Local News Archives for 2023-07

Bend Parks & Rec Hosts Kids INC Hiring

BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Rec needs to staff up its popular after-school program before fall. Julie Brown says, "We have about 1,200 kids enrolled in that program at 15 elementary schools, and we do have a waitlist that’s smaller than it has been in recent years, but we’re still hoping that we might be able to make some additional space available in those programs for taking care of those families, too." But to open more spots, they need more staff. "It typically takes about 80 or so staff members to run the Kids INC program," she tells KBND News. 

She says, there’s a pretty strong slate of returning workers, "But we still need 20-30 new employees to join us, so we can make sure that Kids INC program is successful for everyone." Recreation leaders work about 20 hours a week in the afternoons. There’s also a new opening for a STEM coordinator. "Those Kids INC jobs are pretty great for being a flexible part-time position. It’s about 20 hours a week, the pay rate is between $19-22 a hour, we have positions open for folks from 16 years old on up."

In addition to a paycheck, COCC and OSU-Cascades students could also earn a $5,250 scholarship for working with Kids INC. 

Interviews will take place this week, Tuesday through Thursday. Click HERE for more information and to sign up for an interview. 


Drug Stash Left At Bend Hotel Leads To Two Arrests

BEND, OR -- Two Lincoln County men face a list of charges after a bag of drugs was found in their Bend hotel room. A La Quinta employee discovered the stash left behind, Sunday afternoon. Police say it contained more than a thousand fentanyl pills, 82 grams of fentanyl powder, 46 grams of tar heroin and six grams of meth, as well as digital scales and packaging material.

About two hours after the discovery, Richard Wescott called the hotel and said he’d come back for the missing luggage. Jeremy Boggs arrived a short time later to claim it, saying Wescott was in a parked vehicle across the street. The men each claimed the bag belonged to the other.

At the time of his arrest, Wescott had more than $1,600 in his wallet. He's charged with: Felon in possession of a restricted weapon, felony possession of a controlled substance, manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance x2, felony possession of heroin, manufacture of heroin, delivery of heroin, possession of methamphetamine. Boggs is accused of: In-state warrant, felony possession of a controlled substance, manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance x2, felony possession of heroin, manufacture of heroin, delivery of heroin, possession of methamphetamine. 


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National Night Out Events Planned Across The Region

BEND, OR -- Local law enforcement agencies host National Night Out events Tuesday. Sheila Miller, with Bend Police, tells KBND News, "These things happen all over the country. It’s designed to encourage relationships between police and our community members." She adds, "Police officers spend a lot of time showing up in your worst moment, so it’s always nice to be able to see people where there’s not safety as much on the line. You can understand they are humans, even when they’re wearing those uniforms."

BPD's event will be at the Bend High fields from 4-8 p.m., "And we’ve got a ton of fun things planned: we’ve got a pie eating contest, there will be a DJ, lawn games, all kinds of stuff," says Miller, "Including some police specialty units like the drone programs and the K9s will be out, so people can see how those different units work."

In Redmond, Schools Superintendent Dr. Charan Cline says he’s taking part in the fun, "Somehow or another, the police chief talked me into hanging out in the dunk tank this year. I think they’ve got me in there from 6:30 to 7. That’ll be fun, so if you want to dunk the Superintendent, here’s a great opportunity for you. I know the police chief spends a little time in there as well. I don’t know if they’ve talked the Mayor into it or not, but it’s kind of a fun thing to do."

Redmond’s National Night Out is expected to be the city’s largest ever. It’s at Centennial Park from 6-8 p.m. and will feature a live performance from the band Precious Byrd. There’s also face painting, bounce-houses and other family activities. 

Other Central Oregon communities also have events planned, including two hosted by the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office in La Pine, at the La Pine Senior Center and at Village Green Park in Sisters. National Night Out is always the first Tuesday in August. This is its 40th year. 


Bend, Redmond Councils To Meet Jointly

The city councils of Bend and Redmond meet Tuesday August 1 for a first-ever joint workshop.

Redmond city councilor Cat Zwicker tells KBND News this meeting is important as there are decisions made by one city that sometimes impact the other, “The communities are a little bit different as far as our makeup and how people see things. But I think it's important that we all practice good community outreach and also talk about what that looks like between the two of us.”

Zwicker is willing to hold these joint sessions more often, if it proves beneficial, “We respond to like challenges between the cities and each day and what we choose as a city often impacts the other city. And I think it's important that we start finding solutions and work together.”

In addition to an update on homelessness initiatives, the councils will hear from ODOT about Highway 97 safety corridor investments. “To alleviate the traffic between our cities is something that we talk about frequently. As many people come into Redmond as leave Redmond every day for work. And I'm sure Bend feels that same bottleneck at Cooley Road that we see as they come in here. So, I think that that's just something that's going to continue in our conversations,” Zwicker says.

The workshop starts at 6 PM at Redmond’s City Hall.


Portland Woman Killed In Tumalo Area Crash

TUMALO, OR -- One person was killed and another injured in a Friday afternoon crash in Tumalo that forced the closure of Highway 20 for about an hour.

According to State Police, 68-year-old Janet Abelein, of Portland, was driving eastbound and "made a U-turn in the middle of the highway" just before 4:30 p.m. Her Subaru was t-boned by an eastbound pickup driven by Policarpo Vasquez Prudente of Redmond.

Abelein was later pronounced dead at the hospital. Her passenger was treated for unknown injuries. 

NeighborImpact Begins Listening Tour Of the Region

REDMOND, OR -- Central Oregon’s community action agency is planning its next two years. "We are trying to gather community feedback on needs of people and needs of communities," says NeighborImpact Executive Director Scott Cooper.

He tells KBND News listening sessions held throughout August will help the regional agency develop its next strategic plan. "We take the feedback, we look around to see if there’s a partner we can work with, to be able to do that work, first. It doesn’t have to be us. Or, we look around and see if there’s some sort of grant program out there that’s already doing that kind of work, and say, ‘how can we bring that to Central Oregon?’ And either implement it ourselves or work with a partner to be able to fund them to implement it." He calls NeighborImpact a "conduit" for state and federal funds, providing utility and rental assistance, and other programs. 

Cooper says past community feedback has led to new ideas, like the mobile food pantry, launched several years ago, "As we talked around about food deserts, and the difficulty some people had in being able to get to food sources, or not having food pantries in their area. So, now we have the mobile pantry; it goes in and fills in those gaps while we’re able to work on building other structures."

Listening sessions are 5-7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and will rotate around the seven communities served by NeighborImpact, "We will be in Bend, Redmond, Prineville, Warm Springs, Madras, La Pine and Sisters." Cooper says the conversations will focus on specific themes, "What are the challenges that are out there, what can we do to better fill the gaps that may be existing? One of the key questions: how do we get information to people? How are people getting information. Because the system is so fragmented now, it’s hard to know what channels people use, and they’re different in different communities. And then, what are we overlooking and what else can we do?"


Tuesday, August 1, 5:00-7:00 PM

Deschutes Public Library Brooks Room

601 NW Wall St. Bend, OR 97703


Thursday, August 3, 5:00-7:00 PM

Redmond City Hall Civic Room 208

411 SW 9th St. Redmond, OR 97756


Tuesday, August 8, 5:00-7:00 PM

Bowman Museum

246 N Main St. Prineville, OR 97754

Warm Springs

Tuesday, August 15, 5:00-7:00 PM

Community Wellness Center, Social Hall

2200 Hollywood Blvd, Warm Springs, OR 97761


Thursday, August 17, 5:00-7:00 PM

Inn at Cross Keys Station, Conference Room

66 NW Cedar St. Madras, OR 97741

La Pine

Tuesday, August 22, 5:00-7:00 PM

La Pine Senior Activity Center, Conference Room

16450 Victory Way, La Pine, OR 97739


Thursday, August 24, 5:00-7:00 PM

Sisters Parks and Rec, Meeting Room #1

1750 McKinney Butte Rd. Sisters, OR 97759


To participate in any of the above meetings by Zoom, follow this link and use Meeting ID: 873 2042 8504; Passcode: 306104.

Crook County Schools Names Interim Superintendent

PRINEVILLE, OR -- After interviewing several candidates for interim Superintendent, the Crook County School Board unanimously agreed to name former Superintendent Dr. Duane Yecha as a finalist for the job. He served as CCSD Superintedent from 2011 until his retirement in 2018. Dr. Sara Johnson then took over the top job. She announced her resignation after the 2023 school board election, citing differences with new board members. 

The new board solicited for candidates and interviewed a handful this week, including controversial former gubernatorial candidate Marc Thielman. Afterwards, they decided to reach out to Dr. Yecha directly. "After interviewing him, board members reached a consensus that Dr. Yecha would be the right leader to ensure a smooth start to the new school year and would help bridge the gap and bring the community together," the district said in a statement.

Before finalizing the appointment, the board will provide the community an opportunity to talk with Dr. Yecha and provide additional feedback. A meet-and-greet is scheduled for Thursday, August 3. Assuming there are no issues from the community, the board will appoint him as the interim Superintendent for one year, on Wednesday, August 16. 

"On rather short notice, I believe I am being called to serve the school district and community as the interim superintendent for this current school year." Dr. Yecha said in a statement, "If approved, I will answer this unexpected call to the best of my ability because I wish to honor and help the precious students, staff, parents, school board, and community members. Wisdom suggests building from strength, honoring past successes, honoring community expectations, and serving with integrity."

Community Meet-&-Greet

Thursday, August 3rd, 5 p.m.

School District Office: 471 Ochoco Plaza Drive, Prineville

August School Board Meeting

Wednesday, August 16th, 6:30 p.m.

School District Office: 471 Ochoco Plaza Drive, Prineville

Houseless Response Office Plans Emergency Roundtable

In an effort to get Governor Tina Kotek to agree to let Deschutes County establish managed homeless camps outside the Urban Growth Boundary, the Coordinated Houseless Response Office is planning a meeting with public lands officials and other agencies. The board Thursday outlined those they want at the meeting including ODOT, Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management.

“We bring these bodies and entities together to… really emphasize that this is an emergency,” said Co-chair and Bend City Councilor Megan Perkins, who also suggested hearing from those who assist the unsheltered population, “It might be helpful to understand the constraints of our behavioral health staff. So maybe we take it from that, that angle of what they're able to do in this situation.”

The board will also invite Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and Behavioral Health to provide input.

“Being able to identify what that is, and having Forest Service with ODFW, with anybody with our local fire department. Because I think as we get people closer in and are providing services, it might create more action,” said board member and Redmond councilor Cat Zwicker adding, “We need the people at the table who actually can do the things we're thinking about or asking about or maybe they've already done them and they can tell us, well, that's not going to work and here's why.”

The Coordinated Houseless Response Office hopes to schedule the multi-agency meeting as soon as possible.


Governor Asks Deschutes Co. For More Details On Managed Camp Plan

SALEM, OR -- Deschutes County hopes to get special permission to site a managed homeless camp outside the urban growth boundary, but the Governor seems unwilling to approve the plan in its current form.

County Commissioner Patti Adair told KBND News Thursday she asked to meet with the Governor, "As I would like to explain to the Governor tomorrow, if I get my meeting, we have people that will not go to the navigation center. They don’t want to leave their RV or their pet, they won’t go to the great places that we have now." Adair says a location for a camp is already available, "There is a property, almost nine acres. It’s EFU land, and per our land laws, we cannot site a camp on that land. We do need special permission from Governor Kotek." She added, "The people that own the property, I’ve walked the property, met with them, they are all willing to provide this as a location. It’s close to services and it’s convenient to the city of Bend, and yet it’s not actually close to a lot of houses." 

At Thursday's bill signing, KBND asked Governor Tina Kotek whether she has a meeting scheduled with Deschutes County Commissioners. "I’m not aware that I’m meeting with them tomorrow," she responded. Kotek says county officials have not offered the state enough information, "They need to provide a plan that will explain how they will serve people in the locations they are suggesting. And I have not gotten the answers. And I think you can tell from the work I’ve done so far, money does not flow, authority does not flow until there is a plan and there are clear outcomes associated with those plans. And they have not produced those yet." 

Kotek said she has communicated with the county, "I have written a response back to the Deschutes County Commissioners asking for more information." She added, "I think it’s important to provide as much shelter capacity within the urban growth boundary, and frankly, right now, I am not satisfied with the response." She thanked local leaders for their work on the issue but said, "I cannot move forward with giving them unprecedented waiver authority to go outside the UGB unless they have exhausted what they can do within the urban growth boundary. And I don’t think they’ve actually exhausted that yet."


New Deschutes County Camping Rules Approved

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners Wednesday granted preliminary approval to limit camping on county-owned property. County Attorney Dave Doyle told the board the new law could take effect in three months. But there is a catch, “The prerequisite to all of this is that we have some alternate sites where people can be directed to. So, unless and until you have that, this code doesn't really mean a whole heck of a lot.” 

The county is trying to work with the state for approval of a managed camp outside the UGB. “I'm hoping that we will be able to hear from the governor this week and know that we can go ahead with another plan,” said Commissioner Patti Adair.

Commission Chair Tony DeBone said they will also talk with the Forest Service about the county enforcing the code on federally-owned land, “This code is going to be implemented for Deschutes County property, currently. And then, the ask is for federal government to get serious about two week stays.”

“We've given a lot of people the opportunity to take that pathway out. Then if there are people still unauthorized camping in places that we really don't want them to be, then a law enforcement approach makes sense,” Commissioner Phil Chang said, adding he wants the county to focus on providing facilities and services, but agrees with the need for the ordinance.

The idea for a camping code first came from Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson in early June. While the Commissioners aren’t considering his exact proposal, he says he’s pleased they’re moving forward, "We have to do something. What is going on now is not okay. It’s not okay for those folks to be living in that situation; it’s not humane, it’s not safe. And it’s not okay for the individuals that are living around these situations."

The code includes a ban on fires on county-owned lands within a mile of a UGB or private property lines. It’s a buffer zone Sheriff Nelson strongly supports, "Really, that is just to try and give a boundary of protection to all individuals in the area, and give enough time for fire response in certain situations."

Nelson tells KBND News, "As I look at it, it’s all about how you enforce the law, how you use discretion to enforce the law. If we can get this camping ordinance in place, what we’d like to do is: you go out and you start visiting with these individuals and offering resources. But then at the same time saying, ‘hey these are the rules and this is what the expectations are.’”He adds, "My hope would be you’d never have to use a consequence because you’re offering these resources to these individuals, so it’s basically a carrot and a stick-type approach."


(08/03/2023) This story has been updated to clarify the code only applies to county-owned public lands. 

Bethlehem Inn To Offer Weekly Volunteer Trainings

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon’s largest homeless shelter will offer weekly trainings in August to bolster its volunteer numbers. Jordan Walker, with the Bethlehem Inn, says volunteer programs were decimated during the pandemic, and are now just 65% of what are needed at the Bend and Redmond shelters. Volunteers are needed for facilities work, like landscaping and building maintenance, in the kitchen, including cooking and serving meals, and at the front desk.

"There’s definitely a need to bring people in," he tells KBND News, "With that, though, also comes educational opportunities and just moments to foster understanding." Recent publicity over the clearing of local camps and other events involving the homeless, he believes, has led to a lack of empathy from the housed community. "This is an opportunity not only to gain insight into the problem, but also have an opportunity to be part of the solution. It’s really easy to get frustrated and complain. But that doesn’t really contribute to anything." He adds, "You get to take this idea of ‘the homeless,’ and break it down into ‘John’ and ‘Jill’ and whomever else, and their individual stories. It humanizes the problem."

Walker acknowledges Bethlehem Inn's clientele are often overlooked and invisible, "When I am driving down the road and there’s someone panhandling on the corner, I drive just far enough up so I don’t see them in my side window. And when there’s someone in a store that has been living outside and looks down on their luck - maybe they smell a little bit, they’re wearing old clothes that are dirty - I avert my gaze and go to the next aisle over. The problem is it’s not just me that’s doing that. It’s everyone."

He says, "By coming and participating in volunteering, serving a meal, helping out at the front desk, talking to people and using empathy, it shows this community of houseless individuals that there are community members that care."

Trainings are offered weekly in August: At the Bend shelter (3705 N. Hwy 97) every Thursday at noon and 5 p.m., plus Saturday, August 12 at noon. And at noon and 5 p.m. every Wednesday at the Redmond shelter (517 NW Birch Ave.). Walker hopes the variety of days and times removes barriers and makes volunteering accessible to everyone. 

Pre-registration is required. 


Prineville PD Chief, Captain Placed On Leave

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville Police Chief Larry Seymour (pictured) and an unnamed Captain were placed on leave July 21, pending an investigation into an "internal non-criminal personnel matter," according to a press release from the city. Officials also noted the leave is paid and "non-disciplinary." Lt. Shane Wilson will serve as the officer in charge.

City Manager Steve Forrester issued a short statement: "We will strive to keep the public informed to the extent allowed while respecting the privacy and rights of the individuals involved."

In response to KBND's request for an interview, a city spokesperson said, "Because it is a personnel issue, the city is unable to provide any additional information at this time."

Chief Seymour took over the top job in June of 2022, after Dale Cummins retired

Redmond Schools Wrap Up Summer Construction Work

REDMOND, OR -- Crews are taking advantage of empty school parking lots and classrooms in Redmond to work on safety and security upgrades. The projects are paid for by a $27.5 million bond approved by voters in 2020.

Superintendent Dr. Charan Cline says several projects are close to completion, "By the time school starts, we’ll have the outside security systems completely done. So, the ability to lock a building down electronically and let people in, that should be ‘done, done.’ Security cameras won’t all be mounted yet. Security vestibules we’ll be working on really, pretty much all year, but hopefully we’ll get those done relatively soon."

He tells KBND News Tom McCall and Vern Patrick elementaries are each getting six new classrooms, "Those buildings are virtually done, they’re basically getting the heating and air conditioning systems finished - kind of working through that. They call that ‘balancing and commissioning.’ Still a little bit of clean-up, some punch list sort of stuff, but it’s getting there. A little site work still to do on the outside of those buildings, but that’s going well." He says he walked through Vern Patrick on Monday, "It looks pretty good. Also at Vern Patrick, we tore out the parking lot because it had completely collapsed and failed. We re-graded that. We’ll be doing a paving project in early August, as soon as we can get on the schedule of the paving companies."

For more on the projects covered by the 2020 bond, click HERE

Photos of Vern Patrick construction, courtesy HMK Company

Alpaca Ranch Vehicle Taken On Joyride During Spree

TERREBONNE, OR -- An allegedly intoxicated man is accused of going on a crime spree in Terrebonne Monday afternoon. It started just before 5 p.m., with a call to 911 about someone starting a fire in a shed that caused an explosion.

Another caller reported a man running around Ace Hardware with no shoes, rambling incoherently. And a third person called to report he jumped the fence into the Crescent Moon Alpaca Ranch. Christopher Valentin Van Wambeke Ward then allegedly stole a ranch vehicle, crashed through the fence, drove onto Highway 97 and back to the site of the shed fire, before deputies took him into custody.

The 35-year-old Terrebonne man faces six counts of Recklessly Endangering Another, three counts of first degree Criminal Mischief, two counts of Reckless Driving, and one count each of Driving Under the Influence and Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle. 

Suspected Drug Trafficker Arrested For A Third Time In A Year

BEND, OR -- Two men were arrested this week in connection with a June drug bust in Deschutes County. Detectives from the Street Crimes Unit say 41-year-old Jose Miguel Gomez is part of a network distributing fentanyl from a Honduran Drug Trafficking Organization from the Portland area. They believe he used drug runners from the Hunnell Road area of Bend.

The Sheriff’s Office seized more than 6,000 pills and half a pound of fentanyl powder from Gomez’s car, during a traffic stop last month. He was able to evade capture at the time, but a warrant allowed a search of the vehicle. But was taken into custody Monday when he returned to the area, along with 38-year-old Henry Oswaldo Duran, wanted for a parole violation. At the time of his arrest, DCSO says he had more powdered fentanyl and suspected meth.

It's the third Deschutes County drug investigation resulting in the arrest of Gomez in less than a year. In March, he pleaded guilty to Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance and served three months in jail. He pleaded guilty to a similar charge in January. Gomez is due in court on these newest charges next month. 


La Pine Incubator Looks To Attract Businesses

LA PINE, OR -- La Pine is a step closer to attracting manufacturers and traded sector businesses, thanks to $1.5-million approved by the 2023 legislature for the La Pine Incubator Project.

“We are in desperate need of industrial space to help manufacturers or traded sector businesses to locate in the community,” says Patricia Lucas, Executive Director of La Pine - Sunriver Economic Development, “What we're proposing to do is to construct a 9,000 square-foot multi-tenant building to help companies through primarily their initial growth stages.”

Lucas tells KBND News there is a county-owned industrial park in La Pine’s city limits where the new building could be located. There are a variety of industries they hope to attract. “Specialty beverage, advanced manufacturing…We have some technology firms that we're working with. The whole goal of an incubator is to work with businesses and provide them with assistance that will help them to become more successful as they go through their growth cycle,” says Lucas.

The city of La Pine thanked Representative E. Werner Reschke for work in Salem to get the capital funding request. “Through this funding, the City will be able to increase these efforts through facilitating the shared goal of fiscal stability for our region, and the improvement of quality of life for its citizenry”.


Man Investigated For Entering Bend Safeway With Replica Guns

BEND, OR -- Police responded to two unrelated reports of armed men in northeast Bend within a five-minute span, Monday night. 

Authorities say a man called dispatch at 10:01 p.m. to report he had a gun and wanted officers to kill him. St. Charles Bend and a nearby senior living facility went into lockdown and traffic was shut down in the area. He was taken into custody at about 10:35 p.m. near NE Watt Way and NE Forum Drive. Police say he was unarmed.

At 10:06 p.m., officers were called to a report of a heavily armed man in Safeway East, the grocery store in the Forum Shopping Center where two people were killed by a gunman less than a year ago. Authorities say the man did not threaten anyone and cooperated with an unarmed security guard who escorted him outside. Police say the rifle and other guns were replicas.

Oregon State Police and the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office assisted on both incidents, which BPD says were not connected. 


Deschutes Co. M.E. Asks For Full Time Staff Amid Increase In Death Investigations

BEND, OR -- With major changes at the state Medical Examiner’s office, Deschutes County’s M.E. is pushing for more money and full-time staff. "The state Medical Examiner’s office is completely inundated with cases and volume, and they are incredibly short-staffed," Dr. Annie Onishi told Deschutes County Commissioners Monday, "They need about 10 more pathologists to be a fully functional state office. They’re out of morgue space, they’re out of morgue techs. It’s sort of dire straits over there."

Dr. Onishi contracts with Deschutes and Crook counties. But, she says, more than a dozen other counties that previously relied on the state M.E. for coroner services have to take on those services themselves. "As of July one of this year, the State Medical Examiner’s Office is no longer covering 14 of the 36 counties of Oregon," Onishi said, "They were serving as the county medical examiner for quite a few counties and they are no longer doing that." And there are other service cuts, "There was a - I’ll say - a pretty shocking email from the state M.E.’s office and Oregon State Police of the things that they are not going to be investigating anymore. So, it used to be that anybody who died of a suspected overdose would get an autopsy. They’re not doing that anymore. So, from Deschutes or Crook County, if there’s a suspected overdose, all we do is send tox - so either a blood or a urine sample. And that goes to the lab; and that’s a six month delay." She added, "They, on a state level, are going to be investigating homicides and child and infant deaths, and that’s about it. Everything else is going to fall on the counties."

Dr. Onishi's full time job is as a trauma surgeon for St. Charles Bend. And, she says, her staff, including eight nurse investigators, are also independent contractors. They conduct exams, review medical records of the deceased, collect fluids and prepare reports, all on their days off from full-time nursing jobs. She doesn't believe it's a sustainable operating model for such a fast-growing county, "We are doing double the amount of case investigations that we were 10 years ago. We get phone calls for 1,200 people that die a year in this county, and we investigate 600-700 of those. So, you can already sort of get a sense of how much leg work that is for our investigators and how many death certificates Maureen and I are signing." She told Commissioners, "Especially with all the drug use in the area, all the sort of problems that go along with that. That is where the vast majority of our case volume comes from, as well as visitors to the area. If a visitor passes away while they’re visiting Deschutes County, that becomes our jurisdiction." They also sign every death certificate for accidental deaths.
"My educated guess would be, as Deschutes County’s population continues to grow, and as we continue to sort have these lifestyle plights - the homelessness issue, the drug issue," Onishi said, "I can only see those numbers going up and I can only see the state continuing to say, ‘we just don’t have the capacity to help with that sort of thing’." 

She says it’s time for the county to consider bringing the office in-house, including a licensed pathologist. Onishi is not a pathologist and does not perform autopsies - right now, those are done by the state Medical Examiner.

In response to KBND's request for information on changes at the State Medical Examiner's Office (SMEO), an Oregon State Police spokesperson said in an email, "For many years, the SMEO has assisted about one-third of Oregon’s counties with some of their county tasks. Unfortunately, staffing challenges and several years of dramatic and compounding increases in SMEO workload have made it impossible for the State to continue doing so much of the county portion of the M.E. work." Capt. Kyle Kennedy went on to say, "The SMEO is invested in the success of every county partner and our overall system, so we are continuing to help where needed, as needed. Such determinations vary depending on our capacity at the moment and the needs of the county, but we’re committed to helping when we can."  

file photo

Six Large Fires Now Burn In Oregon, Stretching Resources

KLAMATH FALLS, OR -- Authorities managing the Golden Fire in Klamath County said late Monday the fire has destroyed at least 43 homes and 43 outbuildings. More than 300 homes are affected by evacuation orders and warnings. A Red Cross shelter in the small town of Bonanza served 56 people Saturday night and 31 on Sunday. 

The Golden Fire is a top priority for state resources and FEMA authorized federal funds to be used in the firefight, due to the risk of disaster. It began Saturday, about 25 miles east of Klamath Falls, and is estimated to have burned 2,052 acres and is 9% contained, as of Tuesday morning.

In the Willamette National Forest, about 27 miles southeast of Eugene, the Bedrock Fire (pictured) has burned 4,488 acres, as of Tuesday morning and is 0% contained. Northwest Incident Management Team 13 assumes management of the fire Tuesday morning.

And, in southwest Oregon, the Flat Fire is estimated at 22,697 acres and about 3% contained. Around 1,500 personnel remain on the Flat Fire, which started 10 days ago near the town of Agness, in Curry County. 

There are seven large fires now burning in the Pacific Northwest, with six in Oregon. "One more human-caused large fire on our landscape will be pulling critical resources away from other fires," says Carol Connolly, with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, "There’s no other way to put it."

She says the region is now at Fire Preparedness Level Three, which means crews from elsewhere in the country are coming to help. "We need to augment our northwest capacity to fill the resource requests for all the incidents," she tells KBND News. "All of our hotshot crews that we have here in the northwest are either assigned or on mandatory days off. I believe right now we have a couple coming in from outside the region and we have three of our own crews that are either traveling or on days off, or being reassigned. So the movement, they are moving around." She says there are enough air tankers, but not task force leaders. "For us right now, it’s not like we’re out of things, it’s just that we have to strategically move and reassign within our incidents." 

Connolly says, "Human or undetermined, Oregon’s had 463 fires for just about 50,000 acres." That's a big increase from last year at this time, when there were just 267. It's also three times more than the natural starts Oregon has seen this year, "Lightning [has caused] 153 fires for about 6,900 acres."


Prolonged Election Season Could Increase Voter Fatigue

BEND, OR -- With local candidates already lining up for 2024 - months ahead of the filing deadline, the election season is off to an early start. 

City Club of Central Oregon Executive Director Kim Gammond says incumbents are also already in campaign mode, "The line between campaigning and policy work is pretty blurred." And, she says, that can make it difficult to bring speakers in for nonpartisan events, "Once someone is actively campaigning, if we had an issue we wanted to talk about and there was an expert in, say, the state House that had led conversation in that, once they’re in campaign mode, it’s a lot harder to have them come speak on that because it seems like a campaign event. And then, you’re not just inviting the other side - you literally have to invite the person they might be running against." She adds, "When an elected leader or candidate is in campaign mode, they behave differently and they’re looking to discuss and promote different things than when they’re in that policy-making phase."

Overall, Gammond tells KBND News, the time between elections seems to be getting shorter, "In our House, both at the state and national level, those are very short terms. They get in and they get to work for eight months and then they campaign for a year, and then they maybe have four months of transition."

But, Gammond says, the bigger concern is voter fatigue, which could mean the general public misses important information about candidates, "The more people are getting that constant information and campaign mode, by the time it comes for them to vote, they’ve already tuned so much of it out." 

Listen to our full conversation with Kim Gammond, with City Club of Central Oregon:


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Two Fires In One Hour Strain Bend Resources

BEND, OR -- Bend Fire and Rescue says crews were busy Saturday morning with multiple calls at almost the same time. Just after 8 a.m., several people reported smoke coming from Fagan’s Tree Service on SE Second, near the Parkway. Firefighters discovered fire from a two-story-tall pile of bark and mulch, threatening trees and at least one building. They knocked it down quickly with help from a Forest Service engine and water tender from a neighboring USFS facility. The property owner then used heavy equipment and hoselines to finish putting the fire out.

Just before 9 a.m., Bend Fire & Rescue responded to a home on NE Wells Acres. They found flames coming from a deck attached to the three-story house, spreading to walls. They traced the fire's origin to the deck, the exact cause could not be determined. The fire caused about $100,000 in damage and the two people who live there are getting help from the Red Cross. Firefighters also discovered many of the smoke alarms i the home had been taken down and the batteries removed.

photos courtesy Bend Fire & Rescue

Drowsy Driver Blamed For Crook Co. Crash

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A 44-year-old Prineville woman told Crook County deputies she fell asleep at the wheel before crashing down a 120-foot embankment late Friday night. Her car was found at 6:30 the next morning in a dry creekbed along Juniper Canyon Road. It was heavily damaged from hitting several boulders and likely rolling.

First responders discovered shoe prints leading away from the car and deployed a drone to look for the driver. The sound of the drone woke up Shannon Chetwood, and she contacted law enforcement on scene. She told them she didn’t have cell service and decided to wait under a tree with a blanket until daylight.

Chetwood was checked out by medics and taken to St. Charles Prineville.

Fire In Warm Springs Prompts Hwy Closure, Air Quality Alert

CONFEDERATED TRIBES OF WARM SPRINGS -- The Simnasho Fire forced the closure of Highway 26 for more than an hour Friday, as it quickly grew to around 300 acres. The Northwest Interagency Dispatch Center reports it's burning in timber and brush, about 16 miles northwest of the town of Warm Springs. 

Oregon's DEQ also issued the following air quality alert for Warm Springs and Jefferson County:

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued an air quality advisory Saturday for the following areas:

  • The Warm Springs Reservation and Jefferson County, particularly near Madras, due to smoke from the Simnasho Fire.
  • Josephine County, particularly near Cave Junction, due to smoke from the Flat Fire.

DEQ expects the air quality advisory to last until at least Monday, July 24. DEQ and partner agencies will continue to monitor smoke in the areas.

Smoke levels can change rapidly depending on weather. Check current conditions on the Oregon Smoke Information Blog, DEQ’s Air Quality Index, or by downloading the free OregonAIR app on your smartphone.

Smoke can irritate the eyes and lungs and worsen some medical conditions. People most at risk include infants and young children, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and pregnant people.

Protect yourself and your family when smoke levels are high:

  • Stay inside if possible. Keep windows and doors closed. If it’s too hot, run air conditioning on recirculate or consider moving to a cooler location.
  • Avoid strenuous outdoor activity.
  • Use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in indoor ventilation systems or portable air purifiers. Or create your own air purifying filter by following these instructions.
  • Be aware of smoke in your area and avoid places with the highest levels.
  • When air quality improves to moderate or healthy (yellow or green on the Air Quality Index), open windows and doors to air out homes and businesses.
  • If you have a breathing plan for a medical condition, be sure to follow it and keep any needed medications refilled.

Cloth, dust and surgical masks don’t protect from the harmful particles in smoke. N95 or P100 respirators approved by NIOSH may offer protection, but they must be properly selected and worn. Select a NIOSH-approved respirator with a N, R or P alongside the number 95, 99 or 100. Learn how to put on and use a respirator. Respirators won’t work for children as they don’t come in children’s sizes. People with heart or lung conditions should consult their health care provider before wearing a respirator.


photo courtesy of Twitter user @marcjwebber

Homicide Victim's Vehicle In Klamath Falls, Bend PD Seeks Public's Help

BEND, OR -- Bend Police need the public’s help as they continue investigating the murder of Evelyn Weaver, found dead in her home Tuesday, July 18.

Police Communications Manager Sheila Miller tells KBND News the 28-year-old woman’s vehicle was located in Klamath Falls Thursday July 20 at the corner of Shasta Way and Division Street, but surveillance footage shows it had been parked there for five days. “We have provided still images from that video that show both the vehicle where it was found and a person exiting the vehicle and walking away. So, we are asking people to look at those images as well as the images we put out of the vehicle earlier. We're asking businesses and residents along U.S. Highway 97 between Bend and Klamath Falls to look through surveillance video specifically between the hours of 3:30 p.m. on Friday, July 14 and 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 15,” Miller said, adding detectives are waiting for an autopsy report, and forensic results from the scene at the home on NW Hill Street. “We're hoping for Bend residents to look through any surveillance video July 8 through July 14 for a person who might match the images that we put in the press release or a person who is maybe wandering through the neighborhood that you are not familiar with.”

Anyone with information can contact the Bend Police non-emergency number (541) 693-6911.


Warm Springs Adopts First Missing Indigenous Persons Plan

CONFEDERATED TRIBES OF WARM SPRINGS -- The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Tribal Council unanimously adopted Oregon’s first Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Tribal Community Response Plan (TCRP), through a partnership with the U-S Attorney’s Office.

"When someone goes missing from a Tribal community, it is an urgent and time-sensitive situation," U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Natalie Wight said in a statement, "A community response plan ensures that all available resources—government, law enforcement, and community members—are quickly deployed in support of a full and thorough investigation." She added, “We thank the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs for their leadership in addressing this important issue."

A TCRP is supposed to serve as a guide for how Tribal law enforcement and community members will respond when someone goes missing from a Tribal community. TCRPs are tailored to the needs, resources, and culture of individual Tribal communities. The Warm Springs TCRP was created as part of the U.S. Department of Justice national MMIP initiative. The District of Oregon is one of six pilot program districts working to develop community response plans in accordance with this initiative.

The Warm Springs TCRP establishes four different sets of guidelines relevant to MMIP: law enforcement, victim services, public and media communications, and community outreach. The overall goal of the TCRP is to recognize the critical need for an immediate and consistent response to missing persons reports from the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, establish a formal process for responding to and investigating these reports, and outline the actions that will be taken by Tribal authorities.

In early 2022, the District of Oregon established an MMIP Working Group to increase multi-agency communication and collaboration in support of and response to Oregon-connected MMIP cases. The working group includes at least one representative from each of the nine federally recognized Tribes in Oregon, the FBI, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of Interior Regional Solicitor’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, Oregon Department of Justice, Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office, and Oregon State Police.

Houseless Response Office Seeks 'Emergency Roundtable'

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County's Coordinated Houseless Response Office is looking to get input from state and federal agencies impacted by the region's homeless crisis, in order to sway Governor Tina Kotek to allow a sanctioned camp outside Bend’s urban growth boundary; an area that doesn’t currently fit state guidelines.

“I think that the coordinated office, if they could just bring us all together in a room and we talk about how we can triage the situation and start working together and coordinate efforts. I think that that would be a really key next step,” said Megan Perkins, Houseless Response Vice Chair and Bend City Councilor in suggesting ‘an emergency roundtable’, “We had someone that got mauled to death at Juniper Ridge a couple of days ago. We have fires in China hat. You have people that are needing to be moved from place to place. We have an 80% unsheltered rate. I mean, this is a disaster. We are in an emergency.”

The Houseless Response board will discuss on Thursday, July 27th, the structure of a possible meeting with agencies. Perkins, the other board members (elected officials from Sisters, Redmond, and La Pine), and CHRO staff suggested various state and federal entities, such as the Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management, during the Thursday, July 20th meeting.  “I would like to see us all really come together in an emergency environment, and talk about how we can handle this as the true emergency that it is and how we can all through our government bodies jointly declare a state of emergency. Because if you look at what a state of emergency is we are there,” said Perkins.

Deschutes County Commissioner and Board Chair Patti Adair has requested to meet with Governor Kotek, “We actually need the state's help in letting us provide a managed camp which is outside the UGB which the governor has said no to. We desperately need that,” Adair says, adding it’s critical for everyone to work together to provide information for the county’s request of the Governor. 


Criticism Continues Over Hunnell Rd Sweep

BEND, OR -- Four days after the closure of Hunnell Road, Bend City Councilors continue to field questions and criticism about the decision to clear camps in the area. More than a dozen people spoke at this week’s Council meeting, including comments about the "insane policy of moving vulnerable people from one place to another, without regard to any possible, reasonable objective," from one Bend resident, who slammed the table saying, "Please stop it!" Others accused Councilors of profiting off the sweep. "The decision was obviously based on money, so how much was spent? How much do you plan to spend? Is anybody benefitting?" asked one woman. Another said, "I know the city of Bend was given money to get supervised homeless camps or shelters. I’m not the only one, just, where’s it at?" A man attending virtually said, "The research shows that this is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Scientific research shows that these sweeps lead to more death."

City Manager Eric King tells KBND News a million dollars in state money for emergency housing was just approved for Bend and will help pay for shelter operations. But, he says, "We’ve got work to do. But I still feel that we do need to make sure that one of our duties is to protect our public rights of way. And safety, in particular, is one of our core services." 

He says recent court decisions set firm guidelines on enforcement of camping codes, "We’re anticipating that that case gets heard before the Supreme Court. We all are struggling, as cities, as to how to handle this issue. I think we see the impacts of camping in our rights of way and public property. And, we do provide opportunities for housing, but we don’t provide social services. Cities typically aren’t providing addiction services or behavioral health, things like that."

While cleanup continues, several campers remain on Hunnell Road. They were granted an extra seven days after Monday night’s deadline, through the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Photo: Several people attending Wednesday's City Council meeting held up signs protesting the clearing and closure of Hunnell Road.

Two K9s Apprehend Suspects In Separate Incidents

LA PINE, OR -- Two men in as many days were caught by Deschutes County K-9 units while trying to hide from deputies, this week. On Tuesday, 34-year-old Ross Low was arrested in Tumalo for an out of state warrant and other charges. Deputies were first dispatched to the area of Fourth and Wharton on a report of an intoxicated motorcyclist. He allegedly tried to elude capture by hiding in tall grass along the riverbank but was found by K-9 “Vinnie” (pictured, left). Authorities say he refused to comply with commands and was injured during the arrest. He was treated at the hospital before being taken to jail.

Wednesday, K-9 “Delta” (right) helped apprehend 50-year-old Tony Maxwell in La Pine on a probation violation and other charges. DCSO says he swam across the river and was found hiding in the bushes. 

Deschutes Co. Commissioners Consider Camping Ban

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners held a public hearing Wednesday on a proposal to ban camping on county-owned land. County Legal Counsel Dave Doyle says the process started after the Sheriff proposed a no-camping zone around private properties and the Urban Growth Boundary. But the proposal up for consideration now has revisions, "We believe give us the best chance of addressing the concerns that the board and the Sheriff have articulated. And at the same time, staying within the parameters of the law, here in the Ninth Circuit, which are pretty restrictive when it comes to this particular issue."

He says the law is very clear, "For this code to move forward, the county’s going to have to identify some alternate sites where folks can shelter outdoors and have some modicum of sanitation and services." He added, "Without that our code isn’t going to fly. We would lose immediately in a court challenge. We have to have alternate sites where folks can go."

Urban areas of Oregon, including Portland, recently imposed camping codes. But Doyle says a local version needs to be different, "They don’t have an issue with folks camping unlawfully on county lands, because most counties don’t have the type of land holdings that Deschutes county has. To the east, there are counties that have that. But they don’t have a city like Bend that acts sort of as a magnet, in terms of the services it provides and economic opportunities. We’re really a unique unicorn, if you will, almost, in this issue. We’re trying to manage all those and there’s not a lot of guidance."

Stella Larson is one of several residents of Woodside Ranch who testified Wednesday. She told Commissioners, "When we purchased our home 10 years ago, we checked with the Forest Service and were told the area of China Hat across from our home was a dry campground, and there were limits for campers." But she says the area is now overrun with people living just outside her property line. Commissioners noted the China Hat Road area is federal land, and the county cannot enforce its code in that area, unless specifically requested by the federal government. Others testified an ordinance won’t solve the problem and will simply push people to other areas.

Commissioner Phil Chang is supportive of the idea, but only if an alternate campsite is managed, "If we set up a place that has no rules, no structure, no management, there will be chaos. There will be chaos and it will be our responsibility." He also worried, "You pass a code that will not stand up in court, and someone brings you to court and they file an injunction, you can’t use your code. You can’t enforce it."

During closing remarks, Commissioner Patti Adair said, "We have people that won’t go to Bethlehem Inn, they won’t go to the navigation center. But perhaps they will go to a managed camp. And if they won’t go there, then perhaps law enforcement can talk to them at that point in time." 

The Board will deliberate the proposed code change next Wednesday.

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Bend Murder Victim's Car Found In Southern Oregon

BEND, OR -- Bend Police say the SUV belonging to a local murder victim was found in southern Oregon. The vehicle was unoccupied and detectives are en route to collect evidence. 

Authorities say 28-year-old Evelyn Jeanette Weaver was found Tuesday morning inside her house on NW Hill Street. BPD's Sheila Miller tells KBND Weaver lived alone. Detectives continue to gather evidence, including collecting surveillance footage from neighbors. "If there are people who we haven’t been in touch with yet, who were with or encountered Ms. Weaver in the days before her body was discovered - so, between July 13th and July 18th - we’re asking people to contact the non-emergency dispatch line," says Miller, "The Oregon State Police forensics lab is on scene, and we expect to remain on-scene through at least Friday."

Miller would not comment on any possible suspects, citing the ongoing investigation. 

Photo: Streets around Weaver's home were closed Tuesday as the Major Crimes Team investigates.

Street Dog Hero Receives New Litter Of Rescues

BEND, OR -- Street Dog Hero brought 29 dogs to Bend Wednesday from a shelter in Oklahoma. The local rescue organization partnered with the animal transport non-profit "Dog Is My Copilot" to fly them into the Bend Airport.

Street Dog Hero’s Jaymie Friesner tells KBND this allows them to bring in a lot of dogs at one time. “We have gotten a little bit accustomed to doing these big groups, whether it be from Mexico or Oklahoma or California. So, we're finally getting in the groove a little, but it still is...a big chunk,” she added some are already spoken for, but most of these new dogs will be available to take home soon, “We're really, really lucky to have the community of Bend in Central Oregon. People love their dogs here. …But everywhere, everywhere needs help right now, there's a lot of homeless dogs and, you know, they just need places to go. In Oklahoma, Texas, California, Mexico, places like that where these dogs are not getting adopted…they just have a really good chance here in Bend.”

She says there are lots of ways the community can help, “You can volunteer, foster, adopt, donate. Even just sharing the word is a huge help.”

You can find these adoptable dogs, ranging in various breeds and ages, at Street Dog Hero’s website.


Search For Local Man On North Sister Postponed Due To Unstable Conditions

NORTH SISTER, OR -- Lane County Search and Rescue say it is too dangerous to continue the search for a Central Oregon man who fell at least 300 feet at North Sister. Joel Tranby’s family says he was climbing with his girlfriend Monday when he fell twice. He verbally responded after the first, but not after the second. She was rescued by a helicopter but he has not been found.

Authorities say the rough terrain is unstable with shifting boulders. They are analyzing high resolution photos taken by a drone for possible clues and will decide how to procede based on new information and resource availability. 

Man Dies Following Dog Attack In Encampment

BEND, OR -- A man living in the area north of Juniper Ridge known as “Dirt World” died Wednesday after he was attacked by as many as three dogs.

Deschutes County deputies responded to the area between Bend and Redmond at about 1:15 a.m. and found 56-year-old Joseph Keeton with a substantial amount of blood loss. Medics and deputies began life saving measures but Keeton died later at the hospital.

The owner of the dogs, 38-year-old Jessica Rae Charity, reportedly crated the animals and deputies say she’s cooperating with the investigation.

Deputies To Patrol For Fires In Rural Areas

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office has assigned a deputy to patrol the areas of China Hat Road and Juniper Ridge on a full-time basis, in an effort to reduce the risk of fire spreading to nearby neighborhoods. Open fires are banned on unprotected and county-owned lands, but DCSO says campfires and illegal burning remain problematic in unsanctioned camps. It's "an effort to mitigate fire risk to the neighborhoods that are adjacent to these areas. This focused patrol effort will be taking a proactive approach to illegal burning, and un-authorized campfires, human waste and trash dumping within these areas,” Captain William Bailey said in a statement. 

Deputies will also soon be equipped with water bladders to quickly respond to "react quickly to a small fire and prevent it from growing into an out-of-control fire that threatens our community. The deputies patrolling this area will also be able to help coordinate firefighting resources into a location during a fire event, reducing the time it takes to get on scene and stop the spread of a fire," the agency says. 


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BPD Identifies Homicide Victim, Vehicle Sought

BEND, OR -- Bend Police identified the woman found dead Tuesday as 28-year-old Evelyn Jeanette Weaver. Her body was discovered inside a home in the 200 block of NW Hill Street. The Major Incident Team is investigating the case as a homicide, with help from the Oregon State Police Forensics Lab. BPD says officers will remain at the home through at least Friday to collect evidence. 

Detectives are searching for Weaver's 2004 silver Honda CR-V, Oregon license 085-BMP (pictured). Do not approach the vehicle and call 911 if you spot it. Any other information in the case, including if you interacted with Weaver between July 13-18 and have not yet talked with police, should be called in to non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.


Risk Of Fire Increases Along Highways

BEND, OR -- As the risk of wildfire increases, the Oregon Department of Transportation is urging drivers to take precautions. "It’s actually pretty common for fires to start next to the highway," says ODOT's Kacey Davey, "Especially when folks throw cigarette butts out the window; that’s a huge culprit."

Tuesday evening, firefighters responded to a small brush fire along the Bend Parkway on the north end of town. Its cause is under investigation.

We’ve seen little rain, conditions are dry and the fire danger is high, which means it only takes a small spark to ignite roadside brush. "Make sure, if you have a vehicle with chains attached to it, that they’re not dragging and creating sparks, because wildfires are often started from next to the highways." And, if you get a flat tire, pull over right away because driving on rims can also produce a spark. Davey tells KBND News, "If you need to pull over off the side of the road, make sure you’re not parking on any tall, dry grass that could be touching the underside of your car."

ODOT also suggests carrying a fire extinguisher in your car and know how to use it. And, if you encounter a wildfire or smoky conditions, slow down, turn on your headlights and give the vehicle in front of you plenty of space, roll up your windows and set your fan to recirculate, and consider an alternate route. 


file photo: Firefighters respond to a roadside brush fire in La Pine in July 2022

Brush Fire Extinguished Near Bend Parkway

BEND, OR -- Firefighters responded to a brush fire Tuesday evening, along the northbound lane of the Bend Parkway. Crews from Bend Fire & Rescue and the Department of Forestry were dispatched to the area just south of the Empire exit at 5:25 p.m.

The fire was quickly knocked down, held at about a third of an acre. Investigators believe the fire started in vegetation between the railroad tracks and the highway. Units first on scene saw fire grow rapidly and advance to the south by 10 mile per hour winds. It was human caused and remains under investigation.


Photo courtesy Bend Fire & Rescue

Death Investigation Underway In NW Bend

BEND, OR -- Police are investigating the death of a 28-year-old woman in northwest Bend. Officers responded to a home on Hill Street after a man reported finding someone inside unresponsive. He told police he found her when he went to check on the resident, at around 11 a.m. Tuesday. Responding officers determined she was dead. 

Investigators believe the death is suspicious and blocked off several blocks around the scene but released no other details.

Deschutes River Chosen For Leave No Trace Spotlight

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes River is one of just 20 locations around the country selected as a 2023 Leave No Trace spotlight. Erin Collier, with the Leave No Trace organization says the program is, "Shining a spotlight on communities that are really bringing people together in conservation." She tells KBND News the national organization chooses applications based on local involvement, "That partnership between the Deschutes Watershed Council and the Parks and Rec, and then also Visit Bend was kind of tangentially involved in the application and planning process. So there was a really cohesive group of community around this."

A special Leave No Trace Weekend is planned for July 28th through the 30th, including a Friday celebration at Alpenglow Park. A Saturday river cleanup event is already at capacity. Although, "A cleanup is never really sold out," says Collier, "You know, you can always just go on a cleanup in your neighborhood or pick up some trash wherever it is you’re getting outdoors on Saturday. You’re still part of that effort." And Sunday, the 30th, river floaters get a free green tube rental at the Park and Float on Simpson, in exchange for help with trash removal during their visit. In addition, the Subaru/Leave No Trace traveling team will be on site from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to educate the community about how to Leave No Trace while floating on the Deschutes River. Click HERE for more information on the weekend's events. 

The Deschutes River is one of 20 spotlight locations around the country, this year. "Part of the goal of this program is to just kind of build momentum and inspire involvement in the future. So, making sure that communities are aware of these awesome local organizations and the stuff that they’re doing while we’re here, but also all the time," says Collier.


Judge Rules City Can Enforce Camping Code on Hunnell Rd

BEND, OR -- The City of Bend will proceed with clearing the Hunnell Road area, after a Deschutes County judge struck down a requested delay Monday afternoon.

Judge Wells Ashby denied a temporary restraining order asked for by campers and homeless advocates. Ashby found the City to be following its policies and regulations. In a statement the city said the litigation was unnecessary, “The City’s ADA Manager timely considers reasonable modification requests and given the short time, would have quickly engaged in the interactive process and arrived at the same conclusions without anyone needing to go to court. The court action cost all parties considerable time and effort and produced needless uncertainty and confusion for people who have been staying in the Hunnell and Clausen area.”

The City of Bend’s Makayla Oliver tells KBND News work begins Tuesday morning. “Our contractors will start around 8 a.m. at the Hunnell and Cooley intersection and then move north from there. So, after we’re done with that area, the cleanup will shift over to Clausen road, moving south to north,” Oliver says items left behind will be temporarily stored, “On the notices we noted that unclaimed property can be stored for 30 days. We have one location at NE 15th street in Bend, and we have one location specifically for vehicles which is a Deschutes County facility on SE 27th street.”

The city is also allowing about 25 people to stay one extra week, after they asked for a special accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Contractors will start the clearing process Tuesday morning.

The city's full statement on the court hearing:


Presiding Judge Ashby held a second hearing this afternoon to consider a request for a temporary restraining order submitted last week by individuals who include several people residing on Hunnell Road and Clausen Road. The individuals asked the court to order the City to consider reasonable modification requests submitted to the City and to stop the City from temporarily closing the area on July 17 to begin clean-up on July 18.

The City’s position has been that a temporary restraining order was unnecessary because the City had already complied with federal law and City policy by considering the modification requests. The City, on July 17, 2023, determined that it would grant one week of additional time to move for approximately 23 individuals with disabilities.

The court agreed on Monday, denying the request for a temporary restraining order. The City will proceed with the temporary closure and clean-up of the Hunnell and Clausen area beginning as planned on Tuesday, July 18. City personnel and contractors are prepared to begin work and will adjust as appropriate to account for specific individuals in the area who have been given additional time. People who have not received additional time will still need to leave the area with their belongings no later than midnight on July 17.

The City of Bend, like other state and local governments, is obligated by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act to consider reasonable modification requests from people with disabilities, which in the context of the City’s Camping Code can often involve requests for more time to comply with the code’s requirements. The City has recognized its obligations under Title II of the ADA in its code and policies. See Bend Municipal Code 4.20.025.C; City of Bend Administrative Policy 2023-4, Responding to Camping in Public Rights-of-Way and On City-Owned Public Property, Section III, F.2. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires cities to provide reasonable modifications of policies, practices and procedures when necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability for qualified individuals, unless it is determined that making the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity, or cause an undue administrative or financial burden.

“This litigation was unnecessary. The City’s ADA Manager timely considers reasonable modification requests and given the short time, would have quickly engaged in the interactive process and arrived at the same conclusions without anyone needing to go to court. The court action cost all parties considerable time and effort and produced needless uncertainty and confusion for people who have been staying in the Hunnell and Clausen area,” said Assistant City Attorney Ian Leitheiser.

The City reiterates the efforts it has taken in the past several years to address homelessness. In addition to passing a Camping Code that allows, under certain conditions, and does not criminalize, camping on City streets, the City first adopted codes allowing most non-residential property owners to allow overnight camping in vehicles by people who are otherwise homeless, or set up “Safe Parking” locations where people can camp in their own RVs or set up portable shelters, with sanitation services and case management. The City funds service providers engaged in outreach with people living on City streets. The City has used federal, state, and local funds to purchase four properties at which service providers operate three shelters, including two this year alone adding approximately 80 beds, and space is available at local shelters. The City continues to fund shelters, services and affordable housing through local fees on building permits, federal Community Development Block Grant funds and federal and state covid-relief funds.

The City cannot solve homelessness on its own; we are a part of the community solution and we are doing what we can, balancing our other responsibilities to the community as a whole to provide for public health and safety.

Two Men Arrested Following Separate Pursuits

BEND, OR -- Bend Police chased down two men accused in separate incidents Sunday night. In the first, a man suspected of drunk driving took off from a traffic stop on Southeast Division. After going 75 mph on the Parkway, police say 29-year-old Damian Mendez finally stopped in Romaine Village. His blood-alcohol level was reportedly 0.26 at the time of his arrest. He's charged with DUII, Reckless Driving, Attempting to Elude Police Officer, Failure to Carry Driver’s License, False Information to Police and Felony Driving While Suspended or Revoked.

Less than four hours later, a foot pursuit led to the arrest of Ryan Supica, accused of stealing $300 from a server at 5 Fusion & Sushi Bar and punching another employee. Witnesses called 911 and tried to run after the 35-year-old suspect. After a four-minute foot chase, officers took Supica into custody in the 500 block of NW Broadway. They say they found cash in his back pocket and returned $300 to the server. 

Supica was taken first to St. Charles Bend, then to Deschutes County Jail on charges of second-degree Criminal Mischief, third-degree Robbery and an active warrant for a parole violation. 

Open House Planned For Olney Improvement Project

BEND, OR -- Safety and accessibility improvements are coming to Bend’s Olney Avenue, between Wall and Northeast Second. "It is one of the busiest pedestrian and bicycle routes in the city of Bend, that we saw from the data," says Engineer Carrie Theus, with the city of Bend.

She tells KBND News there are three possible designs, all with bike and pedestrian improvements like buffered bike lanes, "Currently, there’s not buffered bike lines. They all have protection under the US 97 overpass on the road. They all have a safe crossing upgrade at Second Street that will include some type of bike separated area, pedestrian separated area, where they can cross the road safely." Theus adds, "While we’re increasing safety for people who bike or walk, we’re also going to be increasing safety for people who drive, because drivers will be more aware of where the bikers are, there’s going to be more visibility and lighting." Construction is tentatively scheduled for spring and will take six to eight months.

An open house Tuesday evening is a chance for the design team to gather public feedback on the three draft proposals, "As well as personal experiences from the community. We have a question, ‘where do you possibly feel unsafe on this road in today’s environment?’" The community meeting is from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 18, at Pioneer Park (1525 NW Wall St.).  

For those who can't make it in person, the information and a survey are available online now through July 23 bendoregon.gov/olneypedbike.


Crisis Response Pgm Called Success By Law Enforcement

BEND, OR -- A partnership between Deschutes County Behavioral Health, 911, Bend Police and the Sheriff’s Office sends Community Crisis Response Teams to low and moderate risk mental health calls without law enforcement. And authorities say the new program is a success. 

Sheila Miller, with Bend Police, says the first two months of the program have been busy, countywide. "In the first two months of operation, the CCRT has responded to 551 calls for service, and almost 90% of those were able to be resolved without law enforcement," Miller tells KBND News.

"These people are being dispatched on their own to respond to those crises. So, that takes some of those calls off law enforcement’s plate, and it also sometimes helps because having law enforcement can sometimes exacerbate a situation," says Miller. The CCRT helps connect people with the stabilization center or other mental health resources, "We have a lot of mental health calls for service. Unfortunately it’s an issue. And people know to call 911 when they’re in crisis; and that makes sense. But sometimes having law enforcement show up makes it worse. And so, these people are specially trained, they know what they’re doing. Our cops have all been trained in crisis intervention, but they’re still in big uniforms with guns."

But, she says, police and sheriff’s deputies will respond when necessary, "So, 911 will continue to dispatch law enforcement and fire when there’s a high risk call - so, if somebody has a weapon or is threatening themselves or others with violence."

The CCRT is an expansion of the county’s mobile crisis team, which has provided services with and without law enforcement for more than 20 years. 


Court Hearing For Hunnel Road Closure

Unsanctioned campers living in the area of Hunnell Road in Bend have been asked to leave voluntarily by midnight Monday.

Crews are scheduled to start cleaning up the area Tuesday, but that plan is in limbo, pending an injunction filed last week. 

During a hearing Friday, a judge heard arguments from a homeless advocate and some campers who say they need more time, citing the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Makayla Oliver, with the City of Bend, tells KBND News City staff worked last week with those with accessibility issues.

“We’ve been talking and engaging with the folks out on Hunnell and Clausen roads continuing to work on cases, and review those cases to see what kind of modifications can be offered,” Oliver says staff worked last week with 16 disabled campers with accessibility requests.

Oliver says clean up and restoration could take four to six days, “Hunnell, Loco, and Clausen roads will be closed from Cooley Road to the north. So, we’re going to try to maintain local access throughout the closure depending on how many people remain after the closure takes effect.”

Deschutes County Circuit Court Judge Wells Ashby scheduled another hearing for Monday afternoon before ruling on the injunction.

Fire Restrictions Increase With Warmer Weather

BEND, OR -- Additional fire restrictions take effect overnight on the Deschutes National Forest, Crooked River National Grassland and Prineville BLM. Jaimie Olle, with the Forest Service, says the risk of fire is growing, "Coming into the weekend, we’re seeing some increases in temperatures - some pretty high temperatures. And overall we’re seeing a decreased level of moisture in our vegetation, particularly at those lower elevations, with those finer fuels like grasses and brush." She says the snowpack helped slow drying in higher elevations, but that’s quickly changing. And temps this weekend are expected in the 90s. "Our firefighters locally have been responding to some human-caused starts over the past couple of weeks, at those lower elevations," Olle tells KBND News, "And, once we start to see that drying trend, that’s when we typically move into a Public Use Restriction. And that’s where we’re at right now."

Starting at midnight, open fires, including wood stoves and charcoal briquette fires are not allowed, except in specific designated areas. "So, if you can have a campfire where you’re recreating, make sure that campfire is fully extinguished before you leave. That means cold to the touch." Click HERE for more on the restrictions and where campfires are allowed. 

Firefighters responded yesterday to Incident 458, five miles southeast of Bend near Kelsey Butte. It was fully lined within a few hours and held at about a third of an acre. "Firefighters have had a lot of successes, so far this season," says Olle, "They’ve been able to get to fires quickly, keep them small and keep them in a manageable level. Obviously, as conditions dry out further, those fires do spread more quickly. So, as we move into the later part of July and August, we’ll see additional drying; not only at lower elevations, but we’ll start to see our upper elevations start to dry out as well."


CC School District Checks Bus Driver Action

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County School District is looking into the actions of a bus driver accused of leaving students on the bus, and going into a Prineville store, Wednesday afternoon. The District’s Jason Carr tells KBND News the students were okay, “It’s just highly inappropriate for a staff member to leave children for any length of time without adult supervision. So, that’s really the biggest concern.”

A parent e-mailed the school after the incident, and posted on social media about it. “Our transportation manager reached out to…there’s about 15 children that ride that particular bus, so she reached out to all of the families and was able to speak with most of them except maybe like two or three last night and explain the situation,” Carr says the parents were told of the next steps in the process, “The driver would be taken off the route, and we would do an internal investigation about what happened.”

The matter of student safety is taken seriously. “Whether it was a few minutes or 15 minutes, it’s just not something that can happen when students are in our care,” said Carr.

A substitute bus driver will cover the summer school route in the meantime.


Brush Fire Leads To Discovery Of Waste Problem

BEND, OR -- A quarter-acre brush fire reported near Coyote Butte, led deputies to a secondary discovery: human waste draining into the ground on public lands.

Deschutes County deputies and Forest Service officers responded to the fire Tuesday, about 14 miles southeast of Bend. They say a burn barrel left unattended spread to the surrounding area, causing the brush fire. Investigators believe 57-year-old Terry Bass was burning trash from her campsite.

Her camp trailer was nearby, and deputies say they noticed a drainpipe attached to the RV's "black water" fixture (drainage from the toilet), allowing sewage from the trailer to drain into the ground. 

Bass was cited for Reckless Burning, Offensive Littering and third degree Criminal Mischief.

Redmond Braces For Big Crowds

REDMOND, OR -- A massive music festival is coming to the Deschutes County Fairgrounds in about a week and a half. Redmond City Councilor Cat Zwicker urges people to prepare now for the FairWell Festival crowds, "It’s going to bring in an estimated 35,000 people, which is basically the population of Redmond."

This is the inaugural year for the FairWell Festival, boasting headliners like Cheryl Crow and Willie Nelson among its more than three dozen acts on three stages. It runs July 21-23. Zwicker expects traffic backups on the south end of Redmond, near the fairgrounds and airport, "If you’re traveling to the airport, I would advise you to leave extra early because the roads will be very heavy. And you will need that extra time or you will miss a flight. And if you’re picking someone up, let them know that you might be delayed." But, she adds, "It’s a great event for Deschutes County, for Redmond, it’s going to help all our local businesses. So, again, I think everybody just enjoy, drive slow, and have a nice time because I think it’s going to be a great event. But we do have to be very aware that the traffic is going to be a little clustered."

Just 10 days after the festival clears out, the Deschutes County Fair and Rodeo opens, bringing its crowds to Redmond August second through the sixth.


Knopp Hints At Cancelation Of Short Session

REDMOND, OR -- Oregon’s Senate Republican Leader says there may not be a short session in 2024. Speaking to the Redmond Kiwanis Wednesday, State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) hinted at the possibility, because of unexcused absences in the 2023 session. In a video of the presentation provided by the Redmond Kiwanis, Knopp says he's proud of the bipartisanship that came out of negotiations to end the Republican walkout, "We’ll be able to work with each other if we should have a short session. And I say 'if' - nothing is guaranteed because - So, the Senate President tried to drive a very quick count on unexcused absences for our members." Knopp did not elaborate on why the session, scheduled to begin February 5, could be canceled. But he went on to say he wants increasing housing supply to be the focus, if it occurs, "I think that’s what our short session, should we have one, should be about, is creating more supply of housing because I don’t think the new compassion for Oregon should be ‘Here’s your tent, there’s the sidewalk.’"

Knopp also said he’s pleased with the outcome of the Republican walkout during the 2023 legislative session, which was the longest in state history and the second longest in U.S. history. He told the group the session started off in a bipartisan manner, but devolved quickly, "The breaking point really was, one of our staff people found out that the bill summaries on every single bill were not meeting state law. And, who would’ve thought, if you had delved into the rules and the law, you would’ve known this. But, even our legislative counsel was unaware." He did not mention GOP opposition to several controversial abortion and gun control bills. But said the negotiations that followed led to the two sides coming together and passing critical bipartisan legislation, including funding education and housing programs. 

The Bend Republican blamed Oregon's closed primaries for increasing partisanship, "I went to the state central committee for the Republicans, and - I gave an amazing speech, by the way. And basically advocated for us to open our primary in 2022. And it was rejected by just a few votes." He said it prevents the large number of unaffiliated voters from taking part in primary elections, "It is unfortunate that we don’t allow people to be welcomed in to vote for our candidates in the primary. And so, I think at some point that’s going to happen. It’s time has not yet come, but I think it will."


Bend E-Bike Safety Roundtable Scheduled

BEND, OR -- Bend Police, city leaders and others will meet next week to discuss the safety of electric bikes. "Our officers and command staff have been frustrated by e-bikes for a long time," Bend PD's Sheila Miller told KBND News earlier this week. That frustration, she says, comes from confusing laws that are tough to enforce, "Like a lot of technological developments, maybe the laws haven’t really kept up with e-bikes. A good example of that is, the law says you have to be 16 to ride an e-bike, but it doesn’t require a license or registration. It doesn’t make the age restriction necessarily a citable offense." Miller adds, "You can’t ride them on the sidewalk, but you can ride them through crosswalks. It’s a lot of these different things that make it difficult for officers to cite - to crack down, other than to stop kids, educate them, explain that it’s not legal, call their parents."

A Bend 15-year-old died last month after his e-bike crashed into a minivan. He was underage, riding on the sidewalk against traffic and without a helmet. Although, Miller says, the investigation has not yet determined whether the outcome would’ve been the same on a regular bike. "There’s been a lot of outcry about this child’s death and whether it could’ve been prevented, and rightly so. And I think unfortunately, perhaps this child’s death may spark some action on the part of state and local officials to do more to regulate e-bikes."

State Rep. Emerson Levy (D-Central OR) is also scheduled to attend Tuesday's roundtable with the city. She told KBND News last month she knew the victim in the deadly incident. “Community safety is one of my top priorities- our first roundtable is an essential start in achieving our shared goal of safer streets," Levy said in a statement this week, "We are seeing record levels of teenagers acquiring e-bikes, and it's time we perfect the laws surrounding these devices so our youth, and everyone in our community, can enjoy them safely.” 

Miller says she's hopeful, "And I think a lot of people in our department are hopeful that perhaps a legislative review, clarification of some of these laws will help us move forward." 

Also scheduled to take part in the meeting:

  • Phil Chang, Deschutes County Commissioner
  • Melanie Kebler, Bend Mayor
  • Megan Perkins, Bend Mayor Pro Tem
  • Steve Cook, Bend-La Pine School District Superintendent
  • Deb Schoen, Bend Park and Recreation District Board Member
  • Kayla Hootsmans, ODOT Legislative Coordinator
  • Janet Hruby, City of Bend, Assistant City Engineer
  • Jim Elliott, Bend Bikes Board Member

The e-bike roundtable is Tuesday, July 18, 3-5 p.m. at the Larkspur Community Center Multi-Purpose Room (1600 SE Reed Mkt Rd, Bend). Seating is limited and the public is encouraged to view the livestream HERE. Comments can be submitted in writing by noon on Monday, to be included in the roundtable discussion. Email the Bend City Council at council@bendoregon.gov or Rep. Levy at rep.emersonlevy@oregonlegislature.gov.



County Approves 'HOME' Fund Grant

BEND, OR -- A new program aims to lower the cost of building affordable homes in Deschutes County. Commissioners approved spending $1-million to create the Home Ownership for Middle-Income Employees, or HOME Fund.

The grant was developed by housing advocates, community partners, home building businesses, and the Central Oregon Builders Association. COBA Vice President Morgan Greenwood tells KBND News the $500-thousand for this fiscal year will help build workforce housing, “We’re talking about St Charles Employees, Bend - La Pine School district employees, folks up at Brightwood, we’re talking about essentially the very core foundation of our Deschutes County workforce.”

Neighbor-Impact will oversee the distribution of $30-thousand individual grants to builders upon meeting qualifcations.

Deschutes County Board of Commissioners approved the seed funding for this fund. We’re looking at $500 thousand dollars this fiscal year, which should provide the funding for approximately 15, 16 homes,” Greenwood says, adding builders are ready to start, “There should be some folks who are able to pull permits this fall, and then I expect to see things really roaring out of the gate by Spring of '24.”

The project is aimed at middle-class workers who earn between $76,150 and $114,250 a year. There is a variety of housing options, according to Greenwood, “Some folks are going to need a town home, some folks are going to need a single level cottage. So, that’s what we’re looking for is to provide the greatest flexibility for both our builders and for our workforce home-buyers.”

Public and private donations can also be made to the HOME fund.


Bend "Food 4 Less" Now "Local Acres Marketplace"

BEND, OR -- A popular discount grocery store changed names this week. Food 4 Less, located in the Cascade Village Shopping Center on the north end of Bend, is now Local Acres Marketplace.

In a Facebook post, the store notes, "We still have the same local ownership, the same amazing staff, the same store director, and the same dedication to bringing you the absolute best." The name change, the post says, is "to align with our commitment to providing the finest natural, organic, specialty and local products. As a locally owned store, we wanted a name that truly reflected our vibrant and unique vibe, distinguishing us from any association with those other corporate, warehouse-style stores in other states." 

Kroger Inc., the parent company for Fred Meyer, owns the "Food 4 Less" franchise, headquartered in Compton, CA. Although, the grocery giant does not own or operate the Bend store. In a Tuesday post, Local Acres Marketplace says, "Your locally owned Bend Food 4 Less, now Local Acres Marketplace, is 100% locally-owned and operated. We have literally never been nor will we ever be a part of any corporate owned stores or chains. In fact, we have had the same local ownership for over 20 years, now."

ODOT Discusses South Madras Concept

MADRAS, OR -- Changes could be coming to highways 97 and 26 on the south end of Madras. Officials from the city and Oregon Department of Transportation will host an open house Thursday to talk about potential plans. 

ODOT’s Cody Franz says there’s no funding for any projects yet, but they want to hear from the public, "To put together some recommendations for future improvements in this part of town. We really just want to get folks’ input on what they’d like to see in their transportation system, as this area starts to grow." He says that growth and increase in traffic, coupled with a history of fatal crashes in the area prompted the need to discuss potential changes. Franz tells KBND News the city of Madras requested ODOT work with local officials to make improvements, "Make sure that things like freight can continue to move through with some reliability. Again, we want to build a roadway that all users - so, whether you walk, bike, roll, drive - you can get that connectivity to get around town, as well as do it safely and reliably."

Thursday’s public meeting is the first of three planned for Madras. "At this open house, they’re going to have the opportunity to really learn what the plan’s goals and objectives are, as well as how the system operates today and how we expect it to operate 20 years from now. So, as the area continues to grow, how we can see more congestion on the roadway, more users," says Franz, "We’re going to kind of refine some ideas and some planning and come back to the community in the fall with some design concepts and say, ‘based on your feedback that we got from the initial one, here’s kind of what we’re thinking. Are we on the right track?’" Another meeting in winter or spring will finalize what’s being called the South Madras Concept Area Refinement Plan

The open house is Thursday, July 13 from 5-7 p.m. in the Jefferson County Community Wellness Room, inside the county health building at 500 NE A Street, Madras; Suite 102.


La Pine Gets Dedicated DCSO Patrol Deputy

LA PINE, OR -- A dedicated La Pine-area deputy is now patrolling south county, thanks to a new agreement between the city of La Pine and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

La Pine incorporated as a city in 2006, but does not have its own police force. The contract with DCSO for a dedicated patrol staff is similar to a deal struck with Sisters in 2020.

Previous coverage: DCSO, Sisters Discuss City Police Force

Lieutenant DeLuca was assigned to La Pine in January of 2022. But Deputy Ebner, assigned this month, is the first dedicated patrol deputy. Ebner was hired by the Sheriff's Office in 2020. Lt. DeLuca has been with DCSO since 1998, becoming a Sergeant in 2006 and a patrol Lieutenant in 2014.

“The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office is honored to enter into this enhanced service contract with the City of La Pine, adding a lieutenant and an additional dedicated deputy to serve the residents and visitors in La Pine," Captain William Bailey said in a statement, "These dedicated positions are in addition to our other supervisors and deputies that already provide 24-hour patrol service and emergency response in southern Deschutes County."

BPD Warns Of Uptick In Phone, Internet Scams

BEND, OR -- "In the past 30 days, we’ve had 28 calls related to scams and online fraud," says Sheila Miller, with Bend Police, "And those are just the ones that get reported to us." The agency is more concerned about those that go unreported and uninvestigated, "I think a lot of people, after something like that happens, say, ‘Whoops. Well, that was my fault. I’m embarrassed. I’m not going to tell anybody’."

Miller tells KBND News, "We had a person be directed to transfer about $25,000 into Bitcoin ATMs, after receiving a message indicating that her IP address had been hacked." In another case, a fake Bend Police Lieutenant claimed the victim needed to transfer $9,000 to clear a warrant.

Then there was the scammer posing as Border Patrol, "Who claimed that the victim had ordered packages that had drugs in them. So, in order to get out of the drug cases, they needed to pay money to avoid being arrested." Miller adds, "A lot of them tend to include requests for Zelle transfers, Paypal, all these different online apps," Which should be an immediate red flag, "Law enforcement and federal agencies are never going to call or email you and demand money. If we need money from you, we’re going to come find you. They’re not going to ask you to transfer money into Bitcoin ever. I promise. Maybe 50 years in the future, when Bitcoin is the only thing that exists - but for now, we’re going to deal with U.S. tender. 

Miller says victims are often older adults who are less tech savvy; but no one is immune. "These things hit across the board because really, the scammers are willing to spend time. These are not ‘two seconds and get off the phone.’ They’re people who are spending hours on the phone with these people, calling repeatedly."

BPD also reminds people not to give personal data like a social security number or banking information to someone over the phone or via email. If you think a call or email is suspicious, do not respond and contact non-emergency dispatch. And, if you become a victim, file a report with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center


Wednesday Morning Fire Update

CONDON, OR -- Firefighters continue to battle the Devil’s Butte Fire in Gilliam County (pictured). The Oregon State Fire Marshal mobilized a task force, sending resources from Clackamas County to join other agencies, including the Prineville Hotshots. 

The lightning sparked fire was reported Monday morning near Highway 206, west of Condon. It's now estimated at 2,861 acres and 60% contained. The highway was initially closed but has since reopened. 


In the Mount Hood National Forest, the Boulder Fire, 10 miles southwest of Dufur, is now 237 acres. Officials say it's 0% contained. It started July 8 and the cause has not been determined. 

The Alder Creek Fire, 10 miles west of Spray, has held at 1,551 acres. It's now 65% contained. 

COIC Could Oversee County's Houseless Response Office

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County’s Coordinated Houseless Response Office could soon be overseen by Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council. County Commissioners unanimously agreed to have COIC consider aligning the office with their systems. The COIC board of directors will discuss the proposal at their August 3rd meeting.

Commissioner Phil Chang says the regional organization has the resources to form a strategic plan. “That is something that actually COIC is pretty good at, is helping to facilitate regional planning processes. So, I think it’s a good choice of where we should house the coordinated homeless response office,” Chang said COIC has resources and partnerships in place to aid the county, “This office does give us the opportunity to coordinate ‘intergovernmentally’ eventually when it’s not very clear in what we’re supposed to be doing. Which is why I keep saying that I think the office’s number one job is to develop a strategic plan so we know what we’re supposed to be doing.”

The board of directors made up of county and city elected officials is still responsible for managing $1-million in state funding, and reporting progress to the state. County Commissioner Patti Adair chairs the CHRO board, “It’s to keep our strategies going, aligning with all the different milestones, funding sources, and supporting all of our community partners,” she added joining COIC will be a boost for the office.

The decision comes a month after the resignation of the Executive Director. If the COIC board of of directors gives approval to run the Response Office, the county will enter into an intergovernmental agreement with COIC, which already works with the Homeless Leadership Coalition and the "Housing for All" consortium.


McLeod-Skinner Announces Another Run For CD-5

TERREBONNE, OR -- The 2024 campaign for Oregon’s Fifth Congressional District could look a lot like 2022. Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a Terrebonne lawyer and activist, announced Monday she plans to run again against Congresswoman Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR5). In a letter to supporters, McLeod-Skinner blamed “out-of-state extremists” for the Republican win in the newly redrawn district.

McLeod-Skinner first ran for Congress in 2018 in the Second District, against then-Congressman Greg Walden. She lost by 16 points, but it was the closest a challenger ever came to unseating the 11-term Republican. She also ran unsuccesfully for Oregon Secretary of State in 2020, losing in the Democratic primary. In 2022, she took on Lori Chavez-DeRemer, after the Fifth District was redrawn to include a large portion of Central Oregon. McLeod Skinner lost by just over 7,000 votes. 

She had planned to announce her 2024 run at a Bend rally over the weekend, but her campaign says she came down with a mild case of COVID and the event was canceled.

Law Enforcement Respond To Rise In Internet Crimes Against Children

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office reports a recent rise in online crimes targeting children. Predators often try to get minors to send them explicit photos of themselves. Lead Deputy D.A. Matt Nelson tells KBND News it’s important to track down suspects quickly. "The Sheriff’s Office, in particular, has just recently created a new position where they will have a dedicated detective to work nothing but tips that relate to internet crimes against children. And those tips, they come from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children." He says all local law enforcement agencies have dedicated digital forensics detectives working at the digital lab at the Sheriff’s Office. But this is the first time one has been specifically assigned to cases involving kids, "They receive those tips from electronic service providers like Google and Facebook, and things like that. And then they do a preliminary investigation and refer it to local agencies. So, the Sheriff’s Office will have a dedicated detective that’s going to do nothing but work those cases."

Nelson says parents need to be vigilant about their children’s online activity. "It really is all ages. I mean, anytime once the child can access the internet and start engaging in conversations in social media, they’re potential victims out there." He urges parents to talk with kids about the importance of only chatting with people they know in real life. There are also resources available to help, "The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, they have a new initiative now, called the Take it Down initiative, that’s aimed at assisting young people in removing photographs online that they don’t want out there. And they’ve partnered with different websites like Facebook, Instagram Only Fans, TikTok, things like that, to remove those photographs."

Nelson believes isolation from COVID pushed more kids online. Nelson says there’s also been an increase in teens struggling with suicidal thoughts because of the threats and pressure they face from online predators.


Tuesday Morning Fire Update

CONDON, OR -- Firefighters from Central Oregon are helping crews in South Gilliam County battle the Devils Butte Fire (pictured), estimated at 3,500 acres, as of Monday evening. A Central Oregon Fire Management Type 3 Team will assume command Tuesday morning. 

The fire is near Highway 206, which closed Monday between Condon and Wasco. Aerial crews are dropping water and retardant, while hand crews dig fire lines on the ground. The Devils Butte Fire was first reported Monday morning about 20 miles northwest of Condon.  

10 a.m. UPDATE: The Gilliam County Sheriff's Office has reopened Highway 206.


Southeast of Mt. Hood, crews are hitting the Boulder Fire with a lot of resources because it has the potential to grow fast. As of Monday evening, fire managers estimate It's burned about 160 acres. Previous estimates of 500 acres were scaled back after better mapping.  Its cause is under investigation.  

Mark Enty, with the U-S Forest Service, says it's in a tough location, "The terrain is steep, it's rugged.  We've got a lot of dead and downed woody debris on the ground.  Some of those heavier fuels are going to carry fire for a little bit longer and the finer fuels on the ground are going to help transport that fire to the heavier fuels." The steep terrain helps the fire advance, and Enty says, the weather is a concern, "There's going to be some wind over the fire area and that can be problematic for firefighting and for contributing to more extreme fire behavior depending on the conditions."

Enty tells KBND News, "We've got about 200 personnel on the fire right now.  We're trying to add two water scoopers and four more helicopters to our resources." He adds, "We're getting a lot of the resources that we need, and so that's going to help us to do more direct firefighting when it's safe to do so."

Several campgrounds are evacuated. Click HERE for the list of Boulder Fire closures. 


In the Deschutes National Forest, crews responded to a half-acre fire near the Lower Three Creeks Sno Park on Monday. They had Incident 441 fully contained by evening. 

Bend's Equity & Inclusion Director Ready For Challenges

BEND, OR -- Bend’s new Equity and Inclusion Director started work Monday. Andrés Portela acknowledges there will be challenges ahead, "How do we say, as a government, 'we are serving all Bend residents in a way that we can quantify'? And say, ‘we can serve you so much better'." But, he tells KBND News he sees those challenges as opportunities. "I think this is a really good moment for relationship building; a really good moment for shared objectives and figuring out how do we track progress together? The opportunities I see in Bend are ultimately how do we foster that level of community collaboration? And how do we do it in a way that doesn’t leave anybody behind?"

Portela started his career in civil rights working in fair housing and health equity. He comes most recently from Tucson where he started the Office of Equity, and says he’s been impressed with the progress made by the city of Bend since 2016. "My role is purely to figure out how do we operationalize it? How do we do it in a way that is no longer just buzzwords, but in a way that is deeply promoted and supported, and commonplace in our everyday work?"

He sees “diversity, equity and inclusion” more than just related to race. Portela believes DEI is important to all socio-economic levels and every way in which a person identifies. He wants to develop a framework for internal city processes to make sure no one is left out, "Then, figuring out how do we work with community and partner with them on delivering services that are culturally competent, acknowledge some policy changes that need to be done, focusing on budgets, focusing on contracts, all the different things? But making sure we do it in a way that’s with community."

Portela says his first job is to get to know the city, various departments and greater community.


Prineville Motorcyclist Seriously Hurt In Crash

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Two people suffered significant injuries Sunday afternoon, when their motorcycle crashed into a barbed wire fence. The incident occurred at about 4:30 p.m. on NW Gerke Road, near McKay Creek Road in Crook County. 

The first arriving deputy found 29-year-old Hunter Bourland tangled in the fence. He used bolt cutters to free the man. Bourland's passenger, 30-year-old Shelby Slabaugh, of Pendleton, was also hurt. Medics transported both riders to St. Charles Prineville, and they were later flown to the Bend hospital. 

Investigators later determined Bourland entered a sweeping turn at a high rate of speed and was unable to fully negotiate the curve. The bike left the road and traveled up an embankment, throwing both riders. Both people and the motorcycle collided with the barbed wire fence and a small tree. Deputies do not believe drugs or alcohol were factors.

Monday Morning Wildfire Update

SPRAY, OR -- Management of the 1,550-acre Alder Creek Fire will be turned back over to local resources Tuesday morning, from the Type 3 Team. Lower temperatures and some rain in the area helped firefighters in their fight against the fire burning on the south side of the John Day River, in Wheeler County. Occasional smoke from torching trees in pockets of previously unburned fuels is expected. As of Monday morning, the Alder Creek Fire is 50% contained. 

A small fire reported Saturday south of Lost Tracks Golf Club is now fully contained. Incident 421 was held at just under nine acres. And, Incident 431, seven miles southwest of Deschutes River Woods, is about 1/3 of an acre. 

In the Mt. Hood National Forest, the Boulder Fire was estimated at over 60 acres, Sunday morning, and prompted evacuations of numerous campgrounds. Boulder Lake Campground, Little Boulder Lake, Bonney Meadows Campground, Badger Lake Campground, Camp Windy and Post Camp Campground are all under Level 3 "Go Now" evacuation orders. Forest Roads 4880, 4881 and 4890 are also closed for public safety. By Monday morning, the Northwest Coordination Center reported it had grown to 500 acres. The blaze started July 8, southeast of Mt. Hood on the Barlow Ranger District near Boulder Lake Trailhead. Four engines, four hotshot crews and two helicopters are actively working the fire. 

Photos: (Top) Prineville IHC work the Alder Creek Fire overnight, July 6, 2023. (Above) The Boulder Fire on July 8, 2023.

Irrigators Prepare For Less Water

BEND, OR -- Farmers and ranchers have been warned of impending water curtailments. The Deschutes Basin Board of Control announced last week that dwindling levels on the Deschutes will mean lower water availability.

Jeff Larkin, a farmer and Central Oregon Irrigation District Board member, tells KBND News he’s surprised to see the decrease so soon after the wet winter and spring. “With the snowpack and the rains that we had everybody had a lot of confidence that we would be able to stretch out farther than what it is now, but the live flow in the river is not lying that’s for sure. So, it’s just something we have to deal with,” he says irrigators relying on live flows will see a water shortage, while others with stored water will need tap into those sources, “The short-term solution is just water management, making sure that your irrigation system - whether its flood or pressurized - is just as efficient as you can possibly make it.”

The eight irrigation districts within the Deschutes Basin will get less water, starting this month.

“With just the drought conditions that we’ve been going through that there’s some years that we’ve had good rain, like we did this year…I got my first cut into hay with only irrigating my hayfields. That’s where it’s going to probably end up having to go if this continues on year after year. People are needing to get their systems a little bit more efficient and they’ll be able to stretch their water and be fine,” Larkin says.

The Central Oregon Irrigation District says it is committed to long term solutions for efficient water management, including piping canals.


New Signal Coming To Busy NW Redmond Intersection

REDMOND, OR -- A busy northwest Redmond intersection is getting a makeover. Public Works Director Jessica MacClanahan tells KBND News NW 9th is closed, just east of the Maple Ave. bridge over the Dry Canyon. But Maple Avenue remains open, "Where east and west traffic can continue flowing through. However, there will be detours north and south, while they construct the south side of the intersection. We anticipate that to take about another month." She expects the intersection to reopen before the start of school, "So by the end of August, we hope to be wrapped up with the majority of the traffic impacts, which includes the new ADA ramps on all four corners, as well we will be repaving the intersection in its entirety."

Later this year, the four-way stop will be replaced with a traffic light. MacClanahan says there isn’t room for a roundabout, and population growth in the area makes the stop sign unsustainable, "I believe that a traffic signal will actually provide more flexibility and safety. It’s more obvious, it’s lit, it’s a larger infrastructure. In my experience, it’s harder to miss a traffic light than it is a stop sign, as a motorist. And, we also have more flexibility with a signal, where we can modify signal timing." She adds, "We’ve had very positive feedback while we’ve been doing notice and outreach during construction. So, I think folks will see improved traffic times and travel times, and then additional safety with controlled pedestrian push-buttons, for example, for crosswalks and things that really will benefit that neighborhood." 

However, that neighborhood has to wait until fall, due to supply chain issues regarding materials needed for the light poles. "We would be installing the signal itself in the November timeframe. And the reason for that is just based on long lead-times for materials and procurement schedule, right now."

The $860,500 project is part of the city’s long-range planning. Within the next five years, MacClanahan expects another light just down the street, at NW 19th and Maple.


Alder Creek Fire Holds At 1,551 Acres

SPRAY, OR -- Wildland fire crews continue to battle a large wildfire in Wheeler County. The Alder Creek Fire is burning on the south side of the John Day River, near the town of Spray.

As of Sunday, crews had held the fire’s spread to 1,551 acres. It’s about 20% contained. The Wheeler County Sheriff's Office is in contact with people living in the area for potential evacuations, including one home south of the fire and homes on the north side of the river.

Firefighters and dozers are constructing a fireline down a ridge, into the Solitude drainage. Air resources are also working to support ground crews.

The fire was first reported Thursday and led to the closure of the Muleshoe Campground. Its cause is under investigation.

Winds Blow Vinyl Carport Into Power Lines, Sparking Tumalo Fire

BEND, OR -- High winds are blamed for a Tumalo fire, Saturday evening. Bend Fire investigators say a 30 mile-an-hour gust lifted a vinyl carport off its base, 20 feet into the air. It came into contact with two overhead power lines, igniting the vinyl tarp, just after 5 p.m.

The burning tarp landed on dry grass near an outbuilding, and flames quickly spread to lawn equipment and construction materials. No one was home at the time. Neighbors used fire extinguishers until firefighters arrived, quickly knocking down the blaze.

The residents left less than an hour before the fire and were on their way home when contacted by Bend Fire & Rescue. Damage is estimated at $5,000.

Bend Fire issued this warning: With hot and dry conditions that we are currently experiencing it is always a good idea to keep combustible vegetation to a minimum.  Dry vegetation can quickly spread fire to nearby structures or other materials.  It is recommended that dry vegetation be removed within 30 feet minimum of a structure to reduce the risk of fire spreading to other combustible materials. 


Photo courtesy Bend Fire & Rescue

Deschutes Co. Sheriff To Retire In 2025

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson says he will not run for re-election in 2024. "I don’t have any concrete plans for the future. I’m going to finish the year and a half remaining in my term," he tells KBND News. 

Unlike the two Sheriffs before him, Nelson says he won’t step down early so a hand-picked successor can be appointed, "I think there’s a time and a place for that, and I think the prior Sheriffs had good reason to do what they did. During my last two elections, I had some questions from community members regarding that, and so I’ve just always said I would serve out the remainder of my term and then turn it over to an election of the people." But, he plans to endorse one of his command staff. 

Nelson says he was approached by Captain William Bailey during the last election, "We had a conversation that he was interested in becoming Sheriff, so I have made sure to include him in some of that decision-making process and some of the day-to-day opportunities the Sheriff has." He adds, "I know there’s always people who would be able to serve in the office of Sheriff and would do well. But I’ve worked closely with Captain Bailey for the last several years and in my mind, he is the individual I want serving as my Sheriff."

Bailey issued this statement Friday:

"The Office of Sheriff requires a strong and experienced person. I formed a PAC [Political Action Committee] to be ready in the event Sheriff Nelson decided not to run for re-election. I will be making a formal announcement of my campaign for Deschutes County Sheriff in the coming weeks."


Following The DMV Breach, Is A Credit Freeze Right For You?

BEND, OR -- It’s been about a month since hackers accessed the personal information of 3.5 million Oregonians through a data breach at the DMVWhile the release of driver and ID cardholder information was made public in mid-June, it likely occurred in late May, which means criminals have had plenty of time to use the data.

Kyle Frick, with Mid-Oregon Credit Union, says requesting a credit freeze is one way to protect your information, "There are three credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. So, when you freeze your credit - a security freeze - basically, you’re just saying they’re not going to open any new accounts on your credit report."

At the time, state officials suggested Oregonians consider freezing their credit, to prevent scammers from opening accounts. But it may not be the best option for everyone. "It does not hurt your credit at all," Frick tells KBND News, "But, what it does is, then you have to unfreeze it if you have to go apply for credit. So, you can imagine you can go through this process of freezing your credit, but then you have to go back to the credit reporting agencies and unfreeze your credit to do a car loan or a credit card, or any type of new account that you’re opening." And, he says that can be hassle, or even delay your loan or credit application, "Sometimes people freeze their credit and then they go and want to do something like buy a new car, and they’re like going, ‘Oh yeah; I forgot I froze my credit.’ So, there’s that whole additional process that they have to go through."

If you expect you'll need a new account soon, Frick suggests checking with your financial institution. Many banks and credit card companies offer free tools that alert you of a new account, "So then you can actually monitor it, you can manage it yourself; you can do those things. But, the credit reporting bureaus aren’t always super fast in responding to your request that you have to give them to do a freeze, and then an unfreeze and a refreeze, and going back and forth."

If you think you are a victim of ID theft, report it immediately to the Federal Trade Commission at IdentityTheft.gov


First Psilocybin Service Therapy Begins

BEND, OR -- A local psilocybin wellness program says it’s the first in the state to begin treating clients, with sessions planned for this weekend.

Bendable Therapy’s Amanda Gow tells KBND News the response from potential clients has been overwhelming, after the non-profit received its service center license from the Oregon Health Authority last month. “It immediately filled up. We had to shut down our application process because we had so much interest. Right now, we are still accepting folks to our waitlist but we’re now saying the waitlist is about six months long.” She says growth will be gradual, “We are slowly on-ramping our program to ensure safety at every step. So, we are not seeing a lot of clients every month but we are trying to get people into the program."

Gow says they've been preparing patients for the psilocybin therapy, "Per Oregon State law, preparatory sessions are required before dosing sessions, so I’ve been intaking clients, and going through the paperwork with folks, and getting people ready for the psilocybin session.

The program comes with a $2,300 price tag, which covers about 12 hours with a licensed facilitator. Gow says 60% of people on the waitlist cite cost as their biggest barrier to treatment access, “We have a scholarship program that is accessible to anyone who requires it. But those scholarship dollars are available based on community donations, so we are looking to our community to help support those scholarships.”

The first psiolocybin therapy sessions are scheduled for Saturday. 



Hawthorne Crossing Project Gets State, Federal Funds

BEND, OR -- The City of Bend is celebrating $25 million in new funding to advance a planned Hawthorne Avenue bike and pedestrian crossing, "Over the Parkway, over the railroad, which is our big divider in town," says Mayor Melanie Kebler, "And really, I think, can be an iconic part of Bend."

She tells KBND News the project started with a study paid for by the 2020 Transportation Bond, "And what we found was we needed investment on [the] Franklin undercrossing, Greenwood undercrossing and then the idea for a pedestrian and bike overcrossing on Hawthorne in the middle of the Bend Central District, that would connect it to our downtown." The goal is to create a complete bike and pedestrian corridor from Juniper Park to Drake Park. 

The city expects to receive a nearly $20 million federal grant, "Part of the Infrastructure Law that the Biden Administration and the Congress have put forward; it’s called a RAISE grant. And that is going to supplement our budget, as well as $5 million that’s been allocated in the state budget," says Kebler. "We’ve got some previous money that we had allocated. And we’re going to be talking about this more at our July 19th City Council meeting, so anyone who’s interested can tune in. We’re going to get an overview from staff about: now that we’ve gotten this money, what are the next steps? And what the timeline is."

She expects the work to take several years, "First you have to start with design, and you want to have community input on that and see what’s actually feasible there. We’ve done a little bit of that work already, but we need to nail that down. We need to work with our partner ODOT, because we’re going over the Parkway, and with the railroad; and sometimes the railroads can be very slow in granting permits and things like that. So, we’ll see. It’s definitely a few years out, but really excited to get that moving forward."


Image: Rendering of proposed concept

DCSO Provides Dental Care To Inmates Through New Partnership

BEND, OR -- Inmates at the Deschutes County Jail now have access to dental care, through a partnership with a nonprofit mobile team. Kathy Carnash, with Medical Teams International, says good dental hygiene is linked to overall health and wellbeing, "And we know that when we have people in pain, that when there’s infection, that circulates throughout your whole body."

Deputies who work in the jail say the mobile dental van - which is really more of a bus - allows the agency, "To get through multiple individuals in one sitting. And under a normal circumstance, those individuals would all have to be individually transported out of the facility. The ability to be able to bring it here to us, and keep it in an environment that we can control, allows for safety for everyone involved and allows us to bring this opportunity in here and get more things done."

Nurses working in the jail say providing dental care can be difficult in a Corrections setting, "Being able to partner with an organization like this to provide these people dental care means we can improve pain, and we really may be able to help them on the road to recovery when they want to stay clean and sober, because we’re able to improve their health, overall."

The Sheriff’s Office says for some people, their time in jail or prison is the only time they will see a dentist. DCSO hopes to have the dental van at the Deschutes County Jail once a month, to treat adults in custody for everything from cavities to severe gum disease. It also visits Central Oregon Veterans Outreach and local homeless camps. 


file photo

Three Pets Killed In Crook County House Fire

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A family of six were not home when fire broke out inside their single-wide mobile home, Wednesday evening. But Crook County firefighters say they found three pets deceased. 

Crews responded to the Cascade Pines Mobile Home Park on NW Cascade Loop at about 7:15 p.m. and found active fire throughout the trailer. They were able to keep it from spreading to nearby homes. 

The family is receiving help from the Red Cross. The cause of the fire is undetermined. 

Smith Rock Master Plan Awaits Final Approval

TERREBONNE, OR -- Oregon’s Parks and Recreation Department is again taking public comment on the Smith Rock Master Plan. It was approved by the State Parks and Rec Commission last month, but it still needs to be added to the state’s list of master plans within administrative rules.

Previous Coverage: After Almost Seven Years, Smith Rock Master Plan Nearly Complete

The plan details current natural and cultural resource conditions, outdoor recreation trends and how to balance recreation and resource protection. It sets priorities for the next two decades, such as adding or improving parking, congestion, trails and interpretive opportunities.

Comments will be accepted HERE until 5 p.m. August 4, 2023.

Smith Rock is considered one of the seven wonders of Oregon, and its popularity has skyrocketed among local, national and international visitors. Visitors of various climbing skill levels can explore more than 1,500 bolted routes. The park also has many miles of trails for mountain biking, hiking and admiring the views.

Crook County School Board Swears-In New Members

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County School Board swore in three members Wednesday night. New member Jessica Brumble is the board chair. She along with Jennifer Knight, the vice chair, Cheyenne Edgerly, and Steve Holliday, who was appointed last month, are beginning their 4-year terms.

The first item for the new board was appointing an interim superintendent to replace Dr. Sara Johnson who resigned following the election of the three new members.

Board member Scott Cooper recommended Assistant Superintendent Dr. Joel Hoff, “Under policy which gives the board the authority to make a temporary appointment we would appoint Joel to be the interim and acting superintendent.” Dr. Hoff was conditionally approved and that position will be reviewed at August’s meeting.

Hiring a new superintendent is the top task for the board. The board will form a committee to find a Search Firm to aid in the process, and are also considering conducting the hiring themselves. Edgerly says the committee must have an understanding of the school district, “I would definitely like to open it up to some retired teachers, and some people that have been in the district that could really have like an inside view.”

Board member Scott Cooper outlined a proposal for the make-up of the selection committee, “… consisting of 1 retired teacher, and 1 current parent to be nominated by the superintendent and approved by the board chair.” That committee would also include 2 school board members, and 2 school administration staff.

Crook County School District released the following statement after the conclusion of the board meeting:

The three newly-elected members say they’re committed to greater transparency and parent involvement as they begin their terms of office. They provided a list of priorities for how they plan to lead:

We’ll work together to provide consistent leadership and policy decisions to ensure our students, educators, and parents have what they need to accomplish the work of learning.

We will respect all elements of our community and work toward being inclusive in our decision-making process.

We will respect the rights of parents to be heard and involved in the education of their children.

We will support our teachers, our staff, and the administrators in their roles and responsibilities as they seek to educate the children of our community.

We will follow the laws of our State and the policies set by this Board in a fair, equal, and consistent manner.

We will focus on the task of educating our students, not on promoting ideologies that divide our community and seek to devalue any individual.

We will always negotiate in good faith as we attempt to find new vehicles to help our children be educated and prepared for the demands of the 21st century.

We will seek to be transparent and communicate with our community as best we can.


St. Charles Increases CNA Recruitment

BEND, OR -- Ten Certified Nursing Assistants in training just started at St. Charles, as part of a collaborative program with Central Oregon Community College. 

Lisa Dolinar, with St. Charles, says CNAs play a critical role helping meet basic patient needs and keep them comfortable. "Several years ago, we were significantly short in that area," she tells KBND News, "It’s an entry level position, so it makes it challenging." In March of 2020 - just at the start of the pandemic - they launched a partnership with COCC to bring students into the hospital, condensing a 12-week class into an intensive and immersive six-week course. And Dolinar says, it’s working, "We’ve brought in 165 CNAs."

She says students not only have a job waiting when they complete the program, but their schooling is paid for by St. Charles. "The biggest benefit to that is the fact that we actually pay them. They’re really employees of ours. Yes, they’re training and they’re going through school, but they’re actually employees of ours for six weeks." And when they're done, the hospital gets to fill staffing needs, "They’ll work for us for two years total in the hospital, one year as a CNA. After their first year, if they decide, ‘ya know, I want to do something different in the hospital,’ they can transition." And Dolinar says many stay after that initial two-year commitment, "It’s about a 70% retention for these individuals. And some of those either move out of town [or] start the RN program and decide that they can’t do both, they can’t work at the same time."

There is a nationwide shortage of CNAs and Dolinar says St. Charles has received requests from other hospitals looking to launch a similar program.

After the summer session, the next cohort of 20 students begins in October. Applications are due by August 20th. Click HERE for more information.



Water Curtailments Expected

BEND, OR -- Despite heavy rainfall and several spring storms, persistent dry conditions could force Central Oregon irrigation districts to curtail water as early as mid-July, due to the dwindling natural flow in the Deschutes River.

"Districts relying solely on live flow are expected to experience water shortages, while those utilizing stored water will need to rely on these supplies,” said Craig Horrell, President of Deschutes Basin Board of Control. “Ultimately, this means reduced water availability for district patrons, as well as impacts on fish and wildlife." Arnold, Tumalo, Central Oregon and Lone Pine irrigation districts say they will adjust flows accordingly and urge irrigators to proactively plan for water supply shortages.

The Deschutes Basin Watermaster says the significant winter snowpack has not resulted in the runoff needed to increase river flows.

Redmond Drive-In Diner Heavily Damaged By Fire

REDMOND, OR -- Jody's Drive-Inn, a Redmond staple for decades, was heavily damaged in an early morning fire, Wednesday. Firefighters arrived just after 4:30 and found flames pouring from the roof of the small building at SW 14th and Highland. 

Roads in the area were temporarily closed while crews worked to extinguish the fire. No one was inside at the time, but the fire caused extensive damage. The cause remains under investigation. 

Crook County School Board To Swear In Three New Members

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Three new members join the Crook County School board Wednesday evening. Jessica Brumble, Jennifer Knight and Cheyenne Edgerly were dubbed “the Mama Bears” during the May election and unseated three incumbents. 

Dr. Charan Cline, Superintendent of neighboring Redmond Schools, tells KBND News the trio has people talking, "Sounds like you’ve got folks coming in who are looking to shake things up. Whether that’s good or that’s bad, that’s hard for me to say - I don’t know. I think there will definitely be some controversy."

He says the election is already having an impact on the region, "We have folks calling us about bringing their kids over to Redmond, and we’re picking up a few teachers from that area, too. I don’t know if that’s overreaction from some folks or not."

In June, CCSD Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson announced she would step down before the end of her contract. She cited comments made during the campaign by the newly elected members as her reason for leaving. "I will say Sara Johnson, though, who is just resigning as their Superintendent, has been an excellent Superintendent," says Dr. Cline, "She’s really done a good job in Crook County, at least in my point of view, bringing it up into a real productive and meaningful work for their kids." He adds, "Sara is actually this year’s Superintendent of the Year in the state, recognized by her peers as really doing good work. So, I think that’s one thing I feel like is a real tragedy from this, is kind of that fallout." Dr. Johnson agreed to stay on until September, to help transition to an interim Superintendent. 

A fourth new member was appointed last week, after a failed attempt by Brumble, Knight and Edgerly to stop the process in court. Steve Holliday replaced Gwen Carr, who resigned due to an injury. 

Wednesday's swearing in and board meeting begin at 6:30 p.m. 


Boat Destroyed By Fire on Prineville Reservoir

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Everyone on board a small boat escaped injury after it caught Fire Saturday, in Prineville Reservoir. Crook County Sheriff's Office Marine Deputies responded to the scene just west of the State Park and found the boat fully engulfed in flames. 

The owner reported a large wake caused the watercraft to roll, tipping over an unsecured battery, which arced and ignited the fuel tanks. The fire extinguished intself and the boat was towed to the docks for removal.


photo courtesy of CCSO.

Volunteers Needed For Deschutes Cleanup Day

The 27th annual Deschutes River Cleanup Day is Saturday the 29th from 9am to 2 pm. Volunteers are needed to help pull trash out of the water.

“We have five different river clean up sites. As far upstream as La Pine State park, and then through town at Farewell Bend, Riverbend, 1st street rapids trail, and then down to Tumalo State park,” The Upper Deschutes Water Shed Council’s Kolleen Miller tells KBND News some years have seen more than a ton of trash pulled from the river, “We found a safe that we removed out of the river. Couple of years ago we pulled out a canoe. One year a former student of mine was scuba diving and he pulled out a wood stove.” Beverage containers and sunglasses are the most common items.

Volunteers are needed to pick up trash, or assist scuba divers.

“We are asking for paddlers to come with their paddle boards or kayaks to assist the scuba divers; provide them with safety support, as well as helping them pull the garbage out of the river,” Miller says, adding the Clean Up Day helps meet a council initiative, “It’s all part of a larger public awareness campaign called Enjoy, Protect, Respect. Which is trying to get people to think about the river as still a natural river for fish and other aquatic species, and hopefully protecting it in a way that it can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

Volunteers can sign up at the Upper Deschutes’ Cleanup Day website.


BPD To Increase Patrols For The Fourth

BEND, OR -- Bend Police are cracking down on holiday problems. "There’s this feeling among some people who visit Bend and some people who live in Bend that on the Fourth of July there are no rules," Bend PD's Sheila Miller tells KBND News. "The past few years, we’ve seen a really discouraging increase in very large parties in public parks, with hundreds and hundreds of teenagers openly drinking to excess, doing drugs. We’ve seen overdoses, fights and DUIs come out of a lot of those." Last year, she says, a 16-year-old was arrested for DUI after he was caught going 85 through Broken Top at 4:30 p.m. He told police he had just left a party at Harmon Park. 

Over the past few years, the agency receives around 210 calls on any given day. But, "On the Fourth of July during those years, that average has jumped to 279." This year, Miller says, "Bend PD does have a plan to more aggressively handle some of those issues we’ve seen in the past few years."

The goal is to have an increased police presence after noon, when problems start stacking up, "We actually are going to have 20 more cops working full shifts, and that includes members of our command staff. And we’re also going to take a harder line on some of the alcohol-related offenses we see."

Bend PD will not respond to every fireworks complaint, despite the city's ban. Miller says officers are too busy with more emergent calls. If life or property is in imminent danger, call 911. Click HERE for details on reporting non-emergency fireworks incidents. 


Bend Home Damaged, RV Destroyed By Fire

BEND, OR -- A fire in Bend's Orchard District destroyed a shed, RV and deck, and caused substantial damage to a home Sunday evening. Bend firefighters responded to NE Quimby Avenue just after 7 p.m. and found flames coming from a house, shed, RV and trees. 

Crews quickly knocked down the flames, but not before the fire caused more than $160,000 in damage. The cause could not be determined but Bend Fire says it started outside, in an area between three homes and adjacent to a shed. 

Bend Fire & Rescue reminds the community to be prepared for the risk of fire in these hot and dry conditions. Keep vegetation trimmed back, especially within 30 feet of the home, clear roofs and gutters of pine needles, use caution this holiday when barbecuing or enjoying other recreational activities, and remember that ALL fireworks are banned by city ordinance within the city limits of Bend.

Police Respond To Report Of Man With Machete At COCC Redmond

REDMOND, OR -- Multiple agencies rushed to the Redmond campus of Central Oregon Community College, Monday afternoon, after a 911 caller reported a man armed with a machete had entered COCC Building 2. The witness told dispatchers the man threatened people before going inside. Redmond Police, Deschutes County Deputies, State Police Troopers and Bend Police responded just before 4 p.m. The suspect was quickly taken into custody.

Investigators say 51-year-old Tait Morehouse, from the La Pine area, had a large metal object resembling a machete when he chased and threatened a person at the campus. Police believe he dropped it before entering the building and did not threaten anyone else while inside.

Morehouse is charged with Coercion, Menacing and Disorderly Conduct. 

Redmond Father & Son Now Charged With Murder After June Shooting

REDMOND, OR -- A father and son accused of shooting a man while he stood in his northwest Redmond driveway now face Second Degree Murder charges.

In court documents dated Monday, the Deschutes County District Attorney’s office says the victim, 42-year-old Esaui Mutchler, has died. Redmond Police confirm he passed away Saturday at St. Charles Bend. 

Mark Johnson and his son Iceton Johnson will be arraigned on the new charge later this week. Investigators say they drove by Mutchler’s home, near NW 19th and Cedar, on June 26th and fired at him from inside the car.

Bend Man Killed In Grant Co. Crash

GRANT COUNTY, OR -- A Bend couple was involved in a fatal crash over the weekend, about 35 miles east of John Day.

According to State Police, 64-year-old Michael Owen was driving westbound on Highway 26, when his pickup left the road for an unknown reason and crashed into a tree. He died at the scene.

His passenger, 66-year-old Lynn Owen was taken to the hospital - her condition is unknown.

The crash occurred Sunday, at about 12:20 p.m. 

Bend-La Pine Schools Task Force Addresses Student Behavior

Bend-La Pine Schools has a new Task Force on School Climate and Culture, in response to concerns raised by teachers.

The District’s Assistant Director of Student Services Eric Powell says the group of teachers and staff has met four times so far to talk about students causing disruptions.

“…saying inappropriate things, harassing peers, and things like that. And our teachers just want to know what the protocol is, what are our expectations of the district to address these behaviors. A lot of times these are skills that students need to grow and build, and that’s our job as educators. But it’s really difficult at times to do that in a classroom. So how do we work as a team to help these students develop these skills, but also keep our teachers and the other students safe at the same time.”

Powell says they are working towards better communication between teachers and administrators to ensure schools are safe, welcoming, and inclusive learning environments.

The task force will meet through the summer to finalize those protocols. 

“Moving into this year we want to have clear expectations on what good teaching looks like, what is expected of our students in the classroom. And if a teacher is having behavioral concerns with a student, what is a predictable administration response so that the teacher can feel supported,” Powell says.

Fourth Of July Pet Parade Begins At 10 a.m.

BEND, OR -- Bend’s annual Fourth of July Pet Parade begins at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. Lineup for participants starts at 9 at Harmon Park. The parade travels north on Harmon Boulevard to Newport, east to Wall, then on to Franklin to the finish at Drake Park. All ages are welcome and no registration is needed. The tradition dates back to 1924.

With temperatures rising, Lynne Ouchida, with the Humane Society of Central Oregon, encourages pet owners to be care of hot pavement, "A lot of paws can get damaged from hot pavement, as well as hot trails. I always recommend people do that 10-second test with their own hand - hold it down to the pavement or the hot trail, the sand, and if it’s too hot for you, it’s most likely too hot for your dog." She tells KBND News, "The one thing to look for, of course, is a dog dancing around when they’re standing on pavement, or if they’re always diving and dashing for shaded areas."

Ouchida says new technology can also help keep dogs and cats cool, "There are a lot of cooling vests, nowadays, water bowls that can keep water fresh if you do have to keep your pet outside. All of these things, technology has made our life better; not only for ourselves but for our pets." She adds, "You can also train your dogs to wear booties. And that’s always a safe and fun way to continue that activity." You can even incorporate those booties into their parade costume.

HSCO tips for keeping your pet comfortable at the Pet Parade include:

  • Before and after the parade, find a cool, shaded place to rest.
  • Do not arrive too early: staging begins at 9:00 am; the parade starts at 10:00 am.
  • Bring plenty of cool water for you and your pet. HSCO will provide water en route – just look for the orange flags.
  • Allow dogs to cool off in the water pools at the staging and end of the route.
  • Get creative and place your pet in a shaded, decorated stroller or wagon to keep them off of the hot asphalt.
  • Watch for signs of your pet’s paw pads overheating or soreness - picking-up paws, seeking shade and avoiding walking by sitting or lying down.
  • Do not leave your pet in the car, not even for a few minutes.
  • Learn to recognize the signs of heat stroke: Faster, heavier panting; excessive thirst and/or drooling with hanging strands of saliva; whining or signs of agitation; decreased responsiveness; glassy eyes; increased pulse/ heartbeat; elevated body temperature and staggering, weakness, collapse, seizures and/or unconsciousness.
  • If your pet shows heat-related symptoms, immediately go to a shaded area or a dog-friendly business that may let your dog cool in the air conditioned store so you can assess your pet’s condition.
  • If you think your pet will be challenged by warm temperatures, the Humane Society of Central Oregon encourage you to leave your pet at home.


Land & Water Conservation Fund To Help Protect Portion Of The Crooked River

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Forest Service and nonprofit group Trust for Public Land are working together to protect 97 acres of riverfront access along the Crooked River. Officials say it will ensure trail and river access to the wild and scenic area, amid some of the fastest growing and diverse communities in Oregon. It’s also part of the nonprofit’s long-term effort to protect habitat and recreation in the state.

The protected property will be managed by the U-S Forest Service as part of the Crooked River National Grassland. “We are delighted to have this unique and special portion of the Crooked River Gorge in public ownership,” Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland Forest Supervisor Shane Jeffries said ina statement. “The acquisition of these acres through the Land and Water Conservation Fund will ensure that the public will gain access to the river and its beauty will be protected for generations.”

Funds used to acquire the property were secured through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a longstanding federal program that directs fees from oil and gas drilling to investments in parks and open space.



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