonire, a stranger to Thomas, who was perched on a nearby hill. Spoonire would later explain he was curious to see what a .22 caliber rifle round would do to a person and whether it would be enough to kill someone. After he shot Mary Ann Thomas, he dragged her into some nearby brush, intending to rape her.

Later that day, Thomas was found by her husband and transported to the hospital, where she died from her injuries.

Jeffrey Spoonire pleaded guilty to murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole.

On September 7, 2022, the Oregon Parole Board held a hearing in which Jeffrey Spoonire asked to be considered for release into the community. The Board reviewed a psychological evaluation of Spoonire conducted in 2022. The Board also heard from Laura and Catherine Thomas, sisters of Mary Ann Thomas, from Marla Rae, representative of the family and victim, and Deschutes County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Gunnels, who all argued against parole or release. Laura and Catherine Thomas told the Board that even after 40 years have passed, not a day goes by that Mary Ann’s family does not think about her and grieve her loss.

Ultimately, the Board agreed with those opposing release and issued its final order denying parole on April 19, 2023. Spoonire will again be eligible to apply for parole in 2027.

Controversial Lemon Gulch Trails Project Halted Indefinitely

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Lemon Gulch Trails Project, proposed for 20 miles east of Prineville, is now off the table. The Ochoco National Forest issued a final Environmental Assessment (EA) and identified a Preferred Alternative for the trail project. However, the Deciding Official, District Ranger Slater Turner, chose to withdraw from consideration the Lemon Gulch Trails Project, effective immediately.

This action indefinitely suspends the planning process for the proposed mountain bike trail system. The Forest has no plans to issue a Draft Decision, which would typically be the next step in the planning process.

“We are proud of the environmental analysis that has been completed to this point for the Lemon Gulch Trails project and commend our partners at Ochoco Trails for working to increase non-motorized trail access on the Forest” said Slater Turner, District Ranger for the Lookout Mountain Ranger District.

“Although the project is broadly supported in Central Oregon, there are also individuals who have felt left out of the planning process, which has led to social divisions in our communities and that is not an acceptable outcome for us,” said Turner. “We believe the National Forest is a place to unify our communities around shared values. Therefore, I will not be issuing a Decision on this project and will instead look for opportunities in the future to have a broader community conversation about non-motorized trails on the Forest. For now, we will be turning our focus to other priority work.”

The priority work includes wildfire mitigation in the Wildfire Crisis Strategy landscape on the Crooked River National Grassland and the designation of the Corral Flats Equestrian Trail System on the Forest.

Previous coverage: Crook County Concerned About Trail Plans

A draft EA for the Lemon Gulch was released on November 21, 2022 that analyzed and compared five action alternatives ranging from 19-52 miles of trail and included a “no action” alternative. The final EA, including the Preferred Alternative, can be viewed here.

The project was originally released to the public in a scoping document in March 2021 after being submitted as part of a larger Forest-wide proposal by Ochoco Trails, a grassroots group of non-motorized trail users interested in expanding trail access on the forest.

Click here to learn more about project planning on the Forest.


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Local Veterans Targeted By "Pension Poachers"

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Veterans Services says local vets are being targeted by what the agency calls Pension Poachers. "Basically, they’re organizations that reach out to mainly aging veterans that need care, and charge for their services," says Veterans Services Officer Keith Macnamara, "They’re not allowed to charge to actually file directly to the VA because that’s illegal. What they do is they charge 'administrative fees'."

He says the companies are legal, "Most of the time, some of the companies that do this have reached out to facilities and put their information out there that if somebody needs help to contact them, they can guide them through. Most of these companies are out of state; it’s all done either snail mail or telephone."

Macnamara tells KBND News, "We’ll get veterans who come in and say ‘this company wanted to charge me $800. Can you guys help us?’ I say absolutely. You know, don’t pay it. First things out of our mouths are ‘don’t pay it.’ We can do all that for free."

Some of the benefits available to veterans include compensation, pension, healthcare, education, home loan assistance and support for those who are unhoused. Benefits for eligible family members of veterans who have passed or are disabled may also be available.

To reach the Deschutes County Veterans’ Services team, call (541) 585-VETS, or email vets@deschutes.org. Walk-in visitors are also welcome in Bend between 8:00 am and 3:30 pm Monday through Friday at 1130 NW Harriman Street (closed noon to 1:00 pm for lunch). Suspicious calls about benefits can be reported to the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) at (800) 488-8244 or with the Federal Trade Commission at consumercomplains.fcc.gov.


Students, Crossing Guard Take "Heroic Actions" To Help Elderly Driver

REDMOND, OR -- Two students, a crossing guard and several parents jumped into action Tuesday morning, after an elderly driver suffered a medical emergency near Vern Patrick Elementary.

According to Redmond police, the 80-year-old woman ran into the curb several times before her car finally stopped, at about 8:45 a.m. Ten-year-old Carson Cunningham and seven-year-old Noelani Cunningham saw what happened and immediately told crossing guard Tammy Salka, who worked with parents to call 911 and check on the woman. Parent Nathan Veltrie used a rock to break a window of the locked car, and others pulled her out to perform CPR until medics arrived.

She was taken to the hospital; her condition is unknown.

The Redmond Police Department, Redmond School District, and Redmond Fire & Rescue applauded "the heroic actions of everyone involved," and thanked them for getting help so quickly.


Driver Crashes Into Deschutes County Circuit Court Property

BEND, OR -- A Bend driver is accused of crashing into the pergola at the Deschutes County Circuit Court early Monday morning. At about 1:45 a.m., a Bend Police officer on patrol near the intersection of NW Bond and Franklin says a black Dodge Challenger drove west through the intersection without stopping at the flashing red light, then accelerated north on Bond Street. 

The officer attempted to initiate a traffic stop but Bend PD says they did not pursue due to safety concerns. The suspect was allegedly driving 70 MPH in a 20 MPH zone. The officer says the Challenger sped through the flashing red light at the intersection of Bond and Oregon, then continue along Bond through Greenwood Avenue before hitting something and going airborne. The vehicle collided with the steel pergola outside Deschutes County Circuit Court at 1100 NW Bond Street. 

The driver, identified as 30-year-old Timothy Bates of Bend, exited the Challenger. After an investigation and field sobriety tests, Bates was taken into custody on suspicion of DUII and was taken to St. Charles Bend for medical evaluation before being lodged at the Deschutes County Jail on charges of DUII, reckless driving and first-degree criminal mischief. 

EDCO Releases List Of Region's Largest Employers

BEND, OR -- EDCO’s annual list of Central Oregon’s largest employers is out. St. Charles Health System tops the list again, employing 4,400 people; down slightly from last year. Mt. Bachelor comes in second, with almost 1,100 employees.

This year the top 50 private companies collectively employ over 20,900 Central Oregonians, or roughly 20% of the region’s first quarter annual average total non-farm employment of 104,450. 

The top five traded-sector businesses in the region include:

  1. Bright Wood Corporation (Regional) - The largest independent manufacturer of window and patio door components and engineered dimension lumber in the U.S.
  2. Les Schwab Headquarters & Tire Centers (Regional) – Started as a small shop in Prineville, Oregon in 1952, Les Schwab Tire Centers now employs over 7,000 people across the country.
  3. BASX Solutions (Redmond) – An industry-leader in manufacturing high efficiency data center cooling solutions, cleanroom systems, custom HVAC systems, and modular solutions.
  4. Lonza, formerly Bend Research (Bend) – A leading global provider of integrated healthcare solutions ranging from early phase development to custom development and manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients.
  5. Epic Aircraft, LLC (Bend) – Leading designer and manufacturer of high-performance, all-composite, six-seat single-engine turboprop aircraft.

These five companies created 486 jobs last year and increased their total combined employment by 16.5%.

EDCO CEO Jon Stark said in a statemtn, "Traded-sector businesses play a pivotal role in stimulating economic growth by infusing new capital into the local economy, ultimately creating a ripple effect of supporting local governments, retail, service, and utility providers. EDCO's team annually engages with more than 400 traded-sector businesses, equipping them with necessary tools and resources to tackle various challenges such as workforce, access to capital, incentives, land use, physical space needs, permitting, and other hurdles. As the backbone of Central Oregon's economic stability, these employers have been instrumental in driving employment growth across the region, and we’re proud of their contribution to our community."

To view the lists in their entirety, click on the links below:

Data for the lists is self-reported and not audited, so are only to be used as an informational guideline. Some businesses chose not to participate in these lists and are therefore excluded.



Nurses Rally Ahead of Hospital Contract Talks

BEND, OR -- Nurses from St. Charles, other health care providers, and elected officials held a public rally and informational picket Monday at the intersection of Neff Road and 27th Street near the Bend hospital.

Nurse Megan Bovi, a member of the Oregon Nurses Association negotiating team, tells KBND News talks with the hospital over wages, staffing, and health and safety concerns still have a way to go, “There’s been some movement but not as much as we would like, and not enough for us as nurses to feel like we’ve been supported, and we’ve been heard. The proposals that have been on the table have not been anywhere close.” Bovi says nurses are negatively affected by the current working conditions, “It’s gotten a little bit better, at least for a mental change for me. But if we don’t start making a change, no one’s going to be left to take care of us.”

She also supports a bill working through the legislature, “Every floor and every department has their own staffing ratios that will be safe and appropriate for them. If this House bill does pass, it will put that into law, so we will be able to hold St Charles even more accountable for keeping us as nurses and the patients safe, as well.”

St Charles officials issued a statement this week: “We agree with the ONA about the importance of retaining and recruiting health care professionals and are happy to report that despite a national shortage of nurses we have been making significant progress,” said Julie Ostrom, service line administrator for trauma and surgical services and a member of the St. Charles bargaining team. “Over the past nine months, we have hired more new caregivers than we have lost to turnover in that timeframe and we have reduced the number of open nursing positions at the Bend hospital to 80. In addition, a recent $5 hourly wage increase for all bedside nurses puts St. Charles wages at the second highest in the state (for an average annual full-time salary of $108,000 a year). We respect our nurses for the difficult job they do caring for our patients and community and are proud to offer a competitive pay and benefit package.”

More contract talks are scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday, and could continue into May and June.


Point In Time Homeless Count Results Released

BEND, OR -- Results of Central Oregon’s annual Point In Time count were publicly released Monday, showing a 28% increase in homelessness over last year. Researchers looked at where people slept the night of January 24th and found 1,647 people experienced literal homelessness in our region; 72% were unsheltered and almost 80% have lived in Central Oregon for three years or more. They also say 196 children were included in this year’s PIT count; that's down 12% from 2022.

Individuals and families counted include people living in:  
  • Shelters or hotels/motels paid for by a voucher 
  • Transitional housing  
  • Camping, sleeping outdoors or in cars or in RV’s without full hookup  
  • Other places not meant for human habitation like a shed or storage unit 
For more detailed information on the 2023 PIT count, click HERE
"Central Oregon continues to see rising numbers of our community members experiencing homelessness, most of whom have called Central Oregon their home for many years," Chair of the Homeless Leadership Coalition Eliza Wilson said in a statement. "Following the financial hardship of the COVID-19 Pandemic, many of our neighbors are facing eviction. Upon the expiration of the ‘Eviction Moratorium’, we are seeing record numbers of Central Oregonians losing their housing; we believe this is why we are seeing an increase in people who are experiencing homelessness for the first time. Central Oregon’s high rent and low vacancies only further the difficulty of housing people who are already experiencing homelessness. Aside from a shortage in affordable and low-income housing, our community does not have the adequate number of available shelter beds to meet the need of people trying to access shelter services; this is a key factor in why our community continues to see a high number of people living unsheltered in our annual Point in Time Count. In the 2022 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, Central Oregon is referenced for: the Highest Percentages of People Experiencing Family Homelessness who are Unsheltered and the Highest Percentages of Unaccompanied Youth Experiencing Homelessness Who are Unsheltered. Our community is facing this crisis together; Central Oregonians experiencing homelessness are oftentimes elderly, people who are medically vulnerable, veterans, families with children, and unaccompanied youth. Service providers in our region are working together with shared passion and goals to reduce occurrences of homelessness and to create a community where everyone has equal access to safe and stable housing."
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Local 11-Year-Old Survives 40' Fall At Smith Rock

REDMOND, OR -- A local 11-year-old is reportedly fighting for his life after a 40-foot fall at Smith Rock State Park. According to a GoFundMe page set up by a family friend, the boy fell Friday while rock climbing with his grandfather. He was flown to Portland with a broken pelvis, wrist, ankle and ribs, along with a collapsed lung and lacerated liver and kidney.

As of Monday, the fundraising page to help cover medical expenses has raised over $33,000.

A Monday evening update notes, "He just got out of surgery and they were able to complete everything and they took out his breathing tube. He will have his cast on his arm for 4 weeks. He will be in a wheelchair for 6 weeks with no weight bearing. Surgeon said recovery time for pelvis could be up to a year. The Surgeon also said the good thing is there is no growth plate involved."

Photos courtesy GoFundMe

Commissioners Ask Legislature For Shelter Zoning Revision

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang wants state lawmakers to revise a bill that’s aimed at streamlining the approval process for homeless shelters.

“Essentially asking them for flexibility to be able to site an outdoor shelter outside of Urban Growth Boundaries in resource lands, such as EFU zoned lands,” says Chang noting as written, the bill would allow homeless shelters outside an Urban Growth Boundary only if the land is zoned as Rural Residential. The commissioner says that’s standing in the way of converting a parcel known as the Gales Property, a half a mile east of Bend, near Ward and Hamby roads,  “The Gales family owns nine acres nestled in between two churches, and all of those parties are supportive of doing some kind of an outdoor shelter-type facility there. And the only challenge is that it’s Exclusive Farm Use zoned, so we’re not authorized to site that in that location.”

He says House District 53 Representative Emerson Levy has expressed interest in amending the bill, which remains in committee, and it’s unclear whether it will be amended before a vote, “My hope is that the letter we sent to all of our legislators who cover Deschutes County will actually have an impact, and they will work to include provisions in that bill that would allow a siting of outdoor shelters on resource zoned lands, EFU zoned lands, within a mile of an Urban Growth Boundary.”

Cheyenne Purrington, head of the Coordinated Houseless Response Office, supports the revision, “It would create a lot of local flexibility and opportunities, not just for shelter siting, but also development of affordable housing in smaller unit sizes, which is really effective for housing chronically homeless individuals.”


Order Of St. Luke Opens Bend Chapter

BEND, OR -- The Order of St Luke introduces its nondenominational organization to Bend Monday night.

This international group attracts those who want a more prayerful and contemplative spiritual life says Brother David Collette, “It’s not a church and it’s not a religion, but it is a gathering of all believers. As the church in a monastery setting would gather to pray, we do that as monks amongst us.”

Collette tells KBND News the international group can fulfill a need in Central Oregon, “What I have found is that there is quite a niche for people who are seeking something a little different. Something more contemplative, something more along the lines of a monastic type of spirituality. All are welcome and it’s really one of the few religious orders where that is really true. It’s really nice some time to pray with 5 different people from 5 different denominations represented and they’re all brothers and sisters.”

Collette says while they practice monastic rituals, followers don’t usually live as monks, “We keep our vocations whatever they are, so everyone’s on equal footing.”

The Order of Saint Luke is an International Ecumenical Religious Order open to all people who have a desire for a slower, quieter, more prayerful and contemplative monastic type of spirituality.  Public service is also important to the Order.

Collette invites the curious to the Holy Communion Church on SE 3rd Street in Bend Monday night at 6:30, “All are welcome to attend the introduction... which includes praying and singing in monastic chant.”


Bobcat Kitten Makes Himself At Home At High Desert Museum

BEND, OR -- A new bobcat is now on display at the High Desert Museum. Curator of Wildlife Jon Nelson tells me the kitten came to Bend back in October, weighing less than three pounds. "We got a call from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife saying that they had this baby bobcat that required human care, and they asked if we’d be willing to take him."

Nelson tells KBND News, "Some members of the public found him near Portland and he was a little baby, so they were worried about it. So they picked him up and took him into the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Their policy is always to try and reunite these baby animals with their parents, so they took the cub back and left him there, thinking mom will come back and we’ll have a happy ending. Unfortunately, he gravitated towards people, so more people found him." That's when ODFW realized the eight-month-old could not be returned to the wild. 

Nelson says it's a good example of why humans should not try to rescue baby wildlife. In this case - as in others - it's difficult to tell whether the kitten was actually orphaned by its mother, "It’s really common for adults to leave the babies; they have to go off and hunt and forage for things, and they’re coming back." He says babies "rescued" by well-meaning people can quickly become habituated to humans and, "Once they’re habituated, most species can’t be returned to the wild. They won’t have the skills they need to survive." 

Since October, museum staff have been working on training, "Getting him going in and out of a crate, so we can move him around," says Nelson, "And then, we kind of did a slow process of getting him used to the exhibit and getting him used to being viewed by people. And that took some time."

Now more than 15 pounds and adjusted to his new surroundings, Nelson says the bobcat is ready for the Spirit of the West exhibition, "With this exhibit, we have a gray fox that has been in there for quite a while now. And he and the gray fox are going to kind of take turns. We have other enclosures that are off exhibit, and so we want to give these animals a chance to rotate in and out and not be on public view all the time."

He doesn’t have a name yet; hat privilege will be auctioned off in August at the High Desert Rendezvous - the museum’s annual fundraiser. 

Photos by John Williams, courtesy High Desert Museum

Earth Day Brings Warnings For Personal Health

PORTLAND, OR -- Earth Day provides an opportunity to focus on the health of our planet. One Oregon physician wants us to also consider how the condition of the planet impacts our personal health.

"Climate change affects everyone; none of us can escape it," says Dr. Anne Toledo, "But it doesn’t affect everyone equally." She notes chronic illness like asthma or heart disease can be immensely impacted by the symptoms of climate change - extreme weather or intense wildfire. She suggests, "Making sure that you’re working with your medical team on getting you well controlled in those areas so you’re safer and less at risk in the case of poor air quality or extreme heat."

She tells KBND News climate change events also take a toll on our mental health, "People who already have a history of anxiety or depression or trauma are all the more at risk when you have isolating events." Those can include evacuations from wildfire or extreme heat forcing people to stay indoors. As a family physician and the Chief of Urgent Care for Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Dr. Toledo says she sees how patients internalize the stress of climate change. She admits climate change is a big issue, but says focusing on small steps we can take individually helps prevent stress and anxiety.

She calls them “hope generating actions” - those steps you can take to mitigate the effects of climate change on a personal and community level. "How are you going to make sure you have access to clean drinking water if a local water source is contaminated with algae from hot temperatures? How are you going to make sure your air is filtered? Things like that that you can do to adapt." Dr. Toledo adds, "Although this Earth Day it has been a very long, cold and wet arrival of spring and no one is thinking about heat-related illness right now, it also means this is the perfect time to buy air filters for your home because they should be in stock. So, I think ‘adaptation’ is how are you going to protect you and your family in the event of local environmental problems?"

She also suggests strengthening social support systems to better handle the emotional toll of climate change events like extreme weather or wildfire. For more information, visit the CDC's website

Listen to our full conversation with Dr. Anne Toledo:


City Managers Discuss Central Oregon Topics At Forum

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon City Managers from Bend, La Pine, Madras, Prineville, Redmond, and Sisters came together to discuss regional issues Thursday.

Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council Executive Director Tammy Baney, the forum moderator, said a recent survey shows the public’s chief concerns are economic growth, homelessness, water supply, “They’re worried about that both in their daily lives and what’s happening in the future. And it’s no secret that Central Oregon again is the fastest growing region in the state of Oregon.”

Prineville’s Steve Forrester talked about how his town emerged from the Great Recession to become Oregon’s fastest growing city. “We take a very proactive approach to building out the basic infrastructure needs ahead time as much as we could possibly do as much as w and that served us very well. Shortly thereafter, we were able to land the data center community,” said Forrester noting it’s important to have a diverse economy and living wage jobs. 

Interim Madras City Manager Christy Wurster spoke about business development, “We are learning so much about our airport and the potential future of Madras and what it can mean for the properties surrounding it. …We are focusing on that area of town for future industrial growth.”

Redmond City Manager Keith Witcosky says success comes from collaboration, “The good thing whether its homelessness or anything else, all the city managers work together to try to figure out how to solve problems.”


Bend-La Pine Schools Hits The Road For Kindergarten Registration

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools takes kindergarten registration on the road Saturday morning, for the class of 2036.

"We felt families might like to gather at a park on a Saturday to play with their kids. And why not have a school bus there and be able to connect with school people in their neighborhood," says Executive Director for Elementary Programs Tammy Doty. "Kindergarten teachers, especially, love getting out there and connecting with families about kindergarten. Office staff love connecting with families as well. They’ve volunteered, administrators - we have a variety of people who will be out there."

Doty tells KBND news they want kids to be excited about starting school and will hand out "class of 2036" goodie bags. Teachers and staff will also talk with parents, "Make sure they have all the information they need to get kids registered. We can register on the spot or we can send them home with registration materials." They'll also learn more about kindergarten information events at schools, planned for May, "We want to make sure they know what their home school is, especially if they are a new parent to school, if this is their oldest child and they haven’t been in school before."

Doty says early registration helps the district plan ahead for the fall, "Generally, we know roughly how many kids we have in first through 12th grade, because those kids have all been in our system already. But kindergarten is often, really, our best guess. Sometimes we are right on with that estimate, and sometimes it’s a surprise. So, the sooner we can get people registering, the better."

The kindergarten buses will be at each stop for one hour only:

9:00-10:00 a.m. – in Bend

Hollygrape Park, 19489 Hollygrape Street

Sun Meadow Park, 61141 Dayspring Drive

Pilot Butte Neighborhood Park, 1310 Northeast Highway 20


9:00-10:00 a.m. – in Sunriver/Three Rivers

Oregon Water Wonderland 1 mailboxes (where South Century & Snow Goose meet)


10:30-11:30 a.m. – in Bend

Bend-La Pine School Education Center, 520 NW Wall Street

Ponderosa Park, 225 Southeast 15th Street

Canal Row Park, 1630 Northeast Butler Market Road


10:30-11:30 a.m. – in La Pine

Frontier Heritage Park, 16405 First Street



To be eligible for kindergarten, students must be five years old on or before Sept. 1, 2023. Families with new kindergarten students can also register online now

Customers Can Weigh In On Proposed Rate Hike For CRR Water

TERREBONNE, OR -- Crooked River Ranch Water Company has proposed a 33% rate increase, raising the average residential customer’s monthly bill from $47.67 to $63.63. They haven’t raised rates since 2015 and say it’s now necessary to cover operating costs.

The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) will host a virtual public comment hearing on Wednesday, April 26, 2023, at 6 p.m. to hear from customers about the impacts of the utility’s proposed increase to water rates.   

The PUC says Crooked River Ranch Water Company’s general rate change request will be fully investigated on behalf of water customers. This public comment hearing is part of that investigation, which will conclude when the Commissioners rule on the request. If approved, the new rates could go into effect as early as December 24, 2023.

Comment via Zoom or phone on April 26

Crooked River Ranch Water customers and other interested persons may participate in the public comment hearing to provide verbal comments. 

When: Wednesday, April 26, 2023, from 6-7 p.m. PST 

  • View the meeting notice to link to the Zoom session at https://bit.ly/41kyWPy
  • Participate by phone at 1-669-254-5252 (Meeting ID: 161 691 1392; Passcode: 4098933670) 

Submit comments directly to the PUC by May 26, 2023: 

  • email PUC.PublicComments@puc.oregon.gov  
  • Call 503-378-6600 or 800-522-2404 (all relay calls accepted) 
  • Mail comments to Oregon Public Utility Commission, Attn: AHD – UW 194, PO Box 1088, Salem, OR 97308-1088 

Stay Informed

To stay informed throughout this rate case process, individuals may request to be added to the distribution list to receive publicly available documents. Submit requests by email to puc.hearings@puc.oregon.gov or by calling 503-378-6678. Please specify Docket No. UW 194 in the request.

Bend-La Pine Schools Hiring Teachers, Staff

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools is working to hire staff for next school year. It is a bigger effort than normal. “Caldera High School is adding its fourth class, as it’s going to be in its third year of operation, next year. And so that creates a need for some new teachers. We also have retirements and resignations that will create some needs at other schools,” says the district’s Director of Recruitment Ryan Kelling, adding schools face some of the same hiring challenges as other employers in the area, “Cost of living here in Central Oregon, whether it be housing or just the day-to-day expenses are just a barrier to bringing people on.”

Kelling tells KBND News hiring happens year-round, “I don’t know that in the nine years I’ve been with the district we’ve had no openings. That is either thinking about staffing needs projected moving forward, or retirements, resignations. This time of year, we’re looking at next school year and thinking about certified staff - teachers, school psychologists and counselors we’ll need, what administrators we’ll need. But we also have a need today for nutrition services workers for some of our sites.”

He says attracting new talent can be difficult, “For our licensed staff - teachers, administrators - there are only so many avenues they can pursue because we’re a smaller region. But for our classified staff - bus drivers, nutritions services workers - we’re competing with every other employer in the area.”

Bend-La Pine Schools has around 2,500 people and is Bend’s second largest employer. Kelling says many work in schools because of a calling to have an impact on the lives of children, “Ultimately, it’s selling the fact that these people truly are making a difference in the lives of kids. And so, there is something of a ‘calling’ to a school district for a lot of people.”

The link to view available jobs is at the BLS website.


County Gives Funds for New Shelter, Have Heated Discussion

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County commissioners agreed Wednesday to provide $750,000 to the city of Bend for the Franklin Avenue homeless Shelter, formerly the Rainbow Motel. The money comes from the county’s allocation from the American Rescue Plan. Another $750,000 went to the Central Oregon Villages shelter at Bear Creek Road and 27th Street in Bend. It is part of the county’s Homeless Solutions Partnership with the City of Bend.

But the board of commissioners meeting took a turn after the unanimous vote, when commissioner Tony DeBone expressed frustration with the progress on the homelessness issue. “This is a lot of money… it’s going to do good things … but when are we going to turn the corner on unsanctioned camping? …We just let people show up and set up on the side of the road, we’re kind of polite about it. We’re not going to incarcerate people. We’re not putting the pressure on some folks. And then we’re adding more and more services.”

Commissioner Phil Chang responded to Debone, “Do you know how many homeless people there were in Deschutes County when you took office? Do you know how many homeless people there are now? You’re talking about when are we going to turn the corner? When are we going to make progress? You have been in office for 12 years. Homelessness has almost tripled in this county during that period.” Chang accused DeBone of not aiding in the process, “There are people in our community who are trying to get things done. Who are trying to make a difference. …This is like a thousand points of light, right? There are people who are doing what they can, all sorts of initiatives, and basically asking them why they haven’t solved the problem yet is not helping anything.”

Debone said he wants to define how much more work is needed to address the unsanctioned camping situation.

Once open, the Franklin Avenue Shelter will provide at least 60 beds, including space for families with children, and those with medical issues.

Businesses around the Rainbow Motel approved of the plan for the shelter set to be operated by Shepherd’s House which will provide 24/7 onsite supervision and support, case management, food service, and will maintain a Good Neighbor Agreement with the surrounding businesses. It could open next month.


Home Hardening Webinar Offered In Advance Of Fire Season

SALEM, OR -- Oregon’s State Fire Marshal’s Office hosts a webinar Thursday at noon to help homeowners learn how to make a house more resistant to wildfire. Some experts believe home hardening is the next step in adapting to climate change, with our more frequent and larger wildland fires.

Thursday's “Home Hardening 101” webinar begins at noon on Zoom. Click HERE to register.


Bend-La Pine Schools Cafeteria Composting Expands

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools is expanding its school-based food composting program to cut back on food waste generated by the 11,000 meals the district serves daily.

8 schools now participate, with Pine Ridge and Bear Creek elementaries joining this spring with William E. Miller Elementary School (which launched the pilot program in 2009), Juniper Elementary School, Westside Village Magnet School, Amity Creek Magnet School, Mountain View High School and the production kitchen at Bend Senior High School. Ponderosa comes online next month. 

Students learn to ‘love food, not waste’, and the message is working says Pine Ridge fifth grader Sharlie, “It’s helpful to pick what you want, so you’ll eat it, and so our earth just doesn’t become one big landfill.”

She’s part of the 65 member Green Team which helps teach other kids about curbing lunchroom waste by sorting food, recyclables, and garbage. Arden is a fourth grader at Pine Ridge Elementary and also a member of the Green Team, “The food that we throw away that goes in the land fill…we actually have to chop down trees and plants to make our landfill…and it pollutes the planet when we make our landfill.”

“It’s really simple because all you have to do is just put all the stuff that isn’t edible into a trash can, and put all your food into a green bucket. Then stack your boats, and that’s that”, says Sophia, a 5th grade member of the Green Team.

It’s apparently helping; district officials report a 36% reduction in food trash since starting the campaign in 2009.

Choose versus serve is a way the district is reducing food waste. 4th grader Payton says not being served food, but rather given choice of what to take also helps reduce waste, “Because if you choose what you want to eat, you know you’re going to eat it and not waste the food.”

Food waste is hauled to Knott Landfill’s commercial composting program by Cascade Disposal and Republic Services. Costs associated with expanding this program are funded through the end of the current school year by Deschutes County Solid Waste.


Final Phase Of Wilson Corridor Project Soon Underway

BEND, OR -- Bend City crews expect to start the final phase of the $30 million Wilson Avenue Corridor Project in about a month. Senior Project Engineer Sinclair Burr says improvements on the southeast Bend corridor began about a year ago, after officials identified the area as a top priority for the 2020 General Obligation (GO) transportation bond, "Making sure that other projects down the line had the ability to get constructed because this one’s constructed. Namely, Reed Market. This is going to be part of the detour for when we build the railroad overcrossing for Reed Market."

Burr tells KBND News work begins in May between Second and Ninth Streets, "We’re putting in some turn restrictions at Second Street; we’re looking to revamp the signal at Third and Wilson. And then along Wilson, between Second Street and Ninth Street, we’re kind of rebuilding the whole corridor, widening the street for some bike lines and then adding sidewalks to the south side, and a shared use path to the north side." It will take several stages to complete, "There are driveways all along that section of Wilson that we’ve got to keep operational throughout construction. So, we kind of have to break it down into different pieces." The first stage includes the modernization of Fourth Street through Centennial Street. Burr adds, "We’re putting in some utilities into the ground, specifically water line. So, that piece of it does make it a little bit unique, in that it does take longer to construct, when you’ve actually got to put stuff underground, rather than building mostly just surface improvements." He expects it'll be finished by June 2024.

Design consultants, the construction team and other city staff will answer questions about the work at an open house next week. It’s scheduled for Wednesday, April 26, from 5:00 to 6:45 p.m. at the Larkspur Community Center. 


JobFest Scheduled For Next Week

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College hosts JobFest next week, with more than 50 local companies and agencies searching for new employees. Fields include health care, government, natural resources, technology, food service and others. The event is Thursday, April 27 at the Coats Campus Center in Bend, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. JobFest is free and open to the public. Click HERE for more details. 

“This is a great opportunity to speak directly to recruiters and ask questions about companies and specific jobs,” Diane Pritchard, COCC’s director of careers, advising and personal counseling said in a statement. “While you may not leave JobFest with an offer in hand, you’ll leave with a better understanding of where you want to apply for positions and who to get in touch with to follow up.”

To help job seekers prepare, visit the free resume-building consultation service on Friday, April 21, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in Cascades Hall, Room 240A, offered by the college’s CAP Services office. Contact CAP Services at 541-383-7200 or capservices@cocc.edu.

COCC Financial Aid Application Nears Deadline

BEND, OR -- COCC summer term registration opens this week. Registration for fall starts in three weeks. For students looking for financial aid the application time is now.

Financial Aid Director Breanna Sylwester says the process is like a conversation between the student and college, “The first step in applying for financial aid is completing the FAFSA application, which is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. We’ll get that information in and then we’ll contact you saying we need more information. You get that to us. We evaluate that. Then we give you the financial aid offer.”

Sylwester tells KBND News the COCC Foundation also offers help, “So we offer over 400 scholarships to our students through one online application. That application is up now and available to students to apply. That deadline is May 1st.”

Students seeking financial aid and scholarships should start the process now. “It’s going to give you time to go through the different steps that need to happen before we can give you that financial aid offer. So, the earlier you start then the less stress there is at the last minute of trying to get everything in, and getting everything processed,” says Sylwester.

You’ll find more information on financial aid and scholarships at COCC’s website

The College’s board voted last week to raise tuition by 3%, starting in the fall.


Riverbend Park Restoration Nearly Complete

BEND, OR -- A five-year project to restore Riverbend Park is nearly complete, following a joint effort by the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council and Bend Parks & Recreation District. The trail from Bill Healy Bridge to the Farewell Bend footbridge has reopened.

Watershed Council Executive Director Kris Knight says the work was necessary to reverse damage done by the thousands of visitors accessing the river each year, "Over time, we just watched those streambanks just erode back by feet - multiple feet. That erosion, that soil or sediment, ends up going down the stream and it fills up Mirror Pond or someplace like it." He adds, "It used to be that people could just access anywhere. So there were at least a dozen spots where the river was eroding as people got in and out of the river. What we’ve done now is put up a nice split-rail fence, and we’ve got three really nice access points that have stone steps down to the river. And while they enjoy it, we’re also taking care of that stretch of river and keeping it healthy." Much of the work was done by Cascade Civil Corp, a Redmond-based contractor.

Knight tells KBND News there's also a new marsh area to improve river health, "We’re just trying to create a healthier space where there’s trees and shrubs growing along the river, they’re providing shade for the river. They’re also just providing habitat."

More work is on the way over the next couple of months, "Community groups or local students that’ll come out with our Upper Deschutes Watershed Council staff, and they’ll be planting native plants along the river - to do all the landscaping, if you will, along the river; to bring those native trees and shrubs back to the site. The other piece is we’ve got a couple of interpretive signs to install. Those are going to go at one of the access points."

The $650,000 project was paid for by the parks district and through grant funds secured by the Watershed Council. "This can be a model for our the Bend Park and Recreation District can do more projects like this at their parks along the river in Bend," says Knight, "Where they can balance recreation access and protecting the river."

Click HERE to view more photos of the work and to read more about the project. 


Two Monday House Fires Keep Bend Crews Busy

BEND, OR -- Bend Fire responded to two house fires within just a few hours, Monday evening. Crews were first called to a manufactured home in Romaine Village (pictured, courtesy Bend Fire & Rescue) at about 6 p.m. after multiple people called 911 to report the home was on fire and flames threatened nearby homes.

Arriving crews stopped the fire before it could spread to any other buildings or vegetation. After a few minutes, they confirmed no one was home. Investigators believe hot embers fell out of a woodstove and ignited nearby materials. The home is a total loss and two dogs died in the fire. Several streets were closed until the all fire crews cleared two hours later. 

Just after 7:30, a fire was reported in a vacant home under construction on NW Tharp Ave. near Summit High School. A neighbor reported smoke was coming from the crawl space vents under the home. Firefighters found fire confined to the crawl space and all the smoke was removed. The cause was not identified but appears to be related to construction work earlier in the day. The fire damage was limited to under the home and flooring that was removed to gain access. Damage is estimated at about $25,000. 


Central OR Fire Crews Assist With Large John Day Fire

JOHN DAY, OR -- Firefighters from Bend, Redmond and Jefferson County assisted John Day crews overnight Monday, battling a commercial blaze in downtown John Day. According to Grant County Emergency Management, the fire broke out just before 6 p.m. at 139 E. Main Street.

John Day Fire crews arrived within minutes and found fire spreading from one business to neighboring buildings. Nearby restaurants were evacuated and additional fire resources responded from Canyon City, Prairie City and Mt. Vernon. Over the next five hours, they worked to supress the fire in a row of commercial buildings.

Under mutual aid, the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office coordinated a task force, bringing in crews from Bend, Redmond and Jefferson County to relieve on-site firefighters overnight. Central Oregon units arrived at about 1 a.m. Tuesday and took over for crews who had been working for seven hours

At least four busineses suffered damage from fire, smoke and/or water. By daylight Tuesday, most crews had cleared the scene. The cause of the fire is under investigation.  

Photos: courtesy Grant County Emergency Mgmt. (top left) Bend Fire assists in John Day. (upper right) Jefferson County Fire's ladder stretches over the fire. (above) Daylight shows damage to several downtown John Day buildings. 


OSU Names New Head Of Bend Campus

CORVALLIS, OR -- Oregon State University has named Sherman “Sherm” Bloomer as the next Chancellor and Dean of OSU-Cascades. Bloomer is currently associate vice president of budget and resource planning at the university. He will take on the top leadership position at the Bend campus effective May 1. Bloomer served as dean of OSU’s College of Science for 11 years prior to leading the university’s budget and resource planning office in 2012.

“I’m tremendously excited to join OSU-Cascades and engage with faculty, staff, students, community leaders, donors, and elected and education leaders to advance higher education learning opportunities and research impacts in Central Oregon,” Bloomer said in a statement. “OSU-Cascades’ distinctive character and growth providing an innovative, small-university learning experience is exciting and unique, and is made even more powerful while drawing on its connections to all of Oregon State University.” He added, “I’m committed to work with colleagues at OSU-Cascades and the Bend area community members to continue building new academic programs, expanding research and innovation activities, and collaborating with Bend and Central Oregon stakeholders on the next phases of campus development.”

Bloomer’s appointment follows Andrew Ketsdever’s service as interim vice president. Ketsdever took over in May 2021, when Becky Johnson was named OSU’s interim president. Johnson had served as OSU-Cascades vice president since 2009. Ketsdever will return to his previous role as dean of academic affairs.

“Andrew Ketsdever accomplished a great deal as interim vice president, leading OSU-Cascades with a steady hand during the pandemic, including advancing work around the Cascades Innovation District and launching an innovative new career planning program for students,” said Ed Feser, OSU Provost and Executive VP, “I’m delighted he’ll continue to lead OSU-Cascades’ academic affairs going forward.”

OSU-Cascades’ campus footprint has grown to 128 acres from its initial 10 acres. Enrollment has increased to approximately 1,300 students.

On Friday, OSU announced a 3.9% tuition increase for returning undergraduate students in Corvallis and Bend, beginning in the fall. New undergrads will see a 4.4% increase at both campuses. 


HD 53 Rep. Levy On Her First Term Progress

BEND, OR -- Bend city councilor Anthony Broadman hosted a virtual meeting with State Representative Emerson Levy to give an update on the Legislative session.

Levy is fresh off unanimous House passage of her bill to fund youth and family homelessness prevention, “I think we’re going to have a really good result in the housing production work in bills that are coming up. And stuff around UGB. There’s a lot of good negotiations going on right now; a lot of people with competing interests working at the table together in really collaborative way.”

Levy says her biggest surprise as a freshman lawmaker is the collaborative effort from both sides of the aisle, “On the whole we’ve really got along really well. I feel like really working towards housing and the opioid crisis. And I think those shared concerns have been really good.”

Her ‘Alyssa’s Law’ bill, which would require schools to have mobile panic devices in every classroom has also received broad support, but is stalled in committee. 

Broadman says he’s impressed with the legislature's commitment to address housing, “What I’m excited about is these new expenditures are being directed to the region. It’s not a city problem, it’s not a county problem, alone, but it’s a regional problem.”

Candidates For Sisters School Board Meet In Forum

SISTERS, OR -- Four candidates vying for two positions on the Sisters School Board debated hot topics in a virtual forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Deschutes County and City Club of Central Oregon. 

When asked about the Parents Bill of Rights, recently passed by the U.S. House, Position Four incumbent Asa Sarver says it's unnecessary, "Saying parents have a right to a say in their children’s education, and parents already have a right to a say in their children’s education." His challenger Hilary Saunders has legal training and says, "It’s not very well written and I think it’s extremely over broad and doesn’t actually solve what people are hoping to solve for." Position three incumbent Jeff Smith says Sisters already offers access mandated in the bill, "Parents have access to teachers; parents have access to their teacher records, they can visit our schools. All of those things exist today." His challenger Karissa Bilderback agrees, "We have links directly, we have easy communication to the teachers who are teaching those lessons in the classroom, and just easy access and availability of our administrators and staff. 

On changes needed in the district: Bilderback, a former teacher and Sisters High graduate, says she wants to see a bigger focus on negative student bahaviors, "More accountability and high expectations for those behaviors. And consequences that are followed through." Smith, who has served on the School Board more than a decade, says the district needs more funding, "I think our biggest concern at the moment is to pass the local option." Sarver was appointed to the board a year ago and agrees the levy needs to pass, "Once we have the funding, I would like to make sure we continue to have our special programs. I would like to make sure we’re taking care of teachers; housing is a big issue." Saunders, also a Sisters High graduate, says, "In addition, I would say that pre-school/early education is a major need." All four are parents - three have kids in the district and one has grandkids in Sisters schools. 

The group was asked about history curriculum and all agree students should learn our country's complete history, including that of indigenous people and other minorities. Hilary Saunders said, "History does repeat itself, and we only grow as a society from learning from those who came before us. We only can innovate from seeing how other people have done things." Asa Sarver added, "We are a melting pot and everyone should have a right to know their history or anyone else’s history." Karissa Bilderback said, "I believe that it is important to be teaching the history, not only of our country but of what adversities different groups within our culture have experienced. Because, at the end of the day, that’s how we all learn about one another and connect with one another." And Jeff Smith told the group, "We have some warts our history and I think we ought to acknowledge those."

They were also asked about removing books from school libraries. All said books should not be banned, although parents should have the final say in what their individual child reads. To watch the entire virtual forum, click HERE

The next League of Women Voters forum is April 25th, for Deschutes Public Library District candidates. 


Webinar Offered For New Farmers

BEND, OR -- The USDA offers Oregonians new to farming and ranching a chance to learn about available financial help. Tuesday morning’s virtual event is hosted by Oregon’s Beginning Farmer Rancher Team and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). "This is really a good way for new farmers, or people thinking about getting into farming, to learn about how the USDA can support them in their goals," says NRCS-Oregon's Lauren Bennett.

She tells KBND News many new to ag operations are small and in need of financial assistance, "If they’ve just bought a small plot of land, whether it’s in an urban space or a rural space, they probably can’t afford to buy a brand new tractor immediately after purchasing new land. So, just working with them through the unique challenges that beginning farmers face at whatever scale, we definitely want to start that conversation earlier rather than later." She says the webinar provides access to multiple agencies, "Beginning farmers maybe don’t know about barriers or restrictions to access for technical or financial assistance. So, it’s really to provide information from each agency on what we provide."

Bennett says many start-ups don’t realize how side gigs and other income could impact eligibility, now how much time it takes to access federal help, "We can’t give you money overnight. So, I think the eligibility piece is really huge- informing new or beginning farmers on that eligibility piece of what you have to check off to even start working with one of us; and then the timeframe in which we can really support you financially."

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher webinar series is offered each quarter on the third Tuesday of April, July, October and January. This month's webinar starts at 7:30 a.m. The next one is offered on July 18th at noon. Click HERE to learn more and to register to attend. 


First Wolverine Sighting In Central Cascades In 50+ Years

SISTERS, OR -- A wolverine was caught on camera crossing Highway 20 east of Santiam Pass earlier this month, and Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife say it may be the same animal spotted along the Columbia River. ODFW caught vido of the wolverine on April 6; Deschutes District staff confirmed tracks near the video location on the day of the sighting. 

Over the last month, there have been several wolverine sighting reports submitted to ODFW and Cascadia Wild, a local non-profit organization conducting community science wildlife surveys for wolverine on Mt. Hood. The first report was made on March 20 by two people fishing on the Columbia River who took photos of a wolverine on the bank of McGuire Island. Additional sightings were confirmed in Damascus, Oregon City and Colton over the next several days.  

Based on timing, locations of the verified sightings and the trajectory of travel, it is possible that these sightings are of the same individual wolverine though it cannot be confirmed. Long-distance dispersal or "exploratory" movements are not irregular for a wolverine during this time of year and they can travel well over 30 miles in a day. Based on the location, this wolverine is likely dispersing to a new area where it can survive and hopefully reproduce. Wolverines need high?elevation habitat (alpine areas with dense snowpack) but young wolverine often disperse long distances to establish new territory.?? 

Wolverine are rare in Oregon and ODFW says these sightings are significant to wildlife conservation. The initial sighting along the Columbia River last month was the first confirmed report of a wolverine outside of the Wallowa Mountains in over 30 years. The last documented wolverine in the Central Cascades was killed in 1969 by a trapper near Broken Top Mountain. Wolverine is listed as a state threatened species in Oregon and no hunting or trapping of wolverine is allowed.?? 

Although ODFW occasionally receives reports of wolverine, it can be difficult to confirm a sighting without documentation or tracks. The agency asks anyone who sees something to share it on iNaturalist, an app/website that helps biologists track individual sightings of wildlife like wolverine.? 


Photos courtesy ODFW

California Fugitive Caught After Swimming Across Mirror Pond

BEND, OR -- A man wanted in California was caught in Bend after police say he swam across Mirror Pond to escape arrest. Christopher Ruddy had felony warrants for firearms-related charges in California and tried to detain him in Drake Park, just before noon Saturday.

According to Bend PD, he took off and jumped into the pond, swimming across and exiting the water on private property. K9 officers from Bend and Redmond responded and found Ruddy hiding under a canoe.

They say refused to comply with officers commands to surrender and tried to run again by jumping off an elevated rock ledge, but was captured by K9 Niza and officers on scene. 

Ruddy was evaluated and treated at St. Charles Bend and then taken to the Deschutes County Jail. He's charged with Out of State Warrants, False Information to Police, Escape III, Resisting Arrest, Criminal Trespass II, and Depositing Trash Within 100 Yards of a Waterway.


file photo

The One That Got Away: Massive Trout Caught On Lake Billy Chinook

CULVER, OR -- Oregon's Department of Fish and Wildlife says a fish caught April 8 in Lake Billy Chinook may have been a record-breaker. Ryan Mejaski and Joe Wilhite were fishing for kokanee on the Deschutes arm of Lake Billy Chinook without much luck when they decided to move spots. After casting into a group of small kokanee jumping to the surface, his secret lure sank to about five feet when he got a big strike that took off screaming. He quickly adjusted his drag to let the fish run but they had to move the boat to follow it. His medium-lightweight rod was bent in half and nearly snapped. But he spent 10 minutes working the fish , brought it to the surface and netted it into the boat to take measurements.

The bull trout was 33.5 inches in length with a 26-inch girth, and maxed out Wihite’s fishing net scale at 25 pounds. “The scale was maxed out and didn’t go any higher than 25 pounds but that’s what it said,” noted Majeski. He told ODFW the fish was probably bigger, maybe 30 pounds. After taking some photos with the fish, they quickly released it and watched it swim away. That’s when the thought sank in – that bull trout could have been a state record, maybe close to a world record.

“I’m a little bummed out we didn’t keep it so we could get the official record, but it was the right thing to do at the time. We really didn’t think about keeping it, we were so excited,” said Mejaski.

The current state record bull trout was caught in 1989 from Lake Billy Chinook and weighed 23 lbs., 2 ounces. The world record from Lake Pend Oreille, ID in 1949 tipped the scales at 32 lbs.

Mejaski said they continued fishing that day and caught a second massive bull trout only slightly smaller than the one they had released. “We thought we’d keep catching them but didn’t. We even came back the next day,” added Mejaski. “Every fisherman that we saw and showed photos of the fish said that they have never seen a bull trout that big,” he said. “People were happy about us letting it go, but it would be really cool to have a record fish.”

Mejaski stopped by the ODFW Bend office and talked with Deschutes District Fish Biologist Jerry George about the catch. They both agreed the trout may have been a record but it’s still out there to spawn and grow bigger. “During our bull trout spawning ground surveys, we’ve seen an uptick in numbers in recent years. That has to do with an abundance of kokanee as a food source and lots of clean, cold water from the Metolius River and its tributaries that provide for excellent spawning and rearing habitat,” said George.

Bull trout live a long life and Mejaski’s fish could have been 15 years old or more, added George. If the anglers had kept the fish, ODFW could use fish scales near the dorsal fin, or an inner ear bone called an otolith to determine age as well. Out of fairness, the fish would have to have been weighed by a third party to be considered for the state record. That would have meant keeping and of course killing the fish. 

“This goes to show that Lake Billy Chinook is a special fishery where we can allow anglers to not only target, but harvest, a smaller number of bull trout, a federally protected species. And the fact that Ryan released the fish to spawn again, to be caught again is awesome,” said George.

Mejaski wishes he’d kept the fish and hopes he can share his story with anglers out there looking for a big bull trout. He did say he’ll probably end up paying for a replica of the fish. “But looking at it on my wall every day might be too painful,” he added.


Photo: Ryan Mejaski of Bend holds a bull trout caught on April 8, 2023, in Lake Billy Chinook. Photo by Joe Wilhite.

COCC Tuition Raised For 2023-24 Term

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College will raise tuition by $5 per credit, starting in the Fall. COCC’s board voted unanimously this week to approve the increase to keep up with rising costs and meet basic expenses. 

Student Affairs Vice President Alicia Moore tells KBND News the tuition hike will benefit students with resources and staff, “It will add a bunch of wi-fi hot spots that students can check out from our library. The IT Security, the technology coordinator, and the grant-funded position really provide a robust suite of services allowing us to continue our quality programs for students.”

She says despite the price hike, COCC's cost remains competitive with other colleges in the state, “In terms of all of Oregon’s community colleges, we’re the 5th most affordable in the state. Compared to our public university counterparts, that’s easily $8,000 to $9,000 less a year than if you were to go directly to a public university.” Moore adds, “It was solely a tuition increase. None of our fees, our student activity, technology or green energy fee are increasing. It is only $5 per credit; bringing the full-time student tuition to about $4,900 for the year.”

Registration for Summer term starts next week. Registering for Fall is in May.


Bend Streamlines ADU Permitting Process

BEND, OR -- Bend’s Building Division has launched a new Pre-Approved Accessory Dwelling Unit Plans program, designed to get more ADUs built faster. Kerry Bell, the city’s Middle Income Housing Coordinator, tells KBND News one building plan is available for free (pictured), "The plan is pre-approved, ready to submit for permitting, so you’re going to save time in that process." Homeowners still need site approval to make sure the ADU is appropriate for the location, and to pay for the necessary permits. But Bell estimates it could save up to six weeks. 

"This has been a collaborative effort with the Building Safety Division; we work really closely with them. And we’re looking forward to working through the next phases," Bell tells KBND News,  "The next phase is to provide more of a library of plans on our website. And we’re just exploring all the options that surround that: are they more free plans? Are they plans you pay for? Is it just ADUs? Is it different types of smaller structures?"

She says, "We already know we need a one bedroom, possibly a one-bedroom loft-type option, right? There are so many fun ideas out there, and we want to make sure we’re providing those. But we do want input from the community. So, we feel that by the community seeing this product, if this product suits them - great; we're ready to run tomorrow with it. If not, then I’m here to make sure we can get that feedback, as well as the feedback we’re already getting from our design community, as we get ready to launch the second phase." Click HERE to learn more.

Bend’s pre-approved ADU plan program is modeled after a similar effort in Eugene. 


12,000+ Fentanyl Pills Seized In DCSO Investigation

BEND, OR -- Three people were arrested and more than 12,000 fentanyl pills seized during a long-term investigation by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Street Crimes Unit (SCU).

SCU learned this localized drug trafficking organization was operating in connection with an organization receiving fentanyl pills and powder from a source in Mexico. 

On Friday March 31, detectives stopped and arrested 44-year-old William Warden Day III. They say he had approximately 2,000 counterfeit Oxycodone pills containing Fentanyl, one ounce of powdered fentanyl and a 9mm handgun at the time of his arrest. Detectives also executed a search warrant at Day’s Sunriver home, where they found additional Fentanyl and evidence of drug sales. 

On Saturday April 1, SCU detectives attempted to stop 30-year-old Ricky Fontaine and 29-year-old Jessica Estes in the Redmond area. Both ran from the traffic stop but were quickly detained with the assistance of Redmond Police and the RPD Street Crimes Detectives. During their arrest, detective say they found 10,000 counterfeit Oxycodone pills containing Fentanyl, nearly two ounces of powdered fentanyl and a loaded handgun. 

SCU detectives learned Fontaine and Estes live on the 6000 block of Faugarwee Circle in Deschutes River Woods. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team executed a search warrant at the home and found over 1,000 additional counterfeit Oxycodone pills containing Fentanyl and evidence of drug sales in Fontaine and Estes' vehicle and room. 

The three were booked into the jail on a long list of drug-related charges. Fontaine is also accus of being a felon in possession of a weapon and violating parole. 


photos courtesy of DCSO

Deschutes Commissioners Approve Development Fees Increase

BEND, OR -- Building permits and applications will be more expensive in Deschutes County, starting July first. After hearing from staff at Wednesday’s meeting County commissioners chose to raise fees for four types of permits ranging from .02 to 20%.

Community Development’s Sherri Pinner laid out where the department’s budget stands for 2023, “Our permitting volumes were not equal to fiscal year 2022. That results in a revenue projection that’s about $2.2 million less than we had anticipated. We still potentially might need about $560,000 to $565,000 of reserve transfers to balance. As we dip into our reserves the number of months that we have in reserves will continue to decrease.”

In voting for the increase, commissioners said it is important to maintain budget reserves. 

They also recommended waiting to fill four open Community Development positions.

Also yesterday, Commissioners approved the application for a $400,000 grant for NeighborImpact to provide loans for low- and moderate-income homeowners to fix up their property.

NeighborImpact’s Deputy Director Andrew Spreadborough told Commissioners the need is growing, “We’re getting one to two calls a day for loans. We have an official waitlist which means an application has been submitted. It was over 40, 45 range a couple weeks ago.”

Spreadborough says the Community Development Block Grant from Business Oregon would help the entire area NeighborImpact serves, “What we’re proposing is a regional project. This would not be a Deschutes County specific. It would be Central Oregon specific; Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson County homeowners.”

Neighbor Impact would be responsible for distributing the loan funds.


Redmond City Council Adjusts Public Input Guidelines

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s Mayor announced a new procedure for time allotted to the public during City Council meetings. "Because of some ‘stuff,’ we have ground rules for public comment, now," Mayor Ed Fitch said at this week's meeting, "Comments are limited to three minutes and we’re going to try and keep the public comment to 30 minutes at the beginning."

The change comes after disruptions at two recent Council meetings. Fitch tells KBND News, "I wanted to have a much more open dialog with the community. It was a little looser before and so there got to be a little friction between people out in the audience. Some people had different views. So we had to put a little more - I’ll call it ‘organization’ to it; limiting time, making sure people don’t get interrupted." 

He says he wants to focus the citizen comment period on current events not "culture wars" or political ideology, "That’s really not the place to play it out, at the City Council meeting. We want people to come in with comments about city business, about challenges we have now and in the future. Not about their personal philosophy on either the left or far right." Unlike Bend's Mayor, Fitch will allow applause after speakers. He adds, "We’re much more open to talking about any issue that affects the community. Whereas, in the last few years, it was much more constricting. And, there was a little price to be paid for that openness. But I think we’re going to strike the right balance from here on in."

One speaker at this week’s meeting was interrupted by Mayor Fitch when she ran over the time limit sharing her thoughts about the COVID mask mandate and the First Amendment. 


Heart Of Oregon Corps Closer To Campus Expansion

REDMOND, OR -- Heart of Oregon Corps is making headway on funding for a new centralized campus in Redmond. Executive Director Laura Handy tells KBND News the new facility will enhance the youth-focused workforce development hub for the program’s ‘work-earn-learn’ model, “All of those young people have the opportunity to do hands on work... As a conservation corps, and a job training program we have lots of vehicles and trailers, and a wood chipper, and lots of complex equipment to put into place for training.”

A $100,000 donation is from Redmond-based Hayden Homes, “We’re celebrating a major gift for our campus campaign. We’re about 45% raised of an $8-million goal,” Handy says the nonprofit wants to make significant improvements, “It includes both a remodel of an existing warehouse building and covered equipment bays. And a new 9,000 square foot building for offices, classrooms, youth centers, and engagement space.” There will also be an area to park vehicles and large equipment.

Heart of Oregon Corps helps give 16- to 24-year-olds in Central Oregon access to living wage jobs in conservation, construction, childcare, and customer service. Handy says construction-industry partners recognize the need to keep workers in Central Oregon, “For local youth that are on a workforce path, might combine that with some college training, but are really looking at a career path and want to stay here in Central Oregon, that need access to a living wage job, I think careers in the trades are great examples of that.”

A check presentation and Chamber of Commerce event is scheduled for Thursday from 5:30 to 7 where guests can review the plans for the Redmond campus.


COIC Leads Local Effort For State Homelessness Funds

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon will get $13.9 million as part of the Governor’s homelessness emergency order. As Central Oregon's Council of Governments, COIC is the lead agency overseeing the local plan to create 111 new shelter beds and rapidly rehouse 161 people. 

"To some it may seem like that’s a lot of money for not a lot of individuals," COIC Executive Director Tammy Baney tells KBND News. But she says Central Oregon's housing market makes the work more expensive. "Most of it, though, I would say, is the lack of available units to be able to move people into. So we are establishing a network of shelter, both low-barrier and all the systems that create a process for people to go through to get to really safe and secure and sustainable housing."

Baney says pulling people out of homelessness is an investment in the regional economy, "Not only is it not humane, but people are not able to have great worker productivity. Individuals that want to be in the workforce are in crisis trying to either keep their housing or become housed. If I’m not housed, I’m not going to be your best employee. If I’m living in my car, I am not going to be showing up for work. I’m not going to have my medical needs met and my children are probably not excelling in school."

COIC is working to secure contracts to meet the region's shelter bed and rapid rehousing goal by January 10, 2024. She admits it's a lofty plan, "This is moving faster than I’d like to see it move. However, the crisis- it’s outpacing us, and has been. We have individuals in our region who are in need last year of support. So, a lot of the funding that would have come forward for cities and counties to address these issues would’ve been from the federal government decades ago. And, unfortunately, a lot of that funding is no longer there."

The Governor has said she hopes money will start flowing by the end of the month, and communities that don't meet benchmarks throughout the process risk losing some of their funding. "I have all the confidence that our region is going to pull this off," says Baney, "I would submit that we probably will exceed those targets. But it’s not without risk. If we had vacant buildings to be able to turn into shelter, and operational funds, trust me, we would be doing it today. If we could rapidly rehouse and get people into housing or prevent them from homelessness, and we had the dollars available today, we would do it."


BPD Investigates Apparent "Swatting" Incident

BEND, OR -- Bend Police are investigating a report of a shooting inside a home that drew a massive law enforcement response Tuesday, but turned out to be fake. A man called 911 just after noon, and said he’d shot someone inside the house on SW Taft Avenue.

Neighbors were evacuated, medics staged in the area and roads were closed. Bend Police used armored vehicles and got help from the Central Oregon Emergency Response Team and the Sheriff's Office Special Operations Team. But when police talked to the homeowners, they said they weren’t there and gave permission for officers to enter.

Police cleared the building and determined there was no shooting. They cleared the scene at about 1:30 p.m. It appears to be another case of "Swatting" - when a falsely person reports a serious crime in an effort to bring a massive law enforcement response to a specific location. 

A criminal investigation is now underway into the call.

Sunday Crash Leads To One Death In Jefferson County

MADRAS, OR -- A Madras man was killed in a three-vehicle crash on Highway 97 over the weekend. The incident occurred near milepost 102, about eight miles south of Madras, just after 9:30 p.m. Sunday.  

According to State Police, a minivan, driven by 53-year-old Enrique Santellano Reynoso of Madras, was northbound when it crossed the center line. It side swiped a southbound SUV, driven by 23-year-old Lupe Verbena Galicia of Warm Springs. The van then crashed head-on with a southbound Jeep Wrangler, driven by 23-year-old Dustin Evan Ferren of Madras. 

Ferren was flown to the hospital with serious injuries. Reynoso was pronounced dead at the scene. No one in the SUV was hurt.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. Traffic on Highway 97 was impacted for more than three hours.


Dogs Involved In Neglect Case Recovering At Humane Society


BEND, OR -- 17 dogs were relinquished to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office late last month, after a La Pine woman was charged with animal neglect.

The dogs were taken in by the Humane Society of Central Oregon.

Outreach manager Lynne Ouchida tells KBND News it’s a big task for the shelter to take in that many dogs at once, “We work really hard when this type of incident happens, and for us to be there for the animals when they need us most. It takes a lot of resources, not only in labor, but in monetary resources, and veterinary care.”

The dogs range in age from 1 to 7 years old and are mostly German shepherd and husky breeds. “We’re just delighted that we can be there for the animals and be there to provide them the care that they need. Three of the dogs have already been adopted, and five are currently available on our website right now that you can see,” Ouchida said, adding that the rest should be available soon, “We’re just finishing up evaluations and treatments, and getting them ready to go. We can definitely can use the help in people stepping up; meeting these guys and seeing if one of them should be their new family members.”

Ouchida is also grateful for the community’s generosity in donating food and money. “We’ve had some full kennels the last few months and food is expensive. We went to pick up an order (at a feed store) and they greeted us with a donation of 5 of those bags.”

This investigation on the La Pine woman is on-going and has been referred to the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office for review.  


photo: Two of the rescued dogs adopted last week from the Humane Society of Central Oregon

Hit And Run Crash Under Investigation In Rural Crook County

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A hit and run crash in Crook County closed SW Reservoir Road west of Four Corners for most of Monday, following an early morning crash. According to the Sheriff’s Office, a Boise, Idaho man was driving toward Bend at about 1:30 a.m. when a pickup collided with his SUV, forcing him off the road. He was unhurt but the pickup left the scene.

The State Police Traffic Reconstruction Unit assisted with the investigation, as well as the District Attorney’s Office and other agencies.


Photo courtesy Crook County Sheriff's Office

Central OR To Receive $13.9M In Homelessness Aid

PORTLAND, OR -- Central Oregon will receive $13.9 million to rehouse 161 households and create 111 new shelter beds. The allocation comes from Governor Tina Kotek’s state of emergency recently funded by the legislature. A local Multi-Agency Coordinating (MAC) group, led by the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC), will coordinate the spending and is responsible for the day-to-day implementation of funds.

Central Oregon is among seven regions to receive money. Governor Kotek said Monday she expects each of those regions to spend the money based on their individual application, "The funding today is connected to community plans with specific outcomes of: Shelter capacity, new shelter capacity and rehousing individuals from unsheltered homelessness to transitional shelter, to actual housing."

Kotek specifically praised Lane County’s application, "On their first submission of their application, they were the only continuum of care that had a fully complete application on the first deadline." Lane County received $15.5 million to rehouse 247 households and create 230 shelter beds. She also made note of COIC's application for Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties, "Central Oregon; another strong example of partnerships across the community, to come up with a very concrete, detailed plan of how they were going to meet their goals."

Funding is also headed to Clackamas, Washington and Jackson counties, as well as the Salem area. Kotek called Multnomah County's $18.2 million allocation "tentative," saying, "We need to see stronger collaboration and detail from Multnomah County and the city of Portland, about how they plan to spend those dollars. It’s important; we’re not just going to be handing out money without specific outcomes. We need to know how it’s going to be spent and have confidence that they will hit those goals." She added, "There’s going to be regular reporting, regular check-ins. And, if there are any challenges, we want to know what they are, we want to help them work through them. And, worse case scenario, if there’s a community that’s not on track to hit their goals - and they have very specific goals for rehousing and shelter capacity, then we will reallocate those dollars because we need to hit those goals by the end of the year."

State emergency funding totals $98.8 million, with the goal of preventing 8,750 households from becoming homeless, add at least 600 low-barrier shelter beds and rehouse at least 1,200 unsheltered households in those emergency areas. "Our goal here is to work directly with these communities to finalize the contracts with the dollars that have been allocated to them," Kotek said Monday, "We’re working really hard to have template contracts; it now falls to them, as the recipients, to get  their questions answered, sign off on the contracts. If all goes well, money could be flowing to these continuum of care areas by April 28th." 

The legislature recently approved an additional $155 million aimed at also reducing homelessness in Oregon counties outside of the emergency declaration.


file photo

Candidate Forums Scheduled For May Elections

BEND, OR -- Numerous positions for school boards, library districts and COCC’s board of directors are up for election on May 16th. To help provide information on the candidates, the League of Women Voters of Deschutes County and City Club of Central Oregon will host a series of virtual forums over the next few weeks.

The first is Thursday at 6 p.m., for Positions three and four on the Sisters School Board. All will be live-streamed on City Club’s YouTube channel.

Questions for the candidates can be submitted online, at least 48 hours before the forum. 


Robot Evaluates Sidewalk Conditions In Madras

MADRAS, OR -- A robot roaming Madras is helping the Public Works Department. The city’s Lysa Vattimo says "DAX" is mapping all of the sidewalks, and ranking them from one to five, "One would be the sidewalk needs repaired or needs an ADA ramp; five meaning it’s perfect. Then that data will be dropped into a software that lays over a map for the city. The city can use that information, then, to make improvements or apply for grant funding to receive funding to make improvements on sidewalks."

She says DAX can complete the evaluation of miles of sidewalks much more quickly than a human, "He’ll have every sidewalk within city limits mapped within about a week. In addition, he downloads the data right into the software; it’s in real time. A human would have to go out and do that with a laptop in hand." She tells KBND News, city staff are better served elsewhere right now, "There’s street sweeping, there’s irrigation, we’re getting ready for the spring, we’re trying to get the parks ready for our community. There’s a lot of stuff going on."

For more than two years, DAX has been used to deliver food in Monmouth and Philomath … this public works application is an experiment for the company. "Because this is a first time project, the city is not having to pay for this service," says Vattimo.

She admits some in the community expressed concern about the project, after it was announced last week, worried about vandalism or theft, "DAX weighs about 150 pounds; so I’m not sure he’s going to be that easy to just pick up and carry away. He is monitored in real time, through a human, and they’ve been running DAX in Philomath and Monmouth - the company has - for a little over two years. And they have had nothing but pleasant experiences with him."

DAX as supposed to start work Monday, but connectivity issues kept him parked most of the day. Once he gets started, he'll work from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.


Washington Murder Suspect Arrested In Jefferson County

MADRAS, OR -- A man wanted for a double homicide in Washington state was arrested over the weekend in Jefferson County. According to Sheriff Jason Pollock, at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, his agency learned John Raczykowski was at a home off MacTaggart Road, east of Madras. Raczykowski is accused of killing two people in Klickitat County. Due to the nature of his alleged crimes, he was considered armed and dangerous.

Central Oregon CERT was activated and formulated a plan to take the suspect into custody. After a short standoff, Raczykowski was arrested. As of Monday afternoon, he's being held at the Jefferson County Jail on an out of state warrant and a "fugitive from another state" charge.

ONA Claims St. Charles Violated Labor Law

BEND, OR -- The Oregon Nurses Association says St. Charles Health System illegally spied on nurses during staff personal time, and the union has filed an unfair labor practice charge.

ONA claims a group of 70 nurses met on their own time to deliver a letter to St. Charles executives. But they were barred from entering the administrative office and they say security was called. Afterwards, the union says managers appeared to take photos and videos of nurses gathered outside.

Negotiations with Bend nurses have been ongoing since the last contract expired in December.

March Snowpack Increased, Helps Drought Conditions

Prineville, OR -- March was a very good month for powder. Early spring storms made a significant impact on Oregon’s snowpack. “We saw a pretty significant increase in snow accumulation in all basins,” and Natural Resources Conservation Service hydrologist Matt Warbritton says the season isn’t over, “All basins are above to well-above normal, in terms of snowpack, and it hasn’t stopped yet. We haven’t reached a peak or the onset of snowmelt. That's, of course, good to see; especially in areas that have experienced more extreme or exceptional drought.”

Warbritton says it’s good news for this summer, “In particular, for areas that have experienced really persistent drought, like Crook County, that snowpack is starting to fill in those deficits that we’ve been seeing over multiple years; both in precipitation and snowpack. That’s not to say those areas are recovered from drought, by any means.” He adds, "This is a small step towards recovery. We’re still seeing very low reservoir storage levels in the Ochoco and Prineville Reservoirs, pretty low stream flows and, in general, pretty dry soil moisture profiles across that region, too."

Until last week, Crook County was the only place in the western U.S. with an ‘Exceptional’ drought designation. It’s now moved to ‘Extreme,’ in large part because of the massive snowpack in the Ochocos. Warbritton tells KBND News, " The Ochoco Snotel site has recorded its wettest March on record, for that site," and it's that site's second highest snowpack ever. “If we move on over into the Blues, a little bit more toward Baker City, one of our sites has its second highest snowpack on record, again, this season. There is a site in the Central Cascades, Holland Meadows Snotel, that has recorded its highest snowpack on record. And that’s still climbing upward."

What it all means for summer irrigation remains to be seen, depending on how quickly temperatures warm.


West Redmond Area Plan Open House Thursday

REDMOND, OR -- An open house for the West Redmond Area Plan (WRAP) is this Thursday to gather input on a roughly 440-acre area between 35th street, NW Hemlock, Helmholtz Way, and SW Obsidian.

City planner Morgan Snyder says the area has some development challenges, but is mostly a blank slate for suggestions.

“We know we can’t add a new highway or anything, and we know that there’s power lines running through the area. So, whatever is proposed or guided will be limited by those and similar factors, but other than that we don’t really have any intention beyond some commercial and some residential,” Snyder tells KBND News the goal is to adopt a West Redmond area plan by the end of this year, “The plan will only contain the land-use conditions that the area will have to follow whenever it annexes into city limits. It’s up to development community and property owners, and anyone else who is interested in guiding that to actually carry forward and begin building out that area.”

Snyder says developing west Redmond will help address the city’s population growth, “We’re hoping that this feedback we are provided at this open house will be what we can use to guide the direction of this area plan overall. The city of Redmond has an urgent need for almost everything at this point. And so, this is an attempt to guide the development of our urban growth boundary land.”

Thursday’s meeting starts at 6 p.m. at Redmond High. Doors open at 5:45. The community is invited to attend and participate in modelling and visioning exercises that will shape and inform the upcoming planning efforts for west Redmond.  Attendees are encouraged to share their ideas for how the city should grow. Activities will be kid-inclusive, food and refreshments will be provided. An online meeting option is available for those who are unable to attend in-person. 


Bend Fire Honors 'Life Saver Award' Recipients

BEND, OR -- Bend Fire & Rescue gave the 'Life Saver Award' Thursday to Deschutes County Dispatcher AJ Franzke and Jenae Cruikshank of Bend at a ceremony at the Bend Fire & Rescue administration building.

The department recognized the two for helping Cruikshank’s husband, Scott when he had a heart attack last year. It was also the first time Cruikshank met Franzke in person. She told him how much she appreciated the guidance he gave her family. “You told us every step of the way, and we couldn’t have done it without you, so thank you,” Cruikshank said addressing the gathered crowd of emergency responders who were on scene at the Cruikshank home  that day in July, “I didn’t expect any awards, I thought my award was having a husband still, so…I’m grateful for that.” 

Franzke guided Jenae and her daughter through CPR until paramedics arrived. “No matter what’s on the other end of the line, we have a pathway. We’re going to be able to help guide you to do CPR, and we’re going to be able to do some good while we send help fast to the right spot,” said Franzke, who has been with Deschutes County 911 for 13 years.

He credits his training, and Jenae and her daughter’s willingness to help, “The life savers did a fantastic job on the other end of the phone, and we were able to have this amazing day where we get to meet everybody.”

“These cardiac survival stories are becoming more and more common in Bend,” states Drew Norris, Deputy Chief of Emergency Medical Services. “If a cardiac arrest victim is given early CPR the chances of them positively responding to our advanced treatment is much more likely.” According to  Bend Fire & Rescue information, cardiac arrest survival rates are one of the tops in the nation. These survival numbers are due to a team effort that includes bystander CPR, Deschutes County 911 dispatch, Bend Police, and the cutting-edge training and life saving techniques of Bend Fire & Rescue paramedics.



Bend Wildflower Development Gets More Housing

BEND, OR -- Bend City Council has approved changes to a Master Plan for the Wildflower development on the east side. 

“That is the area off of 15th, to the east of 15th, when you get to where you can’t really go by right now because we’re building that roundabout at Wilson and 15th. But it’s a big undeveloped area; a place we can do infill in town and it’s really sat for many, many years. It’s got some rock piles, it’s got some slopes, it’s a difficult parcel to develop. So, it’s exciting to see someone come in with a plan for over 500 units of housing,” Mayor Melanie Kebler says amending the original 2015 plan increases the housing inventory, “Townhomes, cottages, apartments, and then also some commercial on the corner that they’re planning there. The original Master Plan had a large area of commercial that the new developer is shrinking down a bit, just saying it’s not really viable to build a large commercial area there and they’d like to build housing on that land instead.”

The mayor tells KBND News the project should start relatively soon, “Hopefully within a year they’re breaking ground on the first part of the housing development.  We really need housing and we especially need this type of housing in Bend. It’s going to be rental, it’s going to be all these kinds of smaller homes, so people wanted us to move forward instead of delaying it, and that’s what we did.”

The 15th and Wilson roundabout is expected to open next month.


Portion Of Phil's Trailhead Closed For Maintenance

BEND, OR -- The Phil’s Trailhead skills area and pump track will temporarily close Monday, for several weeks. Deschutes National Forest officials say maintenance work is needed, including reconfiguring elements to increase sustainability and improve opportunities for riders. The closure will be in place for public safety as maintenance work will include the use of heavy machinery.

The Central Oregon Trail Alliance is managing the project through a volunteer service agreement. The length of the closure is dependent on weather and snow melt.

For more information about trail closures and operations, please contact the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District at 541-383-5300

Bend Man Accused Of Sexual Assault After Party

BEND, OR -- A 23-year-old Bend man is accused of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman after a March 29 party. Bend Police investigators say the suspect, Camoreon James Ray, attended the party in Redmond with the  20-year-old victim, where both consumed alcohol.

Later that night, a group, including both the victim and suspect, went to stay at a friend's home in La Pine. Police say that’s where the woman was raped while unconscious and unable to consent.

Ray was arrested Thursday afternoon at his home in northeast Bend. He's charged with first degree Rape and second degree Sexual Abuse.

Deschutes County 2040 Meetings Planned

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County will host a series of open house meetings over the next few weeks to gather input on the county’s direction for the next 20 years. Officials want to know about issues like rural housing, low-value farmland, water conservation and other topics, as they work to update the Comprehensive Plan. For more information on the Deschutes County 2040, Comprehensive Plan Update project, visit deschutes.org/2040.

The project team is holding four in-person open houses across the county to give people a chance to hear about the project and break into small groups to discuss key policy directions for a variety of issues. Each meeting follows the same format; there is no need to attend all four meetings.

Meetings will be held at the following locations:

Pop-Up Events

Short on time? Attand a pop-up event:

  • Tuesday, April 11: 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Oliver Lemon’s Pop-Up, Terrebonne, 8431 11th Street, Terrebonne
  • Friday, April 14: 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Alfalfa Store Pop-Up, 26161 Willard Road, Bend

Online Open House Survey

Can't make it in person? Click HERE to participate in the online discussion through May 5.  

Commissioners Hear Land Rezoning, Festival Permit Requests

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners heard testimony yesterday on rezoning 93 acres east of Bend, between Neff Road and Highway 20.

Tia Lewis, an attorney for the property owners told the commission changing from Exclusive Farm Use to Multiple Use Agricultural land will help address housing needs, “When we keep this agricultural zoning on properties that aren’t agricultural, we make it harder for the city of Bend to expand its UGB. We make it cost more, and that draws up the cost of housing in our community.”

An opponent to the rezoning told Commissioners it will negatively impact the area, “It’s incredibly important we keep large EFU tracts like this intact for innumerable reasons, including protecting sustainability and wildlife. Most property owners outside the UGB did not intend to live next to development anytime soon.”

Commissioners are holding the comment period open until April 19th and will revisit the rezoning request at the April 26th meeting.

They also delayed a decision on an Outdoor Mass Gathering permit for next year’s 4 Peaks Music Festival.

Commissioners heard testimony from a neighbor who has opposed the festival site since it moved to a farm off Knott Road in 2017, “In the past years I’ve presented in how it impacts our livestock. This has been a cost to the homeowners and the community that we have had the brunt of.”

The 4 Peaks organizer says they try to meet all of the neighbors’ concerns involving noise, traffic, and behavior.

Commissioners will keep the comment period open for another week and revisit the permit request in May.


Bend Police Releases Community Survey Results

BEND, OR -- Bend Police released the results of the latest community survey at Wednesday’s city council meeting. Chief Mike Krantz says 79% of respondents identified Bend PD as trustworthy - 4% higher than the previous survey in 2021. But he noted a high number of people who responded to the bi-annual community survey had not had direct contact with an officer.

He says the department’s “SPIDR Tech” program constantly surveys people who call in for help or service, "80% of these responses had direct contact," Krantz told the Council, "And I’m making this comparison because what we saw is 86% of the community did not. But the results are the same, particularly around trust. Because really, trust is everything we have in the community and that’s how we can continue to police efficiently."
The previous survey in 2021 showed people want more information about Bend PD’s work. Krantz says, while communication has improved, more needs to be done, "We can do amazing work, we can do terrible work; whatever we do, if we don’t communicate it and be transparent with it and tell what we’re doing and educate folks, people don’t know you’re doing it. So, a lot of the responses we got in the survey were, ‘oh, do this, do that.’ We already do those things, but it’s that we maybe haven’t shared it well enough. Since the last survey, we hired our Community Relation PIO, so we’re working a lot on expanding our communication tactics and techniques and getting more information out there when we can." Councilors praised that PIO - Sheila Miller - for her work in the hours and days following the deadly Safeway shooting last August. According to the survey, the agency's response to that active shooter incident also helped increase trust in the department. 

Overall, Krantz says, his department has a good reputation, "It’s really a culture here, that they leave no stone unturned and they work really diligently and hard to do it. And that really leads to solved crimes, which makes people more satisfied with law enforcement; they trust the police when they know they’re out there doing the work. They’re doing follow-up, they’re getting interviews from victims and witnesses, and they’re doing the work they expect the police to do. But what that really results in, is our police are taking between 15 and 20 calls for service a day. That’s an extraordinarily high number."

Quality of life issues concerning respondents included homelessness, substance abuse and minor crimes. Drug and alcohol offenses were rated as major problems. 


Bend Offers Energy Score Assessor Training

BEND, OR -- Bend’s home energy score ordinance is set to go into effect July first, requiring an assessment for almost every home sold inside city limits. To help train future assessors, the city of Bend is sponsoring a Home Energy Score Assessor Boot Camp. 

"The training partner is Earth Advantage. We’ll be bringing them here, locally, to Bend, to provide a portion of the training in-person. And do some in-person mentoring, which is not a typical part of the training service," says the city's Cassie Lacy, "It’s just an opportunity for people who are interested in becoming assessors but who feel they might want just a little bit more involved support than what comes with the normal licensing and training program. They can join this and have the benefit of in-person mentors and also the group cohort to support them."

She tells KBND News the Boot Camp starts with a virtual meeting on April 26 to get to know the group and trainers from Earth Advantage, "And then, there’s an online portion of the training. It takes about 8-12 hours. They’ll have four weeks to complete that. And then the most exciting part of the boot camp is on May 24th. We’ll have Earth Advantage come here to Bend; there is both a classroom portion and then a practical portion, where they go and practice scoring a home." The boot camp doesn’t cost any more than taking the online training by yourself. 

Bend’s ordinance won’t go into effect if there aren’t enough assessors. Lacy says they need at least 12 to be licensed before July first. "Last we checked, we had over 20 that were signed up to go through the training program, in addition to people who are already assessors. And that was before we even launched this boot camp." And, she says, there has been a lot of interest in the class.

Previous Coverage: Home Energy Score Program Approved For Bend

The Boot Camp has a limited number of seats and priority is given to those who meet specific criteria and order of registration. Current home inspectors or appraisers, or someone who wants to start a new career can apply for the program. Participants need to obtain one of the approved relevant credentials and receive approval from the Oregon Department of Energy to attend the Boot Camp.

Click HERE to register. 


file photo

Forest Service Readies For Summer Season

BEND, OR -- The Forest Service has several road and maintenance projects in the pipeline, as they prepare the Deschutes National Forest for summer.

Jaimie Olle, with the Forest Service, tells KBND News a popular road on the Sisters Ranger District is getting fixed, “That’s the road that leads to the Three Creeks Lake area. The portion from the gate beyond upper three creeks snow park to three peaks lake will be closed during this construction.” Olle says Forest Service Road 16 reconstruction will start around the end of May, and will take five weeks.

With the heavy spring snowfall, there will likely be delays in openings and access.  “Before we open a recreation site, whether that’s a day-use site or a campground, we do a lot of work to make sure it’s safe for the public. So, that’s identifying and removing hazard trees, doing seasonal maintenance, and all those things to get that site prepped. Normally that work would start to occur right now but we can’t even get to those sites,” says Olle.

Reservations for a popular attraction opens today. “50 percent of the Lava River Cave timed reservation tickets will be available on recreation.gov on a 30-day rolling window. The remaining 50 percent of those timed tickets will be available on a 24-hour booking window starting May 4th,” Olle said switching to the reservation system helps with parking spots.

Check the Deschutes National Forest website for updates.

Recreation.gov has reservation information.


New CASA Volunteers Sworn In

BEND, OR -- More Court Appointed Special Advocates - or CASA - volunteers were recently sworn in. They provide a voice for local foster children navigating the court system. More than 280 kids are in foster care in our region. CASA of Central Oregon Executive Director Heather Dion tells KBND News she's excited about the 19 new volunteers, "They have already been assigned to individual cases of children or sibling groups, and they are already advocating for these children. This is our community’s most vulnerable children." Dion explains, “When a child comes into foster care, the day-to-day decisions about their life are made by a caseworker; and then the major decisions about whether or not to bring a child into foster care or return the child back to their parents, or put them towards adoption or guardianship, those are all made by a judge and the judge has never met the child.”

Volunteers also advocate for kids outside the courtroom, “If a child needs some extra support at school, the CASA can meet with the teacher and they can attend conferences, and they can make sure the child is connected to educational support they may need. If a child comes in and they have additional medical needs or a dental need, or maybe they need some occupational therapy or speech therapy, the CASA can be the connecting point to make sure they receive those services, working in partnership with the case worker,” says Dion. The CASA can also help meet social needs by connecting kids with recreational opportunities, and working to make sure it continues even if the child moves foster homes.

Dion notes 40 Central Oregon foster kids remain without a CASA, so more volunteers are needed. There's no experience necessary. Learn more at  CASA of central oregon's website. 



Federal Funding Comes To COCC For Veteran Services

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College is getting a nearly $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to fund a new “Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success.” COCC’s Vice President of Student Affairs Alicia Moore says it’ll fund programs aimed at increasing the number of former military personnel enrolled at the school and help them be successful, "One of those is to start a very specific orientation program for veteran students, to help them manage the transition from what it’s like to be in the military to what it’s like to be in higher education. We’ll provide veteran-specific academic advising and career counseling." COCC is also creating a mentorship program where enrolled vets help support new veteran students. 

She says it can be tough for students to make that transition from boots to books, "When you’re in the military, and you’re in your military boots, you’re oftentimes told what you need to do, the vast majority of your actions throughout the day. In education, especially in higher education, we expect students to advocate for themselves. Which is a very different way of thinking that many students coming out of the military struggle with. The second piece is also to help veterans understand the many benefits that are available to them." She says many don't realize there is financial and other help available.

Moore adds, the grant also pays for increased staffing, "It will not only fund the three-quarter-time position, it will also fund a halftime veterans recruiting person - someone who can build connections with veteran-support agencies. It’ll also help fund any remodel of a veteran space, the student-specific orientation, the career counseling, all of that type of work is covered by this grant."

She tells KBND News COCC ranks second among Oregon community colleges for  the number of enrolled vets, making up nearly 10% of its student body, "Majority of our veteran students are enrolled in our aviation program, which allows them to get their degree in Unmanned Aerial Systems, fixed-wing pilot license or helicopter license. Students are certainly in other programs; but that is one that is a big attractor for veterans."

The Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success is expected to open at COCC in the fall. Federal funding will last three years; after which time, Moore hopes COCC can cover expenses on its own to continue the program. 


Workforce Housing Lottery Opens For Applications

BEND, OR -- Kôr Community Land Trust is now accepting applications for the public lottery, to choose homeowners for its Poplar Community on Bend’s west side. Qualified first-time homebuyers are can apply online and review the prerequisite steps HERE.

“Our intent with this housing lottery is to support the local workforce and families who otherwise would be locked out of homeownership and the family stability it brings,” Jackie Keogh, Kôr Community Land Trust Executive Director, said in a statement. “Kôr Community Land Trust’s full application will thus give preference to employees of qualifying employer partners, first-generation homebuyers, and clients of Housing Works. This low-barrier application will also accept homebuyers with individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers to ensure everyone in our community has a chance to become a first-time homeowner,” she continued.

The Poplar Community project includes seven three-bedroom, two-bath homes designed to net-zero energy standards for households earning equal to or less than 80% of Area Median Income. These homes are estimated to be completed by winter 2024, and are located on Kôr land that retains a deed restriction that ensures each subsequent home resale will preference employees of qualified employer partners, extending this benefit to the Bend workforce in perpetuity.

The Bend Chamber of Commerce sponsors four of the seven new homes in Kôr Community Land Trust’s new Poplar development, thanks to financial support from Providence Health Plan and specific Bend Chamber members. The sponsorship helps support the difference between the cost to build these homes and what income-qualified home buyers can afford.

The public housing lottery is open until 5:00 p.m., May 18, 2023. Selected homebuyers will be notified by 5:00 p.m. on May 25. Interested homebuyers with questions can contact Kôr’s Homeownership Program Manager Tess Freeman

Local Fire Districts To Get New Engines

BEND, OR -- Local fire districts are getting new apparatus, as part of the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s $25 million Engine Program.

Bend Fire will receive a new Type 6 engine, designed for initial attack of wildland fires. Rural Fire Protection Districts in Sisters-Camp Sherman, Jefferson County and Crooked River Ranch will get Type 3 engines, also for rapid deployment during wildfire. And new water tenders are headed for Cloverdale and La Pine.

Funding for the program is a result of the passage of Senate Bill 762 in 2021. Statewide, 76 agencies were awarded new apparatus. As part of the program, the fire districts agree to support state mobilizations. Local agencies aren’t likely to see the new vehicles until the spring of 2024 due to the extended build time for the vehicles.

Deschutes County Fire Defense Board Chief Roger Johnson said in a statement, “These investments in Central Oregon will not only improve local response capabilities, but will also add capacity to the statewide Oregon Fire Mutual Aid System (OFMAS).”  The OFMAS system is made up of the more than 300 local fire departments in the state, mobilized under the Emergency Conflagration Act. Central Oregon fire departments actively participate in the OFMAS program and also receive resources through the program for significant wildfires in the region.

Redmond High Loves BMX 'No Hate Tour'

REDMOND, OR -- Pro BMX riders entertained Redmond High School students Monday.  Ramps were set up in the gym for high flying tricks, including jumping over 6’ 10” Panther basketball star Evan Otten.  But it wasn’t all for fun, it’s part of the “No Hate Tour."  X Games medalist Zach Newman hopes teens find inspiration from watching these athletes, and hearing their stories, “We all have our own bullying stories. Part of what made me successful was how I dealt with the bullying. I went and rode the ramps that the bullies were too afraid to ride.”

Newman tells KBND News he often receives messages from students about how they are trying to overcome challenges. “I love being able to share it with as many people as possible. And when you’re doing that in front of thousands of kids every day, my hope is that someone follows their dreams, follows their passions,” said Newman, adding, “They appreciate it and that’s what we want. We want them to respect what we do, to ultimately respect each other.”

The No Hater Tour travels to schools across the country, offering encouragement and advice in overcoming bullying, and other teen-life challenges.



Advocacy Group Concerned Over Lower Deschutes' Water Quality

Portland, OR -- A local advocacy group is concerned about water quality in the Lower Deschutes River, the stretch from Lake Billy Chinook to the Columbia. Deschutes River Alliance Executive Director Sarah Cloud says Tuesday evening's virtual ‘State of the Lower Deschutes’ is an opportunity to discuss findings from last year’s research, “Some of those highlights are that the water is being intentionally warmed; at times, critical to fish health. Also, the warming of the water increases parasites, such as sea shasta, which attacks spring chinook, in particular.”

Cloud claims damage is caused by PGE’s operations at Pelton Round Butte Dam, when warmer surface water is pulled from Lake Billy Chinook, primarily from the Crooked River, instead of cooler, deeper water that comes from the Metolius. “And on days when they release more water from the bottom of Lake Billy Chinook, the river is often in compliance," Cloud tells KBND News, "So, there’s an easy fix. They could improve the ecology of the Lower Deschutes River if they’d do more releasing of water from the bottom of Lake Billy Chinook, instead of the surface.”

Deschutes River Alliance has, for years, asked Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to enforce the Clean Water Act, “The Lower Deschutes River is too important to give up on. It’s a wild and scenic river; it’s an iconic river. People travel from around the world to enjoy it.” Cloud adds, “It is one of the treasures of Oregon, if not of the United States. And, quite frankly, if the Clean Water Act can be violated on nearly a daily basis on the Lower Deschutes River, what’s happening to other waterways? The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality needs to step up and enforce the Clean Water Act.”

Tuesday's online presentation starts at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom. You'll find the link at the Deschutes River Alliance website.

In response to questions from KBND News, a spokesperson from Oregon's DEQ issued the following statement:

DEQ is working to address water quality issues on the Deschutes and other rivers throughout Oregon. There are multiple and complex causes of water quality issues, including climate change, drought, algae growth, land use, and higher ambient temperatures.

PGE is currently meeting requirements of its Clean Water Act 401 water quality certification for the Pelton Round Butte Dam. The water quality certification requires PGE to submit monthly monitoring reports to DEQ, which DEQ reviews as part of its oversight. Based on the monitoring, the project is meeting requirements of the current 401 water quality certification.

There are several additional activities DEQ is working on with implications for the Deschutes:

  • DEQ is participating in a water quality workgroup convened by PGE, with participation from the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, Deschutes River Alliance, and other interested parties, to collaboratively develop strategies for continuing to improve water quality on the Deschutes. The group is called the Lower Deschutes River Pilot Stakeholder Working Group.
  • DEQ is also working on a rulemaking for aquatic life use, which may further affect requirements for the dam. Once this rulemaking is finalized, DEQ will work on a modification to the dam’s 401 certification based on updated water quality standards.
  • Water quality in the Lower Deschutes River is affected by the water and algae that enters the river from the reservoirs and the river’s tributaries. DEQ will eventually develop a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), which will identify the dam’s potential contribution to pH, temperature, and dissolved oxygen, if any, along with the potential contribution of other sources.  

Bird Flu Again A Concern For Backyard Flocks

SALEM, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Agriculture is again urging the owners of chickens, ducks and geese to take steps to protect their flock from bird flu. "This virus should be assumed to be everywhere," State Veterinarian Dr. Ryan Scholz tells KBND News, "If you have domestic poultry and they have the potential to interact with wild waterfowl, they are at risk, regardless of where in the state you live."

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is transmitted through direct contact, "In a lot of those cases, it’s been a flock of poultry that was mixed species and included ducks or geese and chickens, which is by far the highest risk; where you have some ducks or geese swim on to your little farm pond and then a pair of wild ducks lands, and - even if just momentarily - interacts with those domestic ducks, they then become carriers of the virus and are able to spread the virus to chickens or other domestic species." But Dr. Scholz says this time of year, it’s also spread through indirect contact, like feces, "The virus persists in those droppings this time of year for days to weeks, when it’s cool and wet out."

There was a short break in ag-related cases during the winter, but it was detected in domestic birds in Union and Klamath counties last week, "Over the wintertime, the birds tend to migrate south of us. And the wild waterfowl that do remain here, generally are on larger bodies of water - rivers, lakes - where they’re not interacting directly with our domestic poultry," says Dr. Scholz, "So we see fewer cases during that time." He stresses, though, the virus didn't go away. It's now been detected in wild waterfowl across the globe. 

One benefit of the COVID-19 pandemic in humans, says Dr. Scholz, is a better understanding of biosecurity precautions, which he believes leads to better outcomes during this HPAI pandemic, "Because, previously, it was this abstract contract we deal with our animals. And now, we’ve all been through that ourselves." The best protection, he says, is to practice good biosecurity and keep domestic poultry - like chickens, ducks and geese - away from wild birds and the places they frequent. 

Bird flu is now so common in Oregon, the state’s Department of Agriculture is only issuing notices when a county has its first case in a domestic flock. For more on the virus and information on current outbreaks, click HERE

Last week, Dr. Scholz sent a letter to the owners of domestic poultry flocks, reminding of the need to take precautions:

Dear Oregon Poultry Producers,

As you are undoubtedly aware, over the past year the US has been in the midst of a nationwide outbreak of European lineage H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (EA H5N1 HPAI) in wild waterfowl and domestic poultry. While we have experienced a relatively quiet winter, ODA has diagnosed two new cases of HPAI in the past week within Oregon (Klamath & Umatilla counties).

While the risk of Avian Influenza is always present from interactions with wild waterfowl in the Pacific Flyway, we know that H5N1 HPAI is still frequently detected in wild waterfowl within the Pacific Flyway. The continued presence of HPAI in the pacific flyway, coupled with the beginning of Spring migrations has resulted in an ongoing risk of HPAI exposure in Oregon.

The trajectory of cases over the past year has shown traditional assumptions about periods of risk and persistence of an HPAI virus within wild reservoirs are no longer correct, and at this point, we do not have a good timeline for when we expect the risk to subside. I encourage you to remain vigilant and continue to maintain your enhanced biosecurity measures, such as limiting non-employee access to your barns and suspending outdoor access in flocks where there is a risk of wild bird interactions at least through the end of the spring migratory season (June 30).

If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Ryan Scholz, DVM MPH
Oregon State Veterinarian
Oregon Department of Agriculture

School-Based Health Center At MVHS Campus

BEND, OR -- Mosaic Community Health will open the Mountain View School-Based Health Center on May 1st. The modular building was moved onto the school's campus on Friday. Tamarra Harris, Mosaic’s Pediatric Clinic Manager tells KBND News the clinic is for children up to 18 years old, “We are actually a complete pediatric primary care clinic. We have behavioral health, we have mental health, and case managers. So, we really truly can treat all of the patients’ needs or refer out to more intensive services if needed.”

It has been a three-year effort with pandemic delays and cost estimate increases to get the building according to Harris, “We have the staff already hired and trained and ready to go. We’re going to start loading it and getting it ready and all the certifications and everything done to start providing services early May to all of the students in the community.”

This is the 6th school-based clinic in the region where students can get health services during the school day; reducing challenges such as cost, transportation, and inconvenience. “So, these services are right here. Easy access for staff, students, and parents to route their kiddos over for immediate services,” says Harris adding, “What is so special about school-based health centers, we allow anyone from birth to 18 to come. And so, parents don’t have to miss work to take them to the doctor, they don’t have to miss work. They can come in and get a well-check. They can come in for mental health support.”

The clinic will be open on May 1st; then operating Tuesdays through Fridays, from 8 am to 5 pm. It’s a partnership between Mosaic Community Health, Bend-La Pine Schools, and Deschutes County Health Services.

Mosaic, the school district, and community donations paid for the $700,000 project. 



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