Local News Archives for 2023-06

Summer Academy Returns To OSU-Cascades

BEND, OR -- For the fourth year, OSU-Cascades is inviting high school students to spend six days on campus over the summer. Christine Coffin says Summer Academy is a chance to see what college life is like, including sessions with professors, "These aren’t intense study programs. But instead, it’s an opportunity for our faculty to teach in their subject areas in a way that’s fun, in a way that gives the students some team-building activities, some group activities." Coffin tells KBND News it’s a also great way to keep learning over the summer, "Because of the pandemic and a variety of other things, high school students, they lost some traction in their education. So, any academic offering over the summertime will just put them in better shape when they get back in the fall."

There are different tracks, depending on students’ interests, including biomechanics, art, tech and how chemistry is used in crime scene investigations. They’ll also take off-campus excursions and meals in the dining hall. "In the evenings, the students who stay on campus in the residence hall will enjoy movie nights or discussion groups, they’ll hear from some of our recent graduates."

Participants must be incoming high school sophomores, juniors or seniors, "So, they are probably starting to think about what they’re going to do after high school. And so this is an opportunity for them to really understand what it’s like to live on a college campus, to see the classrooms, to walk around and play in the courtyard just like students during the university year normally would." Coffins says more than a third come from out of the area.

Registration is $749 for day sessions and $1,195 for overnights. Scholarships are available for qualified families. Six-day sessions start July 30th and August 13th. Participants who complete the Summer Academy receive a $500 scholarship to OSU-Cascades for the fall after high school graduation. 

 

Hay Truck Fire Ignites Brush Fire On Tumalo Reservoir Rd

BEND, OR -- A hay fire led to a massive response on Tumalo Reservoir Road, Thursday afternoon. Bend firefighters responded to the area near Mock Road just after 3 p.m., on a report of a trailer full of hay on fire.

Crews found multiple spot fires along a 500-yard stretch of the road, prompting a request for more resources, including from the US Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry and Cloverdale Fire. They quickly knocked down the flames, containing damage to the pickup, flatbed trailer and about three-tons of hay.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

 

Photos courtesy of Bend Fire & Rescue

Bend Man Cited For Large Cache Of Illegal Fireworks

BEND, OR -- Bend Police cited a man Thursday after they discovered more than $1,000 of illegal fireworks at his house. Investigators say he also posted pictures of his stash on social media. Daniel Romero and his home were the subject of at least seven illegal fireworks calls over the past year. The 42-year-old is charged with Possession of Prohibited Fireworks, which is a misdemeanor.

Bend PD’s Sheila Miller reminds everyone fireworks are not allowed inside the city limits, "I think a lot of people in Bend actually really do appreciate the fireworks ban. I think many years, it’s very stressful to see people blowing up things when it is 90 degrees out and dry as a bone. And it’s supposed to be almost 90 degrees on Tuesday."

Even with the ban, Miller says officers must prioritize life-threatening incidents, "We do not have the ability to respond to every fireworks complaint. We do have an email address that we ask people to send their fireworks complaints to: fireworks@bendoregon.gov." She adds, "We ask people not to call 911 about fireworks unless it is a life-threatening situation - something is on fire, someone is on fire, someone has been injured. Those are appropriate uses of 911 for fireworks calls."

Bend is one of the top regional destinations for holiday travelers and Miller tells KBND News weekend patrol efforts  will focus on impaired drivers, "So, we will have more officers than typical who are out looking for DUIs. It’s a problem year round in Bend, but it’s especially a problem at this time of year and around holidays."

 

Bend PD Investigates Stabbing, Gunfire In Bar Parking Lot

UPDATE -- (06/30/23) A 22-year-old Bend man was arrested late Thursday for the shooting at Cascade West Grub & Alehouse. At about 9 p.m., Bend Police and the Central Oregon Emergency Response Team served a search warrant at the home of George Ray Allen West on NE Sierra Drive. He was taken into custody at around 10:30 p.m., during a high-risk traffic stop in Redmond. West is charged with Reckless Endangering, Menacing, Unlawful Use of a Weapon and Disorderly Conduct. 

BPD says the investigation is ongoing and asks that anyone who was in the bar's parking lot between midnight and 1 a.m. Thursday and witnessed the altercation call Detective Eli Allen at 541-322-2967

 

BEND, OR -- (06/29/23) Bend Police responded to a report of shots fired overnight, in the parking lot of Cascade West Grub & Alehouse on Century Drive. Officers arrived just before 1 a.m. Thursday and say witnesses reported hearing five or six gunshots in the bar's parking lot before several vehicles left. 

Officers also discovered one person on the roof of the bar, with a stab wound to his leg. The 23-year-old was taken to St. Charles Bend with non-life threatening injuries. 

Detectives estimate 30 to 35 people were at the bar at the time, and ask for anyone with information in the case to contact non-emergeny dispatch at 541-693-6911.

 

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Madras Sets Unsanctioned Camping Rules

MADRAS, OR -- Restrictions on unsanctioned camping in Madras go into effect at the end of July, following City Council approval of a new ordinance on a 5 to 2 vote.

Community Development Director Nick Snead tells KBND News 2 city-owned properties, on Northwest Willow Creek and 3rd Street are designated for camping, but only for overnight, meaning 1 hour after sunrise, and 1 hour before sunset. “What is most important for people to know is that it requires homeless individuals to leave these two sites daily, and to take their belongings with them. And then they can come back at a later time,” Snead says enforcement will begin with educating an estimated 80 to 100 houseless individuals on the new law, “Over the next 60 days we’ll work with them to make sure they’re aware of the rules, what resources are available to them and help them become accustomed to these new requirements. It’s not intended to be enforced strictly on day one of the effective date.”

The new camping policy begins on July 27th.

A homeless services center, near the 3rd Street Camping Area, is set to open in January.

 

HSCO Urges Pet Owners To Take Precautions Ahead Of July Fourth

BEND, OR -- This is a busy time of year for animal shelters, "We at the Humane Society see a huge influx of animals who have runaway or got frightened and confused during fireworks," says Lynne Ouchida, with the Humane Society of Central Oregon, "So that week surrounding the Fourth of July is just a time that we’re inundated with strays."

She says dogs and cats scared by fireworks can run away and end up miles from home, "Never leave them in your backyard or unattended. Even if they’re in a fenced yard they normally stay in, all it takes is one frightening firework - it could be a neighbor, illegal fireworks," Ouchida tells KBND News.

She suggests only taking them out on a leash during fireworks - or even summer thunderstorms. And if you do have to leave them, put them in an interior room, "Like a bathroom with a radio going, or keep them in a back bedroom with a TV going; something soothing and something distracting."
There are medications that can help ease pet anxiety, but Ouchida says, "Talk to your veterinarian now, not when it’s happening. There are a lot of medications, but those medications need to be tested, they need to be adjusted. There’s different options that will be best for your dog and sometimes even cats, as well. But do it now. July third is too late."

Community fireworks displays take place July Fourth at around 10 p.m. at Pilot Butte State Park, the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center, La Pine Frontier Days, Prineville at Ochoco Wayside Park, Madras High School and on July second at Vince Genna Stadium in Bend. Ouchida suggests keeping dogs away from those professional shows, even if you think they enjoy it. It just takes one unexpected loud noise to traumatize a pet. 

And, make sure your animal’s tags and microchip information are current, so you can be reunited if they do run off.

Immediately report lost and found animals to your local Humane Society.  Visit the animal shelter and view stray pets at the Bend shelter on-line at hsco.org.  Shelter space is limited during this busy holiday, so Ouchida asks you to quickly reclaim your pet. 

The Humane Society of Central Oregon rents crates for $5 a month to keep a pet safe and secure, and sells Thundershirts, custom pet ID tags and provides free temporary tags. 

 

County Behavioral Health + Mosaic Health In Redmond

REDMOND, OR -- Deschutes County Behavioral Health and Mosaic Community Health will open a collaborative clinic in Redmond next week.

Behavioral Health Director Holly Harris tells KBND News it’ll offer the same outpatient services as the previous clinic on Antler Avenue, “The cool thing about our partnership with Mosaic is that we do this really innovative integrated care under one roof, where we can help support an individual with both their physical health needs and their behavioral health needs.”

Redmond’s growth prompted the need to expand services for adults, kids, and families, “This expansion is long overdue in that community, and we’re also very excited to expand our youth services out there in Redmond,” Harris says.

There are two integrated Behavioral Health and Mosaic Health clinics in Bend. The new North County Campus on Northwest Kingwood is near the Redmond hospital. 

“There’s going to be outpatient behavioral health happening. We will have therapists there that will be working with Mosaic Medical to support an individual for their whole health,” Harris says more services will be added later this year, “Other providers that come from the Bend location to do services in Redmond. So, they’ll be housed out of there a couple of days a week. Our homeless outreach team, the harm reduction program, nursing, med team support, as well.”

Along with primary care and behavioral health; pharmacy, nutrition, and community health services will be available starting Wednesday, July 5th.

 

Redmond School Board Prepares For New Term

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Schools will swear in four recently elected board members Wednesday evening. But only Amanda Page is new to the position. "She replaces Alice DeWittie, that was appointed to our board back in September, roughly," says Superintendent Dr. Charan Cline.

Page is a flight paramedic. "She’s a member of the Klamath Tribe; she brings a pretty wide, diverse point of view to the board. So, we’re happy to have that point of view." Dr. Cline says she joins a strong board, "You’ve got Eric Lea, who’s a chemist - kind of a Chemist, Engineer, kind of folk. Liz Goodrich is a librarian at the Deschutes County Library. Michael Summers, who is both a musician, as part of Precious Byrd, and also runs Summers Flooring. And then you’ve got Keri Lopez. And Keri, her and her husband own a construction business." Lea, Goodrich and Lopez were all re-elected in May.

He tells KBND News, "It’s a pretty wide ranging group, in terms of professions and of political outlooks, I’d say they’re kind of all over the map. You’ve got a couple folks on that board that are, I would say, kind of represent sort of the conservative movement in our country. We’ve got a couple on our board I’d say represents more of a progressive point of view. So, we’re going to have interesting debates, I think, over the next couple years." He believes that range of views is good for the school district, "I like to have good debate; I like to have multiple points of view on a board."

Wednesday's Redmond School Board meeting begins at 5:30. Also on the agenda - adoption of high school language arts curriculum and a public hearing on the district’s budget.

 

Houseless Service Providers Prepare For Influx Of Clients

BEND, OR -- Two large encampments on the north end of Bend will soon be cleared, as city and county officials work to contain what they say are growing health and safety concerns. 

"With the closure of Hunnell Road and Juniper Ridge, that’s going to create displacement for a significant amount of people experiencing homelessness," says Dave Notari, Director of Outreach for Shepherd's House Ministries. He tells KBND News teams are trying to build trust with campers so they'll accept help and potentially a bed at a shelter. "There’s a lot of angst around this recent announcement for that community. There’s a lot of people not sure what they’re going to do; they’re worried," he says, "They’re worried for their belongings, they’re worried for their safety and their health. Now, some would argue it’s not a very healthy environment, and that’s probably true. But, to the degree that they’re able to make sense of their world there, it’s still a very disruptive experience for them."

Shepherd's House manages several shelters in Bend and Redmond, and Notari says other providers are also preparing for an influx. "We don’t know exactly how many of those people will end up coming to us for help. We know some will," says Notari, "Keep in mind, there’s a good portion of those living in those tent environments who are really not interested in accessing services like shelters, services that we offer. And so, we anticipate some will, out of just need and potentially desperation. But many won’t and they’ll relocate to other places." He adds, "We are preparing to have what we need to be able to help those people transition, whether it’s giving them assistance to move their things or actually creating a shelter bed for them."

Hunnell Road will close July 17th. The county's timeline for taking code enforcement action at Juniper Ridge remains unclear.  "Our posture is, ‘hey, we want to just be caring and loving and do what we can within our capacity,' even though we know the majority of those people won’t come to our shelter."

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FOUND: Three Children Missing From Bend May Be In Danger

UPDATE (6/28/23) -- DHS says all three children were found safe Wednesday. The agency said it was "thankful for the community support" to find the kids.

 

BEND, OR -- Three children from Bend went missing earlier this month, and the Oregon Department of Human Services says they may be in danger. Seven-year-old Brantley Hinson (brown hair), four-year-old Logan Hinson (blond hair) and Three-year-old River Hinson (blond hair) disappeared June 17th with their mother, Stephanie Lloyd and Kyle McMullen. They may still be in Oregon, but could have traveled to Idaho or Alaska.
DHS is asking for the public’s help tracking down the family to confirm they are safe. Anyone with information is asked to call 911.

 

Deschutes County Sheriff Office case #23-34797
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children #1484423

Redmond Father & Son Arrested For Monday Shooting

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police say a 45-year-old man and his 18-year-old son are now in custody, in connection with a Monday morning shooting. Witnesses reported someone fired several rounds from a black car, as it drove past a house on NW Cedar Ave. A 42-year-old man was taken to the hospital following the incident. Bend Police recovered a black Honda Civic (pictured) near NE First and Greenwood Monday.

Through the investigation, the Major Incident Team identified Mark Johnson and his son Iceton as suspects. The Central Oregon Emergency Response Team (CERT) executed a search warrant on their Redmond home at about 7:30 p.m., 12 hours after the shooting; no one was home at the time. 

At about 10 p.m. a Sheriff's Deputy spotted Mark Johnson's pickup in Sisters and a Black Butte officer used spike strips to stop the truck on Highway 20. Iceton was a passenger who deputies say complied with law enforcement; he was immediately taken into custody.

The driver, identified as Mark Johnson, refused commands and DCSO K9 Ronin helped take him into custody. He was taken by ambulance to the Redmond hospital for treatment before being booked into the jail. 

Both men face charges of Attempted Murder, Assault, Unlawful Use of a Weapon and Recklessly Endangering.

Crook County School Board Appoints Steve Holliday As Replacement Member

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Steve Holliday was appointed to the Crook County School board at Monday night’s special meeting.

23 people put their names up for consideration. The board unanimously chose Holliday. “Like everyone else Steve Holliday was my top choice. I worked with him on the Powell Butte Charter school board for a few years. He’s been on it for, I believe, eight. I find him to be exceedingly reasonable,” said board chair Jessica Ritter.

The board was allowed to make the appointment after a judge ruled in the district’s favor last week over a lawsuit filed by incoming members to block the appointment.

Those newly elected members dubbed ‘the mama bears’ begin their term next week.

During the brief meeting, Ritter said the judge at Thursday’s hearing told her he was handling the appointment decision like a divorce. “He said he would really like to see this board and the new board do absolutely anything we can for the good of the kids.”

Outgoing member Doug Smith said he thinks Holliday has the right skill set, after having served with him on other boards, “I know he has a way of reaching out and creating compromise. That will come in very, very handy.”

Ritter and Smith lost their re-election bids, along with Patti Norris.

Board member Scott Cooper cited Holliday’s time as chair of the Powell Butte Charter school board as a reason he was chosen, “Knowing that we need experience on this board to guide things, he would be my first choice.” Cooper is the only veteran member of the Crook County School Board.

Holliday was sworn-in Monday night, and replaces Gwen Carr who stepped down in May due to a chronic injury.

 

After Monday’s meeting, the Crook County School District released the following statement:

‘The Crook County School Board held a Special Meeting Monday night and appointed Steve Holliday to fill the vacant at-large board position. He was sworn in tonight by outgoing Board Chair Jessica Ritter. Holliday grew up in Prineville and went to work for Les Schwab Tires after graduating from

Crook County High School. He and his wife, Emily, have three children and were longtime owners of Prineville Disposal. Holliday has been active in the community for years and has served on various boards, including the Prineville Chamber of Commerce, Prineville Economic Development, Powell Butte Community Charter School, and the Crooked River RoundUp.

“I’m excited to get started and help make sure our school district remains a positive place for students, staff, and families. My three children have attended local schools, and my youngest will be a junior at Crook County High School in the fall. I’m eager to work collaboratively with the incoming school board to ensure high student achievement, maintain a great staff culture, plan for future growth, and make needed repairs to older buildings,” said newly-appointed Crook County School Board member Steve Holliday.

The school board declared the vacancy on May 26th and received 23 applications from interested community members. Scott Cooper, who will be the only current board member still serving come July, says it’s time to move forward and get back to school district business.

“School Board member Steve Holliday brings experience and knowledge to the table and will hit the ground running as the new board cements its role in district operations. I look forward to working with him and the other three new board members starting in July,” said school board member Scott Cooper.

Holliday replaces Gwen Carr, who resigned in early June after a head injury. He’ll fill out the remainder of her term through June 2025. Holliday will be joined by Scott Cooper and newly-elected board members Cheyenne Edgerly, Jessica Brumble, and Jennifer Knight. They will take their oaths of office during the regular board meeting on July 5th.’

 

Shepherd's House Requests Donations Of New Undergarments

BEND, OR -- Shepherd’s House Ministries is in desperate need of socks and underwear to be distributed to the homeless community. Director of Development Dave Notari tells KBND News around 400 people are served each month by the nonprofit's shower truck, "Our shower truck is in several places throughout the Bend area, including the Shepherd’s House Navigation Center, the men’s center on Division Street, and then the Methodist Church, downtown. We are in constant movement, trying to meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness, providing a humanizing experience with a shower and with some supplies." Those supplies include critical clothing, "Invariably, they do receive a pair of socks and some undergarments during that visit."

Notari says Project S.H.A.R.E. hands out another 150 sets, "We go out to several locations around the community, kind of on the fringes where people are less apt to engage, and we build relationships with those people. And through that, we’re able to provide supplies."

It can be difficult for members of the homeless community to access clean undergarments as they navigate other daily needs. "It often isn’t coupled with services like, ‘hey, I can go pop my clothes in my washer and dryer; I can grab a new set of socks or underwear out of my drawer.’ Because that requires a lot of extra steps for them," says  Notari, "They have to find a laundromat, they have to get the coins for the laundromat, they have to wait in line, they might be trying to negotiate some work, some food. And these are all things I think are easily taken for granted."

Shepherd’s House is asking for donations of new socks and underwear; the biggest need is for boxer briefs, "It’s a real tangible, practical way for someone to give, and a very helpful way, without a lot of difficulty."

Donations can be dropped off at the Lighthouse Navigation Center on Second Street in Bend, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. 

 

Bend Parks & Rec Enforces Alcohol Rules Amid Rise In Violations

BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Rec sees a big increase in drinking, this year. "Our Park Steward team, so far in June, has contacted 45 different individuals or groups who were consuming alcohol, and asked them to dump it out, pack it away," says the district's Julie Brown. "We do have the possibility of excluding somebody and not allowing them on any of our Park properties for 30 days or even longer." Violators also face the possibility of fines, criminal citation or even arrest by Bend Police. 

Brown says there is a rarely-used permit available for alcohol consumption, "But it was intended so if a small group of of-age adults wanted to have a picnic and have an alcoholic beverage as a part of that, that there would be a permit process available so they could do that." She says recent infractions are far from that "small group of adults" allowed with a permit, "These tend to be larger groups; we’re also seeing some minors that are coming to consume alcohol in the parks, as well as on the river."

In some cases, she tells KBND News, parties get rowdy, "These are larger groups and they’re coming with pingpong tables and drinking games, and kind of setting up in the parks. It’s just not the family friendly public space experience that we think everybody in the community should expect to be able to have in our parks."

Through July 12th, Bend PD, and the Sheriff’s Office Swift Water Rescue team are at Riverbend Park with park stewards to help educate people about rules and safety.

 

County's New Wolf-Livestock Conflict Prevention Committee Meets

Bend, OR -- Deschutes County’s newly formed Wolf Depredation Compensation and Financial Assistance Committee meets for the first time Monday night.

“We will have two owners or managers of livestock. Two wolf conservation or co-existence with wolves’ advocates,” Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang tells KBND News two representatives from the business community will be selected by the committee. He says the group will take immediate action, “We have had an ODFW confirmed depredation in Deschutes County in the last month. We will have some discussion about how we process a compensation application for that depredation. There’ll be some background information, as well as some very specific discussion about how to get a compensation application moving to support that livestock owner who experienced losses a month ago.”

A rise in wolf-livestock conflicts in the county led to the formation of the committee. 

The group will also discuss ways to reduce those encounters. Managing wolf and livestock co-habitation is an age-old problem, one other parts of the state are dealing with, and the committee uses that information as a resource.

There are also high-tech solutions to help. “Some of those wolves out there are collared and can be tracked. One of the prevention techniques that has great promise is using drones,” Chang says.

Monday’s meeting is open to the public at the Deschutes Services Building from 6 to 8.

 

Car Crashes Into La Pine Hardware Store

LA PINE, OR -- A car drove into the La Pine Ace Hardware store Saturday, injuring several customers and employees. Deputies say the 66-year-old driver mistook the gas pedal for the brake, forcing her Jeep Cherokee into the building on Huntington Road. According to the Sheriff's Office, all injuries were non-life threatening.

It's the second time an SUV has crashed into a La Pine building this month. On June 7th, a driver crashed into a building on First Street, forcing the closure of the temporary La Pine library branch. No one was hurt in that incident.

RPD Searches For Shooting Suspect

REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond man was seriously hurt in what appears to have been a drive-by shooting. According to police, a black car stopped in front of a home on NW Cedar Ave. and a person inside the vehicle fired multiple rounds at a man standing in the driveway. The car then drove off. 

Police and medics responded at about 7:30 a.m. Monday and the victim was taken to St. Charles Bend with life-threatening injuries.

Redmond Police shut down roads in the area and is investigating, with help from the Major Incident Team - which includes the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, Bend Police and Oregon State Police. 

Investigators ask neighbors near NW 19th and Cedar to review surveillance footage for a black passenger car and contact police with any information in the case. Call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911, and reference RPD case #23-18765. 

 

UPDATE: Redmond Police confirm the victim suffered gunshot wounds to both legs and one arm. The 42-year-old man is being treated at St. Charles Bend. "Although the suspect remains at large, police believe this is a targeted incident and the public is not in danger," Lt. Jesse Petersen tells KBND News.

 

 

State, Federal Agencies Prepare For Hot, Dry Summer

PORTLAND, OR -- With warmer and drier than average conditions predicted for this summer, preparations are underway for what could be a tough wildfire season. Oregon’s wildland firefighters, hot shot crews and the agencies who manage them are bringing in more staff and equipment. "So, we’re getting those folks on, re-trained, getting their refresher training in and getting them pre-positioned around the state," says Carol Connolly, with the Northwest Coordination Center. NWCC works with federal and state land management agencies, "Our federal partners would include the Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and USDA Forest Service." They also coordinate with the Oregon Department of Forestry, State Fire Marshal's Office and Washington State agencies. She tells KBND News, "We need each other. We need the equipment, we need the personnel, and we need the incident management teams, which are interagency, as well."

NWCC Fire Weather Program Manager and Meteorologist John Saltenberger says Oregon is caught in the middle of an unusual weather pattern, "Warmer and drier to the north, cooler and more moist to the south and the fire potential is accordingly. Consider for a moment - Canada is on fire; it’s been warm and dry. California has been cool and wet; it’s not on fire. How often do we see that pattern shape up." Oregon crews, like the Prineville Hot Shots, are also helping battle early season fires in Canada.

El niño conditions are already warming waters off Oregon’s coast, creating warmer and drier weather in the Pacific Northwest for summer. Saltenberger's forecast shows Washington state at the highest risk of catastrophic wildfire early in the season, "I’m also going to include southeast Oregon and northwest Oregon, as being an above average potential, at this point, too, owing to the drought factors that we see creeping up and the extra grass crop that seems to be building over rangelands in southeast Oregon from the wet winter last year and the wet winter this year, as well. And reports are that we have extra cheat grass out there, which adds extra fuel to pretty fast running rangeland fires, when we get sufficient lightning strikes." He says, "Central Oregon: its drought designations - which are still there - have lessened month by month. The bad news, correspondingly, is that from the Cascade Crest westward to the Pacific coast, the drought designations are increasing week by week." 

Last year, more than 435,000 acres burned in Oregon during nearly 2,000 fires; more than half of those were human caused. 

 

Hwy 26 Speeds Return To 55 MPH

JEFFERSON COUNTY, OR -- The speed limit on Highway 26 between Mt. Hood and Madras returns to normal Monday. Oregon Department of Transportation crews removed temporary 45 mile an hour signs, raising the speed back up to 55 in the stretch between Highway 216 and the Warm Springs River. Speeds were reduced in May due to extremely poor pavement conditions.

ODOT conducted some pavement smoothing on the worst sections of the highway, and plans to fully repave a 15 mile stretch in 2024. 

Trailer Stolen Last Fall Recovered From Encampment

TUMALO, OR -- A trailer stolen from a Redmond RV dealer last fall was recovered Thursday from an area known as “Dirt World.”

A woman reported that she suspected she was living in a stolen trailer in the camp between Highway 97 and Deschutes Market Road. Deputies confirmed it was taken from Blue Dog RV in November, but was no longer road-worthy.

Mechanics returned Friday to make repairs and tow it out, but different campers had moved in. They were asked to vacate and the trailer was recovered without further issues.

Hunnell Road Clean Up, Closure Scheduled For Mid-July

BEND, OR -- After postponing a planned spring eviction, the city of Bend has a new date to clear campers from Hunnell, Loco and Clausen roads. "The city will be conducting a cleanup and closure of the Hunnell area on July 17, 2023 and will work with service providers to connect those living in the area with resources," said City Manager Eric King this week. He read a prepared statement at Wednesday's Council meeting, explaining the increased health and safety concerns. "We know this decision affects human life, and it doesn’t come easy. We know that there’s a sense of community in that area and that there are many stories of hardship, hope and resilience. We know there are many dimensions to the crisis and no one single action is going to solve all these issues. We’re taking this action in response to safety concerns building in the area of Hunnell Road, for people living there and for the public at large." 

Evicting campers was supposed to happen back in March, but plans were postponed when an agreement with the county to open a managed site fell through. "Calls for service continue to rise since last fall’s formal assessment," said King, noting in the one year period ending June 20th, there were 1,527 calls for service in that area. "The circumstances in this area have created public health and safety issues for people camping there and for nearby residents, businesses and traveling public." He also said there are 484 new shelter beds and it’s now time to enforce the new camping code city-wide. That code took effect March first, but an exception was initially made for the Hunnell Road area. "The city’s camping code does not ban camping in Bend, but it does set rules on where, when and how people can use the right of way to camp."

Several people who live on Hunnell Road tried to convince Council to change course. Michelle Hester told them she’ll lose everything if she’s forced to leave, "It’s not fair. We’ve fought hard to get that road cleaned up. And, that’s our home; that’s our family. It’s not right. I don’t want to lose my trailer." Nick Schindler said, "I call you hypocrites, justly and rightfully so because you are about to disband an entire community with no plausible solution and I promise you this: While you guys get ready to go on vacation, there will be protests."

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ODOT Seeks Input On South County Multi-Use Path

LA PINE, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Transportation is planning a new continuous path parallel to Highway 97 in southern Deschutes County. The Lava Butte to La Pine Multi-Use Path project is still in the design phase, and ODOT officials say they’re looking for public feedback on the route.

Two in-person open houses are scheduled for Monday, June 26:

  • La Pine Subway (16509 Reed Rd, La Pine), 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
  • Sunriver Marketplace (18160 Cottonwood Rd, Sunriver), 3 - 5 p.m.

An online open house is also available HERE, through July 17. Along with route options, the online open house also shares background information and includes a survey at the end.

This project, combined with the planned Bend to Lava Butte Multi-Use Path and the recently completed U.S. 97: Wickiup Junction to 1st Street Multi-Use Path, will create a continuous multi-use path that runs next to Hihgway 97 from Bend to La Pine.

 


           

Building Under Construction Destroyed In Redmond Fire

REDMOND, OR -- A commercial building in southwest Redmond was destroyed Wednesday afternoon, in a fast moving fire. Redmond Fire & Rescue responded to Veterans Way and Lake Road at about 4 p.m. after several people reported the blaze. 

The building was under construction and interior walls were unfinished, allowing flames to spread quickly. A short time after crews arrived, the roof collapsed, followed by the exterior walls. No one was hurt. 

Investigators continue to process the scene and the cause is, so far, undetermined. 

 

photos courtesy Redmond Fire & Rescue

Deschutes Co. To Clean Out Juniper Ridge Camps

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners have approved what they’re calling a public health and safety plan for 50 acres of Juniper Ridge north of Bend. Community Development Director Peter Gutowsky says unsanctioned camps have taken over the area north of Bend, and staff found numerous problems while investigating complaints from the public. He told Commissioners Wednesday, "The presence of human waste, solid waste and illegal structures that have wood-burning apparatus. Those factors in the Community Development Department’s responsibility represent a series of code violations, and in our purview, an imminent public health and safety issue."

During the discussion, Commissioners Tony DeBone and Phil Chang disagreed on the best way to deal with campers in the area. "We cannot allow these bad situations to evolve just by watching it get worse and worse over time," said DeBone. Chang responded, "That’s right, we need to do something and shuffling people from one unauthorized location to another is not doing something." Chang believes campers will simply move to another area where the county will have to again pay for clean-up in the future. DeBone complained Chang was "only seeing the negative" instead of what he views as positive changes, "We do have leadership happening here now. It isn’t talking about somebody else doing something some other day; it’s talking about doing something and doing something today." Chang replied, "Yeah; and I’m saying that what you are voting to do right now is basically just incurring more costs for the people of Deschutes County, and not solving any problems."

The argument continued for several minutes, until County Health Services Director Janice Garceau interrupted, "We’re doing a lot of fighting about this issue and we all want the same thing, which is safety and compassion for everyone in our community. I think we can get there together and I really want to be at the table with you to explore solutions together. One request I have is that in this discussion, we remember to talk about the people impacted first and most, as respectfully as we can."

Commissioners eventually approved the code enforcement action and remediation, which could cost around $200,000; Chang abstained from the vote. 

They also discussed a potential ordinance allowing safe parking in unincorporated areas, in an effort to provide a sanctioned site for people living in cars or RVs. 

 

Volleyball Coach Accused Of Sex Abuse

REDMOND, OR -- A Sisters man faces several sex abuse-related charges, following an investigation by the Redmond Police Department into an alleged relationship with an underage victim.

Detectives say 22-year-old Zachary Anderson coaches for Redmond-based Elite Volleyball Academy, where he interacted with the girl. He was arrested May 17 for three counts each of Sex Abuse II, Sexual Misconduct and Contributing to the Sexual Delinquency of a Minor. 

RPD acknowledged "the strength the victim and her family have displayed reporting this case to law enforcement. In the state of Oregon, it is unlawful and a felony offense for a coachor teacher to engage in sexual conduct with one of their athletes or students."

They are investigating reports there may be more young victims. Anyone with information in the case is asked to contact Det. Connor Keith at 541-504-3480 or connor.keith@redmondoregon.gov.

Redmond To Las Vegas Flights Begin In September

REDMOND, OR -- Avelo Airlines is again expanding the number of destinations it serves from the Redmond Airport. Beginning September 7, Avelo will offer nonstop service between Roberts Field and Las Vegas, operating twice weekly on Thursdays and Sundays. Reservations are now available.

Redmond Airport Director Zach Bass said in a statement, “We welcome Avelo Airlines' new routes, which amplify the flight options between Redmond and four popular west coast destinations. Our facilities and staff are ready for continued growth that efforts, such as Avelo’s, allow us to provide.”

Avelo’s new nonstop service from Redmond to Sonoma County Airport starts Friday afternoon, running Mondays and Fridays. The low-cost airline also flight to Los Angeles and Palm Springs from Central Oregon. 

 

file photo

ODOT Summer Construction & Wildfire Awareness

BEND, OR -- Road projects continue across Central Oregon. Particularly at Bend’s North end where work on the US 97 and 20 corridor is underway, and roundabout construction continues on Highway 20 between Bend and Tumalo.

ODOT’s Kacey Davey tells KBND news it’s important to drive with caution in those areas, “Not only is the speed limit actually lowered in that area, but we really ask everyone to slow down and keep your eyes on the road and look out for our folks because they’re trying to get their work done. And sometimes construction zones can be a dangerous place for folks to work.”

She says a detour is now in place for OB Riley Road, and more are coming in the next few weeks, “Coming up after 4th of July there’s going to be a couple more detours that will be happening near Robal, that people will have to use Hunnel. So, there’s a couple more coming up but right now the biggest one is that closure of OB Riley Road.”

ODOT also reminds drivers to do their part to decrease wildfire risk, by not parking on dry grass and making sure your vehicle isn’t causing sparks.

Davey says the new digital speed signs and weather sensors on Lava Butte will also alert drivers to wildfire danger, “If we see thick smoke in that area this summer, you could see those speed signs on 97 lower the speed to help people adjust for those conditions.”

RSD Responds To Racist Remarks Targeting Student

REDMOND, OR -- It’s been a week since a Redmond 10-year-old told City Council about being called “Monkey” and the “N word.” Redmond Schools Superintendent Dr. Charan Cline says the district took action when the incidents were first reported to Lynch Elementary in December, "The school started working very intently with Gavin and his family. We did a lot of work with a number of the kids that were involved in this. There was some amount of punishment that happens, of course. But most of it happens through counseling and education." He tells KBND News, "Gavin, himself - the principal formed a mentoring relationship with him. They check in with each other pretty constantly at recesses and after school."

Counselors then worked with all students at Lynch, which is the district's most racially diverse, "We also have increased the amount of SEL lessons - Social and Emotional Learning lessons - in that school. We already were running a program called CharacterStrong, which is about teaching positive traits that we hope to see out of kids." Dr. Cline says, "Really, what we’re talking about here is ‘How do we create a better, more inclusive school district? How do we keep working to make sure that every kid’s welcomed and every kid can thrive in our schools."

Cline says the district takes allegations of racism seriously, even if incident don’t occur in school, "Kids bring a lot of things into the schools that they hear from their parents; they bring a lot of things into schools that they hear from each other. In fact, we know a lot of this stuff didn’t even happen at school. A lot of it happened in the park after school or the times before school." He adds, ?"I can say for the Redmond School District, we’re neither allowing these to happen, I don’t think we’re creating an environment where these things can happen. And when they do happen, we’re doing something about it and we plan on doing more. Our goal is really to create an environment where every kid can thrive; every kid can come together and get a great education. That’s our goal and that’s what all our staff are working to achieve."

Schools also work with social organizations, Cline says, to help families struggling with racism, poverty, abuse and other issues, in an effort to build a better community, "Our schools have worked really hard and really diligently to make sure that every kid is welcomed and every child is part of the team."

 

Rep. Levy Seeks More E-Bike Education In Wake Of Fatal Crash

BEND, OR -- A local lawmaker says it’s time to take action after a Bend teen died from injuries sustained in an electric bike crash. "My first thought was of course for that poor family," says Rep. Emerson Levy (D-Central OR), "And unfortunately, I found out that I do know them, so it’s been a difficult day. It’s just that that’s the call that no parent ever wants to get." The 15-year-old killed was younger than the legal age of 16 to operate an e-bike under state law. 

Levy says she’s now talking with the Bend City Council about expanding efforts to educate teens and parents about the law. She’s also looking at what options the legislature might have; but she acknowledges any state changes wouldn't have an immediate impact, "So, we’ve actually requested a legal opinion of what the state can do, what are the exact regulations as they exist, what are the state’s responsibilities, is there any preemption in the state versus the city? So that we know if there’s something the state can do, or is it better at the city level?"

She believes it's unrealistic to think police can stop and cite every violator and tells KBND News more outreach is needed with parent groups, "Regulations and education haven’t caught up with the power of these bikes, but I think they’re an important tool. Like anything, it’s a good thing when managed well. And so it’s just, how can the community have more information? How can we get it into more hands? Especially within the mom and parent community."

Levy started getting calls from constituents concerned about kids using electric bikes weeks ago, when the weather started to warm. She says she discovered only a handful of cities are taking proactive measures, "The two cities that I’ve seen that have actually done something are Carlsbad and Santa Barbara. So, kind of smaller communities where there’s some level of affluence, where a 12-year-old might be on an e-bike. So, I think Bend and some of these other communities are really on the forefront of this, especially as the price point comes down and the bikes are more accessible."

 

Arrest Made In String Of Business Burglaries

BEND, OR -- A Bend man is accused of breaking into at least 11 businesses in Bend and Redmond over the past three weeks. In each case, a burglar broke a deadbolt to get inside a small business then took cash and other property.

Surveillance footage led investigators to 48-year-old Michael Dillon who was on probation for a prior commercial burglary conviction. He was arrested during a traffic stop near China Hat Road over the weekend.

Dillon is charged with 10 counts of second-degree burglary, two counts of third-degree theft, five counts of second-degree theft, three counts of first-degree theft, three counts of third-degree criminal mischief, two counts of second-degree criminal mischief and four counts of first-degree criminal mischief. He was also arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs. 

Police executed a search warrant on Dillon’s vehicle and at his home at the St. Vincent’s Village and say they found items stolen during the burglaries.

The Bend businesses targeted include: 

  • Old Boy Vintage, 1400 block of NE First Street
  • Scissor Bird, 200 block of SE Taft Avenue 
  • Allure Nails Spa, 2000 block of NE Highway 20
  • Apollo Tanning, 61400 block of S Highway 97
  • Industrial Joes Coffee, 400 block of SE Ninth Street
  • Totally Polished, 1200 block of NE Second Street
  • Rugged Thread, 2500 block of NE Twin Knolls Drive
  • State Farm, 1000 block of SE Third Street
  • Subway, 62900 block of N Highway 97 
  • Ida’s Cupcake Café, 1100 block of SW Division Street 
  • Big O Bagel, 1000 block of NW Galveston Avenue

The Redmond businesses targeted include: 

  • Redmond Burger Co., 200 block of NW Sixth Avenue
  • Ka Nui Salon, 200 block of NW Sixth Avenue 
  • Hip Chicks Salon, 300 block of NW Seventh Avenue

Additional charges could be forthcoming. 

Two Injured In Head-On Crash In La Pine

LA PINE, OR -- A head-on crash in La Pine, Monday evening, sent both drivers to the hospital. According to the Sheriff's Office, a Subaru Impreza was southbound on Huntington Road, just before 8 p.m., when it crossed into the oncoming lane. A northbound Chevrolet Suburban reportedly tried to avoid the Impreza but the two cars collided. 

The driver of the Impreza was seriously injured and was pulled from the wreckage by La Pine firefighters. He was flown to St. Charles Bend. He faces criminal charges, including driving under the influence. 

The other driver was treated at the hospital for minor injuries. 

PILT Funds Coming To Oregon Counties

REDMOND, OR -- All 36 Oregon counties will collectively receive more than $27-million this year from the federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes program - called PILT. 

It compensates counties with large amounts of federal lands managed by the Interior Department, which are exempt from property taxes. Payments are calculated based on the number of acres of federal land within each county or jurisdiction and the population of that county or jurisdiction.

Senator Jeff Merkley tells KBND News more money will be available this year, to help cover the costs of critical local services, including emergency response and infrastructure. “It came through statewide about a million dollars more than we had last year and Deschutes County about $200,000 more than last year.” Senators Merkley and Ron Wyden made the announcement last week.

“It came through and it came at a slightly modestly increased level which will be helpful given inflation. And Senator Wyden and I have continued to fight for both PILT and Secure Rural Schools,” Merkley says, adding PILT was easier to get than the Secure Rural Schools funding because more states are affected by tax-exempt federal lands.

Merkley says it is a challenge to try to make PILT permanent, “The prospects for that making it mandatory funding that is locked in through a trust fund or other strategy is such a huge budget item in terms of how it's scored that we've always faced huge resistance to doing so.”

Crook County will get $1,834,700, Deschutes is getting $3,316,534, and Jefferson  will receive $568,377.

Mt. Bachelor Snow Postpones Summer Activities

BEND, OR -- Unseasonably cold weather halted summer operations at Mt. Bachelor over the weekend and into Monday. "Since summer season really officially kicked off here about two weeks ago, we’ve seen gorgeous, warm sunshine," says Bachelor's Lauren Burk, "And, over the last few days, it looks like almost a little return to winter."

She says it’s still early, so summer operations weren’t yet in full swing. But a lot of preparations were underway. "During this cold snap we put our operations on hold, for the safety of our guests and our employees. But it looks like it’s going to be [a] return to sunshine in the next day or two."

Burke tells KBND News, "Really, what our trail crew is focused on right now is snow removal. There’s still a ton of snow on the upper mountain, so they’ve been working daily to work on our trails, remove snow and get some of our more intermediate, advanced, expert trails open here in the next couple of weeks. So, they’re still out there, working on the hill."

While Father's Day snow isn’t unheard of on the mountain, it is unusual. According to the latest NRCS snow survey, snowpack for the Upper Deschutes-Crooked River Basin is 88% of average for this time of year, which is good for summer irrigators and not so great for the mountain bikers. In comparison, the Hood-Sandy-Lower Deschutes Basin, which includes Jefferson County, is 12% of normal.

Mountain biking and ziplining should reopen at Mt. Bachelor soon. "The rain is really what makes the dirt so good up there," says Burke, "So, hopefully we can get the snow to turn to rain and we can get some of that 'hero dirt' or 'brown pow,' as the bikers like to call it."

 

Bend City Council Poised To Approve $1.3B Budget

BEND, OR -- Bend’s City Council is prepared to approve its next budget Wednesday night. The $1.3 billion budget is much larger than the last two-year cycle. "We’ve met already through a Budget Committee and made some changes to the budget," City Manager Eric King tells KBND News, "Including some general fund allocations towards affordable housing, as well as helping to decrease some of the pressure on our permit fees, particularly planning fees."

However, the budget does not include money to operate homeless shelters opened in the last two years, "The total operations of and acquisitions and renovations of shelters, about 3% of those funds have come from the general fund. So [we’ve] really tried to avoid that as much as possible and we’re going to continue to do that into the future." King adds, "The budget really does reflect the assumption that there are state and federal revenues that will continue to help provide assistance in operating the shelters. We have increased some subsidy to our affordable housing, but we’re really avoiding the general fund contributing to a core service that’s just not part of a city function." He says Bend is not alone, "This is the plight that many cities are in."

King says such a large increase over the $919 million 2021-23 budget wasn't easy, "So, the committee kind of wrestled with the budget and now it’s in front of Council for formal adoption, along with our goals. We have goals that really help inform the budget; all that gets packaged and voted on."

The 2023-25 budget cycle begins July first. 

 

Nonprofit Fundraises For Critical Equipment

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Locavore has launched a fundraising campaign to replace a critical piece of equipment. The nonprofit’s point-of-sale (POS) system is failing and stops working multiple times a day. It’ll cost an estimated $20,000 to purchase, install, train staff and transfer to a new system.

Founded in 2009, Central Oregon Locavore helps bridge the gap between grocery consumers and local farmers. More than 25 ranchers, 15 farmers and 200+ local food vendors sell their products at Locavore's 2600 square-foot, year-round indoor farmers market. It also manages five educational programs.

"We are hopeful this community will rally to help us get this new Point of Sale in place before the old one fails completely. I'm not really sure what we would do if that happened," Founder Nicolle Timm-Branch said in a statement, "We might have to close the marketplace for a time until we could figure out another solution."

Donations to the “SOS POS Fundraiser” can be made at the Central Oregon Locavore website.

Four Children Escape Crook County House Fire

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County Fire and Rescue says four children escaped a fire without injury. However, two pets perished. Crews responded to the home on NW Brookfield Court Sunday afternoon, just before 4 p.m. They found flames on the first and second floors, along with the exterior siding. Using multiple hose lines, the fire was quickly knocked down. 

The cause of the fire remains undetermined. 

 

Senator Merkley At Redmond Town Hall

REDMOND, OR -- U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley held a Town Hall in Redmond Saturday at Ridgeview High School. Among the audience questions on student debt, river restoration, and Veterans’ services, he also touched on affordable housing. “The cost of buying homes, the cost of renting homes, homelessness…And so we have an $8 billion increase in the overall funding for housing, but it's not enough.”

The senator told KBND News he will be reintroducing a bill this summer, the End Hedge Fund Control of American Homes Act. “It basically brings a new element to this conversation, which is a significant factor driving up the price of housing has been hedge funds deciding this is a great place for them to invest.” Merkley said, explaining this goes back to 2009 when large home-lots were being foreclosed and hedge funds and private equity investors scooped up those homes, “I can tell you from my town halls, whether it's a red county or blue county or anything in between people go ‘yeah get the hedge funds out of housing’”.

The Democrat acknowledged the powerful hedge fund lobby would make it difficult to get the bill passed.

Veterans Brain Injury Workshop Comes To Bend

BEND, OR -- A special workshop in Bend this week aims to connect veterans suffering from a brain injury with necessary resources. 

Dave Kracke, Oregon's Brain Injury Advocate says some vets may remain undiagnosed, "Because of the nature of brain injury, it’s often called the invisible injury." He says symptoms often mimic other conditions or age-related problems, "Really, the things that might stand out are memory problems: short term, long term memory problems. You might see also behavioral health issues, such as anger, impulse control problems, the inability to follow through on things. We also see it manifesting in physical ways: light sensitivity, noise sensitivity." There’s also the possibility of a loss of balance, headaches and confusion. 

Kracke says it's important for veterans to access services they're entitled to and get the help they need, "You need to know that you’re not alone; you need to know that these services are there. Currently, a lot of these services are hard to find; and for a person with cognitive impairment, that difficulty is magnified exponentially."

Thursday's Veterans Brain Injury Workshop includes a panel discussion with experts and a free pizza lunch, "We want to not only educate veterans in the Bend area who may either know they have a brain injury or who don’t, as well as their loved ones, their caregivers, etc. And, we want to connect them with the incredible support and service that is available." There will also be an opportunity to get screened or schedule a future virtual screening, "If we aren’t helping identify veterans with brain injury, we’re not doing our job," says Kracke. 

The event is June 22nd, 1-3 p.m., at Abilitree (2680 NE Twin Knolls Dr. #150, Bend), just south of The Forum shopping center on 27th Street. It is free and no pre-registration is required. 

 

Deschutes River Conservancy Requests Congressional Funding

BEND, OR -- It could take an act of Congress to bring stable funding back to the Deschutes River Conservancy. Executive Director Kate Fitzpatrick tells KBND News streamflow restoration projects and water management issues don’t come cheap, "Things like canal piping, on-farm efficiency work, and then also market-based incentives where we can lease water rights. We also work on water quality projects and habitat restoration projects."

Oregon’s U.S. Senators have introduced legislation to reauthorize federal money for the Deschutes River Conservancy, which used to receive $2 million a year from the Bureau of Reclamation. It was last reauthorized in 2005 but was never distributed and it expired in 2015. Fitzpatrick has relied on grants and private donations ever since, "We do have a fair amount of federal funding, but that’s received through competitive grant programs that we have to apply to over and over and compete for. So, this does for us is it gives us a direct line to get direct appropriations through the Bureau of Reclamation, to do the projects we need to do to restore the river."

Fitzpatrick says the money is needed now for important conservation work, "We’re working with irrigation districts and other partners right now, to meet pretty ambitious streamflow targets in the Upper Deschutes River, and water quality goals in the Crooked River. We’re pretty successful when it comes to securing grants, but this would just create some stability and enable us to make that work happen faster."

She is optimistic Congress will approve the reauthorization request to allocate funding for 10 years, "That climate has changed, where there has been an appetite for appropriating money for something like this." Fitzpatrick says it’s unclear how quickly the bill will advance and she admits there’s no guarantee it will pass.

 

Powell Butte Hwy Home Damaged By Fire

BEND, OR -- A house fire caused $150,000 in damage, late Saturday night. Bend firefighters responded to the home on Powell Butte Highway, just north of Alfalfa Market Road, at about 11 p.m. and found flames coming from a large deck and siding outside the house.

Everyone safely evacuated, thanks to working smoke alarms, and people were spraying the fire with garden hoses. Damage to thehome was limited to the exterior, with smoke and water impacting the interior. Residents declined Red Cross assistance.

Investigators believe the fire started with improperly disposed of cigarettes.

 

photo courtesy Bend Fire & Rescue

McKenzie Pass Reopens Monday

SISTERS, OR -- Crews have cleared McKenzie Pass and the gates open for all travelers Monday, June 19. This highway, also known as OR 242, closed for the winter season on November first, last year. 

Drivers on this winding road need to be on the lookout for cyclists and pedestrians, as this is a popular scenic route for many types of road users. Vehicles longer than 35 feet are prohibited due to its sharp, narrow curves.

Private funding built the highway in the 1870s for use as a wagon toll road, and the pass became a seasonal scenic highway in 1962 with the completion of Oregon 126. Even during its tenure as the main route between the southern Willamette Valley and Central Oregon, the narrow, twisting roadway and high elevation (5,325 feet at the highest point) made the highway too difficult to maintain and keep clear for much of the year.

Each year, we plan to close the highway the Thursday after Veteran's Day and open it the third Monday in June. Snowfall times and amounts may change these dates.

When we close the road, it is closed to everyone and is not maintained. We do not open it early for cyclists or pedestrians. Even after the snow melts each spring, our crews have a lot of work to do before the road is safe for travel. Each winter trees come down and the heavy rain and snow moves rocks and debris onto the road. All of this is cleaned up and the pavement patched before we open. Take a look at these pictures and videos to see what it takes to open the pass every year. 

Mini-Motorcycle Rider Injured In Crash, Cited

BEND, OR -- A 25-year-old Bend man was seriously hurt while riding a mini motorcycle on Reed Market Road. Bend Police say Graeme Booth was westbound in the bike lane and broadsided a car that was turning right.

The mini motorcycle was going about 30 miles an hour, is not street-legal, and Booth was not wearing a helmet. He was cited for operating a vehicle in the bike lane, driving while suspended and driving without insurance.

The driver of the car, 37-year-old Jesse Raphael Cardenas, remained on scene and was cited for an improper right turn. 

Bend Teen Killed In Weekend E-Bike Crash

BEND, OR -- A 15-year-old died over the weekend, following an electric bike crash in northeast Bend. According to police, the teen was operating the e-bike with a passenger on the back. They were on the sidewalk, traveling westbound on the eastbound side of Highway 20, Saturday afternoon, when a minivan pulled out from Dean Swift Road.

The van struck the bike in the intersection, at about 4:30 p.m. The driver remained on scene, is cooperating in the investigation and has not been cited. The teen was not wearing a helmet. Roads in the area were closed for about 30 minutes. 

Bend Police launched a campaign last month to crack down on e-bike users who violate state law, including riders under 16 and those who ride on sidewalks.

Natural Fishway Selected For Mirror Pond Dam

BEND, OR -- Bend City Council, the Parks and Rec board and an advisory committee have finally agreed on a fish passage plan at Mirror Pond. City Manager Eric King tells KBND News, "If you think of fish ladders, there are different options that were evaluated. And what the group landed on was actually a cost-effective, natural fish passage." It's called a Nature-Like Fishway and would use rocks and other organic materials to simulate the hydraulic conditions of natural channels. 

The dam that forms the pond in downtown Bend was built in 1911, "This is the last remaining barrier, in terms of fish passage, along the Deschutes River," says King, "So there is a lot of importance, and I think some potentially good opportunities to fund the project because it is now the remaining barrier."

Securing that funding is the next step, along with determining who will own and operate the passage. It’s a tricky question given the hydro dam is owned by Pacific Power, "It’s not a city facility. Parks benefits from it because Drake Park is right along, along with some homeowners. So there’s multiple partners involved; and anytime there’s multiple parties, things just take a little bit longer." And, he says negotiating a fish passage plan has been in the works for years, "That was kind of a condition of a resolution that both the Parks board and the City Council passed in 2019, that said ‘we are interested in preserving Mirror Pond at its current level, but we want to see some environmental benefits, including fish passage, to be evaluated.’ We’ve done that. So, it’s all part of a bigger plan to go back to this 2015 vision of Mirror Pond."

 

Fires In Unsanctioned Camps Keep Crews Busy

REDMOND, OR -- Deputies responded to two transient camp fires on opposite ends of Deschutes County, Thursday. The first started as a car fire near Old Ice Cave Road, in La Pine, at about 7:45 a.m. Deputies determined the camp and vehicle were unoccupied but battled the fire for more than 40 minutes until the Walker Range Rural Fire District arrived.

In the afternoon, deputies helped put out a fire at a camp off East Antler in Redmond. DSCO responded to the area just north of Highway 126 at about 3:30 p.m. and found a tree on fire, spreading to brush. Redmond firefighters remained on scene for about an hour and believe the tree ignited from smoldering embers from a fire they’d extinguished the day before.

Redmond Voters To Decide Future Cannabis Regulations

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond voters could decide what restrictions - if any - they want if marijuana-related businesses ever become legal in the city. "The only reason we don’t have dispensaries in Redmond is because we have a requirement that every business has to comply with federal law," Mayor Ed Fitch told KBND News. He told City Councilors this week, "Sometime in the future, it may come to be that Congress will decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. If they do and we do not have time, place and manner regulations on paper and in the wing, they could go anywhere in town, except as prohibited by state law."

Fitch has supported allowing cannabis businesses to open in Redmond but admits it shouldn't be a free-for-all, "I think a more measured approach is: let’s determine what makes sense for this community and let the voters decide whether they agree with that." He acknowledges voters in the city narrowly opposed the legalization of recreational marijuana when Measure 91 passed statewide in 2014, "We’ve changed a lot in the last six, seven years," he tells KBND News, "So, [we’d be] giving the voters an opportunity to make a decision on that specifically, whether there should be dispensaries now that it is legal in Oregon. For me, the primary issue is access for adults and those who need it for medical purposes." Numerous residents have spoken at recent Council meetings in opposition to allowing dispensaries to open in Redmond.

The city attorney and staff are working to create Time, Place and Manner guidelines. Fitch expects a draft in the next month or two, "If Congress ever did change that controlled substance schedule, we would be ready to have the regulations in place so that it’s not wide open."

 

Prineville Woman Accused Of Trafficking Fentanyl

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A 26-year-old Prineville woman is in jail this morning on charges of Attempted Distribution of illegal drugs. Following a multi-county, long-term surveillance operation, Crook County Sheriff's Deputies pulled over Krista McDaniel on Highway 26 near Rye Grass Road Thursday around 6:45 a.m. 

Among other evidence of drug sales, detectives say they found a commercial quantity of fake pharmaceutical tablets made of fentanyl. McDaniel is accused of bringing the drugs into Central Oregon from the Portland area.

School Safety Funding Included In $10B State Ed. Bill

SALEM, OR -- Oregon’s House passed a $10 billion budget for K-12 education this week. It includes funding for a panic alarm system in every school.

For Central Oregon State Rep. Emerson Levy, funding the rollout of Alyssa’s Law is fulfillment of a campaign promise, "I feel like, as a mom, a lot of times when these school shootings happen, you’re kind of left with the question: ‘who’s looking out for my kid?’ ‘What are we doing?’"

Levy says teachers and staff would use a mobile app to quickly notify others in the building and first responders of a potential school shooter. It can also dispatch medics if there’s a life-threatening allergic reaction or other medical issue. "The teacher can hit a button that clicks to EMS - you hold it down for a second and a half," Levy tells KBND News. "And, we’ve worked with Deschutes County 911 to make sure it all works as it should; and there’s money to integrate it into our CAD system. At the same time, schools can program it so that every teacher or staff member that is CPR trained or has access to an Epi pen would be notified." She adds, "The value of these apps is it buys time. It certainly doesn’t solve or end an emergency, but it gives us more time to react."

Levy says $2.5 million included in the Oregon Department of Education budget would pay for the app and integration into local 911 systems. She stresses it's being used succesfully in other states where Alyssa's Law has already passed, and saving lives in medical emergencies, "The app was originally created to just really address ‘bad guy’ situations. However, now that it’s been implemented in three states, that’s what actually the bulk of it is for is inside emergencies. It’s behaviors, it’s anaphylactic shocks, it’s athletes with heart issues."

The State House approved the $10 billion budget bill this week, but it’s now stuck in the Senate backlog. Levy is still optimistic Alyssa’s Law will make it to the Governor’s Desk, "Because it is in a budget note and it doesn’t have to go through the full process, when they come back, we can pass it." But she recognizes the Senate walkout is holding up the process, "It’s been a three-year journey to get to this point and I hope that we can come to a framework that everyone can agree on. And I really do remain hopeful."

Alyssa’s Law is named for one of the teens killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida in 2017.

file photo

COCC Students Protest At Board Meeting

BEND, OR -- COCC Students held a stand-in protest Wednesday ahead of a board meeting at the Bend campus.

The demonstration was to oppose the school's decision to invite Congresswoman Lori Chavez-DeRemer to give the commencement address Saturday. Protesters say her policies are transphobic.

“We just wanted to show opposition in the board's decision to not rescind the invitation of LCD as a commencement speaker for this year's commencement,” Bravo tells KBND News students want to have a say in future speakers, “I think moving forward that some sort of feedback from students or just some sort of clearance by the students to have somebody represent the interests of them.” Bravo says a petition is also circulating, “That petition is to support the process in selecting next year’s speakers and following speakers so that we actually have a voice as students to be able to decide who we want to represent us”.

Congresswoman Chavez-DeRemer told KBND News earlier this week she respects the students’ right to protest, and plans to give a congratulatory address at graduation.

 

Crook County School Board To Fight Injunction Filed By Incoming Members

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County School Board has retained a lawyer to defend the board in a court hearing next week. Three incoming members filed an injunction to prevent the current board from filling a vacancy before they are seated. 

In a short special meeting Wednesday night, Scott Cooper explained the process, "We were authorized by Pace Insurance to spend an amount for our legal defense. That set in motion a question of who that would be. The High Desert ESD cannot represent us as they normally would because their scope of service is limited and does not include litigation. And, of course, we have litigation that has been filed that we now have to defend." He suggested they hire a firm from Eugene, "They have deep experience in governmental law and school law, and politically charged situations - which this one probably is." The rest of the board unanimously agreed. 

Cooper will be the only holdover when the three new members - dubbed the “mama bears” during their campaign - join the board July fifth.

A hearing on the injunction is scheduled for June 22nd. The vacant position was created when Gwen Carr stepped down to focus on recovering from a head injury. The board had planned to fill the seat at its regular meeting Monday. That same meeting, they accepted the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson

Board Chair Jessica Ritter, who lost her bid for re-election in May, issued a statement following the meeting:

Tonight, Crook County School Board members voted unanimously during a special meeting to hire legal counsel and have our day in court. I believe it is our right and duty to fill the vacant school board seat, and that’s what I intend to do if the court rules in our favor. 

It’s sad that Cheyenne Edgerly is choosing to play politics. I believe she has every intention to stop a legitimate process because she wants to try to select someone with her same ideology and create a narrow-minded majority. Their attorney's claim that people were left out of the process is bogus. The process and timeline were clear, and we ended up with 23 applicants, so we obviously communicated effectively and the community response was overwhelming.

The school board needs balanced and pragmatic leaders who will put children first and not create further chaos and dysfunction for political gain. We look forward to putting this matter behind us on June 22nd and hope to soon be welcoming a new school board member to the team. Creating stability for the future of our school district is my top priority right now.

 

A joint response from Jennifer Stevens & Jessica Lay in response to Jessica Ritter’s statement:

We are two of the four community members who asked the Crook County Circuit Court to stop the current School Board from violating their own policies.

Three members of the current School Board members have 15 days left in their term of office. They want to make Cheyenne Edgerly the focus of their ire. We won’t stand by and let them wrongfully shift attention from their misdeeds to a person who simply stood up for parents and their children.

The Board policies that are, by law, to guide the discharge of the rights and duties Chair Ritter cites in defense of the Board’s actions do not give the current board enough time to appoint a new member. Meaning, in order to appoint a new member to the vacant position, they would need to actually violate the Board policies they swore to uphold and shorten the time period. That was their plan, until Monday night when the court issued a temporary injunction.

Back in 1944, there was an old film called Gaslight. It was about a man who psychologically manipulates his wife into believing that she was going insane. That is where we get the term “gaslighting” from – now a verb used in our culture for a person who is doing something manipulative but makes it seem like their opposition is the one doing the bad deed. Chair Ritter is the one playing the political game of doing something illegitimate and then acting like it is her opposition who is in the wrong. That is gaslighting, Chair Ritter, pure and simple.

Chair Ritter, why didn’t you remind your fellow board member of Policy BBF which requires: Board members will treat other Board members, the superintendent, staff and the public with dignity and courtesy and will provide an opportunity for all parties to be heard with due respect for their opinions.

And what about? Board members will treat fellow Board members, staff, students and the public with respect while posting online or to social media and will adhere to Oregon Public Meetings Laws, including when communicating with other Board members via websites or other electronic means. Instead, you allowed the mob and your fellow board members to publicly castigate and demonize Board Member Elect Edgerly – contrary to your own policies. She sat there and took the abuse, saying nothing. You and the board seemed to revel in it. What does that say about you – and your willingness to violate policy (again and again) for your own ends.

We were always taught to look at what a person does, not what they say. Ritter says her “top priority” is creating stability, but her actions show that her real priority is blaming Cheyenne Edgerly and paying union lawyers from Eugene a lot of money to come on over the hill and teach us Crook County bumpkins a lesson or two.

Ritter is right in one sense: the timelines for the appointment process are “clear” – but those clear timelines did not fit into the time left before the current Board leaves office, and so, they ignored their own policies in a failed attempt to appoint someone who will represent those in the Salem Educational bureaucracy, not the parents and community who make up our district. And when called out by the community, via this injunction, they claim victim status and blame the ones who hold them to the policies they crafted and published. What they are screaming from the schoolhouse steps is “rules for thee, but none for me!!” Is that the lesson we want to teach our children?

Jessica Lay and Jennifer Stevens

Plaintiffs – Crook County Circuit Court Case #23CV23388

Redmond Farmers Market Opens Thursday

REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond Farmers Market returns for another season this week, offering all sorts of locally produced foods, beverages, and crafts.

Marketing manager Megan Burton tells KBND News the market has expanded in Centennial Park in downtown Redmond, creating a festival atmosphere. “I know that our vendor coordinator has been giving everybody a little extra room, just to kind of fill that area. We’ve got live music, and a couple of food trucks coming down each week, as well.” Some families can stretch their dollar a little further this year, too, according to Burton “We went through the process that we could accept SNAP and then that also has the Double Up option for people. So, that when they use those dollars at the Farmers Market, if they use $20, they actually get $40 worth of produce.”

The market features local vendors and farmers. “We kind of try to stick to the Redmond, as well as the Madras, (and) Sisters folks. We have a few from Bend coming out. And that’s kind of the fun of the farmers market season is we kind of all have a different day, so, anybody can find a market that works for them and find a market to go to,” Burton says.

The Redmond Farmers Market runs Thursdays from 3 to 6 PM, through September, in Centennial Park.

 

COCC Student Group Opposes Choice Of Commencement Speaker

BEND, OR -- Oregon Congresswoman Lori Chavez-DeRemer will deliver the commencement address Saturday at Central Oregon Community College. "I’m very excited to address the students who are graduating. This is a big accomplishment," she told KBND News this week.

But the Republican’s appearance has drawn criticism from students like James Petersen, who call some of her policies transphobic. "The presence of Lori Chavez-DeRemer makes people uncomfortable. And we believe that choosing her goes against some of the diversity and inclusion statements that the school has made." COCC President Dr. Laurie Chesley emailed students and staff last week, apologizing for not involving more of the campus in deciding who would speak; but she did not revoke Chavez-DeRemer's invitation. Petersen, a first year student, says some graduates plan to protest peacefully, "We don’t want to ruin commencement for anyone else, any more than it already has been. So, the most we’re going to do at commencement is wearing rainbow sashes and things like that." He says the LGBTQ+ club and other students oppose her support of the "Parents Bill of Rights" and the "Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act."

Chavez-DeRemer is aware of the controversy, "Everybody has a right to free speech. They have a right to stand up and express their opinions. I believe in that wholeheartedly. So, I’m looking forward to meeting all the students that are there, shake their hands, let them get to know me and maybe they’ll have a difference of opinion." She added, "But this is an exciting time in their lives and we shouldn’t make this about my speech. I’m going to address them in a very congratulatory manner."

She says she has not been contacted by any student groups regarding her appearance. "I’m just not really getting caught up in the negative side but I do believe people have a right to their opinions and I would love to talk to those students and all of them. I welcome them all and I hope that they’ll welcome me and we’ll have that conversation." Chavez-DeRemer went on to say, "All Oregonians are valuable and I’m never going to take my eye off that ball in recognizing that everybody’s important and we’re going to get through this. It’s going to be a good day for them."

Past commencement speakers include Republican Congressman Greg Walden and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden. 

COCC’s graduation starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Bend campus.

 

10-Year-Old Tells Redmond City Council Of Racist Encounters

REDMOND, OR -- For the first time in an open meeting, Redmond City Councilors addressed a racist incident that occurred earlier this month, in which the mayor and the city’s only Black Councilor, Clifford Evelyn, were targeted. 

Mayor Ed Fitch said he wanted to allow the group time to reflect. Councilor John Nielsen was one of several who insisted the incident does not represent the city. "Redmond is not unique or set apart when it comes to the issues of race. To pretend that we are is to contribute to the damage caused by this kind of small-minded idiocy," he said, "To claim that Redmond is racist, however, is false, lazy and stupid."

But it was 10-year-old Gavin who garnered the most attention. Speaking during the public comment period, he said, "Why should us Black people suffer from racism, when there are other races doing murders and robberies, when us Black people are showing respect and kind [sic]?" He went on to talk about his experience as a fourth grader in Redmond, "A lot of people have been calling me the ‘N’ word, or a monkey, even ‘Black boy.’ One girl said to me ‘I would hit you but that’s called animal abuse.’ We should not get treated like this." The video of his full statement is below.

Another citizen followed Gavin, saying, "It’s those that are the victims of these attacks that we should be listening to when we decide whether our city is racist or not. A white person standing up in this moment and saying ‘our town is not racist’ I find to be unacceptable." 

During Councilor Evelyn's time to comment, he said this month's incident is part of a pattern of behavior, "This has been brewing since my time on City Council. You only need to recall the waving of a Confederate flag, wearing of a Confederate uniform on Independence Day, a local business owner comparing the COVID vaccine mandate to the Holocaust and a citizen who openly felt comfortable stating her parents owned slaves and how it was alright." He called it "something out of the 50s and 60s."

Redmond Police continue to search for the person responsible for leaving a dead raccoon and racist sign on the doorstep of Fitch's law office.

 

 

Bend Man Unhurt In Weekend Fatal Crash On Hwy 22

IDANHA, OR -- A Salem man was killed in a weekend crash that shut down Highway 22 in Marion County for four hours. State Police responded to the report of a multi-vehicle crash near Idanha, just before 4 p.m. Sunday. 

Investigators say it appears Alberto Avila-Perez was westbound when he lost control of his Honda Civic and hit a boulder. The Civic overturned and traveled into oncoming traffic, where it clipped a cargo trailer towed by an SUV, which was driven by 70-year-old Randall Pefferle, of Bend. The Civic then crashed head on into a Subaru, driven by a Salem woman.

Avila-Perez was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. No one else was hurt. 

Crook County School Board Accepts Superintendent's Resignation

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County School Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson’s resignation was accepted Monday night during a packed board meeting at Crook County Middle School.

Board chair Jessica Ritter said she was sad to see it come to this, “Dr. Johnson has done a tremendous job for us the last five years, and to be honest, I tried to talk her out of it because I hate the thought of her leaving”.

Dr. Johnson said the three new board members elected last month are the reason she is stepping down. “I have been committed and dedicated to this district, and have done the work at the level of a superintendent of the year,” she said, adding, “I do not believe that they are accepting of all students. And that is my foundation. I cannot work in a district or a system that doesn’t support all students.”

It was the final meeting for three outgoing members, Ritter, Vice-chair Patti Norris, and Doug Smith who said he is sad to see Dr. Johnson go, “That was not what I had hoped or I think any of this board had hoped. But I think this does create a fresh starting point, if we want to say it, for the next group.”

Dr Johnson told the board her resignation is not a financial advantage for her, “This is an advantage to the district and the new board being able to have someone that they trust, and that they don’t put down and haven’t put down in public.” She will stay on for three months to help the transition for a new superintendent.

“We are losing a heck of a lot. With this change, and a new board, and having to appoint a new superintendent, whoever we end up with we’re going to suffer from a lack of experience,” said board member Scott Cooper, who will be the only holdover when the three new members take the seats next month. Those three, who have been dubbed the ‘mama bears’, have also filed an injunction against the current board preventing them from appointing a replacement for Gwen Carr who stepped down due to health concerns.

The first meeting with the new board members is July 5th.

Redmond Fire & Rescue Receives Pet Oxygen Masks

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Fire and Rescue is now better prepared for animal-related rescues. Fire Marshal Tom Mooney says the agency had one pet oxygen mask, but the agency received three more on Monday. "It’s interesting, we’ve used these twice in the last couple of months now, so there seems to be an uptick, for whatever reason," Mooney tells KBND News, "I hope it’s not a pattern. But, if for some reason we continue to get more fires where animals need us, we now have the right tool to help them get back on their feet." He adds, "There’s been a shift in those feelings of, ‘You know what, the animals are part of the family, also.’ So, we should be treating them just the same as a human life. Obviously, the human life is going to take priority over the animal, but if we can save both we’re going to do that."

The reusable masks are bell-shaped, to fit over an animal’s muzzle, "They come in different sizes in the kit: small, medium and large," says Mooney, "And it has kind of a rubber seal on the end, so when you slide it over, it seals it up and oxygen stays flowing where it needs to go and doesn’t escape." The kits are valued at around $100 a piece and were donated by Invisible Fence Central Oregon. 

Mooney says they aren’t only for dogs and cats, "They say the mask can be used as small as a little mouse, all the way up to a medium-sized horse."

Until now, Redmond Fire kept it's one pet mask in the battalion chief’s truck. But Mooney says there was a concern the battalion chief might not respond to every incident when it might be needed, "So now we have a total of four kits; we have one on each fire engine and one on our battalion chief’s rig."

 

DRW Garage Destroyed By Fire

BEND, OR -- A family and pets escaped safely after waking to smoke in the home and no electricity, early Tuesday morning. They called 911 when they discovered fire in the garage. Bend Fire & Rescue responded to Tuscarora Lane, in Deschutes River Woods, just after 1 a.m. and stopped the flames from spreading to the rest of the house. 

Investigators determined the fire started when oily rags spontaneously combusted. The rags were from a commercial kitchen and were laundered at the house. After drying, they were piled into a laundry basket. According to Bend Fire, "Spontaneous combustion of oily rags occurs when rag or cloth is slowly heated to its ignition point through oxidation. A substance will begin to release heat as it oxidizes. If this heat has no way to escape, like in a pile, the temperature will rise to a level high enough to ignite the oil and ignite the rag or cloth. In this case, drying the rags started the heating process. Washing the oil-soaked cloth doesn’t always remove all the oil and can still pose a threat after drying. The act of folding the linens is usually enough to cool them down below the ignition temperature."

The fire caused about $30,000 in damage. Smoke alarms did not activate because most of the smoke was limited to the garage and laundry room.

Bend Man Indicted On Firearms And Drug Charges

BEND, OR -- A Bend man was indicted Monday on several drug and weapons charges, following a months-long investigation by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team.

Earlier this year, agents identified 45-year-old Justin Polit as a suspected cocaine trafficker. He was cited during a traffic stop in April, near South Century Drive. Because of his extensive criminal past, the road was closed while deputies and detectives conducted a high-risk traffic stop. During a subsequent search of his home and truck, detectives say they found a substantial quantity of coke, cash, guns, firearm suppressors, silencers and a 3D printer used to make illegal firearm parts.

In 2022 and unrelated to this case, Polit petitioned the Deschutes County Circuit Court to allow him to purchase and possess firearms. Although the courts restored his gun rights, he is not permitted to manufacture or possess firearm silencers. 

Monday's indictment by a Deschutes County Grand Jury includes charges of Unlawful Manufacture of Cocaine, Attempted Unlawful Delivery of Cocaine and Felon in Possession of a Silencer. Federal charges are still being considered.

McKenzie Pass Cyclist Rescued After Crashing Down A Cliff

SISTERS, OR -- A bicyclist was rescued Sunday morning after crashing down a 15' cliff on McKenzie Pass, outside Sisters. The rider said he was cut off by another bike while going about 40 miles an hour on Highway 242, just after 11 a.m.

Crews from the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District performed a low-angle rope rescue and used a new progress capture device to bring the cyclist up to the road in a basket. He was taken to the hospital for treatment.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports bicycle deaths are highest during summer months between June and September. The Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District reminds bicyclists to ride responsibly, wear a proper fitting helmet and other safety gear to protect yourself and make you more visible to other bicyclists and motorists. Additionally, all states require bicyclists to follow the same rules and responsibilities on the roadway as motorists.

County's Coordinated Houseless Response Office's Next Steps

BEND, OR -- Board members for Deschutes County's Coordinated Houseless Response Office meet Thursday, without its Executive Director, who stepped down Friday. Vice Chair and Bend City Councilor Megan Perkins says they’ll discuss options to make the office more efficient, “I think the first question that we all have for each other is do we want to have an executive director or do we want a different staffing structure.” She says keeping up momentum is key, “A lot of really important work wasn’t getting done. This is something that is vitally important to our community and that as a board we’re all really committed.”

County Commissioner Patti Adair, who chairs the board, tells KBND News there needs to be a sense of urgency. “I want to see some results. You know we’ve spent millions of dollars on this already. With low barrier, high barrier, all kinds of different shelters. So, we have to get what we’re doing in gear,” said Adair who is open to discussion on hiring staff, “I’m really pretty flexible on it. I honestly just want to see results.”

The board is divided into subcommittees covering governance, leadership, and strategic planning to better meet their goals.

Perkins feels confident the office is on the right track and will be able to meet requirements to keep state funding by August 31st.

 

Doctor Visit Encouraged Prior To International Travel

BEND, OR -- If your summer plans include a big bucket-list trip, you may need to schedule a visit with a healthcare professional in advance. Infectious disease expert Dr. Laura Selby suggests meeting with a doctor a few weeks before international travel, to discuss necessary precautions. "There’s COVID, there’s M-Pox - Monkeypox outbreaks, there’s a Marburg outbreak in Tanzania that’s new," she tells KBND News, "And so, when people are thinking about these international trips, you do have to be cognizant of that. But you also want to go and have an amazing time."

Dr. Selby works at the St. Charles travel clinic in Bend. She tells patients to consider differences between home and their destination, "Things like: we can turn on our tap and drink water out of our tap. And that’s not necessarily the case in a lot of countries. You can’t brush your teeth with the tap water." She adds, "The diseases we worry about catching when we go out hiking here are very different than if you’re hiking on safari in Africa. So, educating yourself is really important."

And, if you’re traveling with kids, make sure they’re up to date on immunizations. "Obviously, kids are a lot more likely to put things in their mouths and get bitten by dogs." Dr. Selby says even adults may not realize what shots are needed, "Especially if you’re thinking about one of these big trips, realizing that there are some weird things you might actually be required to have. So, for example, Yellow Fever Vaccine: You can’t even get through customs in some countries without a Yellow Fever Vaccine. So, having some upfront knowledge ahead of time is super important." She also suggests checking CDC and State Department websites for any health or safety travel alerts listed for your destination.

Dr. Selby acknowledges travel patterns have changed since the pandemic, but so has the way people prepare, "People are a lot more in tune with health needs; the importance of vaccinations and taking precautions. And so, I am finding that the folks that come see me in clinic are a lot better educated about how to protect themselves from, especially, respiratory diseases."

Listen to the full conversation with Dr. Laura Selby at our Podcast Page

ODFW Seeks Input On Mule Deer Plan

BEND, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife is rewriting its Mule Deer Management Plan and looking for public input. ODFW’s Michelle Dennehy says new GPS data show the paths mule deer use to migrate each year, "With this research that we have with GPS collared deer, we think we’re in a better position to work with other agencies, like ODOT and other natural resource agencies."

She says the new information will help inform statewide decisions and regulations, "How can we site wildlife crossings, how do we site energy development so we do it in a way to minimize impact on mule deer; particularly their migratory routes? Because they do take the same route each year." Dennehy tells KBND News mule deer aren't that different from humans who drive the same route to the grocery store or work, "Mule deer migrate over the same routes each year. But what’s happened, we’ve seen in Oregon, as we’ve got housing development, energy development, more roads, we’ve seen that habitat fragmented."

A public webinar Tuesday evening will provide more information on ODFW’s draft plan and answer questions. "If you’re a big game hunter, you’re interested in this. Maybe you live in an area where there’s mule deer and you want to learn more. In some areas of the state, we have issues with urban deer causing damage or nuisance." Mule deer primarily travel through central and eastern Oregon and are responsible for numerous highway crashes each year. 

The webinar starts at 6 p.m. on ODFW’s mule deer webpage. Submit questions/comments before, during and after the webinar using this form or by emailing odfw.muledeerplan@odfw.oregon.gov

Dennehy says a final draft is expected to be presented to the Fish and Wildlife Commission early next year. 

 

RPD Seeks Tips On Fatal Hit And Run Crash

REDMOND, OR -- A 61-year-old motorcyclist died after a hit and run crash in Northwest Redmond, late Thursday night . Police are now asking for the public’s help tracking down the other driver.

Investigators believe the bike was struck by a late model Dodge Ram pickup. The crash occured on southbound 97 near NW Larch at about 10:50 p.m. Anyone with surveillance cameras near the highway and West Antler, Evergreen or Veterans Way is asked to review footage from between 10:30 and 11:30 p.m. on June 8, and call Redmond Police, through Non-Emergency Dispatch at 541-693-6911, with any information.

RPD expressed appreciation for the compassionate people who stopped and assisted the victim on scene, and Oregon State Police for completing the crash reconstruction portion of the investigation.  

Terrebonne Man Charged With Raping A Child

TERREBONNE, OR -- A 44-year-old Terrebonne is accused of raping a child. Following a short investigation by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Christopher Adam Osmon was arrested Thursday at his home on Majestic Rock Drive.

Deputies began looking into Osmon on May 31st, and involved other agencies in the investigation. DCSO says the victim was safe and outside of the area at the time of the report.

Osmon is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on five counts of first degree rape and five counts of first degree sex abuse.

Arnold Irrigation Piping Project Moving Forward Amid Lawsuit

BEND, OR -- Arnold Irrigation District continues to face criticism over a planned piping project. A group called Save Arnold Canal is moving forward with a federal lawsuit to stop the work. Irrigation District General Manager Steve Johnson told Deschutes County Commissioners this week there is a lot of misinformation going around, especially about the impact of construction, "I’d heard the comments about somehow expanding the easement or driving closer to people’s homes, or whatever, and that’s just not the case. It’ll be within the area that we operate now. And the footprint after restoration will actually be 30’ instead of approximately 45." He says that’s because the new access road will be on top of the pipe. 

Johnson also said opponents’ claims that lining the canal would be cheaper and less invasive are false, "The initial cost for piping is less than the canal lining, and over the course of 100 years, the canal lining will have to be replaced two to three times. So, piping is more or less a ‘one and done,’ economically.  We have that funding from the federal government, we’re going to put that in the ground, we’re going to find our match, and it’ll last several generations."

After previously supporting the district's piping project, County Commissioner Patti Adair now questions whether it’s an effective way to conserve water. During this week's presentation by the district, Adair said she’s heard from people worried about well water, "Because we’ve done all this piping, we’re really losing the seepage and a lot of wells have been impacted in Deschutes County." She also wants to do more for Jefferson County farmers struggling under drought conditions. 

Johnson told her each piping project helps, "All of the projects being piped with the conserved water placed in stream during irrigation season, that is flowing to North Unit." Commissioner Phil Chang followed up, "So, it’s really important to understand, if we care about the North Unit Irrigation District and we want to help them, supporting projects in Deschutes County … one of the best things we can do."

 

Fisherman Feud Leads To Arrest At Crane Prairie Reservoir

LA PINE, OR -- A Bend man was arrested Thursday evening at Crane Prairie Reservoir. Nicholas Fetters is accused of firearms, menacing and disorderly conduct charges, following a dispute over fishing lines. 

According to the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, campers near the Rock Creek Campground began yelling at three men fishing from a boat, accusing the boaters of driving over their fishing lines. One of them on shore allegedly fired a round from a rifle. Fearing for their lives, the fishermen in the boat drove to the south end of the reservoir and called 911. No one was hurt. 

DCSO deployed a drone to assess the dispersed campsite. Authorities say Fetters attempted to shoot down the drone. A small contingent of SWAT members used an armored vehicle to contact the camp and took 39-year-old Fetters into custody. 

 

file photo

St. Charles Bend Nurses Reach Tentative Contract Agreement

 

BEND, OR -- St. Charles Health System and the Oregon Nurses Association made a tentative contract deal, following talks with a federal mediator. The announcement comes after months of negotiations that led to the threat of a strike. ONA’s Scott Palmer told KBND News Bend nurses involved in the talks are pleased with the result, “We’re looking at specific agreements on almost every single one of their core issues. Recruitment of new nurses. Retention of the nurses who already work here.” He said the guarantee on rest and meal breaks was especially important, “So that goes an enormously long way in telling the nurses your work life is going to improve. Working conditions at the hospital are going to get better. That’s a huge win.”

More than 950 nurses gave notice last week they planned to strike this Monday if no agreement was reached. That strike has now been called off according to a release from St. Charles.

“Nurse leaders who were at the bargaining table are very, very pleased to have arrived at what we’re describing as really a historic tentative agreement, not only for the nurses at St. Charles but for nurses across the state, and really nationally,” Palmer said.

Nurses will vote to ratify the three-and-a-half-year contract, which could happen within the next week according to Palmer, “Certainly, this is something that the nurses want to get take care of and they want to make sure they do this quickly. Not only for themselves but also for the community."

 

Bend Airport Evacuated Due To Fuel Fire

3 P.M. UPDATE -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office says prior closures and evacuation notices have lifted and it's safe to return to the area. Firefighters continue to work the scene. 

Bend Fire says a plane pulling away from a fuel pump clipped a nearby structure with its wing and sparked the fire. Everyone got out safe and no injuries were reported. 

 

BEND, OR -- A fuel pump fire at the Bend Airport is forcing evacuations in the area. Law enforcement and firefighters are on scene, trying to put out the fire which is creating a large smoke plume. 

Powell Butte Highway is currently closed and the Sheriff’s Office asks that everyone leave the area in a calm and orderly manner. Anyone within about 1.5 miles of the airport should avoid breathing in the smoke and fumes. 

This is a developing story.

 
photo courtesy Bend Fire & Rescue

Deschutes Co. Sheriff Proposes Camping Ban On Public Lands

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson is proposing a camping ban in unincorporated areas. He presented a draft of the ordinance to County Commissioners on Wednesday.  

"Any camping on publicly owned property cannot occur within one mile of a private property line or the urban growth boundary," he told them. Nelson also wants a time limit for those living in areas outside designated campgrounds or private property, "Individuals who are camping out on public lands may stay two weeks, and then need to move 2.5 miles away from that location." He added, "I’m the Executive Branch of government. It’s my job to enforce the rules. And everybody is accountable to those rules." 

Commissioner Phil Chang argued with Nelson over the best approach to solving the homeless crisis, saying the ban could lead to costly lawsuits for the county, "I think it’s extremely important for us to understand what kind of legal challenge we are inviting or would face moving forward with this, before we think seriously about moving forward with it." Sheriff Nelson replied, "And I would also encourage you, Commissioner, to think of how much a legal challenge might cost if someone loses their home or a life is lost out in that community."

Chang wants the county to work on long-term solutions so the houseless community has a place to go, "Because we know that when you outlaw camping in one place and you clear people from that place without adequate pathways out of homelessness for those people, they will end up unauthorized camping somewhere else." He added, "I think everyone in this room is acutely aware that something needs to be done. The important thing is that we need to do the right thing. We need to do the thing that will actually have results in the long run."

Nelson pushed back, "No, I disagree with you. We don’t need to tell folks where to go. There’s some personal accountability in this and I wouldn’t insult those living in those situations by saying they didn’t have the thought process to try and determine where to go." He admitted to Commissioners, "We don’t have a solution. All we’re trying to do is try to mitigate the effects of homelessness. And we need those folks, living in that situation, to meet us halfway."

Commissioners Tony DeBone and Patti Adair voted to hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance at a future time. Chang opposed advancing the idea. Sheriff Nelson says he may ask for revisions before  a formal ordinance is written. 

 

Temporary La Pine Library Closed Following Crash

LA PINE, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office says a driver admitted to falling asleep before crashing into a La Pine building Wednesday morning. No one was hurt. The building at First and Coach streets is owned by La Pine Parks and Rec, but houses a childcare center and is the temporary location for the La Pine branch of the Deschutes Public Library, while the permanent branch undergoes extensive renovations. That permanent branch is on track to reopen in October. 

Library officials say the temporary location is now closed until further notice, due to the damage sustained in Wednesday's crash. Once it's safe for staff to enter the building, library holds for La Pine will be transferred to the Sunriver branch, which is the next closest location. Those with checked-out books are asked to keep them for now or return them to another branch when it's convenient. Late fees will be waived. 

 

Crook County 2024 Ballot To Include "Greater Idaho" Question

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County voters will be asked in May of 2024 whether they want to join Idaho. The County Court agreed Wednesday to place a question on the ballot: “Should Crook County represent that its citizens support efforts to move the Idaho border to include Crook County?”

According to the Greater Idaho Movement, the ballot summary states: "The Crook County Court has placed this advisory question on the ballot to determine voter attitudes of whether your Crook County elected officials should inform state and federal officials that the people of Crook County support continued negotiations regarding a potential relocation of the Oregon-Idaho border to include Crook County."

It’s a non-binding measure, which means county officials don’t have to take any action based on the outcome. 

This past May, Wallowa County voters approved a measure from the Movement, requiring County Commissioners meet twice a year to discuss promoting the county's interest in relocating the Idaho border to include Wallowa County. It passed by just seven ballots, but the Wallowa County Clerk says it was not close enough to trigger a recount. 

Bend Council Asks Sen. Knopp To Resume Legislative Session

BEND, OR -- The Bend City Council is weighing in on the ongoing senate walk out in Salem. Mayor Melanie Kebler drafted a letter on behalf of the council to minority leader and Bend State Senator Tim Knopp.

With the legislature effectively at a stand-still, Kebler says the Council’s legislative goals could fall through. “It is throwing out all of our hard work to get resources and policy changes that we need to benefit our community done. And I’ve been emphasizing work in Salem especially on the housing crisis and homelessness. We also have concerns about water and drought, and other things that the state has been working on that are going to go up in smoke if the session just dies without any bills being passed. So, it’s a big impact to us, there are a lot of urgent issues the community has that we really can’t wait to address and we can’t delay on.”

Kebler tells KBND News she’s responding to what she hears from the community about the walk-out, “Senator Knopp is our senator. Not only is he the minority leader sort of leading this walk-out, but he is our senator. And he’s worked before to get us resources and policy changes that Bend and Central Oregon need. So, we know he can do that and we just want him to go back to work and do that job that we have elected him to do.”

Councilors agreed Wednesday to send the letter to Knopp.

 

Phil's Trailhead Reopens After Arrest

BEND, OR -- A Canby man was arrested in the area of Phil's Trealhead Wednesday afternoon, after allegedly threatening to hurt himself and others. According to the Sheriff's Office, the man contacted the FBI’s Threat Operations Center and provided enough information for authorities to determine he was in Deschutes County.

Deputies say the man was in crisis and armed with a handgun and possibly a rifle. The area of Phil's Trailhead and USFS Road 4610 was closed to the public while DCSO’s SWAT responded with an armored vehicle and a negotiator.

Following talks with the negotiator, the 33-year-old man was taken into custody without incident and evaluated at St. Charles. He was cited for Disorderly Conduct. 

 

Crook County Superintendent Announces Resignation

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson plans to resign July sixth, a year before the end of her contract. At Monday’s school board meeting, she’ll ask for a mutual termination agreement.

Three new board members - dubbed “the mama bears” during the May 2023 election - ousted three sitting members, and a fourth recently resigned following a brain injury

Dr. Johnson refused KBND's request for an interview but issued a written statement. "When the new school board members begin their terms in July, Scott Cooper will be the only existing board member who hired me five years ago" she said, "It’s become evident that the new board members do not share my vision or mission for district leadership and how to operate the school district. I believe we are all better when working collaboratively together and focusing on the success of every student. It has become clear that it is in the best interest of the school district - and me - to step aside and allow the new board to select their own leader." 

Dr. Johnson was recognized as Oregon's Principal of the Year in 2007 and Superintendent of the Year for 2023.
"I’m incredibly proud of the systems we created to produce high graduation rates and track younger students to prevent them from falling through the cracks. We’re making gains in elementary math and English, and the teamwork and collaboration between teachers and administrators are inspiring. We’ve worked hard over the past few years to elevate staff pay so we can compete with neighboring school districts and keep good people in Crook County," said Johnson. "I’m proud of our fiscal management, which has allowed us to increase programs, retain teachers, and reduce class sizes. We’ve created a comprehensive reading program, improved interventions, and dramatically enhanced our support of Pioneer High School Alternative students. I’ve had a great relationship with the existing school board members and appreciate how we collaborated respectfully together to achieve these accomplishments and keep students as the main focus of our work."
One board vacancy is expected to be filled Monday. The three newly elected members will be sworn in on July 17. They will select the new superintendent for the 2023-24 school year. 

RPA Students Study Ocean In Unique Class

REDMOND, OR -- Students at Redmond Proficiency Academy are getting a one of a kind experience during the charter school's June term. Blue Humanities - Ocean Stories teaches about the various ways the ocean impacts our lives, and vice versa.

The course was created, and is co-taught, by former RPA teacher George Hegerty. He wrote the curriculum last year as part of his dissertation as a graduate student at UC Davis. RPA Students are studying the Newport area. “They’re doing research in order to how to kind of determine what are the stories that make up how we understand that place. And we’re trying to emulate that with field work experience at the coast.”

Matt Killpack, a co-teacher of the two-week course, says the 14 students get hands-on experience, “Because we’re headed to Newport, we talked about the Dungeness fishing industry as well as the dangers that are associated with the economy based off of a fishery and what’s happening in the world around us.”

Killpack says the class is a collaborative effort with experts, “Biologists and geologists come down and talk with the kids. Oregon State University is sending some of their professors over to discuss what’s happening with the oceans. Especially off the Oregon Coast.”

“We’ll also be going to the aquarium and getting a backstage tour there, and then we’ll go to Hatfield Marine Science Center. So, the students will get a pretty well-rounded look at the type of research and what life’s like in Newport,” says Hegerty.

The class is a partnership with UC Davis and is funded through a grant from the Bodega Marine Laboratory in California.

 

Thousands Vie For A Chance To Buy Bachelor Lift Chair

BEND, OR -- Thousands of Mt. Bachelor fans are trying to get a piece of history. General Manager John Merriman says entries are pouring in for the chance to buy a chair from the decommissioned Skyliner Lift. "The price is $500. It’s in support of our Play Forever fund, with all proceeds going directly to Vamanos Outside," he tells KBND News, "They support local Latinx families and community members, and help them get into the outdoors. So what they’re going to be using this funding for is a purchase of a new van, to visit local rivers and hiking trails in a much more reliable van." 

Merriman says only 50 of Skyliner’s 120 chairs will be sold because the four-packs are still compatible with other lifts on the mountain, "So, we have to hold some back to use for maintenance. And then, we’ve also set some aside for employees and valued partners." The lottery opened Tuesday, and Merriman says they received a massive response in just the first day, "We feel like this is a great way for our community to own a piece of Mt. Bachelor. We have already had over 5,000 people requesting a chair. So the response has been absolutely overwhelming." 

The chairs are roughly 7' x 2.5' x 5' and weigh around 200 pounds each. Lottery winners who choose to purchase a chair must be able to haul it away. 

"It’s not that often that we have something like this available. I think it’s super cool to have one of these in your backyard," says Merriman. Entries will be accepted through 4 p.m. Friday, "Of course, we’ve had over 5,000 entries. I am sure we will get plenty more. But stay tuned, because if you don’t get this, we may have a little something else up our sleeves."

Construction began in the spring on the new Skyliner Lift, with its larger six-pack chairs, with opening slated for just before Christmas. 

 

BPD Finishing Up Dash Cam Installation

BEND, OR -- A year after signing a $679,500 contract, the Bend Police Department is nearly done installing dash cams and rear-facing cameras in its fleet of patrol cars. "The contract provided for the purchase and installation of the cameras, as well as software and video storage," BPD's Sheila Miller said in a video released by the department this week. "The goal of these systems is to further increase the transparency of our local law enforcement actions, as well as to improve public safety, reduce crime and assist in prosecution efforts."

Technicians with Axon will finish installation next week, "When complete, every officer will use a body-worn camera, and every vehicle will be equipped with a camera during their shifts," said Miller, "This is the second and final phase in the Bend Police Department’s body-worn camera project that was brought before the City Council and approved in 2021." That initial contract was for officer body cams. "The camera systems serve as an effective tool for helping the public access and understand interactions between officers and community members. All video recordings will be stored in a secure cloud location and the District Attorney’s office will have the ability to review the recordings."

The five-year contract with Axon includes the installation work, system software and video storage. 

DCSO Searches For Terrebonne Burglar

TERREBONNE, OR -- A break-in at a Terrebonne convenience store was caught on surveillance cameras, and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help tracking down a suspect.

Investigators say the burglary occurred just before 11 p.m. Sunday at Ferguson's Market. The man entered through a window, carrying what appears to be a real gun, and allegedly tried to steal alcohol, cigarettes and food. He took off when deputies arrived, and may be associated with a white four-door sedan.

The man appears to be white and wore a face mask. along with a green Champion hoodie, dark colored pants and a pair of “off the wall” Vans.

The Sheriff’s Office asks that the public does not contact or confront the suspect but instead calls DCSO at 541-693-6911 with any information.

Area Developers Eye Economic Outlook

REDMOND, OR -- Economists are looking at what’s ahead for Central Oregon’s commercial real estate market. It’s a mixed bag.

Windemere Central Oregon broker Bruce Barrett says an expert at a recent EDCO meeting predicted a mild lag, “This is debatable. I’ve seen economist say there won’t be. But he says factors causing this slowdown include Fed interest rate increases, the war in Europe, supply chain issues lingering after the pandemic,” Barrett adds the analyst says it should only be a short-term decline and the US will recover by 2025, with growth through 2029.

Central Oregon is a top growing region in the state, according to recent census estimates with 3 of the 4 fastest growing counties. “The Milken Institute’s Best Performing Cities for 2023 Report shows that Redmond / Bend is in the top 5 small cities for economic growth and access to opportunity.” Barrett says it's a ‘hotbed’ for small business start-ups, although challenges remain for those opening new businesses, “Factors they have to deal with is the lack of housing for bringing in employees to the county. But development has been robust in Bend. Developers are scheduled to deliver over 600 units this year and over 2,000 units by 2025.”

The vacancy rate for Industrial space in Bend is at 0.8%. Redmond has less than 3% available industrial space, but more property is coming online this year and through 2025.

 

Bend Gets Federal Money For Reed Mkt Road Bridge Over Railroad

BEND, OR -- Bend officials will soon start designing a new Reed Market Road bridge over the railroad. "This is a huge project," says Garrett Sabourin, with the city’s Engineering Department.

Early work got a big financial boost Monday, with the award of a more than $1 million grant from U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration. Sabourin says it will help pay for early work, "Just preliminary engineering and environmental clearances. So, it’s basically going through about a 30% design," he tells KBND News, "And our intent with this grant is that we’re successful with delivering this portion of the project to the obligations that the federal government expects, and then we would apply for additional funding for those future phases and see if we’re successful again." Sabourin estimates the overcrossing will cost around $25 million overall, and it's part of a larger $36 million dollar Reed Market Road Corridor improvement project, identified as a top priority in Bend’s Transportation System plan. City funding for the work will come from the 2011 GO Bond

The grant is from a first-ever grant to reduce train-vehicle collisions, included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Sabourin says it will make a big difference in Bend, "We need to get vehicles away from the rail. We see seven to eight trains pass through the Reed Market corridor every day, and sometimes they stop because they have a staging area to the south. It’s a significant delay to the traveling public, and an impact on the community." He adds, "Just separating it [train traffic] is a huge safety benefit, reducing the potential for accidents with all users: cars, bikes, pedestrians. And then, just removing those barriers in our community. We’re going to see a lot of additional growth here in the southeast part of Bend, so just improving that reliability for the community growth."

Bend is one of only two Oregon cities to receive the grant funding. Portland received $500,000. 

 

Deschutes Co. Poised To Raise Rural Trash Fees

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County is ready to raise solid waste franchise fees for unincorporated areas - Those are the fees paid by trash hauling companies like Cascade Disposal, Wilderness Disposal and High Country Disposal. The cost would likely be passed on to customers. 

The money would go to the Community Development Department (CDD) for cleaning up properties overrun with garbage and debris. "This is a growing issue, a growing concern," Tim Brownell, with the Solid Waste Department, told Commissioners Monday, "To this point, CDD has been doing a lot of compliance work through coaxing and cajoling and working with residents. But the problem continues to increase and they’re having more issues with private residents not adhering to those attempts."

Commissioner Phil Chang says compliance efforts are important, but he’s concerned raising the franchise fee is not the best way to pay for code enforcement. Chang asked Brownell, "Is Solid Waste responsible for what’s happening on other people’s private properties? Or is Solid Waste responsible for the stuff people put out on the curb, the stuff that people bring to the landfill?" 

Brownell says it’s actually a great example of countywide coordination. He added, "The aggregation of Solid Waste on private property, where it’s not being controlled, it does create the environmental hazards that the modern sanitary landfills are designed to alleviate."

Commissioners are considering a request to raise rural franchise fees to 5%. In comparison, Brownell said, "The city of Bend is at 7%; city of Redmond is at 3.5%, moving to 7% this year; city of Sisters is also at 7%. So, we’re well below what many of the other jurisdictions in the county are charging." He says the current 3% rate hasn’t changed since the franchise fee was established in county code in 1971. The increase would bring in an estimated $200,000 a year in additional revenue.

Changing the fee requires amending the code, which is expected within the month. 

 

Local Band Loses $15k In Equipment In Portland-Area Theft

PORTLAND, OR -- Bend-based rock band Precious Byrd lost vital instruments and equipment when their rig was broken into at a Portland-area hotel over the weekend. Lonnie Chapin says the band’s SUV and trailer were parked in Lake Oswego Saturday night, "At a Hilton hotel; on the side of the hotel, lights were very bright in that area. We never put our band rig with our trailer anywhere that could be possibly suspicious, whatsoever." But, he tells KBND News, when he came out Sunday morning to head to a charity concert at the Moda Center, "The back window is blown out in our Yukon, a side window is blown out and $15,000 worth of guitars is gone out of the back of the rig."

Chapin says they were still able to perform at an event "near and dear" to the band - the Walk to Defeat ALS. "Lucky we had some backups and that helped us get through that event."

Insurance won’t cover the loss, so the band is hoping they will be found. "All three guitars that were stolen are very unique," he says. The five-string bass is made by Warrior, with a distressed black body and maple neck; there was a Gold Top Gibson Les Paul, and a custom-made “TMG” Telecaster-style guitar.

Precious Byrd heads to Nashville this week. "Luckily, we have backups that we will take with us and use those," says Chapin, "That will get us through until hopefully someone can have some information or happens to see these guitars or hear about these guitars." Anyone with information is asked to contact Precious Byrd through their website or social media platforms. 

 

Dead Raccoon, Sign Found At Redmond Mayor's Law Office

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are investigating a handwritten sign and dead raccoon left on the doorstep of Mayor Ed Fitch’s law office. Fitch reported the incident Monday morning.

Based on the sign’s content and because it mentions the Mayor and Councilor Clifford Evelyn by name, detectives say the incident is a potential bias crime.

“The Redmond Police Department has no tolerance for hate speech of any kind, against any person or group,” Police Chief Devin Lewis said in a statement.  “We will work swiftly to resolve this case and seek to hold those who did this to our community responsible."  

Anyone who may have seen something suspicious near the Law Offices of Fitch and Neary, located at 210 SW 5th Street in downtown Redmond, is asked to call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911 and ask to speak with Detective Sergeant Jeremy Gautney.  Reference RPD case #23-16282.

Nurses Give Strike Notice To St Charles

BEND, OR -- Nurses represented by the Oregon Nurses Association gave a 10-day notice Friday to management at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend of their intent to strike. The walkout by almost 1,000 nurses would begin June 12th if a new contract agreement is not reached by then.

John Nangle, a St. Charles RN for over two decades, says conditions have deteriorated over the past years, “It's a hard day to tell the community that we're at this moment. This is something we don't want to do, but the status quo is not acceptable.” He says it’s up to St. Charles to come to the table with a contract that will meet the goals of recruiting and retaining more nurses, “It really is in their hands. They know what we've been asking for for years, and they know what we've been asking for and what our priorities have been during these negotiations. It's not a surprise.”

Bend State Representative Jason Kropf says he supports the nurses, “When I met with our nurses back in February and they were talking about the struggles they were having, what was really evident to me was how dedicated they are to the profession and providing care for their patients and they felt taken for granted by their employer. And that's not acceptable.” He spoke Friday about his personal experiences at St. Charles, “The people that stick out to me as the nurses that have cared for me and my family and we have to do right by them. They are a critical part of our health care system.”

St. Charles Chief Operating Officer Iman Simmons says the hospital is making contingency plans for a work stoppage, “We know that no one wins in a strike. The negative impact for our workplace, our caregivers and our community, it will last long after the strike itself ends.” Simmons says the health system will bring in temporary replacement workers and determine which non-critical services may need to be suspended, “While we will do our best to put contingency plans and staffing into place, we also need patients to be prepared for longer wait times, cancellations of planned procedures, and an increased need for medical transport to hospitals in Portland, Seattle and Boise, as a result of this strike.”

The last nursing strike in Bend was in 1980 and Senior Nursing Leader Julie Ostrom says 2019 negotiations lasted much longer than this round, “Our nurses did take a strike authorization vote during that go-around, but we never got to the point where they actually delivered a strike notice and an intention to do a work stoppage to us. The issues are different. That was pre-pandemic and we were not facing the magnitude of nursing shortage that we are today.”

Ostrom is part of the St. Charles bargaining team and says talks Tuesday and Wednesday will involve a federal mediator, “It allows us to be a little bit more creative. They’re very skilled at doing exactly what their title is: mediating conversations about hard topics.”  Ostrom says a pay increase implemented earlier this year brought the average annual pay for a full time registered nurse in Bend to $108,000 dollars.

Sunriver Resort Auditions For Takoda Mascot

SUNRIVER, OR -- Sunriver Resort hosts auditions Monday and Tuesday Takoda the Bear. Marketing Director Lindsay Borkowski tells KBND News Takoda first came to the resort as a 7' tall stuffed animal in the main lodge. "As you check in at the front desk, Takoda stands there and he quickly became the Director of Hugs because - what happened is that everybody just ran to Takoda, all the kids would hug his legs. Everybody started taking pictures to Takoda." That led to an idea to bring Takoda to life for the first time, this summer, "Running around the resort this summer, making special appearances, giving out hugs and spreading cheer."

The costume arrived about a month ago, allowing staff to test him out, "What we have found is those that have already been in this Takoda costume - myself included - you can’t help but smile when you’re in there."

Borkowski is looking for someone who can interact with guests, spread joy and appear at events, "The biggest challenge with Takoda - he doesn’t talk, so you have to be fairly animated and excited and able to show that energy and give off those welcoming vibes without being able to say a word." She says the right person will be a welcoming committee, "Somebody that just thinks this is something really fun, to be able to bring joy to others through a giant animal." Borkowski says prior mascot experience is a plus but not required.

Auditions are at Sunriver's Great Hall, Monday from 4 to 5 p.m. and Tuesday from 5 to 6 p.m.

 

Farm Bill Listening Session Held in Oregon

ALBANY, OR -- Oregon Congresswomen Lori Chavez-DeRemer and Andrea Salinas hosted a listening session in Albany Friday, for the 2023 Farm Bill. The U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chair and other committee members joined the bipartisan session in Albany. 

President of the Oregon Farm Bureau Angi Bailey was the first to speak. She told the committee, "In Oregon, we pride ourselves on our geographic and cultural diversity. But we also are very proud of our livestock and crop diversity. We grow more than 225 different crops, and there is no portion of the farm bill that we don’t consider significant to our industry." She then laid out a wish list, "Conservation programs should remain voluntary and climate change should not be used to mandate conservation practices." Bailey also wants increased crop protection and improvements to the rural childcare provision.

Rick Gaupo, with the Marion and Polk Food Share, was one of several who called for rebuilding the federal food stamp program. "SNAP benefits got reduced in February of this year - the emergency SNAP benefit. In March of this year, we saw our highest number of visits ever: 18,000."

Lauren Redman, CEO of Bend-based Newport Avenue Market and Oliver Lemons grocery stores, added, "I oppose large programmatic changes to SNAP, like block granting or migrating to bulk food distribution boxes - ideas that threaten the viability of grocery stores in the communities that need them most. Maintain SNAP Choice; one of the many reasons this program is successful is the ease of processing SNAP transactions for retailers, and beneficiaries can make their own decisions on which food items to purchase for their household."

Willamette Valley winemaker Dai Crisp is a Willamette Valley told the committee, "The specialty crop industry has never been interested in subsidies. What we’re really interested in is research. One of the things that’s a tremendous problem are invasive pests, and they come in the form of little voles and bugs from all over. And we really need to bolster our ability to deal with these critters." 

Hemp farmers asked for better definitions of their crop, and others asked for better risk management tools like crop insurance. 

In total, 53 people spoke, which the committee said was a record. 

 

RVHS Student Drowns At Steelhead Falls

CROOKED RIVER RANCH, OR -- A 17-year-old Ridgeview High School student died at Steelhead Falls, Saturday. Multiple agencies responded to a report of a swimmer underwater just after 2 p.m. Bystanders tried to rescue the young man, but were pushed back by the fast-moving down-pressure of the falls.

Investigators say the victim was caught in the undertow after trying to swim toward the falls. Teams from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Crooked River Ranch Fire & Rescue, along with theDeschutes County Search and Rescue Dive Team, Bend Fire Technical Rescue Team and a BLM Ranger worked for several hours, and recovered the teen’s body Saturday evening, about 40 yards downriver.

Central Oregon Chaplaincy also responded. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office issued a statement saying, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family."

 

Steelhead Falls file photo

Edit: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the victim as a Redmond High student, based on information provided to KBND News. 

Two Pets Rescued From Redmond-Area House Fire

REDMOND, OR -- Two dogs were rescued from a house fire near Redmond late Friday night. Firefighters responding to the home on Northeast 33rd determined all the people had evacuated, but they found the two animals inside. They were revived using pet oxygen masks.

Because the neighborhood does not have fire hydrants, Crooked River Ranch Fire & Rescue responded with a water tender to supply water to the fire. 

Investigators say the blaze started when a small butane cigarette lighter was placed too close to bedding, and hot metal quickly ignited the mattress.

The house did not have working smoke alarms, and it suffered significant damage.

Photos: (top) courtesy CRRF&R; (above) courtesy RF&R

COCC Cross-Cultural Celebration Sunday

BEND, OR -- COCC is closing out the academic year with a first of its kind Cross-Cultural Celebration this Sunday. It’s a free evening of Spanish guitar, spoken-word poetry, operetta and other acts by COCC and local high school students.

Program coordinator Marcus LeGrand tells KBND News the event grew from a talent showcase held in February, “Many of the students in the audience said we’ve got to do this again, Mr. LeGrand. So, I said ‘great’. So then, all the students who didn’t perform then all jumped in and now are ready. So, I think this is going to be a tremendous event for us to get this started. Joy is the keyword. These students are outstanding performers, wordsmiths…just great entertainers. They’re learning how to re-engage with the world and just want to see what gives them joy.”

In additions to the students, there are headlining performances from California-based spoken-word artists Micah Bournes and jenna.

There will also be a display of the COCC Student Art Exhibition.

LeGrand says it’s a special way to finish the end of the academic year, "I think students need to show they have other passions and things that give them the ability to navigate the world. Find peace, be able to heal, find some solitude. I think it’s important because students need to have those outlets.”

The Cross-Cultural Celebration is from 5 to 7 PM Sunday at the Pinckney Center for the Performing Arts, in Pence Hall on the Bend campus.

Eight Local Fire Agencies Receive Grants To Boost Summer Staffing

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County Fire and Rescue is among eight local agencies receiving an infusion of cash this summer from the State Fire Marshal. Chief Matt Smith tells KBND News they’re getting $31,818, "And that’s going to help us put, on many days throughout the summer, an additional wildland response vehicle with two paid staff in the vehicle, ready to respond to wildland fires."

For Crook County, it won’t pay for new hires, but helps cover costs that might otherwise be difficult for a small agency on a limited budget, "They could be our career members that are on overtime. Currently, we have a part time program, so they could be our part time or our volunteers that actually staff the vehicle," says Smith. "Staffing is always a struggle in the summertime. So, for a small agency, where we’re limited on the number of career staff that we can afford, this additional money really helps us be able to have as many vehicles available with people in them ready to respond. Otherwise, we rely on callback and volunteers to hit an increased call volume." He says summer is always busy, "So that could be  - in our area, calls out in the reservoirs, where people are out doing recreation. And certainly, during the dry periods when we can get a wind event or a thunderstorm event, we get a significant spike."

Black Butte Ranch Fire will receive around $21,000. Deputy Chief Jason Ellison says it's a big boost, "We go from 500 to 6,000 people during the summertime. So it allows us to have extra staffing for the call demand. Not only for medical calls on the ranch, but also for wildfires in the region." Ellison says the State Fire Marshal grant allows BBRFD to use money they would normally spend on summer staffing for upgraded equipment or other resources. "It also allows us to support the state when there’s major wildfires."

Alfalfa, Cloverdale, Crooked River Ranch, Jefferson County, La Pine and Warm Springs also receive 2023 Wildfire Season Staffing grants. OSFM awarded $6 million to 185 agencies statewide, prioritizing small agencies, many of which rely on volunteers. It's part of a multi-pronged approach to combat wildfire in Oregon. Over the last two years, the OSFM has made investments to modernize the Oregon Fire Mutual Aid System to be better prepared for wildfire. Bend and Redmond received grants in 2022. These grants are paid for through SB 762, approved in 2021. 

Photo courtesy Black Butte Fire District

Two Marion Co. Suspects Arrested In Sisters

SISTERS, OR -- Two people from Marion County with outstanding warrants were arrested in Sisters this week, with the help of an armored vehicle.

Deschutes County deputies surrounded a parked vehicle in the Chevron parking lot where 31-year-old Jamie Lee Denby was asleep. He’d arrived in Central Oregon with 32-year-old Shunea Myers, who told deputies she was also wanted, but didn’t feel safe with Denby. She said he was armed with a machete and believed he’d fight law enforcement if confronted.

Deputies and Black Butte Ranch poice contacted neighboring businesses and advised them to temporarily close. Denby was taken into custody without incident and the area reopened. DCSO says the incident was resolved within 32 minutes. 

Denby has three nationwide felony warrants, for kidnapping, coercion, extortion, assault and other charges. Myers was also arrested on her outstanding warrant stemming from failing to appear in court for car theft. 

 

County Approves 4 Peaks Fest Permit

The 2024 Four Peaks Music Festival cleared a big hurdle Wednesday.

After public testimony and deliberations, Deschutes County Commissioners decided to grant a permit for next year’s event. 

Commissioner Tony Debone acknowledged concerns expressed by some neighbors, “This is a planned and organized event…talks about a claim that it is disorganized. It’s a live activity with a lot of people so it’s going to be managed real time with the check and balances in place. But I’m comfortable with the package and conditions as provided.”

Commissioner Patti Adair said it was important to consider those opposed to the festival, “I want to be respectful of the neighborhood. Because their comments were about evacuation and fire-risk. So just thinking ahead I think since they’ve been included in the past, I think it’s always good to be on the safe side.”

Four Peaks organizers had to show they met requirements for Fire Protection, Traffic and Crowd Control, Alcohol Consumption, and Attendance Monitoring among other criteria.

“I think all of the conditions for approval have been met. The best possible efforts have been made to comply with those criteria. So, I’m comfortable with approving this outdoor mass gathering permit,” Commissioner Phil Chang also said any code violations will be tracked for future permit requests.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the mass gathering permit for the 150-acre ranch off Knott Road in Bend. A few minor wording changes are still needed before final consent.

Seven Homeowners Chosen For Poplar Community

BEND, OR -- Kor Community Land Trust has selected seven homeowners for its Poplar development, now under construction on Bend’s west side. Executive Director Jackie Keogh says four work for participating companies who agreed to cover $2,500 in closing costs for their employee. "One is a unit secretary of a St. Charles operating room, another is the general manager of Sage Window Cleaning. We love this selection because it shows that not just major employers were selected, but smaller businesses who are also struggling are able to support their employees." Keogh tells KBND News, "At Mt. Bachelor, we selected a ski and snowboard instructor. And then one household with two heads of household - so a husband and wife, for example - we had a 911 call taker from Deschutes County and someone who works at the front of house in the restaurant at Mt. Bachelor."

Housing Works clients were selected for the other three homes, which Keogh says will allow them to get off rental assistance and clear the way for someone else to access those services. 

Kor Community Land Trust received more than 65 applications for the three-bedroom, two-bath homes. Keogh says all had to be first-time homebuyers, "You also received preference if you’re a first generation homebuyer, which means neither your parents nor you had ever owned a home before. All seven were first generation homebuyers. You also had to be pre-qualified for the purchase price, which was $250,000. With down payment assistance for first generation home buyers, it went as low as $200,000." Homeowners were selected by lottery

The seven homes are located on Kor-owned land and are deed-restricted for life, which means they must be sold as affordable housing in the future, and the four employer-supported properties stay in that program. 

Construction of the Poplar Community began this spring and is expected to be complete by early 2024. 

 

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