Local News Archives for 2023-05

Bathroom Fires Force Evacuation Of Sisters High School

SISTERS, OR -- Sisters High School was evacuated after a fire was discovered in a girls bathroom trash can Wednesday morning. Deschutes County Sheriff's Sgt. Jason Wall says a student notified staff of a fire in a girls’ bathroom trash can just before 10:30 a.m. "They responded to that restroom - the girls’ bathroom, essentially - and they were able to put the fire out relatively simply, with a fire extinguisher. However, as this is transpiring, we have protocols that are obviously followed, evacuation of the school, so there’s a lot going on, and then a second fire is reported." He tells KBND News, "The toilet paper receptacle that is in each one of the stalls, that was lit on fire. The toilet paper itself was able to smolder and burn hotter than the first fire that took place in the trash can."

That second fire led to the full closer of the school for the day. "The smoke damage was actually pretty intense. The plastic, once it started to melt, created just an absolute mess of black smoke. So we have drywall damage, the facility itself is just filled with smoke. It’ll take some time to air it all out," says Wall. The district says the school will reopen Thursday. 

Sgt. Wall says the School Resource Deputy identified a suspect through surveillance footage of the hallway outside the bathroom. And, she could be responsible for the clean-up, "If the individual is found guilty, the judge - because it is in juvenile court - may state that the family may be responsible for reparations." 

The freshman suspect faces multiple charges, including two counts of Arson.


Firefighters Respond To Unattended Campfires Over Busy Weekend

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Despite green vegetation and full reservoirs, fire season is already heating up. "Over the Memorial Day Weekend, there were five abandoned campfires across the COFMS [Central Oregon Fire Management Service] area: Two on the Ochoco National Forest, two on the Deschutes National Forest and one on the Prineville District of the BLM," says Jaimie Olle, with the Forest Service, "That’s a lot of campfires in a short duration that have been left abandoned. If you’re out camping in these coming weeks, we know it’s still chilly at night and it makes sense to have a fire, but please never leave your campfire unattended."

Olle tells KBND News one incident was especially troubling, "The field rangers that responded to one of the campfires on the Ochoco National Forest arrived there to find flames in the campfire pit [pictured]. Uh, that’s not really an acceptable way to leave a campfire, as we want to make sure it is completely dead out and cold to the touch before you leave." In that incident, rangers did not have enough water to put the fire out on their own and had to call in an engine to douse the flames.

While there are no campfire restrictions in the National Forest yet, Olle says the fire danger is moderate. But starting Thursday, annual campfire restrictions take effect on BLM-managed lands along Lake Billy Chinook and Lake Simtustus, and portions of the Crooked, Deschutes, John Day and White Rivers. Also Thursday, outdoor debris burn season closes in all Central Oregon fire districts.

Photo courtesy of the Ochoco National Forest

BLM Opens Revamped Bakeoven Facility Near Maupin

MAUPIN, OR -- After nearly two decades of planning and work, the BLM Prineville District has rebuilt its Bakeoven facilities near Maupin. 

"You know, it takes a village. And, in this, it took like 10 villages," says Assistant District Manager Jeff Kitchens. He tells KBND News the $5 million project involved federal lawmakers, state officials and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. "This project was originally proposed back in the early 2000s. And when I came on as Field Manager of the Deschutes Field Office in 2015, I picked it up and said, ‘this needs to happen. We don’t have good facilities for our staff; our office building is falling apart’." Kitchens says the Bakeoven facilities also provide critical housing for seasonal workers in a remote area of Central Oregon, "What we had was falling apart: dilapidated, old trailers and such. It’s just not a good environment. And so, what we have now is going to be something that is solid, long term, accessible, safe; all the things."

Assistant Field Manager Kyle Hensley says Bakeoven staff do important work along the Lower Deschutes and John Day Rivers, "On what is called Segment One [of the Deschutes] - it’s a very remote, backcountry segment - we have toilet facilities in that segment, which is very different than most backcountry rivers across the country. So, we spend a lot of time and effort servicing those facilities. We have numerous campgrounds - drive in campgrounds; [we] try to keep the rocks off the access roads [and] we provide law enforcement presence, when we can down there." They also are responsible for collecting fees . 

The project was paid for with a grant from the Great American Outdoors Act and BLM maintenance and service fees. A grand opening celebration is planned for Friday, with representatives from federal, state and local governments, and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. 

You'll hear more about the project and the BLM's work done through the Bakeoven facility, just after 8:30 Thursday morning on KBND News. 


Photo courtesy of the BLM: The Lower Deschutes River Back Country Byway is managed by the Prineville District of the BLM, out of the Bakeoven office.

'Walk and Roll About' Highlights Crosswalk Challenges

BEND, OR -- Commute Options held its first ever Walk and Roll-About in Bend Tuesday.

Representatives from ODOT and the City of Bend participated with members of the visually impaired community and those in wheel chairs.

Kim Curley, with Commute Options, says the exercise gives sighted officials the experience of walking through a roundabout blind.

“I mean, as a driver and a pedestrian, some of our roundabouts are really challenging anyway. And then you take away somebody's eyesight and then it's pretty wild,” Curley tells KBND News the group visited three different intersections and roundabouts: Empire and Purcell, Butler Market and 27th, and the pedestrian crossing at 6th and Greenwood.

Curley says the goal is for officials to consider what they learned yesterday when developing future transportations plans, “We've got some engineers and some decision makers and others here with people who are visually impaired and they're actually putting on blindfolds and using canes and going through some of these pieces of built infrastructure”.

Curley says there is one main thing drivers can do to help pedestrians, “If we could just have a little bit slower driving in roundabouts, I think the reaction time of drivers and also people crossing, and biking…It's just a lot safer.”


Public Comment Accepted On Powell Butte Cell Tower Proposal

POWELL BUTTE, OR -- A cell phone and radio tower is planned for near Powell Butte and the Bureau of Land Management is taking public feedback on the project, proposed for BLM lands and private property. An environmental assessment is now underway. 

The proposed wireless communications facility would consist of a 150-foot tall tower, panel and microwave antenna, radio transmitters, receivers and cables, as well as a shelter, backup emergency generator, fuel tank and access road. It would provide cell phone and first responder services in the Powell Butte and Alfalfa areas.

The Bureau of Land Management is opening a 30-day public comment period today for feedback on the environmental assessment for the Powell Butte Communications Site Right-of-Way Project. The wireless communications facility will provide wireless telecommunications and first responder services in the Powell Butte and Alfalfa areas.

The environmental assessment considers the potential impacts from the construction, operation, and maintenance of the proposed wireless communications use facility. The public comment period ends at 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time on June 30, 2023. Comments will be accepted at the address below, via email to blm_or_pr_lands@blm.gov, or by calling 541-416-6711. Project information can be accessed through the BLM’s ePlanning website.

Deschutes Field Office 
Lisa Clark 
3050 NE 3rd Street 491
Prineville, OR 97754 

Please be aware comments, including your personal identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, it is not guaranteed. For additional information, please contact Ferris Couture, Planning and Environmental Coordinator, at (541) 416-6711 or by email.

Festival Of The Land Celebrates Lake Billy Chinook

CULVER, OR -- Saturday is State Parks Day in Oregon, and one of the largest events will be at Cove Palisades on Lake Billy Chinook. Park Ranger Erin Bennett says the Festival of the Land celebrates the Deschutes, Metolius and Crooked Rivers. "We are so lucky to live in an area where we have three rivers that all come together, and all that water is what has brought people to Central Oregon. And obviously because of that, we’ve been able to farm, we’ve been able to have all kinds of natural resources."

Bennett tells KBND News the event also honors three diverse cultures, "We have the people of Warm Springs that have been here forever. Obviously, there were all kinds of homesteaders that came in and populated Grandview and Geneva and Opal Springs, and all those places. We actually had people living here at the Cove and homesteaded here." And, she says, there are the vaqueros, "While I was researching for this program, I’ve read all kinds of super interesting things about Latinos who’ve been here since the mid 1800s, and they’ve been farming and ranching, as well." 

Saturday's event features lots of kids games and activities, and fun things for adults, "We’re going to have an archaeology walk, we’re going to have people from Warm Springs doing a First Foods display, Portland General Electric is going to have a live fish display. We’re going to have baby goats and a little farmers market. We’re going to have a covered wagon doing dutch oven demonstrations."

If you’re heading to the Festival of the Land, consider riding the free shuttle from the Crooked River Campground. Click HERE for more information on the event. 

Parking, camping and day use fees are waived Saturday at all Oregon state parks; it’s also an ODFW free fishing weekend


Four Of Five Members Of Crook Co. School Board To Be Replaced In June

PRINEVILLE, OR -- After a contentious election that brought three new members, the Crook County School Board will replace a fourth position over the next two weeks. "Gwen Carr has endured a head injury." Board Chair Jessica Ritter says Carr submitted her resignation last week, to focus on healing. 

The currnet board plans to vote and swear in Carr’s replacement June 12, prior to the three newly elected members getting seated in July. "The problem is the policy seems pretty clear that we need to act immediately," Ritter tells KBND News, "And it doesn’t seem to give allowance to just letting it sit vacant." She says they've already discussed the qualities they want in a new member, "Staff are concerned; this is a big transition. And so, I think probably - just me personally, I’m looking for someone who is so reasonable, so stable, experienced, if possible; just someone who will absolutely consider the expertise of staff, when making decisions, and the good of kids and stay away from all this political stuff."

Ritter says the board has received criticism because she and two other members who all lost re-election will choose the appointee, "And the hard part is, this is a volunteer gig that we’ve all signed up for and we’ve all served well, I believe. And it’s just hard to go out like that, to have people being so unkind."

The Crook County School Board is just five members. Which means come July first, Scott Cooper will be the only holdover. "He’s well seasoned, extremely experienced and I think will be a great driving force for the new members," says Ritter. "It’s a huge change and I’m sure it puts a lot of people in an uneasy place, thinking of this significant of a change. But, the reality is, we have amazing people in place at the district office and at every building. And there’s no reason to think any of that needs to change one bit with this transition."

Application’s for Carr’s replacement will be accepted through June fifth. 

The official notice of vacancy and application materials are available on the school district’s website or can be picked up at the district office, located behind the Best Western Hotel at 471 Ochoco Plaza Drive in Prineville.

Since Carr’s position is at-large, any citizen living in Crook County can apply if they meet the following criteria:

·         Must live in Crook County 

·         Must have been a resident of Crook County for at least one year

·         Must not be an employee of Crook County School District

·         Must be a registered voter


One Injured In Weekend Jet Boat Crash

BEND, OR -- A 50-year-old man was thrown from a jet boat on the Deschutes River and seriously hurt, Saturday afternoon. The boat crashed at around 3 p.m. near La Pane State Recreation Park. Deschutes County Search and Rescue helped get him from the site of the boat crash to a La Pine ambulance. He was then driven to a waiting helicopter and flown to St. Charles Bend.

Investigators say the crash occurred when the boat struck a submerged tree. Alcohol was not a factor, however the boat was operating in an area closed to motorized watercraft. The driver was cited for the violation.

Tumalo Principal Gets Housing Paid For One Year

TUMALO, OR -- A local school principal will have his housing paid for a year, thanks to OnPoint Credit Union. Tumalo Community School's Samuel Platt was awarded the first ever Gold Star Educator award. He was recognized for starting a district music program and his understanding of student needs.

Three other Oregon teachers, form Portland and Milwaukie, were also honored with the OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education. Each of their schools, including Tumalo,  get $2,500, in addition to the winner getting one-year of rent or mortgage paid. 

“Educators have a profound impact on their students, as well as their entire community,” said Rob Stuart, President and Chief Executive Officer, OnPoint Community Credit Union. “This year’s Educators of the Year respect their students as individuals and create educational experiences that truly connect and inspire them. We are honored to recognize these educators and know they will continue to make a difference for their students and our region.”

In the 14 years since the OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education campaign launched, it has awarded more than $650,000 in prizes to 313 local educators and schools. The 2023 campaign awarded an additional $193,000 to 21 more deserving public and private K-12 educators and schools.


Photo courtesy of OnPoint: (From left to right) Caryn Anderson, K-5 Educator of the Year winner; Lucas Dix, 6-8 Educator of the Year winner; Rob Stuart, President & CEO, OnPoint Community Credit Union; Willie Williams, 9-12 Educator of the Year winner; Samuel Platt, Gold Star Educator of the Year winner.

Crews Work To Mitigate Mosquito Season

SUNRIVER, OR -- Four Rivers Vector Control has been out the past few weeks spraying the mosquito hatches in Southern Deschutes county. It’s a 25 square mile area, including Benham Falls and Sunriver, south to La Pine State Park.

District Manager Chad Stubblefield says this season isn’t as bad as last year, “Compared to last year it’s a cakewalk. Last year was probably the worst year up along the little Deschutes since probably 2010. But this year they are just being mosquitos. You don’t have 50 of them in your face at any given time.”

Crews have covered the area once, so far, with a poison only affecting mosquitos, midges, and black flies, applied by hand sprayers and helicopters, but are slowed by chilly weather. “It’s kind of a challenging time of year when the bugs are out during the day and it’s too cold to do any real fogging at night,” Stubblefield tells KBND News there are measures the public can take to avoid getting bit. “Repellent makes all the difference in the world. If you have Deet on they’re not going to bite you. Picaridin is another active ingredient that’s good. There’s a natural alternative, oil of lemon and eucalyptus. And also, if you can just avoid peak biting times,” he says adding residents can help, “The majority of the mosquitos are coming out of the wetlands along the rivers out here. But also, people’s yards…tires, buckets. You got to recirculate your bird bath every few days, your water features, keep it circulating.”

Surveillance crews will keep an eye on mosquito counts and watch for areas that need more treatment throughout the summer.


Two Rescued In Separate DCSO SAR Incidents

LA PINE, OR -- Deschutes County Search and Rescue has had a busy weekend, starting Friday afternoon with a motorcycle crash in the East Fort Rock OHV trail system. A 63-year-old suffered non-life-threatening injuries but was unable to get out under her own power.

Eight SAR volunteers responded on ATVs. The patient's injuries were evaluated by medical team members and she was loaded into a wheeled litter and onto a patient transport trailer towed by an ATV . She was transported out of the trail system to China Hat Road, where Bend Fire and Rescue were staged with an ambulance (pictured, above). The patient was taken to St. Charles Bend. 

Then Saturday, a 66-year-old woman fell while hiking the Paulina Lakeshore Trail. Seven SAR volunteers responded in two teams, one by trail and the other with DCSO Marine Patrol, because part of the trail is accessible by boat.  The patient was transported by wheeled litter to a boat accessible location on Paulina Lake and loaded onto the Marine Patrol boat. She was taken to the Paulina Lake Lodge boat dock, where they met with La Pine Paramedics. She was then taken by ambulance to St. Charles Bend. 

Redmond Woman Missing For Several Days

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are asking for the public's help finding 56-year-old Loni Michelle, who may be in danger. Authorities say she has a mental health diagnosis and was last seen May 21st at her southwest Redmond apartment. Her family says she tends to wander and may be in remote or undeveloped areas. 

She was contacted in the early morning hours of May 23 on Highway 97, between Bend and Redmond, prior to being reported missing. 

Michelle was last seen wearing blue jean capri-style pants, white/gray sneakers, and a green checkered shirt (pictured above). 

Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to contact local law enforcement or the Redmond Police Department, reference case report 2023-15140. All Deschutes County law enforcement agencies can be contacted by calling 541-693-6911. 

Two Arrested Following Fight With Golf Course Staff

BEND, OR -- An alleged assault at Lost Tracks Golf Club resulted in two arrests Wednesday night. Witnesses told Deschutes County deputies Laura Allison confronted a teen working at the golf course; she was reportedly upset about balls hit over the driving range net toward her nearby encampment. Allison chased the teen when he tried to leave, then punched a second employee in the head. She was eventually detained by staff. But another nearby camper arrived, brandishing a machete, forcing them to release Allison.

Deputies contacted Michael Parker at his camp trailer on Forest Service land, shortly after the incident. He's charged with Unlawful Use of a Weapon and Menacing.  Allison was taken into custody the following day, charged with fourth degree Assault and two counts of Menacing. 

Flooding Strands Driver In Maury Mountains

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County Search and Rescue responded to the Maury Mountains last Friday evening, after a driver got stuck in the mud. The person called 911 at about 8:45 p.m., but no return call was possible, due to cell coverage in the area.  GPS coordinates from the call showed that they were in on the 1750 Road. 

The Crook County Sheriff's Office says the driver got caught in a heavy localized rainstorm and the vehicle became stuck in mud and water.  The people in the car had food and water and were prepared to make it through the night, if necessary. 

Crook County SAR was notified and nine personnel responded with four vehicles including the side-by-side.  The stranded motorists and their dog were located on the 1750 road and brought to Prineville.

Memorial Weekend - Campfires Allowed, Snowed In Campgrounds

BEND, OR -- The start of the outdoor recreation season begins this weekend.

Forest Service officials ask visitors to be mindful of wildfire as they head out to campgrounds and recreation spots.

“Campfires are allowed across the Deschutes National Forest. We don’t currently have any fire restrictions in place. That being said we have moved to a moderate fire danger level. So, we do want to remind folks they need to be fully extinguishing their campfire before they leave it unattended. And that means making sure it’s cold to the touch,” Jaimie Olle with the Deschutes National Forest says no prescribed burns are scheduled through the long weekend.

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department released tips for having safe fires.

Maintain campfire flames at knee height (no more than 2 feet high). A smaller flame helps prevent embers from rising into the trees or dry vegetation. If you see the wind stirring up embers, play it safe and put the fire out.

In a state park campground, only build campfires in the existing fire ring in your campsite. Fire rings are placed in areas with buffer zones and away from vegetation.

Always keep plenty of water on hand to safely put out the campfire. Douse the flames with water and stir the embers to make sure everything is wet. The stirring step is important: ash and wood debris often maintain heat. Repeat these steps until the fire no longer emits heat.

For propane fire rings, follow the same safety precautions you would with a log-based campfire. The use of propane fire rings may be restricted depending on local conditions.

Make sure everyone in your campsite is familiar with campfire safety, including children. Always keep an eye on your campfire; many accidental fires are started because campers left their fire unattended for “just a minute.”

Olle says there are also many high-elevation destinations still under snow, “While the Cascade Lakes highway has opened for the full route there are several areas where there is no place to park and pull off. So, folks should be mindful and if they’re looking for a hike or some type of activity, they might choose a lower elevation. Most campgrounds, trailheads, and day-use areas right along the Cascade Lakes Highway and those higher elevation areas are still inaccessible without parking access.”

The Forest Service has a list of what’s open and what’s not at their website.


Archaeology Roadshow Returns To Bend

BEND, OR -- Portland State University’s Archaeology Roadshow returns this weekend for the first time since 2019. The outdoor event is a partnership between the Deschutes Historical Museum and the Archaeology Society of Central Oregon, and will focus on research happening in our area.

"You’re able to meet Archaeologists who are doing cutting edge work in the field, and what their work is showing us about this region prehistorically, as well as historically," says Museum Executive Director Kelly Cannon-Miller. University of Oregon Archaeologists are working at Connley Caves, near Fort Rock, and the University of Nevada-Reno is studying western tools and manufacturing in the Great Basin. Cannon-Miller says they will be on hand to talk about their local work. "We really tried to focus on who’s doing archaeology in our backyard, and what are they uncovering? So we purposefully reached out to and invited U of O and UNR to come and present that as their booth, and show people what is being discovered right near where they live."

The overall theme of this year's event is "Transportation," and Cannon-Miller tells KBND News she's excited about the diversity of voices available to the public, "The Klamath tribes will be with us, helping us host the Deschutes Historical Museum’s booth. We’re going to be looking at the Huntington Wagon Road."

There are also hands-on activities for the whole family, "We’re going to have a scavenger hunt for kids that is totally designed to make them think about archaeology as a career." And a panel of experts will help identify artifacts brought by visitors. 

Cannon-Miller says archaeology is about more than Indiana Jones and Dinosaur bones, "That’s actually the really great thing about Archaeology Roadshow - those are pop culture concepts of what Archaeologists do and reality is so very different. This is the chance for folks to engage in real archaeology." Also, she says, Paleontologists dig for dinosaur bones, not Archaeologists - so don’t expect to see Jurassic Park at Saturday's event.

Archaeology Roadshow is outside the Deschutes Historical Museum in downtown Bend Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Click HERE for more information. It then heads to Burns in late June and The Dalles in mid September. 


Property Tax Increases Approved In Deschutes Co. Budget

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County’s budget committee has finalized its recommendations for the next fiscal year, and it includes big property tax increases for law enforcement services. 

County Commissioner Phil Chang says he’s frustrated with the increase requested by Sheriff Shane Nelson to max out DCSO's tax rate: 17 cents more per $1,000 of assessed property value, countywide, and an additional 12 cents for rural properties. "So, very dramatic tax increases. They are needed to sustain the current level of service and make a few strategic investments," Chang tells KBND News, "The problem is, we should have seen this coming - we should have seen the fiscal cliff a few years out, and then slowly dialing up these assessed rates." He estimates homeowners will see tax increases of around $90 for law enforcement.

The Sheriff had also asked for money from the transient room tax and federal land payments. That request was denied, while the tax increase was approved. 

Chang says funding the courthouse expansion is a top priority for county coffers, "We’d like to put $10 million down on the courthouse, so we have to borrow $10 million less." But he says property tax reductions in 2018 and 2019 left reserve accounts without the money for such a large project. "At this point, that is costing the county $1.8 million per year in missed revenue. While, for a homeowner like myself, it maybe saves us $15." He adds, "Because we haven’t been collecting those tax revenues, we’re going to have to borrow $10 million more now than we would’ve had to. And that $10 million over the course of our debt service is going to cost us another $6.2 million in interest payments. To pay $16 million over the next 20 years instead of having the $10 million in the bank right now, it’s disappointing." 

The budget committee approved using money from the county’s American Rescue Plan (ARPA) allocation. "That’s going to provide close to $5 million of the $10 million we’re trying to cobble together," says Chang.

The budget committee is made up of all three county commissioners and three members of the public. During final budget committee deliberations Thursday, Chang voted against an 11% pay hike for himself and other county elected officials, saying county staff only received a 4% cost of living increase. He was outvoted and the pay increase was approved. 

County Commissioners still need to formally approve the budget prior to the start of the next fiscal year in July.  


Redmond Man Indicted On Sex, Animal Abuse Charges

BEND, OR -- A Redmond man faces numerous charges related to a child sex abuse case. Bend Police began investigating last July, following tips from the International Crimes Against Children Task Force. Detectives determined that a cloud account containing images of child and animal sex abuse belonged to 32-year-old Jacob Trudell.

Authorities searched his Redmond home in January and seized cell phones and computers. After analyzing the evidence, they say they found indications Trudell sexually assaulted a dog at a Bend home, as well as evidence of past sexual abuse of a minor. 

The investigation also led to the arrest of a man in North Carolina, associated with images found on Trudell's devices and authorities in multiple cities are working to identify the children. 

Trudell was indicted by a grand jury this week on 23 counts: 10 counts of first-degree Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse, 10 counts of second-degree Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse, two counts of Sexual Assault of an Animal and one count fo Encouraging Sexual Assault of an Animal. 

He was arrested Wednesday in Idaho and awaits extradition to Oregon.

Bend Police Arrest Suspected Trespasser

BEND, OR -- Bend Police arrested a man they say trespassed at a home Wednesday night, following a brief chase. Officers responded to a house on McMullin Drive just before 11 p.m. and say 31-year-old Christopher Lavery took off running, jumped a fence and was tracked by a K-9 to a home on Granite Drive.

Investigators say Lavery had been kicked off the property before, was on probation for strangulation and had an outstanding warrant.

He's charged with a felony probation violation, second-degree criminal trespass and the warrant. 

Search Continues For Brothers Allegedly Connected To Illegal Pot Grow

BEND, OR -- A pair of brothers are wanted in connection with a large illegal marijuana operation linked to five properties in Bend and La Pine raided by authorities earlier this week. Authorities seized 665 pounds of processed marijuana and 630 plants in the operation. 

Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson praises neighbors for calling in suspicious activity, which led to the investigation. "That stuff reeks, so folks smell something. They see a lot of cars at some address and they’re not having a potluck, right? Nobody’s bringing a casserole dish. Well, there’s probably something going on there that’s not on the up and up," Nelson tells KBND News, "We want that information so we can go out and take care of that problem."

He says search warrants were executed through careful coordination between multiple agencies, and the operation was conducted simultaneously at all five properties, "Because you don’t want to hit them one at a time; everybody has a mobile phone now - cell phone, and spread the message. You want to be able to take care of that issue and make that case right there."

Detectives believe the pot was being grown for sale in the midwest and eastern U.S. Sheriff Nelson says illicit grows have become common, despite the 2014 measure legalizing personal use of pot, "Oregon marijuana is very well known across the country, and I’d even argue, across the world. And so, you export marijuana out of here illegally, and you’ll get far more money on the black market. So, you have people who don’t want to follow the rules, even under Ballot Measure 91."

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of 36-year-old Daniel Liautaud and his 31-year-old brother Jackson are asked to contact Detectives Dustin Miller or Tony Ramos at 541-693-9111, reference case #23-25857. Do not attempt to detain the men.


Houseless Response Director Resigns

BEND, OR -- Board members overseeing Deschutes County’s Coordinated Houseless Response Office are responding to the resignation of the director.  

Cheyenne Purrington started last fall and will step down June 9th. 

The office is overseen by a board made up of one representative from each city council and a County Commissioner. 

Commissioner Patti Adair serves as chair of the oversight board and says the agency has made progress on addressing homelessness, “We have a lot of good things to look at. I really wanted more answers on what is working. What is working in Deschutes County and I think I can really happily say that the safe parking programs in Bend and Redmond are really making a difference.” She pointed to Bethlehem Inn and the Veterans Village as other successes.

Bend councilor and board member Megan Perkins was not surprised by Purrington's resignation, “There have been discussions going on for a while. I think we all acknowledge, and I think Cheyenne acknowledges that it wasn’t a good fit. While I’m sad to see her leave I think it was the best decision.”

Perkins says it’s important in the days ahead for the board to discuss an operational plan for the next 30 to 60 days, “The most important thing that we need to do is really talk from the beginning about what roles and responsibilities we have as cities and as a county.”

Adair agrees the board needs to look at other areas for potential solutions, including a statement made in Purrington’s resignation letter that more staffing is needed for the office, “I definitely will take her ideas under advisement. I just know what the state recommendations are.”

A $1-million state grant funds the Office.

Purrington will step down June 9th; neither board member could say why the resignation isn’t immediate. 


Yard Debris Burn Leads To Sisters Brush Fire

SISTERS, OR -- A neighbor burning yard debris is blamed for a small grass fire near Sisters, Tuesday evening. The property owner reported they’d extinguished the debris burn earlier in the day. But Shift Commander Jeremy Ast said, “Clearance around the property owner’s burn pile was an issue, and the fire rekindled with increasing afternoon temperatures and wind from the pile, which had been left smoldering.” At about 6:35 p.m., 17 firefighters and four emergency vehicles responded, holding the brush fire to about an eighth of an acre.

Ast reminds residents to clear the area of combustible material around your burn pile for at least ten feet in all directions, and make sure your fire is completely extinguished.

Outdoor yard debris burn season ends at sunset next Wednesday. 

Wyden Talks Housing Bills At Bend Apartments

BEND, OR -- U.S. Senator Ron Wyden was at Bend's Legacy Landing Apartments Tuesday, joined by Mayor Melanie Kebler, and officials from Housing Works and Mosaic Community Health.

The Senior complex was built in part with the federal low-income housing tax credit, along with state and local funds.

“More than 300,000 Oregon households report that after paying rent, they don't have enough left over to afford the basics. So, the reason a program like this is so important, is for seniors, they're not going to get pushed off this economic tight rope,” The Senator said he’s committed to finding solutions for affordable housing, particularly for seniors, through the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act. “This would be the largest expansion in history of the low-income housing tax credit. It would help build nearly two million new affordable homes over the next decade.”

The Democrat also has reintroduced his Decent, Affordable, Safe Housing for All… or "DASH act" to address homelessness and housing issues.

Redmond Schools Accepts Feedback On Proposed Curriculum

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Schools officials will soon approve new curriculum for a handful of courses. For high school A.P. US Government: “American Government: Stories of a Nation;" for high school Sociology: “Sociology: A Down to Earth Approach;” for middle school dual language Language Arts: “Galeria” and various plays for high school Drama class. The district is offering the public an opportunity to weigh in on the selections, through May 31st. 

Selecting public school curriculum is traditionally done behind the scenes with teachers, administrators and the school board. But Superintendent Dr. Charan Cline acknowledges new political rhetoric puts the process center stage, "Teachers work on it for quite a bit of time, we have recommendations from the state about what meets state standards. We also have board members involved with that selection. So we review and after the teachers have done their hard work - and it is a lot of hard work - then we open it up for the community to look at. There’s a lot of misconceptions about what we teach kids, and so this is an opportunity for people to see the curriculum we’re adopting."

He tells KBND News, "We select curriculum about once every seven years per subject. As you can imagine, they’re very expensive to buy. It’s kind of this ongoing cycle. We got a little behind during the pandemic and so we’re playing catch-up right now."

A final decision on each course will be made by the school board. "If people are really, really opposed to what we’ve selected, then the board will ask us to start over again. And, of course that delays things and it’s expensive and all that. But as part of a good community partnership, that’s what we do."

Dr. Cline says the best way to look at the curriculum in-depth is at the district office at 145 SE Salmon Ave., weekdays between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. "We’ve also got links on our webpage, if you want to take a look at these virtually." Links can be found in the secondary curriculum preview announcement on the school district site, located on the homepage under the district news section. 


Local Training Addresses Trauma-Informed Care In The Workplace

BEND, OR -- Trauma impacts a person’s physical, emotional and mental well-being. It can even change how we interact with co-workers, clients or service providers. Cheryl Mills says someone who has suffered trauma may appear quiet, "Maybe just the way someone speaks to them could remind them of a traumatic event years and years and years ago, so they really don’t have the words to feel safe enough to say something."

Mills is co-founder and president of Haelan House. The local nonprofit hosts a training for businesses and organizations next week called “Practicing Trauma-Informed Care Where You Work.” She says it’s most important for those in the healthcare industry or anyone who works with people who may have been traumatized, "So that they can see what policies and procedures they have in place that might not be trauma sensitive." She tells KBND News, "People can get more information about trauma-informed care; what is it and why is it important? You know, why should I have those policies in place in my workplace? Why does it matter?" Mills notes the importance of recognizing the full impacts of trauma, "If the folks in those places don’t know anything about trauma and how they might inadvertently re-traumatize someone by the way their environment is set up or something that they say, then that can actually cause harm."

The workshop is Saturday June third at the Rosie Bareis Community Campus in northwest Bend. Pre-registration is required. The $160 fee includes the training, a film screening of "The Invisible War" and a workbook. Click HERE for more details. 

Listen to our full conversation with Cheryl Mills of Haelan House:


Five Properties Raided In Central Oregon Drug Bust

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County’s Illegal Marijuana Enforcement team and the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team seized 665 pounds of processed marijuana flower and 630 pot plants from five locations this week, following an investigation that began with complaints from neighbors on Berg Lane, north of Cooley Road.

During the several months-long investigation, DCSO says surveillance showed a large criminal organization. Tuesday morning, CODE and DCIME detectives, with the help from SWAT and CERT, executed simultaneous search warrants at two Bend properties and three growing and processing properties in La Pine. 

Detectives say they found a failing septic system overwhelmed with waste and raw sewage flooding the Berg Lane property. Authorities say they found dangerous electrical wiring and other hazards at the other locations. 

No arrests have been made, but detectives are searching for two people of interest: 36-year-old Daniel Liautaud of Bend and 31-year-old Jackson Liautaud of La Pine. Anyone with information on their whereabouts is asked to call Detectives Dustin Miller or Tony Ramos at 541-693-9111, reference case #23-25857.


photos courtesy of the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office

Persistent Drought To Impact Fire Season, Despite Recent Rain

BEND, OR -- Despite a wet spring and a strong snowpack, experts predict Oregon is in for another hot, fire-prone summer, partly due to late spring rains. "It really drives the fuel development," says Professor John Bailey, an Oregon State University expert in forest management, "Particularly fine fuels that later on, when we dry out - we fully expect this summer, at some point, we will dry out - those fuels will cure. So the fuels will be more abundant." 

He says the fire season is rooted in three things: Fuels, topography and weather. But Erica Fleishman, Director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, says that triangle doesn’t take into account the preventable, "The overwhelming majority of ignitions in Oregon and across the west are human caused. They’re not from lightning."

Oregon's snowpack remains strong (pictured; right), but State Climatologist Larry O’Neill believes it won't hang on for much longer and conditions will dry out quickly. He expects many basins will see below average streamflows this summer, even if the region receives  typical levels of precipitation, "There will be a very sharp recession from above average flows to below average. So, if you’re into rafting and things, now’s the time to go out and get your high flows in because by the time we hit July, we’ll be below average in a lot of places." And, he says, it could hit Central Oregon especially hard, "Now that the snow is mostly melted out below 5,000 feet and it’s melting out above there as well pretty quickly, the streamflows around the area - so, the Crooked River and the John Day River system, for instance, as well as the Deschutes - we expect a significant and fast recession of those flows. Right now, they’re above average for this time of year. But we expect in the next month to six weeks, those flows will become significantly below average."

O’Neill says late winter snow, the strong snowpack and abundant spring rain - causing flooding in recent weeks - are not enough to bring the High Desert out of drought. "Since October 2019, that region [Central Oregon] has missed out on the equivalent of a full year’s worth of rain there. And what that’s left is the surface soil - so the top three to six feet of the soil column - is estimated to be the driest it’s ever been in our historical record."

Prineville Reservoir is now at capacity and Haystack is 85% full. But O’Neill says those are only small steps toward recovery, "Other reservoirs in the region - for instance, Wickiup and Crescent Lake - are still quite low for this time of year and they’re close to their lowest on record for this time of year. So, they’re not projected to refill." It all points to a potentially difficult fire season. 

In the Southern Oregon Cascades, it's a very different story, where a record snowpack is melting more slowly, "And that’s basically a function of just how much snow there was this year," says O'Neill, "So that tends to push back the start of fire season a little bit." However, that could mean fire season stretches into October or November in that region.

Top Image: The U.S. Drought Monitor reflects conditions as of May 18, 2023, showing a portion of Crook County remains in Extreme Drought. 

Warm Springs Celebrates Funding For New Water Treatment Plant

CONFEDERATED TRIBES OF WARM SPRINGS -- Warm Springs is getting $28 million in federal funding to build a new water treatment plant. Oregon U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley visited the site Monday, along with tribal leaders. 

"There is a shameful legacy, right here in this spot of Oregon," said Wyden, "The burst pipes, the boil water notices, year after year of failing water treatment." He added, the funding ensures the community has safe, reliable drinking water, "That horrendous legacy of the past where families would suffer here, and people all across Oregon would get up in the morning and they’d be able to have clean water for their families. We’re on our way to that kind of future right here; and it is long, long overdue."

The two Democrats say they worked together to secure the investment through the omnibus spending package and the Environmental Protection Agency. "Members of the Confederated Tribes have just waited far too long for something that ought to be a basic human right," said Wyden. 

And he says more work is needed, "So, I wrote a law called the Western Tribal Water Infrastructure Act, which means that in the future, Warm Springs and other tribes will have the ability to cut through some of this red tape." He believes it will streamline the process when other repairs are needed.

"Water is life," said Tribal Council Chairman Jonathan Smith, "For us, water is everything. It's the first thing we put down at the Long House; it's something we protect for our fish, for the ecosystem."

Wyden also announced money for the Warm Springs Housing Authority to build eight new homes, "The Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing two-million dollars to increase the availability of affordable housing for tribal members here." The Burns Paiute Tribe is also getting nearly a million dollars from HUD to repair a cultural heritage center. 


Parks & Rec Tips For Fun (And Safe) Floating

BEND, OR -- With summer fast approaching, Bend Parks and Rec urges river users to take safety precautions, especially as local waterways get crowded. 

“In a typical summer, we will have close to a quarter million river users, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. And I anticipate that that activity will probably have a similar level of interest. It’s always a little bit weather dependent,” Julie Brown, with the Bend Park and Recreation District, urges people planning to float the river to prepare for crowds and conditions. 

“We really encourage people to use durable gear and either have your own tube or consider renting durable gear, wearing a life jacket. That water is very cold, even on the hottest days of the summer, but certainly right now. It is extremely cold, so people need to take precautions for that,” Brown offers another caution about being on the water, “We’re also seeing a lot of alcohol use in our parks and in our river, and that’s a very dangerous combination. We really want people to refrain from using alcohol, especially if they’re going to be engaging in any of the river activities. It’s just - it’s a bad idea.” 

Parks and Rec anticipates a busy 3-day holiday weekend. “We are going to be having the concession activities, with the ability to rent tubes; that’s going to get kicked off this weekend at Riverbend Park,” says Brown.

The Ride the River shuttle, running from the Park and Float near the Pavilion, to Drake and Riverbend Parks, begins Saturday, June 17th.   


Suspect Arrested Following Six-Hour Tumalo Standoff

TUMALO, OR -- A Bend man faces criminal charges after a six-hour standoff Monday in Tumalo. Deschutes County deputies responded to a home on Tumalo Rim Drive after receiving reports a woman and two young children may be inside with a man who had assaulted her in the past. 

The woman initially told investigators she and her kids were not home, but authorities determined that was not true. Because of the domestic violence history, SWAT responded and treated the incident as a hostage situation. 

Eventually, the woman came outside with her kids, both under the age of four. But deputies continued to negotiate with the suspect, identified as 47-year-old Jeremiah Vincent. 

After several more hours, law enforcement entered the front door, and they say Vincent ran out the back, where he was arrested. He's charged with violating his probation stemming from an Assault conviction. 

People living close to the incident were notified through the Emergency Preparedness Network and advised there was no threat to the community, however there was a heavy law enforcement presence in the area.


Miao Wins Elections, Eyes Narrow Fire Vote

BEND, OR -- Ray Miao was re-elected by a large margin last week to two local boards; the Deschutes Public Library, and Deschutes county’s Rural Fire Protection District, where he ran unopposed.

He’s grateful for the victories as well as what looks to be approval of the fire levy in the city of Bend and outlying district, “This levy even passing by a slim margin says ‘yes we look at these frontline providers of fire and medical services as being essential.’ They’re the heroes in our community and we need to support them.”

Miao is concerned about the 3% margin in the rural district, “Being that narrow a win for Fire Department isn’t that great. We need to really find out what does the public really need. We knew it was going to be close because of the price. And in this day and age with inflation and all, that’s always an issue.” 

Miao says voters understand the need to maintain high-quality fire and emergency services,It’s nice because now the Fire Department and the Rural District can sit down and say ‘ok where do we go from here. As the community and the rural district continue to grow, what’s the best thing we can do here?’”

In the city of Bend, the levy is passing by a 5% margin. Updated election results will come out Wednesday. The vote will be certified by June 12th.


Photo: Miao with Rural Fire Protection Board Members and Bend City Councilors at Bend Fire & Rescue Training Demo

State Funding Needed To Open Redmond's Oasis Village

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s Oasis Village is one of a handful of local projects now in contract talks to receive funding from the state emergency homelessness package. Click HERE to learn more about the project. 

Things are moving fast after several years of planning. "I haven’t seen anything like this timeline before," Oasis Village board vice chair James Cook tells KBND News, "A few months ago, we were feeling dead in the water and working on Plan B, to see how we could make things happen." Then, the city of Redmond offered to coordinate their application with COIC, requesting $975,000 to develop a community of small shelters east of town on county-owned land. He hopes to house up to 20 people in those 15 one-room structures, which are being built by local high school students and other groups. 

"Primarily, the biggest obstacle is getting the utilities underneath Highway 126 and up to the site, which this grant will help us do," says Cook, "And this will also help us fund the community building for the site." That community building "will offer toilets, showers, some cooking facilities, community space, office space for case management services. Ultimately, we’d like to add about maybe 10 units each year after opening, to get to somewhere between 30 and 40 units."

Under the guidelines set by the Governor, projects funded by the emergency relief package must be operational by January 10, 2024. Cook says coordination between Oasis Village, city officials and the county gives him confidence it will open before then. He's optimistic at least part of the facility will open by November, giving priority to clients from Redmond.

He says the project needs the state funding to cover one-time expenses; operational funds are already secured, "It’s really hard to open something without having assurances that you’re going to be able to operate for a while. And fortunately, we have some funding from the Central Oregon Health Council and some flexible funding from the state already in place. So, we’re feeling pretty comfortable about our ability to get through the first year, year and a half, without needing sizable infusions of cash."

The long-term goal is to help transition people from homelessness into permanent housing. 


St. Charles Nurses Authorize Strike

BEND, OR -- Nurses at St. Charles Bend have voted to authorize a strike at the hospital. The vote closed Sunday evening and the Oregon Nurses Association says participation was nearly 100% of the 962 nurses eligible to vote.

Contract negotiations continue Tuesday and Wednesday with hospital management. ONA says nurses will also meet this week to begin strike preparations.

When a strike is called, the union says it will give St. Charles a 10-day notice "to allow management adequate time to cease admissions and transfer patients or to reach a fair agreement with nurses and avert a work stoppage."

Responding to KBND's request for an interview, St. Charles Health System sent this statement from Julie Ostrom, Senior Nursing Leader and member of the St. Charles bargaining team:

“This vote is not a surprise and is a fairly standard step in the negotiation process. This vote does not mean a strike will occur and we continue to be committed to reaching a contract agreement in the coming weeks.

While ONA’s strike tactics are not unexpected, we believe they are detrimental to our shared goals of recruiting and retaining quality nursing staff.

We have every intention of coming to an agreement and we are looking forward to two productive bargaining sessions this week, followed by four additional sessions in June. In the unlikely event we are unable to reach an agreement, we want to reassure our patients and community that our doors will remain open to provide care.”

At St. Charles, we have made numerous strides in our goals of recruiting and retaining our nursing staff. A recent $5 hourly wage increase for all bedside nurses puts St. Charles wages among the highest in the state (for an average annual full-time base salary of $108,000 a year, not including premium and overtime pay). ONA’s data analyst confirmed in recent bargaining that our nurses are currently among the highest paid in the state and nurses in Oregon are among the top paid in the nation. 

We can see that these efforts for recruitment and retention are working. Turnover among our Bend nursing staff is declining and in 2022 St. Charles Bend reported its lowest turnover rate in three years.


Flooding, Fires Caused By Weekend Storm

CULVER, OR -- Weekend thunderstorms produced a handful of small fires near Sisters, Tumalo, Bend and in the Badlands Wilderness. Firefighters held all to less than a quarter of an acre.

The storms also caused flooding in some areas. Saturday night, Jefferson County authorities were forced to close SW Jordan Road, leading to Lake Billy Chinook, due to a small landslide. It reopened Sunday.

And, the wet weather forced the cancellation of a prescribed burn planned for Monday, southwest of Bend.


photo of Jordan Road, courtesy of Jefferson County Sheriff's Office

Swimmer Drowns At Prineville Reservoir

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A 20-year-old died in Prineville Reservoir Saturday. Crook County Marine deputies responded at about 5 p.m. to a report of a swimmer who went under water and didn’t resurface. Witnesses say Oscar Chavez Salazar was on his way back to shore when he went under.

Due to Saturday's lightning storm, the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office dive team was unable to respond, for safety reasons. Crook County deputies continued the search and Sunday morning the DCSO dive time recovered his body near where he was last seen.


photo courtesy Crook County Sheriff's Office

Franklin Ave. Shelter Gets 18 Month Contract

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors have agreed to a $1.8 million contract with Shepherd’s House to run the new Franklin Avenue homeless shelter. "We authorized a contract using ARPA dollars from both the county and the city to get that open, at least for the next 18 months," Mayor Melanie Kebler tells KBND News, "So we can start moving some families and some medically fragile people that are waiting in our congregate shelter to get into a better situation."

Kebler had hoped the project would get some funding from the Governor’s emergency homeless package. But she says, so far, that hasn’t come through. "We’re still hopeful we can make that happen and will continue to look for funding to support this shelter," she says.  

The Franklin Ave Shelter is inside the former Rainbow Motel, "There’s 50 rooms and they are varying sizes," says Kebler. "Some have multiple bedrooms, so they can fit different types of families or people who might have a caretaker with them. So it’s going to be a good space for people to enter into the system, get matched up with this resource and then Shepherd’s House to continue to provide them services, just like they are doing at our navigation center." She adds, "It’s really fairly cost-effective. It’s about $50 for 24 hours, and that includes being able to stay there, as well as all the services and food and everything that’s provided."

Kebler says it’s part of an ongoing plan to help the most vulnerable in the houseless community. The city also continues to get pushback on a plan to close Northeast Hunnell Road to campers. "They don’t know where they would go if they were asked to leave. And that they really want the city to be thoughtful about if there is a closure of Hunnell, there has to be another resource or somewhere for them to go. And that is what we’re working on and continue to try to partner with the county and other partners on, as well. And that’s part of the reason why we are enforcing part of our camping code out there - which is ‘place and manner,’ trying to keep things clean and orderly and keep the right of way managed." She says there is no set timeline for that closure. 

file photo

Seven Applications For Homeless Relief Advance, Eleven On Hold

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon’s council of governments hopes to soon begin doling out funding from the Governor’s Emergency Homeless Relief Package. The region is slated to receive $13.9 million, to add 111 new shelter beds and rehouse 161 unsheltered households. The city of Bend has applied for some of that money. Mayor Melanie Kebler says it would help extend the contract for operation of the new Franklin Avenue Shelter. "We were hoping for some additional funding from the Governor’s emergency homelessness money; that didn’t come through," she tells KBND News, "There is some kind of bureaucratic rules and a little bit of red tape involved with it. That's been a bit frustrating so we’re trying to just run up the chain that it’s important to get this money out quickly and get it on the ground so people can be helped."

COIC Executive Director Tammy Baney says the city’s application is among 11 currently in a holding pattern, "It’s not a denial. It’s that your application had questions that a grants committee was unable to answer. It’s called ‘process,’ and we’re going to be as transparent and expedient as we can be, knowing that time is of the essence."

Baney tells KBND News the goal is to have decisions on at least some of those applications by next week, "And so we are outreaching to - not just the questions, but gather the information from each one of those project applicants."

Seven other applicants advanced:

  • J Bar J Youth Services, to add eight beds
  • City of Madras to add 29 beds
  • Shepherd's House Ministries, to add 44 beds in Redmond
  • City of Redmond & Oasis Village, to connect utilities and operate 15 units
  • DAWNS House, for cabins and eight beds
  • Mountain View Community Development, to rehouse 18 people
  • Central Oregon FUSE, for rental assistance

Those seven applications are now in contract negotiations with COIC. Baney says that involves making sure they'll meet goals based on the state-mandated timeline, "They have to commit that they can achieve January tenth, or they have the possibility that they might have to pay back the money."

Very vew applications addressed the rehousing goal, "So, we’re going to finish this first grouping of projects, which means the 11, and we’re developing right now a secondary round of funding, identified for rehousing projects. And so, we want to make sure we don’t overspend right now, because we have not met our rehousing goal." Officials are also working with a provider in Crook County, to make sure that area receives assistance.  

Baney says just one of the 19 applications submitted was rejected, from the nonprofit Home More Network. 

file photo

School Bus Involved In Crash With Seven Students On Board

BEND, OR -- A school bus on its way to REALMS Middle School was hit by a car Thursday morning. According to Bend-La Pine Schools officials, seven students were on the bus when it left High Desert Middle School at about 8:30 a.m. and was struck on Southeast 27th. 

The students were transferred to another bus and taken to school where they were evaluated by a nurse before going to class. 

The driver of the car was taken to the hospital, according to the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office. That person's condition is unknown. 

Yet Another Search & Rescue Op In The Ochocos

PRINEVILLE, OR -- After deputies spent eight hours searching for people missing in the Ochocos, the overdue subjects walked out on their own. According to the Crook County Sheriff's Office, a person drove into the Ochoco Mountains at about 6 a.m. Monday and was supposed to return by noon. When they still hadn't been seen by 8 p.m., family called 911.

Search and Rescue teams deployed to the area in rainy, muddy and foggy conditions. Early the next morning, officials learned another motorist was also missing in the same area. While SAR teams were organizing to add to the effort, the missing people walked to an area with cell service and "self-rescued." 

CCSO says a total of three groups got stuck in in the mud in the same area and waited out the weather until walking out the next morning. The agency urges, "Please, when going into the woods, have a plan, communicate your plan and stick with your plan."

This was the agency's 24th search and rescue mission of the year. 

Crook County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Mitch Madden tells KBND News it’s been a busy winter rescue season, “This year for whatever reason we’re seeing an increase in search and rescue missions out in the Ochocos. I’m not sure what the reason is other than people are wanting to go out and enjoy the public land.”

Madden partially blames the weather for so many calls this year, “With the increased snow pack for this time of year, the ground out in the Ochocos is fairly saturated so anybody may be easily become bogged down in the mud, and stuck.” That could lead to more calls with the approaching summer season. He says they’re prepared, “We have some very dedicated members. Any sort of search and rescue mission that comes up they’re ready to go. Even to the point of suffering from complete exhaustion as the result of the search and rescue mission.”


"Mama Bears" and Bend Fire Claim Victory In Tuesday's Election

BEND, OR -- Bend Fire & Rescue is praising the apparent passage of a five-year local option levy the agency has said is needed to maintain response times amid growing call volumes. As of Wednesday morning, the measure is passing with 52.4% support inside the city and 51.6% support in the rural fire protection district. 

Voters in Sisters also appear to have given overwhelming support to a renewal of the district's local option levy. So far, nearly 75% voted yes.

Crook County's Bowman Museum also appears to have received strong support, with almost 78% voting yes. A previous attempt to increase the levy amount failed in the fall. This election's effort maintains the current tax rate for another five years. 

Hotly contested school board races in Crook County appear to have gone to a slate of newcomers deemed "The Mama Bears." Cheyenne Edgerly, Jessica Brumble and Jennifer Knight are defeating incumbents in their Zone One, Three and Four seats. The races are largely credited for Crook County's high voter turnout, which stands at 37% as of Wednesday morning. 

Bend-La Pine Schools' board will remain largely unchanged, with newcomer Cameron Fischer and incumbent Amy Tatom winning their Zone Three and Five seats, and incumbents Melissa Barnes Dholakia and Kina Chadwick holding on to their Zone Six and Seven positions. 

On the Redmond School Board, incumbents Eric Lea, Liz Goodrich and Keri Lopez maintain their seats, while newcomer Amanda Page beat her challenger for Position Three. 

Former Bend Police Chief Jim Porter appears to have won the five-way race for Zone Six on the Central Oregon Community College Board of Directors. Erin Merz is beating her opponent for Zone Five, and Erin Foote Morgan will take Zone Seven - she ran unopposed for that position.

Prineville Reservoir At Full Capacity

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville Reservoir is full for the first time in two years. Local businesses hope that means campgrounds and resorts will soon fill up, as well.

Sun Rocks RV Park Manager Jason Wilson is preparing for what he hopes is a busy Memorial Day weekend at the reservoir, “It’s going to definitely be a boon for business. And one of the things it will retrigger for us is the ability to offer nightly stays there, whether it be tent camping or RV camping.”

He tells KBND News only long-term stays were available when the water was low, due to lack of interest, “Traffic was way down for a number of years now. And so, we’re planning to market to folks, and get signage out. We’re pretty excited. There’s going to be a lot more traffic on that road in 2023. The traffic count out there, the ability to draw destination recreation folks…it wasn’t non-existent, but it was way, way down”. Sun Rocks RV Park is a few miles from the reservoir, “We were just out there and everything’s nice and green, flowers are blooming and we have high expectations going into Memorial Day”, said Wilson.

The U-S Bureau of Reclamation reports Prineville is now at 100% capacity, Ochoco reservoir is at 66% and Haystack is at 88%, as of May 17th.

Water levels at or near capacity also benefit summer irrigators.


Maragas Winery Missing Pollinators

CULVER, OR -- A local winemaker says pesticides and herbicides sprayed on neighboring farms have led to an absence of pollinators this spring. Maragas Winery, north of Madras, has around 100 fruit trees - apple, pear and choke cherry. Owner Doug Maragas says the orchard is usually buzzing with bees by now. "It’s really bizarre to see all of the trees blooming, and I have not seen a single honeybee." As of Tuesday, he says, he's only seen one butterfly. 

The wine grapes are self pollinating, but bees are needed to keep the general ecosystem in balance on his organic farm. "It does affect - even though the grapes are not requiring pollinators, they’re susceptible - because we’re organic - to pests," Maragas tells KBND News. "So, if you have insects that are not in balance and one takes over, for example that did before, we had a problem with Leaf Hoppers. And there are insects that keep those under control; so that balance is out of balance."

He blames neighboring properties, where he says pesticide and herbicide overspray is sometimes so thick he can taste it in the air. Maragas claims the government provided a payout to local farmers so they could control weeds during recent drought. "It doesn’t take much for spray to really cause havoc on things. I understand why it’s used and the amount of labor that it saves is enormous. However, there is a huge downside."

KBND News reached out to Andony Melathopoulos, Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University, and a pollinator health expert. He sent this statement, “Localized downturns in wild and natural bee populations happen and hard to predict. In general, in Oregon we had a slow start with many of our bee species but things are really picking up with some heat. A season like this one can be hard on early season crops that need pollination, because now the heat has started the bloom will go fast and the bees may not be able to catch up in time. In general, growers supplement their crops with honey bees to buffer the invariable ups and downs with wild bee pollination.”

Maragas isn’t buying it. "I don’t do the lab testing to find out on the bees why it’s affecting the bees in the way that they’re doing. But, from what I read and from what I’m seeing, and the fact that there are no honeybees here, maybe it’s a perfect storm between the weather and the chemicals that are sprayed all around us, that’s why they’re not here." He says he’s tried talking with neighbors - many of whom rent out their land and blame those farmers. 

File photo, courtesy Maragas Winery: A butterfly lands on milkweed at the Culver-area property in 2020.

Flash Flooding Damages Powell Butte Homes, Roads.

POWELL BUTTE, OR -- Thirty minutes after the National Weather Service issued a Special Weather Statement for Crook County Monday evening, flash flooding was reported in Powell Butte.

At about 6 p.m. one person said his home was flooded, damaging the foundation. Responding Crook County deputies also found flood-damaged roads.

Several homes, roads and the golf course in Brasada Ranch were also damaged by Monday’s flooding. One residence had several inches of standing water in their garage and living room.  A Brasada Ranch employee estimates it will take weeks to clean up/repair damage by the flood waters, according to the Sheriff's Office. 

No injuries were reported during the flood event and there were no reports of people being displaced from their homes.

Redmond Celebrates Quartz Park Opening

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond officials held a ribbon cutting for Quartz Park Monday.

Parks Planner and Project Manager Maria Ramirez tells KBND news residents provided valuable input for the first city-built park in 22 years, “Open space, the picnic pavilion, fully-plumbed all-season restroom, additional parking, bocce ball and horseshoe pits were some of the things that were requested, and those were what we were able to fit into the entire space.”

Ramirez says the 6.4-acre complex helps complete the southern end of the Dry Canyon trail, “So what this does is it really connects our north and south entrances together, and allows people to come park here, use whatever elements throughout the 4-mile canyon that they’d like. And then also get back to their cars and their homes.”

She says they've heard lots of compliments from kids and parents on the playgrounds, in the three months it's been open.

The park also has a bikes skills course, and landscaped and natural open spaces.


Three Rescued From Ochoco Mountain Snow

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County Search and Rescue responded to its 23rd mission of the winter season over the weekend. Three people, including a nine-year-old child, got stuck in the snow in the Ochocos on Saturday.

Due to spotty cell service, the group could only call 911. Coordinates of the call put them about 32 miles east of Prineville, past the Walton Lake Snow Park.

Nine SAR members responded with a snowmobile and tracked Ranger. They rescued the group and brought them back to Prineville. One SAR vehicle got stuck in the slush and snow during the operation and had to be pulled out by the team.

Wilson Ave Corridor Project Moves To Next Phase

BEND, OR -- Construction is complete on the roundabout at 15th and Wilson in Bend. The intersection closed in February and finally reopened Friday, following a couple of weeks of weather delays.

Construction Manager Sinclair Burr tells KBND News it will ease commuter congestion in the Wilson corridor, “It sure will take some pressure off Reed Market and Bear Creek/Franklin to the north, as far as east-west (traffic). People were avoiding 15th and Wilson just because it was so hard to make left turns at the intersection.”

The next phase begins this week. “We’ll be working through 4th street and 9th street. We’ll have a single lane closure in the westbound direction. So, if you’re trying to go westbound, you’ll need to go south to Reed Market to go in that direction. That work will continue through the Fall of this year,” Burr said noting signage for the new closure on Wilson will go up Monday the 15th, with work underway Tuesday the 16th, “The final phase is between 2nd street and 9th street where we just constructed that other roundabout at 9th and Wilson. The improvement are new sidewalks, wider bike lanes, and then we’ll kind of upgrade that signal at 3rd and Wilson.”

Work on 2nd and 3rd Street intersections is set to begin next Spring. It’s part of the Wilson Avenue Corridor Project to improve safety and east-west connectivity from 2nd Street to 15th.


Mt. Bachelor Replacing Aging Skyliner Lift

BEND, OR -- Crews at Mt. Bachelor are deconstructing the 34-year-old Skyliner lift. "We’ve been working moving snow, pulling all the parts off the lift that we want to keep, that are compatible with other lifts," says Director of Mountain Operations Dustin Smith.

He tells KBND News Skyliner was not the oldest lift at Bachelor, but its location makes it one of the most important, "Our learning terrain is all on the east side of the resort and our more advanced powder-skiing terrain is on the west side. So, for families trying to juggle kids in the ski school and parents that want to go ski the powder on Northwest, Outback, Pine Marten, this lift connects the dots for those two groups, so you can ski together, you can find some mellower terrain."

Smith says the new lift will feature six-person chairs instead of four, and it'll be more reliable, "When we have those big storm days where the winds are affecting our lifts, Skyliner can have some really long lines. So, replacing the lift with a six-pack is going to increase our capacity. And then the chairs themselves are heavier, so they’ll perform better in the wind."

Late season operations are already limited for the construction and Smith warns there will be occasional trail closures this summer. "We’re diverting guests away from the Sunrise base area; they usually park along the highway and go access the hiking trails over there. So, we’ve been working with the Forest Service and we have rerouted our hiking trails to all finish out and start out at the West Village base area." He adds, "When we’re flying towers and concrete and the footing boxes up there, we can’t have anybody underneath those helicopters. And those bike trails and hiking trails travel through the Skyliner area."

The new Skyliner lift is expected to be up and running by December 23rd.



Final Weekend To Fill Out Ballot For Tuesday's Election

BEND-MADRAS-PRINEVILLE, OR -- Central Oregon ballots are coming in slowly, as Tuesday’s election day approaches. Crook County stands at 22% returned as of May 11th, where Clerk Cheryl Seely credits contested races for the relatively high number of ballots so far, “School District is probably one of the biggest draws. Parks and Rec is too, but Parks and Rec boundaries aren’t county-wide, and the cemetery district as well, and that’s county-wide. Usually, district elections you don’t see very many contested races, but this year we’ve got lots of them.” Seely hopes to see voter turnout reach 30%.

Deschutes County Clerk Steve Dennison tells KBND News while Special District elections are generally a lower turnout, there is a good reason to fill out the ballot. “The majority of the voters in the county have a money measure, so these are going to be taxes we’re going to be paying one way or another. Whether you’re for or against it, getting out and exercising your right to vote on it is important,” Dennison said the 15% as of May 11th early return rate has been the standard, “Two years ago we were right around the same pace. Then we had over 13,000 ballots returned on election day. I’m hoping for that same type of late turn-out.”

Jefferson County Clerk Kate Zemke reports 11% of ballots are in as of May 11th. “Most of those races with the exception of two are uncontested. I think that explains our numbers,” she said.

Ballots must be turned in or postmarked by 8 pm Tuesday the 16th.


ODFW Seeks Volunteers To Help Track Sensitive Fox Species

SALEM, OR -- A new effort to study the Sierra Nevada red fox (SNRF) in the Central Oregon Cascades will soon get underway, with help from local volunteers. Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking for volunteers to help biologists track the sensitive species, specifically in the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests.

"There’s a lot of people already recreating out there and the more boots on the ground and eyes and ears we can get out to do this work, the better," says ODFW's Kaly Adkins, "Because it can be a needle in a haystack to find Sierra Nevada red fox scat." The species is notoriously elusive and difficult to track. One was collared in Deschutes County by wildlife biologists in 2017. 

Adkins says the SNRF lives in alpine and sub-alpine environments in California and Oregon, "Climate change is hitting those northern elevations the hardest and the fastest, so they’re losing habitat from above. And then also, predators that were traditionally not able to survive at those elevations - and not necessarily predators, but competitors, so coyotes, now are able to kind of creep up in elevation because of warming temperatures, and be able to compete with Sierra Nevada red foxes."

Biologists know the SNRF lives in three high-elevation areas of Oregon, "The Mt Hood area, so kind of the northern end of the Oregon Cascades, and then we have some in Central Oregon documented, and then also Crater Lake has documented." But Adkins says researchers want to know whether the animal travels between those areas. "There are spots in between the Cascades that seem like they should be suitable habitat, but there just hasn’t been the survey effort."

Volunteers will help check cameras in remote areas and need to be competent hikers. There will also be an opportunity to do some wildlife tracking on the way; picking up potential Sierra Nevada red fox scats. A volunteer training is planned for June third. Sign up to volunteer on this project by clicking HERE and select “Red Fox Tracking in Oregon Cascades - Support Role” on page two of the registration form.

If you’d like to help search for foxes on your own time, you can still participate in this project by sharing any observations of Sierra Nevada Red Fox through ODFW’s community science portal on iNaturalist. Instructions for submitting observations can be found at this link.

photo courtesy ODFW

County Approves Zoning Change East Of Bend

BEND, OR -- About 93 acres between Neff Road and Highway 20 will soon see changes. Deschutes County Commissioners approved a new zoning designation for the land east of Bend Wednesday from Exclusive Farm Use, to Multi-Use Agricultural.

While the move received unanimous approval, Commissioner Phil Chang worries how it will be built out, "I think it would be tragic for this area to be developed as MUA, one residence per 10 acres, but I also appreciate that establishing policies to prevent that outcome is outside of the scope of this land use decision. That is the concern that is driving me in pushing for us to kind of get this figured out with the City of Bend.” Commissioner Chang said he agrees with the property owner’s economic reason to not immediately develop the land.

Commissioners suggested a joint meeting with the city of Bend to discuss the future of the parcel, which sits outside Bend’s Urban Growth Boundary.


Redmond Asks For $975k From Homeless Response Pkg

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond officials hope to get a piece of the funding coming from the state homeless emergency response package. Central Oregon local governments and nonprofits will share $13.9 million, expected to be doled out over the next few months. 

Mayor Ed Fitch says the city has applied for $975,000 for 20 tiny homes. "This is something we’ve worked on for some time," he tells KBND News, "It’s called the Oasis Village project. It’ll be on the east side of Redmond, near the new CORE3 development." CORE3 is the emergency coordination and training facility going in north of the airport. "We’ve asked for $975,000 to extend utilities across Highway 126 to the site. And also for $500,000 for the community building that will be there. This will result, eventually, in about 20 small houses for the homeless."

Fitch believes the location will alleviate community pressures faced by similar projects in Bend, "It’s in the UGB but outside the city. It’s basically north of the Forest Service complex north of the airport, so there’s not going to be any conflict with adjoining neighbors or neighborhoods."

According to the 2023 Point In Time homeless count, the number of people experiencing homelessness in Redmond doubled in the past year (see below). 

Redmond’s City Council this week also unanimously approved two safe parking sites. "Those will house 12 families in RVs," says Fitch. The city-owned parcels are nearly across from each other on South Highway 97, south of Pumice Avenue.

For our full conversation with Redmond Mayor Ed Fitch, visit KBND's Podcast Page

NE Bend Roads To Become "Key Routes"

BEND, OR -- Bend officials are moving forward with plans to convert sections of Boyd Acres and Butler Market roads to “Key Routes.” Principal Engineer George Franklet tells KBND News, "Key Routes is a term that the city uses to describe routes that are designed to be low stress for pedestrians and bicyclists." He says they "Provide safe and comfortable connections to school, parks, points of employment, other destinations that pedestrians and cyclists can use."

The project will start with the section of Boyd Acres, between Butler Market and Empire  and Butler Market, between Boyd Acres and Brinson. "There’s missing sections of sidewalk, where pedestrians have to - to stay out of the roadway, have to walk on dirt. So, improving pedestrian facilities so they’re continuous throughout the portion of the corridor that we’re focusing on for the project. And then, of course, the other piece of that for the mobility is accommodating bikes into the corridor. And that can look different, depending on the space that we have available." It also depends on what users want to see. An online open house and public survey are available through next Monday (May 22, 2023), to get feedback from the public. 

Because the specific design is not yet finalized, the cost and timing of the work are also up in the air. "It’s difficult to do an entire Key Route at once because it goes through a lot of parts of town, so we build them in portions; as large of portions as we can," says Franklet. He expects construction to get underway in about a year, paid for through the city’s GO bond.

Wilson Avenue is also considered a "Key Route," with work already underway in that corridor. 


Redmond Shepherd's House Holds Fundraiser Launch

REDMOND, OR -- The Shepherd’s House Redmond Campus is holding a “Celebrating Progress” event Wednesday. Development Director Dave Notari tells KBND News Shepherd’s House Ministries is at almost 90% of the $3.5 million fundraising goal, thanks to grants and private donations, “We’re really hoping that the Redmond community and beyond are willing to help step in and fund the remainder of this project. And so, our goal as we have this celebration event is to make that information known.”

The South Highway 97 location will be the only low-barrier homeless shelter in the city, it will be operational year-round, rather than seasonally. “The new Redmond campus will be serving 44 men, women, and children who are experiencing homelessness, and providing relevant services to them including housing, food, and clothes, as well as some case management,” Notari says the hope is for Shepherd’s House Redmond Campus this Fall, “That really all depends on the fundraising for the remaining 400 thousand. Now we’re really reaching out to the Redmond community, and the Bend community, and the greater Central Oregon community to say ‘hey we really need your help to finish this out’.”

Elected officials and Shepherd’s House board members will be on hand at the celebration event that begins at 4 P M Wednesday at the Redmond Shepherd House on South Highway 97.


Busy Start For Bend Police MCAT Response Unit

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Behavioral Health’s partnership with the Bend Police Department is underway. The Mobile Crisis Assessment Team has been operating since May 1st. Police Chief Mike Krantz tells KBND News he’s been working 2 years to launch the project that handles dispatch calls for non-threatening circumstances, “Where our primary focus is criminal investigations, response to 911 calls, public safety. We may not really be the best resource for that person at that time. So, that’s really our focus of how do we find an alternative resource and response to give the best resource to the person in need.”

MCAT is now able to handle person-in-crisis calls on their own if they don’t warrant a police response, “They may not be best served by law enforcement. And it may not be the best use of our time as a public safety or law enforcement agency. Another resource may be having Deschutes County Behavioral Health or MCAT respond to assist that person in offering alternative crisis resources, but it’s something that’s outside of really the world of law enforcement,” Krantz says adding the unit has been busy since the program went into effect at the beginning of May, “They’ve taken over 30 calls last week from us. That’s a huge impact.”

The Chief says the department will look at other ways to assign duties that don’t fall directly under police purview, as budgets allow.


St. Charles Grant Funds Target Loneliness & Isolation

BEND, OR -- St. Charles wants to address loneliness and isolation with a new grant program. The initiative comes after the U.S. Surgeon General warned of potential problems faced by lonely people, saying there could be ‘grave consequences'.

St. Charles Behavioral Health Services director Molly Wells Darling tells KBND news it can lead to serious health problems, “Loneliness and isolation is associated with higher rates of things like stroke, heart disease, dementia, in addition to an increased risk of premature death associated with loneliness.”

She says St. Charles Health System facilities try to identify these issues, “We have behavioral health consultants embedded in our primary care clinics to assist patients who are struggling with loneliness or isolation or mental health conditions in order to hopefully see an impact on their health as a whole.”

The goal is to address the root causes sooner. Over the next three years, St. Charles will direct thousands of dollars in funding to Central Oregon organizations that foster a sense of belonging.

“We’re looking at organizations that are excited and willing to help bring people into communities, and start addressing the sense of belonging all the way across Deschutes County, and Crook and Jefferson, as well,” says Community Partnership officer Angela Saraceno, “Non-profits are eligible to submit a grant, all the way down to community neighborhood associations.”

Grant information can be found at the St Charles website.


Two Candidates Skip Redmond School Board Forum

REDMOND, OR -- Four of the five seats on Redmond’s School Board are up for grabs in next week’s election. Candidates for Position Three, Four and Five were invited to take part in a recent forum hosted by the League of Women Voters and City Club of Central Oregon. But two declined.

Amanda Page is a Flight Paramedic running for Position Three. She said at the forum she wants to ensure "That all parents and teachers have the resources they need to be successful. That’s imperative. If teachers aren’t resourced well, then kids aren’t resourced well and no one is successful." Her opponent, Wendell Otto, did not attend.

Brad Porterfield is Director of the nonprofit Latino Community Association and is vying for Position Four. "I want to play a role in making sure our school board doesn’t get distracted by partisan politics, but rather stays focused on priority issues," He said at the forum. Position Four incumbent Keri Lopez did not participate in the virtual event. 

Liz Goodrich is the current Redmond School Board Vice Chair. "I’m proud of the accomplishments that the district has made during my first term. We successfully passed a bond in 2020, improving building safety, health and capacity. We had a successful superintendent search," she said at the forum, "We increased high school graduation rates."

Her Position Five challenger is science teacher John Campbell. "I am passionate about students getting an education. I want them to break those socio-economic barriers that they have experienced in their families because of maybe a lack of education that their parents got," he said.

Eric Lea is also running to remain in Position One, and faces no opposition.

The four candidates were asked about how the board should address behavioral disruptions in the classroom. Campbell said, "I think getting kids away from the screen - the computer screens, getting them to do hands-on learning to enjoy, they’re engaged." Goodrich touted the district’s new Bright Program she says is helping kids when they get disregulated, "A space for them to go get the service and the attention they need from an assistant or a behavioral specialist, that allows the learning in the classroom to continue without interruption." Page wants to use restorative justice, "It’s working with those students to collaborate with their community of other students, to understand the effect that their actions had on the classroom." And Porterfield said schools need to offer space and time for students to be heard, "Because, until they feel that the people in the school care about them, care about their lives, care about their families, they’re not going to care about learning."

On curriculum oversight, all acknowledged the School Board gets final approval. But Goodrick says she also believes in acadmeic freedom and teachers should be allowed to choose what they think is best suited for their class, "They’re afraid of being judged and their professional training being called into question. These people are highly trained, and they’re hired to do a very specific job and we should empower them to do so."

Campbell wants the board to have more say, "The buck stops with the school board. With that said, I do trust the majority of the teachers. But, I’ve been hearing a lot of community members in this school district that are not happy with what’s being taught in some of the classrooms, so it needs to all go through us. We need to review it all."

Click HERE to watch the full forum.

Pennsylvania Teen Arrested For Bend Swatting Call

BEND, OR -- A Pennsylvania teen was arrested at his home earlier this month, accused of at least nine “Swatting” incidents, including one in Bend. Investigators believe the 17-year-old is responsible for the false report of a shooting at a home on SW Taft Avenue on April 11th.

Beginning in April, investigators from Pennsylvania State Police and the Collin County Sheriff’s Office in Texas worked together on a swatting call. That investigation determined calls were coming from a home in Jackson Township, in Monroe County, Pennsylvania. Bend Police detectives worked with the FBI and authorities in Texas to determine the caller was also connected to the April 11 swatting incident in Bend.  

On Tuesday, May 2, authorities served a search warrant at his home. Officers say they found child pornography on the teen's computer, as well as evidence that he had made at least nine swatting calls throughout the country, including in Bend.  

In that incident, dispatch received a call to the nonemergency line at approximately 12:17 p.m. The caller reported he had shot someone at a home in the 100 block of SW Taft Avenue and was still in the residence. Bend Police responded with numerous resources, including armored vehicles. Several area roads were closed during officers’ response. Negotiators spoke on the line with the caller for several minutes, and officers evacuated homes in the immediate area of the reported incident. Personnel from both the Central Oregon Emergency Response Team and the Sheriff’s Office’s Special Operations Team responded to the scene. Bend Police cleared the home where the alleged shooting had occurred, found no evidence of a crime and determined there was no threat to the public. Bend Police and assisting law enforcement left the scene around 1:30 p.m.  

According to the Pennsylvania State Police, a juvenile petition has been filed against the teen for charges of possession of child pornography, false alarms, false reports, and possession of instruments of a crime. The 17-year-old is lodged at the Bucks County Juvenile Detention Center in Pennsylvania. The investigation is ongoing.  

The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office are expected to handle the cases going forward.  


file photo

Bend Woman Arrested For Knife Attack

BEND, OR -- A Bend woman faces several charges after police say she threatened people with a large knife Friday morning. Officers responded to Southeast Coombs Place and Highway 97, just before 10 a.m., where they say 54-year-old Darlene Allen ran at a parked car with an adult and child inside, and tried to stab the vehicle.

Allen continued north on Highway 97, allegedly screaming and wielding the knife. When officers caught up with her, they say she refused to drop the knife. Officers used a Taser and launched a 40-mm less lethal impact foam round from a distance to subdue the woman. 

Officers secured the knife, and Bend Fire medics evaluated Allen at the scene. Officers took her to St. Charles Bend for an evaluation. Once cleared, she will be lodged at Deschutes County Jail on charges of Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Menacing and Disorderly Conduct II

Some lanes of South Highway 97 were closed for a short period of time. 

Bend Forms Tree Regulation Advisory Committee

BEND, OR -- The City of Bend is looking for volunteers for a new advisory committee to review tree regulations. It’s an effort to update codes for preservation of the urban tree canopy, balancing it with the need for new housing.

City Senior Planner Pauline Hardie says the committee will consist of experts and special interests, “There will be city of Bend community members. A member from our Human Rights and Equity Commission, one member of the Environment and Climate Committee, a member of the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, and at least one arborist.”

Hardie tells KBND news they'll look at several options identified by Council, “They are interested in preserving, possibly, larger trees than what are required now. And then also look at alternatives to preserving trees including tree replacement, and a fee in lieu of preservation for the purpose of developing and protecting the city’s urban tree canopy.”

Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler said it’s important to make this plan now, “I don’t want to do any policies that are going to block needed housing that we really need right now. That’s the number one concern of our community. But at the same time, I think there are some changes that we can make to promote the urban tree canopy as a whole.”

The Tree Regulation Update Advisory Committee will be made up of 11 to 15 community members from a range of backgrounds and specialties.

“It’s a fairly simple application. You want to identify what membership you’re wanting to represent. So, if you’re an arborist you want to identify that. If you happen to be an affordable housing developer you want to identify that,” says Hardie.

Committee appointments will be made next month, with meetings scheduled through the summer. Applications are accepted now at the city of Bend website


Bend Budget Planners Wary Of Economic Uncertainty

BEND, OR -- City Councilors and the Budget Committee now have the proposed city budget; deliberations begin later this month before it’s finalized.

City Manager Eric King says the two-year budget takes into account current economic uncertainty, “Without any new revenues, just kind of business as usual, about a 5% increase in the first year of the biennium and about a 3% increase in the second year. And it’s not keeping pace with costs; costs are much higher than that.”

He says that means minimal staff increases, “The areas we’re just trying to keep pace with growth are in public safety and our infrastructure core service areas, so there are some staffing increases - pretty minimal, not keeping pace with the population growth but just some increases to keep our calls for service and the demand for service in line with our capacity. with most hiring in police and infrastructure services.”

Overall spending is based on City Council goals created in January. “The focus really is on housing. So, how do we get infrastructure, how do we ensure that we’ve got an available land supply for housing. So, lots of projects aimed at that,” said King.

Not included in the city’s budget: anything related to houselessness. “We’ve just been able to apply for state and federal grants for those projects. We’re reliant on grants. We don’t have an ongoing operational revenue,” he said, adding there are several factors weighing on decisions, “The last couple of years, we’ve had the advantage of state and federal funds coming in - COVID relief funds. Those funds have been used and now we’re facing these inflationary pressures, like many other folks, and so there’s a lot of uncertainty in the market. We’re also seeing development activity somewhat level off.”


Six Candidates Vie For Two Seats On COCC Board

BEND, OR -- Two current Central Oregon Community College board members chose not to run again, opening the door for six candidates vying for their seats. At a recent candidate forum hosted by City Club and the League of Women Voters they all discussed expansion of the Madras campus, tuition affordability, staff pay and other issues.

Two candidates are running to replace Jim Clinton in Zone Five. Diane Berry is a mom, former college instructor, lawyer and mental health professional. "This breadth of experience enables me to see issues presented through a variety of lenses and to see solutions others may miss," she said, "It uniquely qualifies me for this position."

Erin Merz works for Cascades Academy and is a former senior administrator at Portland State University. "I bring perspective from both inside and outside of the classroom, from academic affairs to student affairs," she said, "I’ve worked very closely with constituents at every level of an educational institution."

In Zone Six, four candidates are running to replace Bruce Abernethy. Kevin Knight is a semi-retired corporate executive who serves on Bend’s Budget committee and has a history of other public service, "So, I’d like to take the skills and the experiences that I’ve gained over decades of experience and add those to those currently on the board and really help ensure the future success of COCC."

Former Bend Police Chief Jim Porter told the forum he has a history of managing tax dollars and serving on other boards, and is the only candidate who has both attended and taught at COCC. "So I have an understanding of what it takes to move things forward in Central Oregon," he said, "It’s the footprint that I want to move forward, of COCC being a leader in the area."

Maureen Radon is the General Manager of the Broken Top Community Association, and said, "My work in homeowners association management for 20 years means I’ve worked with and guided boards through many difficult projects, so I’m very familiar with board governments, policies."

The fourth candidate, David Price, is retired military, according to his filing documents. He was unable to attend this week's forum. Michael Sipe dropped out of the race earlier this week. 

COCC’s board is divided by geographic zones. Both open seats represent Bend. 

On tuition affordability, the Zone Five candidates focused on COCC’s real estate development projects. Merz said, "To be a consistent and reliable stream of revenue for the college is a really great and creative solution, and more of that is going to be required." Berry added, "It’s not a fix-all, by any means. But it’s going to increase the revenue the college has, as well as maintaining some financial stability, providing a means of additional support for students and help alleviate the housing crisis in Bend."

Zone Six candidates want state lawmakers to provide more funding, "I think if Community College isn’t currently top of mind with legislators for funding, it definitely should be," said Radon. The others also say lobbying in Salem is important, but Porter added, "Getting the private industry locally, and its partners, to support fiscally training and training programs to help their open line positions in the private sector." And Knight wants to see short-term scholarships, "Rather than broad scholarships, we can look at micro-scholarships, where we provide money for students and once they complete a certain number of courses or credit hours, they get the next tranche."

Click HERE to view the entire forum.


Sisters Schools Asks For Levy Renewal

SISTERS, OR -- Sisters School District is asking voters to renew a five-year local option levy for a fifth time. Superintendent Curt Scholl says the tax rate of $0.75 per $1,000 assessed value has been in place since 2000, “This represents about 10% of our operating budget. So, it has a large potential impact in our ability to operate with really small class sizes and special programming.”

There has been no official opposition to the measure. Scholl tells KBND News the levy has been renewed four other times, due to the district’s strong ties in Sisters, “At this point we’re very hopeful. You don’t want to take anything for granted. We value the community and hope that that partnership continues to pay off in support for our students.”

The funding helps offer unique outdoors educational programs, along with a full counseling staff, “We have place-based science classes that we promote in our high school and our middle school. We offer students the ability to get their personal private pilot’s license before they graduate high school,” Scholl said.

He hopes voters recognize what the district does for students, “Our graduation rate for the last 4 years has been well above 90%. The specific programming we have, the support of students throughout, I think that’s the partnership that has bred success here.”

If the levy is not renewed, the district would lose about $1.8 million a year, which would likely lead to a reduction in school days and staff.

Sisters also has two school board positions on the May 16th ballot.


Applications Coming In For Local Homeless Relief Spending

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon will get $13.9 million from the Governor’s homelessness emergency package. Central Oregon’s council of governments (COIC) opened the application period Monday for that funding; the deadline is May 8 at midnight. COIC’s Scott Aycock says the tight turnaround is necessary because projects have to be complete by January 10, "That, in and of itself, is an enormously aggressive timeline. Especially if you’re dealing with construction or renovation, or anything like that."

Applications from local government agencies and nonprofits must pursue the goals set by the state, which includes creating 111 new shelter beds. "I would expect that we will get some applications that expand existing shelters to provide more beds; we might get some applications that have completely new shelters," Aycock tells KBND News. He doesn’t expect any proposals to construct a brand new facility - simply due to time constraints. 

The second regional goal is to rehouse 161 unsheltered households. "That, generally speaking, is going to be things like working with landlords who are willing to take in populations that require a subsidy to be able to make the rent," says Aycock. "There’s also some discussion of things like converting hotels to housing; even if it’s not what most people think of as multi-family housing. But where there’s maybe some shared facilities."

So far, COIC has received just one application. Bend City Manager Eric King tells KBND News the city's application will be in by Friday, to get the former Rainbow Motel open as a shelter. A final decision on which projects get funded is expected to be made May 17th by the Multi-Agency Coordination (MAC) group. 

Aycock doesn’t believe money alone will solve the problem, but he says it gets people thinking about ideas that could lead to future solutions. "We’re always trying to think about how we can leverage these specific opportunities into bigger picture, longer term, more sustainable outcomes. And getting all these interesting ideas that are coming out of community conversations, or somebody who has a relative with lived experience, or perhaps they themselves experienced homelessness - you know, whatever it is, it’s generating a lot of creative thinking."


Storage Units Damaged In Redmond Fire

REDMOND, OR -- A Wednesday afternoon fire caused more than $410,000 in damage to units at Redmond's Yew Avenue Self Storage. Firefighters responded to the facility at about 4 p.m. and found multiple storage units on fire, with flames spreading. Officials say 13 units were involved in the fire. 

Redmond Fire & Rescue got help from crews from Bend, Jefferson County and Cloverdale. Investigators say the fire started with the improper disposal of burning materials. 

ODOT Reducing Speeds On Stretch Of Hwy 26

JEFFERSON COUNTY, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Transportation is reducing speeds on a 15 mile stretch of Highway 26 from Mount Hood to Warm Springs. "This winter took its toll on the highway, more than we thought it would," says ODOT's Kacey Davey, "That freeze/thaw cycle and studded tires and chains, they really tear up the road, so it came out of winter worse than we hoped it would." She adds, "And what that looks like to drivers and people who use the road is lots of potholes and rutting." On a scale from Very Poor to Very Good, ODOT ranks the pavement condition as “Poor,” between the Warm Springs Junction (Hwy 216) and the Warm Springs River. 

In response, ODOT will lower the speed limit from 55 to 45 mph, beginning Friday. "For 15 miles, that should only add four minutes of extra time to your drive," Davey tells KBND News. It'll stay 45 through that stretch until pavement conditions improve.

She says reducing the speed allows drivers more time to navigate hazards, "And also, this lower speed is going to help out our workers who are going to be out there still trying to patch and keep the road open and going until we can get to this big project. So it’ll give those workers some more time and a safety buffer, as well."

That "big project" involves rully repaving the road, which was already planned for the 2024-27 funding cycle. "We’ve moved up this project into as soon in that cycle as we can, to 2024; so it’s right at the top of the list."


OSU-Cascades Gets School Counselor Grant

BEND, OR -- OSU Cascades is getting a $3.9-million federal grant to increase the number of school counselors in the region. OSU worked with the High Desert Education Service District to create PATH-SC, which stands for ‘Promoting and Advancing Training of High Desert School Counselors.’

Assistant professor Lucy Purgason says students can apply for tuition support and a training stipend, “Part of the program requires admitted students to PATH-SC to agree to commit to working in one of our 4 partnership districts. And those districts are in Crook County, Jefferson County, Redmond, And Bend-La Pine.”

Purgason says this program is designed to address the mental health needs of K-12 school children which intensified during the pandemic, “We believe every student in Central Oregon deserves access to a school counselor. And for many students in our most rural areas this is more difficult because it’s challenging to find qualified and trained school counselors to hire.”

“School counselors play a really important role in mental health prevention. Because we activate really important and protective factors for students like helping build skills for conflict resolution, bullying prevention, and helping to create a positive school climate,” Purgason says, pointing to a recent survey showing K through 12 students reported an increase in mental and emotional health concerns since the pandemic.

The 5 year U.S. Department of Education funding can support up to 75 grad students.


Awbrey Butte Waterline Improvement Project Begins In June

BEND, OR -- Construction is scheduled to begin in June on Bend’s Awbrey Butte Waterline Improvement Project. Work will be done in stages through spring of 2024. The City of Bend will host an informational meeting next Tuesday for the upcoming construction of Phase One. That open house is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 9, at Westside Church, 2051 NW Shevlin Park Road, Bend.

The meeting will be an open house style with no formal program. The design consultants, construction team and City staff will be available to share project information and answer questions. The Awbrey Butte Waterline Improvement Project will improve Bend’s ability to deliver water and increase the system’s resiliency and reliability by installing new pipelines.

Open house materials are available HERE

Bend Parks & Rec Opens Kids INC Registration

BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Recreation will open the application period for the Kids INC afterschool care program on Monday. Applications for the 2023-24 school year must be received by 5 p.m. May 19 to be included in the initial selection process.  A lottery will be used to determine selection and waitlist status. Applicants will be notified of their status on June 1 and will have until June 12 to secure the space with a first month deposit.

To learn more and apply online, visit the BPRD website, between May 8 and May 19 at 5 pm. Applications can also be submitted by phone at 541-389-7275.

The primary purpose of Kids INC is to support the afterschool care needs of working parents and guardians who do not have other options for their elementary school-aged children. “For more than three decades, BPRD has provided on-site afterschool care, so in some families we’re caring for the second generation of program participants,” said Sue Boettner, recreation manager. “We know the program is crucial for working parents and the upcoming application dates are very important.”

For the 2023-24 school year, Kids INC will offer part-time options as well as full-time. This option began in Fall 2022 and will continue after positive feedback. “The majority of Kids Inc participants are enrolled full-time, but we appreciate the ability to serve more families with the part-time options. It has worked well in our first year and we plan to offer it again next year,” added Boettner. 

Families selected for part-time spots will have an option to move to full-time when spaces become available, if they indicate during the lottery that full-time care is preferred. This may occur prior to the start of the school year start or any time during the school year, based on staffing levels and space availability at the school.  

BPRD asks that families that do not rely on afterschool care to meet job requirements or have alternate afterschool care options available to consider one of the many enrichment and sport programs.


POWDR Names New Mt. Bachelor GM

BEND, OR -- John Merriman has been named President and General Manager of Mt. Bachelor, parent company POWDR announced Tuesday. Merriman is currently VP of FInance and Sales at Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado - one of the largest ski resorts in North America.

He replaces interim GM Brian Dobias, who stepped in after the sudden departure of John McLeod in February.

“John is the perfect individual to assume this key leadership role for us at Mt. Bachelor, bringing with him key attributes that will make the whole team at the resort successful. Working with him for the past seven years, I know him to be a people-first leader who has proven experience developing high performing teams, forming successful business partnerships across organizations, and inspiring the highest caliber of customer service,” Justin Sibley, CEO of POWDR, said in a statement. “I am thrilled he accepted this role, and our team will support his transition and success however we can.” 

Merriman officially starts May 22nd. The resort is scheduled to close for the season on May 28th.

Madras Man Sentenced To 50 Years For Child Sex Abuse

MADRAS, OR -- A Madras man has pleaded guilty to rape and other charges in a case involving a 10-year-old victim. The girl reported she had been sexually abused by Christopher Licence starting when she was just six.

Detectives began communicating with Licence, posing as the girl. Prosecutors say he attempted to coach her what to say in a medical appointment if she was asked about sexual activity.

Licence was arrested at his job and confessed. The 37-year-old was sentenced this week to 50 years in prison and is not eligible for early release. His attorney had asked for a 25-year sentence due to  a lack of signficant criminal history and a traumatic brain injury she said impacted his judgment.

Oregon's Secretary of State Announces Resignation

SALEM, OR -- Following a week of intense scrutiny over her work with a cannabis business, Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan announced Monday she will resign, effective Monday, May 8. After that, Deputy Secretary Cheryl Myers will take on oversight of the agency until a new Secretary is appointed by the Governor.

Her office says the May 16th election should not be impacted by the transition. 

Secretary Fagan issued the following statement: “While I am confident that the ethics investigation will show that I followed the state’s legal and ethical guidelines in trying to make ends meet for my family, it is clear that my actions have become a distraction from the important and critical work of the Secretary of State’s office. Protecting our state’s democracy and ensuring faith in our elected leaders – these are the reasons I ran for this office. They are also the reasons I will be submitting my resignation today. I want to thank the incredible staff in the Secretary of State’s office for their hard work and Oregonians for the opportunity to serve them. It has been a true honor to serve the people of Oregon.  

“At this time, I believe it is in the best interest of our state for me to focus on my children, my family, and personal reflection so that the Secretary of State staff can continue to offer the exemplary customer service Oregonians deserve.” 

In response, Governor Tina Kotek issued a statement saying, "I support this decision. It is essential that Oregonians have trust in their government. I believe this is a first step in restoring that trust. During the upcoming appointment process, my office will do everything possible to support the hard-working staff in the Secretary of State’s office and ensure this will not disrupt the May 16 election."

Deputy Secretary of State Cheryl Myers said in a statement, “This is a resilient agency, with strong division leadership and internal systems that can withstand change. We are ready to continue the important work of the Secretary of State’s office during this transition.  

“My first priority is to make sure Oregonians receive the customer service they deserve. This agency does such critical work, and it’s our job to put Oregonians first during this transition. 

“This is an unfortunate situation, but a change of leadership will allow agency staff to continue their good work with less distraction moving forward.”  

In response to Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s resignation, Speaker of the House Dan Rayfield, Senate President Rob Wagner, House Majority Leader Julie Fahey, and Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber issue the following statement:

“As elected leaders, we know that our work depends solely on our ability to hold the trust of the people we serve and represent. Secretary of State Fagan’s severe lapses of judgment eroded trust with the people of Oregon, including legislators who depend on the work of the Audits Division for vital information on public policy. This breach of trust became too wide for her to bridge. Her decision to resign will allow the state to move on and rebuild trust.”

“Secretary Fagan found herself in a web of ethical violations and it finally caught up to her thanks to exceptional investigative journalism by Willamette Week’s Sophie Peel and Nigel Jaquiss. It is critically important that statewide elected officials exercise good judgement at all times. It is clear that Fagan has broken Oregon’s trust beyond repair. It’s time to return integrity to the Secretary of State’s office,” Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend) said in a statement. “Today’s resignation of Secretary Fagan reflects the level of corruption occurring in state government. Since the beginning of the year, I have said we need a transparent process. The level of abuse Secretary Fagan flaunted from her official position is just another example the extreme measures of one-party rule in Oregon,” added House Republican Leader Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville). “We encourage the Governor to use this opportunity to appoint a person who can restore trust and ethics in the Secretary of State’s office. Additionally, we suggest due diligence and thorough vetting in the consideration of potential appointees.”

The move is in response to Fagan's work with Veriede Holdings, affiliated with the pot dispensary chain La Mota. "Upon painful reflection, taking that contract was poor judgment," she said in a Monday press conference, "I made a mistake and I own it, and I am sorry."

She told reporters she was hired in February to gather information in other states, as the company looked to expand outside of Oregon, "It was a mistake to get into that contract because it was with an industry that is regulated by an agency that was under audit by my division." She says she also teaches at Willamette University and needed outside income, "I’m starting over financially after a divorce, I have two young kids, I have student loans and other bills, I’m a renter in the expensive Portland-metro area, and I’m the sole income earner in my household. So, to put it bluntly, my Secretary of State salary alone is not enough for me to make ends meet." According to public records, Oregon's Secretary of State is paid $77,000 a year. 

Fagan says she terminated the $10,000 a month contract with Veriede and will donate political contributions from its owners to the Oregon Humane Society, "I am deeply sorry for harming the trust that I and others have worked so hard to build. And I will begin working to rebuild it today." She refused, however, to release her tax returns.

Bend's Commercial Building Inventory Remains Tight

BEND, OR -- Companies looking to expand in Bend continue to struggle with a lack of available land for new construction. 

“With the realignment of Highway 97 on the north end of Bend, we wiped out a number of industrial buildings on Nels Anderson. Some of those businesses just closed up. Others relocated - Redmond, wherever. But we have got less than 1% available out of 4.6 million square feet,” Pat Kesgard, with Compass Commercial Real Estate, says there is some building happening, “These are projects that were started as long as three years ago. And so, these were well in motion. There were either owners or strong financial tenants going into the building. So those are moving forward.”

He says the problem is more widespread than just the North Highway 97 Corridor, “We really don’t have, right now, much in the way of inventory for sale; be it office, retail, or industrial, or even land. People are sitting on it, they’re tight. It’s going to be an interesting year.”

For the few small vacant parcels available, Kesgard says, prices are skyrocketing, due to the lack of inventory. “The big challenge in Bend is land. There’s no industrial land available in Bend. People say, ‘well, what about Juniper Ridge?’ Well, the city opened up some of the property and two developers bought the majority of it that they’re willing to sell at this point, so they have tenants or they’re going to build buildings for rent. “

Kesgard doesn’t see the situation changing any time soon.


Redmond Airport Offers TSA Precheck

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Municipal Airport (RDM) offers a TSA Pre-check enrollment event in the Airport Main Terminal, May 1-5, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Enrollment will be held in the Main Terminal between the Dancing River Marketplace/Gift Shop and the Airport West entrance.  Please pre-register online at identogo.com or call the customer service line at (844) 321-2124.

TSA Pre-check is an expedited screening program that enables identified low-risk air travelers to enjoy a smart and efficient screening experience. TSA Pre-check travelers do not have to remove shoes, 3-1-1 liquids, laptops, light outerwear, or belts. Today, TSA Pre-check has more than 450 lanes at 200+ U.S. airports.

The application program allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to directly apply for TSA Pre-check. Once approved, travelers will receive a “Known Traveler Number” (which needs to be added to a traveler’s airline profile and reservations) and will have the opportunity to utilize TSA Pre-check lanes at select security checkpoints when flying on the 50 carriers that currently participate in the program. To complete the application process, travelers need to bring documentation proving identity and citizenship status (i.e., a valid driver’s license or U.S. passport). Fingerprinting for a background check will be processed on-site. The in-person application fee is $78 (valid for 5 years) and can be paid by credit card, money order, company check, or certified/cashier’s check. Cash and personal checks are not accepted. 

For more information, go to: https://www.identogo.com/precheck or visit the RDM website at www.flyrdm.com.

Deschutes Alerts Test Planned For Wednesday

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office and Deschutes County 911 will send a test messaget to people signed up for Deschutes Alerts at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. 

Deschutes Alerts is the notification system used to alert people of emergencies and evacuations in Deschutes County. Deschutes Alerts messages are sent to subscribers via smartphone app, text, email or phone call. Anyone who lives or works in Deschutes County can sign up or change their profile HERE.

The purpose of Wednesday’s test message is to ensure subscriber profiles are current. If you receive the message on May third and you don’t need to change anything on your profile, there’s no need to contact DCSO. 

If you do not get the message within a few hours of the test, and you’re sure you have an account, or if you want to ask about Deschutes Alerts or change your profile, please call  541-550-4888 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on May third. After that, call DCSO with questions, at 541-388-6501. The agency can help confirm or make changes to Deschutes Alerts profiles over the phone. 

For a Frequently Asked Questions page, visit here, or call 541-388-6501.

Bend, Crook Co. Fire Crews Take Part In Water Rescue

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Bend and Crook County Fire crews rescued a kayaker Sunday afternoon, who got stranded on debris in the Crooked River. Initial reports indicated the kayaker had overturned near Rimrock Park bridge and was holding on to bushes in the middle of the river.

She was coached to get out of the water and wait on the debris island until rescuers could reach her. 

Seven members of Bend’s Special Operations Swift Water Rescue team paddled to the debris island and provided a helmet and life jacket to the woman, helping her get safely to shore. 

No one was injured.

Candidates For Bend-La Pine Schools Board Zones 6 & 7 Discuss Hot Topics In Forum

BEND, OR -- Candidates for Bend-La Pine Schools Zone Seven discussed book banning, curriculum, funding needs and student behavior at a recent virtual forum hosted by the City Club and League of Women Voters.

Kina Chadwick was appointed in December and is running to remain for the two years left on the term, saying, "There’s a common thread in the various groups that I volunteer with. They all focus on making Bend better for everyone. I intentionally review programs and policies with a lens of equity."

Challenger Rod Hanson says the board needs his experience and decades in Bend, "I taught for 47 years in the public schools; 44 in Central Oregon. I was at Redmond High for 32 years, Central Oregon Community College for 12 years." 

Challenger Elizabeth Justema is also an educator, "I’ve been a high school teacher for the past 10 years. I raised both my kids here in the Bend-La Pine system. I have one in college and one that’s a senior."

A fourth candidate - Nicole Fitch - chose not to participate. 

Board Chair Melissa Barnes Dholakia also took part in the forum; she's running for re-election to Zone six. She got frustrated when asked about banning books, "This question is actually a real problem for me because we have a very vocal, very small minority using their voices to push a nationally organized strategy. I will answer the question: I don’t believe in banning books. I think that every child in Bend-La Pine School district deserves to check out a book that reflects their life. And for any adult to say that they shouldn’t have that opportunity; shame on them." The League of Women Voters says her challenger - Chet Wamboldt - declined to participate in the virtual forum. 

A question about gender affirming care in schools and potential restrictions for trans athletes also frustratedBarnes Dholakia. After repeating her problem with amplifying a 'nationally organized strategy,' she said, "Our children deserve to experience inclusion and belonging in our schools."

Chadwick responded, "As someone who is queer, as someone who is non-binary, as someone who is a person of color, these are the types of challenges that these types of students experience every day. I truly believe we should be talking about things that are more important to academic achievement."

Justema answered, "I believe public schools’ mission is to welcome every single student as they present themselves in our doors."

Hanson agreed with the others on treating trans students fairly in class, but said school sports need to maintain competitive balance, " I would say that you should participate in the sport you were born in. I would be concerned we’d be violating Title IX."

All four candidates said the school board should not be involved in approving specific curriculum if it meets state guidelines. 


Adaptive Mtn Bike Trails Assessment Starts This Week

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Trail Alliance plans to upgrade trails for mountain bikers with disabilities.

“We’re focusing on a hundred miles of trails for this grant project mostly in Bend, some near Sunriver, and cascade view trailhead in the Redmond area, as well. So, our intent is for these experienced adaptive riders to provide us feedback,” COTA’s volunteer project manager Abbie Wilkiemeyer tells KBND News starting Monday May 1st through Friday the 14th expert adaptive riders will document their experiences on trails, as well as trailhead facilities, and accessibility barriers.

“We know that narrow tree gaps are one area that may need to be addressed, as well as rocky sections. One extra rock might be what it takes to let the adaptive bike rider get over a rocky section. COTA will be having 2 to 3 volunteer crew leaders riding along to really understand what works and doesn’t work. The outcome is going to include 5 documented routes with really clear descriptions,” Wilkiemeyer says adding the plan is to have easy, intermediate, and difficult route designations.

COTA's trail assessment is managed by Empowering Access, which leads disability equity and inclusion consulting in the built environment. The on the ground team will be led by Quinn Brett and Joe Stone of Dovetail Trails. Additional project partners include Oregon Adaptive Sports (OAS), a local nonprofit that has been guiding adaptive athletes on skiing and biking adventures in Central Oregon since 1996, and the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), which facilitated a private grant that made the work possible.

COTA members are excited for the prospect of designated adaptive routes according to Wilkiemeyer, “I’ve been approached by a number of crew leaders wondering how they can get involved because I think that speaks to the amount of engagement that we’ll have as we see what changes need to be made to be a little bit more accommodating on these trails.”

This Saturday, the public is invited to a mountain biking celebration to learn more about accessibility for adaptive riders at the LOGE Camp Bend, from 4 pm to 8 pm.


Race For Redmond's Seat On Library Board Heats Up

REDMOND, OR -- Library board elections are not typically exciting. But the race for Redmond’s seat on the Deschutes County Public Library Board is heating up. At a Friday candidate event at the Redmond Senior Center, the two women running for Redmond's seat on the board voiced strong opinions about the voter-approved 2020 library bond. 

Challenger Tony Oliver (pictured left) told the audience, "We passed a bond. Redmond did not support it. Neither did any of the outlying areas. The only ones that supported that bond were Sisters and northwest Bend." She went on to explain she thought the bond meant a second Redmond library, "We weren’t going to have a library that was torn down; there was nothing about ‘replace, remove, demolish’ of our library."

In her statement, incumbent Cynthia Claridge (pictured right) said there was a lot of public discussion about the plan, "I wrote an article prior to several other people [who] wrote an article about the fact that we were going to be replacing the library." She admits demolishing the historic Jessie Hill school building is a loss, and said she tried to preserve some of its legacy, "I asked them if there was some way to save some of the aspects of the interior of the building. And they said that the engineers came back and said they could make that attempt. But they said the materials that had been designed back in 1929, they were not the quality of material that they could move." But Claridge said the larger library is important for the community, "We’re going to have a 40,000 square-foot library that is going to have more materials, it’s going to have various meeting rooms spread throughout the building."

Oliver also took issue with the size of the new Central Library in Bend, "I am all for a central library, and we should follow everything that is expected from that bond. However, it never said anything about a 100,000 square foot library to go out on Stevens Road; and that’s very expensive." Claridge noted the library bond covers the cost of the construction projects and renovations now underway. 

Listen to both statements:


First Responders, Others Honored For Actions Following Deadly Bend Shooting

BEND, OR -- Seven people and 10 agencies were honored last week for their work in the aftermath of last year’s deadly shooting inside Safeway at the Forum Shopping Center. The ceremony was in coordination with Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Those recognizes are from the following agencies:

  • City of Bend Police Department
  • Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office
  • City of Redmond Police Department
  • Sunriver Police Department
  • Oregon State Police
  • Crook County Sheriff’s Office
  • Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office
  • Deschutes County 9-11 Dispatch
  • City of Bend Fire Department
  • City of Redmond Fire Department
  • St. Charles Medical Center
  • Oregon State Police Crime Lab
  • Oregon Department of Transportation
  • Deschutes County Behavioral Health
  • Central Oregon Police Chaplaincy

Ashley Beatty, Director of Victims’ Services at the Deschutes County District Attorney's Office, says it’s important to recognize the response, from the 911 operators who took calls from victims inside the store, to the officers and firefighters who rushed in and the mental health professionals who checked in with employees weeks later.

Included among the individual honorees: Molly Wells-Darling, St. Charles’ Director of Behavioral Health, and Shannon Brister and Tara Hare, with Deschutes County Behavioral Health. Beatty says they were instrumental in coordinating the Community Assistance Center that provided free mental health support to those directly impacted by the shooting. Click HERE for more information about the Victims' Services office. 

Beatty talked with KBND News about the importance of supporting victims and those who responded to the shooting in August 2022: 



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