Local News Archives for 2023-10

Shooting Suspect Found Dead Near Detroit; Hwy 22 Closed

DETROIT, OR -- Highway 22 closed for much of Tuesday afternoon, after Marion County Deputies spotted a shooting suspect just outside the Detroit city limits. When deputies approached, they discovered the man dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. 
Earlier in the day, the same man was suspected of ramming his truck into a Salem house and shooting a woman inside. She was taken to a Salem hospital with critical injuries. A nearby school was also put in lockdown when investigators learned the victim’s children were possibly in danger.

Highway 22 remains closed near Detroit Lake for that investigation. Oregon Department of Transportation officials urge drivers headed over the pass to take Highway 20 or delay their trip. 

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available. 

Homeless Consultant Hired By DCSO Indicted In Multnomah Co.

BEND, OR -- A man hired by the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office to consult on homeless issues faces Theft and other charges in Multnomah County. Kevin Dahlgren was indicted by a Multnomah County Grand Jury on 19 counts: seven counts of Theft in the First Degree, five counts of Identity Theft, two counts of Aggravated ID Theft and five counts of Official Misconduct in the First Degree. The charges stem from Dahlgren's work for the city of Gresham.

On March 23, 2023, MCSO began investigating allegations of theft by Dahlgren and misuse of his official position while employed as a "homeless services specialist" for the city of Gresham. He resigned on March 30. 

In July, the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office signed an $18,000 contract with Dahlgren. A DCSO spokesperson tells KBND News that contract was terminated on August 23. Although, that's after Dahlgren was paid in full: $18,750. DCSO says the contract ended as soon as it was contacted by Multnomah County investigators and the agency is cooperating with the inquiry. 

Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang issued a statement expressing disappointment in DCSO's decision to contract with Dahlgren to do work other local service providers had already done, "Now I am outraged to learn that the Sheriff’s Office made the decision to contract Dahlgren for this work at just about the same time that he was placed on administrative leave on suspicion that he was stealing from the taxpayers of Gresham." Chang goes on to say, "It was an incredibly poor choice to contract this individual to tell the story of homelessness in our community. I feel this choice was motivated by a desire to tell a biased story, which led to the Sheriff’s Office selecting someone without thoroughly evaluating their credentials, references and past work."

The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office says additional victims have been identified but not yet located. They ask anyone who had contact with Dahlgren in his capacity as an outreach worker to contact MCSO at 503-988-0560. 

HSCO Pet Tips and 'Howl-o-ween'

BEND, OR -- While we may enjoy a good Halloween scare, our pets don’t. The Humane Society of Central Oregon has some reminders to keep your furry family members safe tonight. “They don’t understand why their beloved family members are wandering around like a zombie, and walking weird, or dressed up in big things; so, it can be very confusing for them. As well as the trick or treating and the doorbell,” says HSCO's Lynne Ouchida who suggests keeping pets in an interior room with something to keep them distracted. And be sure to keep candy out of paw’s reach. “One of the key things is to go through and sort out all of the chocolate and make sure those are kept way out of reach of your pets. That can be toxic for an animal,” Ouchida tells KBND News adding, “The chocolate is toxic, but also candy is wrapped up in wrappers and that if is ingested can absolutely cause digestive upset, and a potential visit to the emergency vet.”

Pet costumes should be loose-fitting and not cover the eyes or mouth. For those pets that can be dressed up, the Humane Society invites them to be part of a fun night. “We’re actually doing a true old-fashioned halloween event down in the Old Mill District. We will  be handing out treats for our pets. There will be cat and dog treats and at 5:30 we will be holding our annual pet costume contest. It is all for fun, it’s free, and we’ve got some great prizes this year,” says Ouchida.

Registration for the Humane Society’s Howl-O-Ween starts at 4 today at the Old Mill District walking bridge.


Parents Urged To Monitor Kids' Exposure To War Images

BEND, OR -- Amid the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, psychologists worry about the impact on our kids. More than any other generation, they have access to unedited videos and images of a devastating war.

As an Assistant Professor at OSU-Cascades, Dr. Lucy Purgason helps train school counselors. She says parents and school staff need to acknowledge what our kids are seeing. "Do not assume that just because our kids aren’t asking about it or talking about it, that they’re not thinking or worrying about it," she tells KBND News. 

She suggests starting with an open ended question like, "‘Hey. I’m imagining that you’ve been seeing things on the news about what’s happening and I’m wondering what might be on your mind about it?’" And then actually listen to their concerns. "One of the things that can be challenging is for younger kids, they don’t understand that this isn’t happening right next door," says Dr. Purgason. They may also be confused when they see the same image or video multiple times, "You can show on a map or pull up Google Earth and show this is where this is happening, to help them understand that. And, that these events that are being played over and over, that doesn’t mean it’s happening each and every time - even though we know that the conflict is ongoing."

For teens, she says, they may need help understanding the reality of suddenly seeing violent images in their feed without warning. Unlike in real life when, "There’s some clues or indicators in our context or environment to alert us. But when we pick up our phone and start scrolling, we don’t have those clues and so we’re inundated with these images. And then we’re quickly turning them off and going right into something else."

She also says teens may need guidance understanding how the war relates to their own conflicts, and adults may need to help adolescents find reliable information. 

Overall, parents should trust their instincts, "We have a good sense of when something is on our children’s mind. Have they been a little more withdrawn? Are they acting out a little bit more or just seem a little more sensitive to things?" And, she adds, "It’s okay, as an adult, not to have all the answers. I think that’s sometimes why I know I can be nervous about having a conversation with my child - what if they ask me something and I don’t know?" But, Dr. Purgason says, the most important thing is to be willing to talk about it and keep the lines of communication open. 

For more help talking with kids about traumatic images, visit the National Child Traumatic Stress Network


Station Attendants React To Self-Serve Gas Petition

BEND, OR -- Local gas stations are reacting to a labor union effort to repeal Oregon’s new self-serve gas law. One attendant at a Northeast Bend Station tells KBND News he’s heard self-serve has hurt workers, “So I was under the impression that this was always supposed to be an option for people if they want to pump their own not to put people on the unemployment line, which is apparently it's done.”

The union has launched an initiative petition to put the issue on the November 2024 ballot.

Yeah, I would try to bring it back. I heard they want to repeal it. I hope they do. I don't think it will happen,” the attendant said while agreeing with the union’s claim that jobs have been lost, “And I've met people from other parts of the state and they've always telling me that, like Portland, Metro Eugene and places have gotten rid of all kinds of people.”

He says most people have been fine pumping their own gas since the legislature approved self-serve earlier this year. “I got it. I understood. But to me I just think it was a bad move because the unemployment thing.”

He also says there has been some confusion over full and self-serve these past three months. “They go, is this a place that does gas pumping? And I'm like, yeah, we have attendants here and they're like, well, we don't understand. We went over there and people said do your own and they're yelling from across the parking... you know, like in a convenience store,” and noted the union’s claim that gas stations are more dangerous, “I seen somebody pumping gas and the next thing, you know, they had a problem and it was gushing out.”

An employee at a station on the east side of Bend says regardless of the outcome of the petition effort, their business won’t change, “Whether it gets approved or not, we'll definitely still have fuel attendants on our island, serving our community and our customers.”

The United Food and Commercial Workers union must gather more than 117,000 signatures by July to put the issue on the ballot in November 2024.     


File Photo

Bethlehem Inn Restructures Redmond Shelter

REDMOND, OR -- Bethlehem Inn has moved residents out of its Redmond shelter, to Bend. Executive Director Gwenn Wysling says the nonprofit wants to consider ways to fill gaps in regional services, "We, at this time, are taking a moment to pause, to look at what is needed beyond that emergency shelter."

The nonprofit bought the former Greenway Motel in Redmond with Project Turnkey funds, renovating 22 rooms last year to house up to 88 people, "To meet what we saw as the need," Wysling tells KBND News, "But there, frankly, have been so many other shelters and safe parking programs that have come online that have been options for folks." Wysling says there were only about a dozen living there when the decision was made earlier this month to consolidate with the Bend facility. 

Bethlehem Inn's facilities are "high barrier," which means residents must be clean and sober, and agree to participate in case management services and other programs. Other area programs, like Shepherd's House Ministries' Redmond shelter set to open this week, are low-barrier - where programs and services are offered but not required.

Creation of a new Bethlehem Inn Redmond program is now underway, "One of the missing gaps on the housing continuum is that rapid rehousing, that place where somebody can be for an extended period of time to save up enough for rent. Not just rent, but the approximately $5,000 for deposits and everything needed to move in to permanent housing." But the details of such a program have not been worked out. 

For now, the former downtown Redmond motel is being used to prepare meals for Jericho Road, another local nonprofit, "They lost their kitchen, so we are preparing and giving that service on a weekly basis. And we’re looking at what the retro-fitting need would be for these rooms to be converted to longer term space; versus being in a shelter configuration."

Wysling hopes that revamped program will be ready to open by January. 


Second Candidate Enters Race For Deschutes County Sheriff

BEND, OR -- The head of the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team has entered the race for Deschutes County Sheriff. Det. Sgt. Kent Van der Kamp is running against Capt. William Bailey, who launched his campaign in July. "For the first time in a long time, Deschutes County voters can bring a fresh perspective to the Sheriff’s Office with two non-incumbent candidates," Van der Kamp tells KBND News. "I’m running for office because I love Deschutes County. I love the Sheriff’s Office; it’s a place I’ve called home now for 23 years." 

Van der Kamp says respects his opponents commitment to the agency, "But the big difference is, I have decades of executive management and leadership experience in both the public and private sectors. I have years of formal education, deep connections with the community here in Central Oregon and public safety leaders, that will bring the change necessary to make all of the voices heard at the Sheriff’s Office." He adds, "In these challenging times, it really requires proven leadership that’s grounded in collaboration, trust and respect. And I have all of these and a proven record for developing those strategic and innovative solutions to stop the crisis in our streets." 

Det. Sgt. Van der Kamp has worked for the Sheriff’s Office 23 years, and previously worked as a venture capitalist and entrepreneur. "I’m going to common sense common again in the Sheriff’s Office: I’m going to stop the runaway spending, the embarrassing news headlines, leaving the mentally ill and the addicted and the hopeless to live in the dirt in the streets with impunity, while calling it compassionate, people are dying because of fentanyl flooding into the region, all while not working with or ignoring the community partners or taxpayers, that’s not common sense."

If no one else enters the race before the March 12th filing deadline, the election for Sheriff will be held in November. If there’s a third candidate, there will be a May primary. 

Full interviews with both Capt. William Bailey and Det. Sgt. Kent Van der Kamp can be found at KBND's Podcast Page

Bend-Redmond H4H Builds Middle-Income Home

BEND, OR -- Bend-Redmond Habitat for Humanity recently completed a new home in Northeast Bend. CEO Carly Colgan tells KBND News the home’s price is different than those traditionally built by the nonprofit, “This was one of those opportunities for us where we had funding that allowed us to go up into the workforce housing income level.”

By using the city of Bend’s Affordable Housing Fund, the home will go to a family earning 100 percent of the Area Median Income, $95,200 annually for a family of four, compared to the 80 percent ($76,150) needed to qualify for affordable housing.

Colgan says the new owner will also benefit from significant energy savings, “We know that what we're able to do is provide an affordable mortgage, but we're trying to go beyond that and look at how we can ensure low-cost utilities for our homeowners as well. This home is a net zero home. They’re airtight and then we are putting solar on them and in most cases are able to mitigate a lot of the energy consumption. The monthly energy costs are $12 a month which is just the cost of hooking up to the grid.”

Another middle-income home is planned. “The next one will be in Bend as well. Workforce housing… We’ll do applications for that this winter and hope to have it online by next winter,” Colgan says it marks a milestone also, “Since 2021 we've been doing the Humanity and Action capital campaign and the goal there was by 2024 to build 40 homes and this is our 40th home.” They’re busy building and planning more houses. “We have 19 other homes in progress right now. So, we've gone above and beyond and delivered on that 40 home promise,” Colgan says.

Next Thursday, Habitat will hold its Fall Celebration at Tetherow in Bend recognizing the success of its Capital Campaign.


Bend Fire Kicks Off Annual Coat Drive

BEND, OR -- Bend Fire and Rescue begins its annual coat drive Friday, October 28. Through November 17, firefighters will accept new or slightly used jackets, hats and gloves in large blue bins placed just inside the front door of all six Bend fire stations.

This year, the agency is focused on the need for children’s coats, based on increased demand in the community. Bend Fire says last year's coat drive brought to light the overwhelming need children are experiencing during the cold weather season. As families transition to warmer clothing, they're asked to consider decluttering bulky winter coats children no longer wear, and help the community keep underprivileged children warm as the temps continue to decline. If you are donating a slightly used item, please make sure it is recently washed. 

Donations can be dropped off at any Bend Fire Station and placed inside the labeled bin outside anytime between Friday, October 27th, and November 17th.  

  • West Fire Station – 1212 SW Simpson Ave
  • East Fire Station – 62420 Hamby Rd
  • North Fire Station – 63377 Jamison St
  • South Fire Station – 61080 Country Club Dr 
  • Tumalo Fire Station – 64725 Cook Ave 
  • Pilot Butte Station – 425 NE 15th St

Crook Co. Schools Praises Scores In New State Report

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Education has released its At-A-Glance profiles for schools and districts, using data from the last school year. Crook County Schools officials are praising that district’s improvements. Click HERE to view results for your district or school.

As a whole, Crook County Schools saw a 7% increase in Third Grade English/Language Arts, to 47%. The state average is 40%. In Eighth Grade Math, the district rose to 34%; a 6% increase over last year. THe state average is 26%. “We are thankful student test scores are improving, but we must move the needle upward more quickly. Our goal is to see a much higher percent of students achieving at grade level, so we’ll be rolling up our sleeves and working with staff to find solutions,” Dr. Duane Yecha, Crook County School District superintendent, said in a statement. 

The At-A-Glance report looks at a broad range of data about districts and individual schools.  One concern is a decline in regular attendance. ODE's Jon Weins says regular attendees fell 2% last year, "When we look at the declines, they are most concerning in the early grades. We did see the largest declines at the early grades and actually really small declines at high school."

ODE Director Dr. Charlene Williams says the problem started with the pandemic, "First cause, of course, coming out of the pandemic is the residual implications that we are still learning about as a result of the pandemic." She adds, "During the pandemic there were some financial supports that were offered to families around rental assistance and other means that that provided financial relief." But those programs have ended, "Those financial burdens are landing back in the laps of some of our families and they are struggling once again with some cases of food insecurity and finding stable housing, and those kinds of things."

The Every Day Matters program was successful in keeping kids in school, but the Legislature cut its funding during the pandemic. ODE Assistant Superintendent Scott Nine says funding has resumed and it'll make a difference, "We're using that $6 million to fund community organizations and the ESDs to scale statewide."


Wilson Ave. Westbound Closure To Expand

BEND, OR -- A massive road project in southeast Bend is supposed to improve safety and east-west connectivity. But after a year and a half of construction, more closures are coming to the Wilson Avenue Corridor. Eventually, Wilson will be wider with modernized signals and bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements. 

The city’s Senior Project Engineer Sinclair Burr says between Fourth and Centennial, "The majority of the city’s work is complete. Right now, we’re paving this week. We’ll have some additional landscaping and cleanup work over the next few weeks. But, the bottom line is that we’re not opening that up to traffic, here, in the near-term." He tells KBND News, "We still have work around Fourth and Fifth, particularly with some franchise utilities, to get their work done in there." And crews will soon move into the next phase, "We’re moving kind of towards the western-most portion of the project, between Second and Fourth Street."

Burr says the utility work and others means the westbound closure must expand to between Ninth Street and Hill, beginning November sixth, "We’ll be workin on, primarily, some underground utilities, here in the near-term, in the segment between Second and Fourth Street; so waterline, stormwater. And then, there’s a large wall at the southwest corner of Second and Wilson that we have to move out towards the south, in order to widen out the road for the improvements that we’re making."

Upcoming work also includes replacing the 50-year-old signal at Third Street that’s been hit by several trucks. Burr says it's very difficult to do if traffic is allowed full access; although, Third Street will remain open. The new signal will be "more resilient." Burr says, "We’re moving the signal poles back away from the roadway. The idea is that they won’t get hit." 

The Westbound closure is expected to last through next June. The work is paid for by the General Obligation (GO) bond approved by Bend voters in 2020. Visit the city's Project Page for more details.


Transitional Housing Project For Parolees Underway

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County is a step closer to creating short and long-term housing for homeless men recently released from jail. County commissioners decided Wednesday to start negotiating with non-profit Free on the Outside to build and operate a facility for up to 24 people on post-prison supervision.  The county’s Community Justice business manager Trevor Stephens told the board of commissioners how on-site management might look, “Based on their current model, they rely heavily on community support providers, work source programs, and likely recovery mentors in terms of just being there, being on site and being part of that location.”

The provider operates a similar facility in Oregon City.  The county’s Adult Parole and Probation department will work with Free on the Outside to a find a property and provide oversight when it’s running. County commissioners say there is an urgent need for the facility. The goal is to have the facility open in January, within the governor’s timeline for the Multi-Agency Contract (MAC) grant of $1,078, 518. It was acknowledged by the three commissioners and staff how soon that is. “We are definitely concerned about that, but we believe the project is fairly important for the individuals, and clients, and our community. So, we will do our best to try to get it moving forward,” Stephens said.

“This is the governor's emergency order dollars, homeless housing shelter. So, this is really trying to implement something from an emergency order. So, the whole timeline's been tight the whole time anyway,” said Commissioner Tony Debone. While DeBone, along with Patti Adair and Phil Chang are concerned about finding a location, they unanimously agreed to award the contract. “This would be a great tool in Central Oregon. And we also know that some of the motels and hotels being transitioned to housing facilities for people have taken some rooms offline. I mean, it's a changing dynamic out there right now,” Debone said.

The next step, following a two week comment period, will be to negotiate a contract with Free on the Outside. Target date for the opening of the facility is January 9th, 2024.


Shelters Prepare For Season's First Cold Snap

BEND, OR -- As cold weather hits Central Oregon this week efforts are underway to make sure the unhoused population can get warm and dry.

Bend’s Houselessness Services manager Amy Fraley tells KBND News city-run  shelters are already at or near capacity, “The Franklin Avenue Shelter that is 60 beds. And I believe last Friday, we had 59 people seeking shelter there.”

She says the Stepping Stone Shelter on Division is also almost full, “They bring people in through the co-ordinated entry process. But I think as of last week, they were at 92% full. So, there may be some capacity there. Safe parking is at capacity. We have 16 beds at different communities of faith and that is where people can bring their RV or in the case of one side, you can bring your car.”

Those are run by Shepherd’s House Ministries, which is accepting winter gear, blankets, sleeping bags, and monetary donations. Shepherd’s House will be opening a facility in Redmond next month.

Predictions for this weekend’s weather isn’t for extreme cold. “It takes a severe set of weather or specific conditions to have a shelter open outside of the one low barrier walk up shelter that we have here in central Oregon, which is the Lighthouse Navigation center,” Fraley says.

Bethlehem Inn is also seeking cold weather gear, along with blankets and sleeping bags.

File Photo: Bend's Stepping Stone Shelter

RSD To Discuss Kids' Social Media Use At Public Meeting

REDMOND, OR -- Oregon and 33 other states are suing Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta for what they say are “harmful features” that get kids and teens addicted to social media. Redmond Schools officials have seen the firsthand. 

Over the past month RSD has been working with students to evaluate how social media impacts their mental health. "We’ve been doing small groups with middle schoolers and high schoolers, to find out a little bit more about what their social media use looks like, and what their experience is," says the district's Holly Brown. "What I have learned is that middle schoolers tend to be on social media more often and feel more trapped in social media, than high schoolers." She speculates it could be because high schoolers have more activities and opportunities for real-life social interactions through a job, sports or driving. 

Brown tells KBND News they also surveyed students, "They all said, ‘yes, we know it affects our mental health.’ Some students are staying up until midnight on social media and having these social interactions. And then going to school the next day, still trying to navigate social spaces but in a different way." She adds, "They’re saying, ‘we compare ourselves to other students in the hallways, and that’s a normal thing. But now, we have the whole world to compare ourselves to, and there’s really unrealistic standards that we’re seeing and being subjected to.’"

The public is invited to talk more about the issue at a community meeting next week. "We hear the kids saying they want to talk to their parents about it, but they don’t really know how," says Brown, "Parents, when they find out what’s happening on social media, understandably, can get a little bit alarmed. And students have a fear of showing parents, because - while it can appear very alarming - this is what students are used to seeing." The community conversation may include small group discussions with a few key questions like, "What does social media look like in your home? And how much time do you think your child spends using social media?" Brown says, "Just trying to get a grasp on that."

The meeting is November second at 6 p.m., in the Redmond High commons. It's open to everyone. 


Suspect In La Pine Chase Surrenders To DCSO

LA PINE, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office says the man who led deputies on a La Pine area chase has surrendered to authorities. Joshua Maxfield turned himself in Tuesday evening.

The 33-year-old La Pine man is accused of stealing a pickup, then crashing into multiple trees while trying to escape deputies, early Monday morning. The pickup was later found abandoned near Brooks Lane.
Maxfield is charged with Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Reckless Endangerin, Attempt to Elude and Attempted Assault on a Peace Officer.

Salem Man Arrested In Redmond After Online Sting

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police arrested a 50-year-old Salem man Tuesday, after investigators say he tried to arrange a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl.

On Monday, October 23, Daniel Holman Jr allegedly reached out to the girl - who was actually an undercover RPD detective - and engaged in what authorities say was a sexually explicit conversation. He acknowledged the girl was 15 and made arrangements to travel to Redmond to "engage in sexual conduct," according to police. 

The following day, he told the girl online he was in the area of 31st and Highland. Officers took him into custody, with help from the Central Oregon Emergency Response Team (CERT). He’s charged with Online Sexual Corruption of a Child and Luring A Minor.

If you suspect a child of being a victim of abuse, you can make a report to the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline by calling 1-855-503-SAFE (7233); 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You may also report child abuse or neglect to local police by calling Deschutes County Dispatch at 541-693-6911 for non-emergency situations, and 911 if it is an emergency.

Bend PD, St Charles Collecting Unused Meds Saturday

BEND, OR -- Saturday is National Medication Take Back Day, and St. Charles Health System is partnering with Bend Police for a local event. 

Bend PD’s Sheila Miller tells KBND News it’s a good time to clear out the medicine cabinet, “We accept all unused medications. Although oncology prescription drugs we can't accept. We do take sharps as well, injectable medications as long as they've been separated and put into a sharps container. We know that people end up with prescription medications that they're done with that, they didn't finish, that maybe they have a family member who has passed away and left a bunch of prescription drugs behind. And it's really important that we properly dispose of unused prescription drugs.” She says it’s a quick process, “No questions asked. We just want to safely dispose of these things. And so. drive through, drop them off and head on your way.”

They do it for a couple of reasons, “It's really important to dispose of them safely first because we don't want people to flush them because that can contaminate the water supply. And then also because throwing them into a trash can, can create an opportunity for someone else to get their hands on them and either abuse them or resell them, that sort of thing,” Miller says.

Debra Pedersen, with St Charles, says pharmacists will also be there, “We’re there to answer questions about ways to safely dispose of your medications outside of the take back because this event only happens twice a year right now. So, we will be able to guide people to some safe options.” The program has been successful in the past. “The first time we did it with the Bend police, I think five or six years ago now, I was worried that no one was going to show up, but we usually have at least a few 100 people come by and drop off medications,” she says, adding over 500 pounds of meds were collected last year.

The National Medication Take Back Day is at the Bend Police Department on 15th street this Saturday, October 28th from 10 AM to 2 PM.


Drought Persists, Despite Fall Rains

CORVALLIS, OR -- Almost half of the Pacific Northwest is still experiencing at least moderate drought, despite fall rains. State Climatologist Larry O’Neill says Oregon received above average precipitation over the last 90 days. But it’s not enough, "While this rain is really welcome, this time of year is typically the driest, climatologically speaking, through the water year. So this precipitation really does not go very far to mitigate the long-term drought conditions that we’re experiencing in the Pacific Northwest." 

He says there’s a dividing line that runs from Medford to Montana (pictured). South of that line has seen significant drought recovery this year. But north of what's been dubbed the "Medford-Missoula Line" is going backwards. That includes Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties, which remain in moderate to severe drought, according to the US Drought Monitor. "We’ve had large regions that have had less than 70% of their average precipitation since January first of this year," says O'Neill, "And this is really one of the main drivers of the drought severity that we’re seeing, at this point." He adds, "In western Oregon, we’ve had some areas that are less than 70% of average, but most of the region has been definitely less than 90% of average. So, even though we had that great snowpack, we haven’t had very much water with the total precipitation, throughout that."

In June, July and August, Oregon temperatures averaged 3.3 degrees higher than a typical summer. Eugene saw 104 days over 80 degrees, shattering that city’s previous record. O'Neill says, "We didn’t have the really big, high-level heatwave events, like we had in 2021. But, it was just persistently warmer than normal, and this has really driven enhanced backward demand off the landscape throughout the summer. So, the precipitation we did get is not going as far to meet our water supply needs."


Ice Making Underway At The Pavilion After Weather Delay

BEND, OR -- Bend Park and Recreation staff hope to open the ice rink at The Pavilion this weekend, after weather delayed ice-making season. "They intended on starting to build ice kind of right after the ski swap closed up. And they decided, with those warm temperatures, that they were going to kick it down the line about a week," says Bend Parks & Rec's Julie Brown, "So, they’ve just started building ice." She tells KBND News, "We tend to build ice starting at about midnight, and we’ll build ice until 6 or 7 in the morning. So we make the most use of that coldest hours of the day. And then we’ll let it sit, and then we’ll get at it that next night." That slab of ice needs to be about 2" thick.

The ice rink's season stretches into April, weather permitting. Brown says they hope to have the rink ready for open-skate by this Saturday. While many leagues, like curling, are full, she says there is still room in next week’s Intro to Curling class, "It’s an introduction session. It’s about three hours on a Friday morning, and you get to learn all about curling and you get a chance to try it. "

Parks staff are also working on other seasonal changes, "Our Parks Services staff members are really busy doing irrigation blowouts and some of the seasonal closures that we’ll have for the portable restrooms or our permanent restrooms. They tend to have some of those that will close down for the season, and some of those that will just reduce the hours with the amount of daylight that we have." That means some visitors may notice water issues in parks, "If you do happen to see some sprinkler activity in some of the parks, just know it’s probably related to us doing the irrigation blowout."

One activity remains available all year round: the Whitewater Park "The water flows certainly change and so some of the dynamics within the wave shapes will change accordingly, with that. But some of the surfers are out there every day of the year." Brown notes, the wetsuits do get thicker this time of year.


Stolen Pickup Used To Try To Steal Prineville ATM

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Someone tried to steal an ATM from a Prineville bank, using a pickup truck stolen from Redmond. Police responded to the Washington Federal Bank on Northeast Third at about 4 a.m. Monday, and discovered a damaged ATM attached with a tow rope to an abandoned truck.

Two men are seen on surveillance footage trying to remove the machine, but took off on foot when they were unsuccessful. Officers used drones and a Redmond PD K-9 to search for the suspects, but they were not found. Detectives later learned the truck was reported stolen in Redmond about an hour before the attempted theft.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Prineville Detective Jordan Zamora and reference PPD Case Number 23-1334. 

DCSO Searches For Suspected Truck Thief

LA PINE, OR -- A stolen pickup led to a wild chase in La Pine early Monday morning. At about 3 a.m., Deschutes County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a black Chevy S10 taken from a home on Deer Avenue. They tried to stop the vehicle but it took off and crashed into multiple trees and other objects. Deputies later found the truck abandoned near Brooks Lane.

Investigators are searching for the suspect, described as a white man in his early 30s, with black hair and facial hair. He was last seen wearing jeans, a t-shirt, gray or black vest, and boots with no laces.

Those in the area are asked to report any suspicious activity. Deputies are updating local residents via the Deschutes Alerts emergency notification system. To sign up for Deschutes Alerts, please go to Deschutes.org/911/page/sign-deschutes-alerts.


State AG Candidate Rayfield Stumps In Bend

BEND, OR -- Oregon attorney general candidate Dan Rayfield kicked off his campaign in Bend Sunday.

The Corvallis State Representative, and current speaker of the House spoke to a gathered crowd of supporters at Worthy Brewing, “We're running to make sure that we keep our communities and our families safe. And more importantly, we want to make sure that every Oregonian has the same opportunities to succeed and thrive here in Oregon. …We think into the future, what we want the state to look like 10, 15, 20 years down the road with the values that we have, we have to be on the offensive.”
Rayfield tells KBND News he feels all parts of the state are equally important for his election chances, “So, the way that I've approached my job as Speaker of the Oregon House is like serving all four corners and everything in between. I don't look at any specific counties as necessarily a battleground. What I look at is opportunities to get out there and connect with people and share what my vision for Oregon is.”

He mentioned focusing on a variety of issues including employee protections, “When we think about family wage jobs, we think about making sure that working families are supported. The Attorney General's office is a place where we can focus on wage theft. We can focus on labor violations to make the world that we have here in Oregon. The place that we want to live, the place we know it can be.”
He says he’ll tackle issues affecting the entire country, “You think about the attorney general role, there have been a lot of natural attacks on the national level to some of the values that we hold dear here in this state, whether it's your environmental laws where it's marriage equality, part of the role of the attorney general is to make sure that those values of the state are being upheld and being pursued.”

Rayfield performed with his Polka band, the Polkaticians, and was joined at the fundraiser by Bend’s mayor and city councilors, along with state elected representatives and officials.


Highway 20 Roundabouts Open Monday

BEND, OR -- Two new dual-lane roundabouts on Highway 20 fully open Monday on the north end of Bend; one at Cooley Road and the other at Robal Lane. It’s a big milestone for the Bend North Corridor Project, but could be a big headache for commuters not used to them.

ODOT’s Cody Franz says there are a few critical things drivers need to remember, "As you’re approaching that roundabout, slow down and choose the correct lane. Follow any signs we may have, or pavement markings." He tells KBND News, "You need to yield to the traffic in the roundabout and enter when you have an appropriate gap. We always remind folks: don’t assume that you know what someone else is going to do, so take your time and be cautious, and enter only when there’s an appropriate gap." And, "It is not legal for you to do that and especially to pass large freight vehicles or buses, or things of that nature." Finally, practice goot roundabout etiquette "Let everyone know what your plan is and when you’re planning to exit that roundabout, so always signal before you leave. And when you’re in the roundabout, don’t stop, and you can never pass vehicles in a roundabout. It is not legal for you to do that and especially to pass large freight vehicles or buses, or things of that nature."

According to the Federal Highway Administration, roundabouts result in 35% fewer crashes and 90% fewer fatalities than a traditional intersection.

Also coming soon, as part of the North Corridor project, a new Cascades East Transit stop near Target and a multi-use path stretching from North Star Elementary to Cascade Village Shopping Center. And, work is underway on the Highway 97 side of the project. That’s expected to have bigger traffic impacts in early 2024. 


Portland Man Suspected Of Planning Attack On Rock Climbers

BEND, OR -- A Portland man believed to have been planning a violent attack on rock climbers was arrested in Deschutes County Thursday. According to the Sheriff’s Office, Portland Police contacted local detectives after learning of 39-year-old Samson Garner’s plans. Several days later, deputies found him in Central Oregon and took him into custody, with the help of SWAT.

They say a search of his car turned up evidence of his plans, including several firearms. DCSO thanked Portland Police for the information, "Likely preventing a major incident in Deschutes County. Detectives have determined there is no continued threat as Garner is now in custody and, at this time the investigation indicates that Garner was acting alone." Garner is being held on $10 million bail on a list of charges, including Attempted Murder and Unlawful Use of a Weapon. Arraignment on his indictment is scheduled for October 27th.

His arrest came one day before climbers converged on Smith Rock for the Craggin’ Classic, this past weekend.

Local State Rep. Takes Part In Greater Idaho Meeting

BAKER CITY, OR -- State Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville) discussed the Greater Idaho Movement with two Idaho state lawmakers Thursday. Movement supporters say the Baker City meeting was in response to an Idaho House resolution inviting Oregon to discuss moving the border; although that bill was never approved by Idaho's Senate. A companion bill in Oregon did not receive a hearing in the 2023 session. 

After the meeting, Breese-Iverson said in a statement, "As a state representative, I have a duty and responsibility to have conversations that could potentially better my constituents. It is clear: people in central and eastern Oregon do not align with all the values of those in Portland and Eugene. Is Greater Idaho the answer? I am not sure but I am willing to turn over all the rocks possible, for the land and people I love.”

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek discussed the idea during a stop in Bend over the summer.  


submitted photo

Crook Court Sets Date To Interview Commissioner Candidates

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County Court will conduct interviews the week of December 4th for candidates applying for commissioner. Judge Seth Crawford and Commissioner Brian Barney need to appoint a replacement for Jerry Brummer who stepped down a few weeks ago. County Administrator Andy Parks told them at Wednesday’s meeting, they should aim for December 20th, “Recognize too, that by your process and your code that this appointment is set up to occur within 90 days of the vacancy that as I count is January 2nd. So, if we don't do it, by the 20th, we would need to schedule a special meeting to occur if you guys wanted to make an appointment.” Three people have applied for the position.

“We still have through November 9th. So, there's still a fair amount of time left for folks to, you know, come in. It'd be helpful to develop interview questions sooner rather than later,” Parks told the pair they can look over a list of established interview questions, many from when Brummer was appointed seven years ago, “If there's others that you would like to see, or have any of those stricken, if you could get back to us on that, we can at least get a draft together and bring those back at, say the next meeting for you two in a review and you know, make whatever changes you need to make at that time.”

The three people that have applied to be interviewed as of Wednesday are Planning Commission member Susan Hermreck, marketing consultant Bryan Iverson and Powell Butte business owner Monty Kurtz. Planning Commission member Brian Samp has filed to run in the May primary.


Shepherd's House Anticipates Higher Demand For Winter Gear

BEND, OR -- Shepherd’s House Ministries is collecting new and gently used winter gear this weekend. The nonprofit's Dave Notari expects there will be a bigger demand this season for supplies. "We know from the Point In Time count that occurred most recently, there’s been a 28% increase in homelessness in our region. That equates to more need. And we know from past experience that we consistently run out of winter gear."

In past years, the annual drive focused on coats, "We’ve also recognized the importance of broadening that out because a lot of our homeless neighbors are struggling to find just warmth, in general," says Notari," And so, a coat is a great starting point, but we also need things like sleeping bags, for people who are potentially still out in the elements."

Notari tells KBND News that teams meet people living in areas like China Hat and Juniper Ridge. He says they work to develop relationships, gain their trust and connect them with services, "And that’s when things like sleeping bags and blankets, sometimes tents, do come in handy. But we really are not a handout organization. We really are doing that for the purpose of helping people to know there are caring people who want to help them progress." 

But Notari says, even those already living in a shelter need winter supplies, "Those people still are out in the elements for work, for moving from one place to another for a variety of reasons. And so they, just like any of us, have those same needs, they just don’t have the financial means to go out and buy an appropriate jacket or appropriate clothing." 

Saturday’s winter gear drive is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Drop off new or gently used supplies at the Bend shelter on NE Division or Shepherd’s House Redmond on South Highway 97. Monetary donations are also accepted online. You'll find more information HERE


Human Remains Discovered A Year Ago Remain Unidentified

BEND, OR -- Human remains pulled from the Deschutes River in 2022 remain unidentified, despite laboratory testing. Bend Police recovered remains near Archie Briggs Road on August 27, 2022. More bones were found the next day by a Deschutes County Search and Rescue dive team. They are believed to be from one person, likely an adult. Authorities say the remains were probably in the water for more than a year before they were discovered. 

Bend Police sent the evidence to the state medical examiner's office for possible DNA identification. On September 21, 2023, BPD learned the bone sample was too degraded with bacteria to establish a DNA profile. 

The Deschutes County District Attorney's Office has closed the case until more information is available. 


file photo

South County Students Practice Daily Mindfulness

LA PINE, OR -- A new program at a south county elementary school offers kids a calm start to their day. "There is a lot of need for emotional regulation and need for support around calming our bodies and calming our minds, and being ready to learn," says Rosland Elementary Principal Deborah Buduan.

She says students participate in the Mindful Moments Program every morning after breakfast, together in the gym, "It combines deep breathing, mindful practices with classical music." She tells KBND News, "By the time that 3-5 minutes is done in that gymnasium, it is calm, it is quiet, it’s peaceful. Students then standup and their teachers take them in line back to their classrooms. And they’re in a space where they’re calm and ready to learn." Just six weeks into the school year, and she says teachers already say students are more calm and peaceful.

Some kids just relax during the three-to-five minute session, while others practice deep breathing. "I’ve had a lot of experience with mindful practices as a teacher, and I know the benefits that mindful practice can have on students in helping self-regulate, helping decrease stress levels and increase the ability to learn," says Buduan. "Classical music, we know, has really great benefits for the brain. The complexity in the different instruments and how they weave together, it’s really great for our brain to listen to those and to tease those out. So, it combines that with the physiological effects of basically just breathing. We know that when we breathe deep, it calms our nervous system."

Mindful Moments is used around the country. In La Pine, it’s offered at Rosland through a partnership with the Sunriver Music Festival. Buduan says students also have access to the program throughout the day, if they need a little extra help with emotional regulation.


Sisters Library Reopens Next Week

SISTERS, OR -- The remodeled Sisters Library reopens next week, following nine months of construction and six years of planning. A grand opening celebration is scheduled for next Saturday the 28th, from noon to 2 p.m. with live music, face painting and other activities.

Updates at the branch include a new children’s discovery space, two new meeting and study rooms and a large community room with updated technology. There are also new public computers and updated wi-fi.

“We were happy to offer a small temporary space during construction, but we know the public is just as anxious as we are to get back into the remodeled library,” said Chantal Strobel, with the DPL. “The growing excitement around the re-opening is a testament to the importance of the library and its role in the community.”

The project was funded by the 2020 voter-approved bond measure. Bond funds also paid for work at the La Pine Library, which reopened last month, as well as the rebuilding of the Redmond branch, among other projects. 

Local Addiction Experts Testify In Salem

SALEM, OR -- Central Oregon took center stage in Salem Wednesday, during the first meeting of the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety Response. The bipartisan, bicameral committee is charged with addressing Oregon’s addiction crisis by providing oversight and looking for solutions.

Deschutes County Behavioral Health Director Holly Harris testified about expanding mobile crisis services earlier this year, and told the committee it's making a difference, "Law enforcement brings them to us in lieu of taking them to jail on a low-level crime, or to an Emergency Department, where most of the time they would be released right back to the community. So this is a wonderful alternative to that scenario. We know we’re saving lives, because we’ve had approximately 122 people tell us they would’ve ended their life had our services not been available to them when they needed them."

But Harris also said stable funding is increasingly challenging, and some critical grants expire next year, "We’ve piecemealed it together at this point to create a full time two person team, 24/7, non-law enforcement response and as you can see, based on the data, it’s going quite well." 

Committee Co-Chair Sen. Kate Lieber (D-Beaverton) noted even the state struggles to navigate funding options, "We really look forward to making sure that we can all get on the same page of the system we want, what the gaps are, and then we can figure out who is paying for it for the variety of streams that go into paying in this system."

The head of Central Oregon-based Best Care Treatment Services told the committee nearly half of their admissions are now fentanyl-related, and delaying services or treatment results in death for many. He also testified about the importance of Medication-Assisted Treatment for addicts

Rep. Jason Kropf (D-Bend) co-chairs the committee and Sen. Tim Knopp (R-Bend) is also a member. Knopp grew frustrated with testimony from the Oregon Health Authority, which used 2021 data in a discussion about overdose deaths. Knopp was concerned the agency is using outdated numbers. The OHA representative responded, "There probably is new data; this is what we have for Oregon right now." Knopp, noting new numbers from the CDC, said, "Well, the new data does include Oregon, because I’m looking at it right now. Yours tops out at 1,000 deaths. For 2023, it’s over 1500, so it’s actually more dramatic than what this appears."

More committee meetings are expected prior to the 2024 February session. 


Special Election Ballots Mailed

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County sent out about 37,000 ballots Wednesday for the November seventh special election. Voters inside the Redmond Fire and Rescue DistrictCrooked River Ranch Fire District and La Pine's Ponderosa Pines East Special Road District all have five year levies up for consideration. Much of the CRR Fire District is inside Jefferson County. 

If you live in one of those areas and don’t get a ballot by next Wednesday, October 25, contact the Elections Office. Redmond and La Pine voters will receive a Voters' Pamphlet insert with their ballot. It's also available online HERE.

Ballot drop sites open Friday, October 20. A list of Deschutes County locations can be found HERE. Ballots must be dropped off by 8 p.m. November seventh, or postmarked by that day. 

Redmond Fire Hosts Levy Town Hall

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Fire and Rescue will host a town hall meeting on Monday, October 23, to answer questions about the request for an increased property tax levy.

The agency has said it needs more money to hire and retain more firefighter-paramedics, to respond to a rapidly increasing number of calls.

Monday’s town hall is at 6 p.m. at the downtown fire station on Dogwood or online:

Ballots were mailed out Wednesday for the November 7th Special Election.

Bend Utilities Dept. Seeks To Upgrade Vehicle

BEND, OR -- City officials are looking to upgrade equipment to keep up with growing infrastructure. Utilities Director Mike Buettner tells KBND News his department wants to purchase a new closed-circuit TV Van to inspect sewer pipes, “Usually with a TV van, the technology takes quite a leap forward, when you replace it, once every 10 years, the monitors are quite a bit different. This one's going to come with some battery technology, so we don't have to have an additional generator, which is kind of nice.” He says the technology plays a big role in infrastructure maintenance, “The closed-circuit television vans serve a few purposes for us. Primarily they allow us to drop down cameras into sewer collections infrastructure and take a closer look at the sewer collections piping infrastructure to really see what's happening. Sort of like a video game operator with a joystick… control its wheels and have it crawl up the sewer line and video what's going on in that sewer line.”

Buettner says they’re keeping an eye on the future, “The city has a collection system master plan that is on the horizon. That's a big engineering exercise where our engineering department looks at the entire system in its entirety and really looks at ‘what are our weak points? Where are we going to grow? Where do we need to invest dollars into our system?’”

Councilors will discuss the purchase of a $ $294,707 vehicle at Wednesday night’s meeting.

Flights Resume Between Portland & Redmond

REDMOND, OR -- For those not wanting to brave the pass this winter, direct flights between Redmond and Portland resume next month. Redmond Airport Director Zach Bass says Alaska Airlines dropped the route in 2021, "Kind of a few things happened, right? We had COVID. Since COVID, we’ve had a pilot shortage. So some of these really short length flights, they’ve used those pilots for maybe longer length ones; in a different capacity." Bass adds, "Most people were kind of flying from Redmond to Portland and then taking that hop down to California. Now we have those direct flights on large aircraft. So, in a sense, they kind of cannibalize their own service."

Alaska’s Redmond to Portland flights will be much more limited than before. It’s seasonal for now, November 29th through April 10th. And, just once a day in each direction, "It actually leaves Redmond at 7:40 in the morning, you get into Portland around 8:30. And then it comes back at night. It leaves Portland at 8:45 and gets back into Redmond at 9:30." Before COVID, Alaska flew several times a day between Portland and Redmond, year round. 

Bass tells KBND News travelers need to step up and book tickets if they want it to remain, "Really, it just comes down to using the service. We heard a pretty good outcry about the public wanting this service, and the way we keep it going year round and more frequencies for options is to use it."


ODOT Urges Extra Winter Prep In Light Of Plowing Cutbacks

BEND, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Transportation says declining gas tax revenues and staffing shortages is forcing cuts to winter maintenance budgets, especially in Central and Eastern Oregon. Last week, ODOT announced lower volume highways will be plowed less frequently, if at all, this winter, which means drivers need to be a little extra prepared.

"You’ll see increased chain requirements, longer delays and most likely fewer open roads," says ODOT's Mindy McCartt. Less general road maintenance means pavement conditions may also be worse than you’re used to, and drivers shouldn’t trust that the fogline will be there to help, "When you’re driving in lower visibility weather, we want you to use the yellow centerline for guidance. Many of those roads may not have the side white line repainted." Essentially, she says, don't get complacent, "We’ve heard so many stories from the road where drivers thought they were just making a quick trip to a neighboring town, when they suddenly hit ice, ended up in a ditch wearing only shorts and open-toed shoes. So, wearing appropriate clothing for the weather outside is super crucial for your safety."

McCartt suggests taking time now to practice chaining up, "The first time trying to put these on should not be on the side of the road in a foot of snow." Remember, studded tires aren’t allowed on Oregon roads until November first. 

And, get the inside of your car ready, "As always, we tell everyone to carry a fully stocked emergency kit. Kits should include items like tools, cell phone chargers, working flashlights, water, snacks, a blanket, maybe an ice scraper and possibly a first aid kit."

file photo, courtesy Oregon State Police

Senior Facility Damaged By Fire

BEND, OR -- Bend firefighters responded to a senior living community Tuesday morning, after residents were evacuated. Fire crews arrived at Vintage on NE Bellvue just after 9:30 a.m. They found a small fire in a third floor laundry.

Staff used a fire extinguisher to hold it in check and firefighters qucikly put the fire out completely, although there was extensive smoke damage on the third and fourth floors. 

Eight residents may be temporarily relocated until the odor can be professionally mitigated. Losses are estimated at $15,000. 

Investigators say the fire was caused by a significant build up of lint beneath the clothes dryer's lint filter assembly. It caught fire after the dryer had operated continuously for about 45 minutes. Bend Fire offers these dryer safety tips


Photo courtesy of Bend Fire & Rescue

Annual Fish Rescue In Upper Deschutes

BEND, OR -- The end of the irrigation season means lower water levels in the upper Deschutes River, and stranded fish. 

The Deschutes River Conservancy along with state agencies led efforts to move fish over the weekend and into Tuesday.

Mt Hood Environmental Field biologist Ben Briscoe says this year’s fish rescue count will be typical, “Looking like we're on track for an average of about 6,000 to 8,000 fish per year.” He reports the fish are in good shape, “The fish are coming out healthy. They look great. We haven't had any major issues with fish health yet.”

Deschutes River Conservancy Executive Director Kate Fitzparick thinks the rescue may not be necessary in four or five years, thanks to a partnership with irrigation districts, “They are using most of the water in the basin. And we're working on large scale conservation efforts that will reduce their demand for water and will keep minimum flows in the river.” Fitzpatrick is grateful for the efforts again this year, “The last couple of days we've saved about 1,000 fish a day. And so, we're really making a difference to make sure that in these years when that side channel does dry up, that we can keep some of those fish alive.”

Sarah Ross, from Portland General Electric Project Zero, tells KBND News first-timers and veterans step in to lend a hand, “It's been amazing to see the support even with the dates changing. And now we're extending the event as we have so many more fish to rescue.”

Emily McCain, with the Oregon Water Resources Department, seconded the collaborative effort, “It's great to see Oregon Water Resources Department, Department of Fish and Wildlife. Local folks like the Deschutes River Conservancy and, and others come together.”


Flu Season Brings Health Warnings

BEND, OR -- With flu season officially underway, Deschutes County Public health urges everyone to start taking precautions. Communicable Diseases and Immunizations Program Manager Rita Bacho expects Deschutes County will see more cases than recent years, "We may have some increased flu just because we’ve done away with the masking mandates." 

While masking helps prevent spreading germs, Bacho tells KBND News it’s best to be proactive by washing your hands often and getting a flu shot. "I do know that throughout the season, there will be enough vaccines for everybody to get vaccinated," she says, "But we worry that if we don’t have enough vaccines earlier on, there may be a huge spread of flu before people get vaccinated, which we want to avoid at all costs." And, she worries fewer people are willing to get vaccinated since the pandemic, "We’ve seen a lot more people being hesitant. Even really educated people who you would assume would know better, have become all of a sudden hesitant." Bacho notes the flu shot is fully tested and approved by the FDA.

The county is conducting vaccine clinics for high risk populations, like those living in congregate settings. But most people need to schedule through their primary care doctor or local pharmacy. 

In the first week of October - the only data available so far - our tri-county area had four positive tests for influenza A and two for influenza B. Bacho says that’s right around typical for this early in the season.

The symptoms of flu are similar to COVID-19 and RSV, which are also common this time of year, "Fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue," says Bacho, "Definitely people with flu, you would see a lot more cough and runny nose than somebody with RSV or COVID." If you do get sick, avoid other people, especially the elderly or very young whose immune systems may not be as strong. 


Bend-La Pine Schools Condemns Acts Of Hate Following Terrorist Attacks

BEND, OR -- Acknowledging incidents of bias and hate aimed at local Jewish families in the wake of the attacks on Israel, Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Cook sent a letter to parents Monday condemning discrimination:


Dear Families,

Bend-La Pine Schools joins our community in mourning the loss of so many innocent lives and the ongoing human suffering increased by recent international conflict. The violence is horrific and heartbreaking, and we condemn these acts of terrorism, hate and intolerance by Hamas. We stand in solidarity with the families in Israel and the surrounding region who seek peace, safety, understanding and a better future for all. Here in Central Oregon, we want to express our support for all students in our schools, regardless of their families’ faith, ethnicity, heritage, or political beliefs.


While we know these events are complex and ongoing, we recognize the significant impact they have on our community members here at home. We know, too, that our local Jewish families have experienced incidents of bias and hate in our own Central Oregon community that are incredibly harmful and unacceptable. Our commitment to fostering a safe and inclusive environment remains steadfast.  


In our schools, we will continue to prioritize equity, dignity, and belonging as core values. We condemn any form of discrimination or bias based on one's religious beliefs, ethnicity, or any other characteristic. We will actively work to ensure that every member of our Jewish community feels safe, respected, and valued within our educational environment.  


In times of violent acts of terrorism, we also recommend that families closely monitor their children’s social media and internet activity. Images and footage from recent international conflicts have made their way online, and the impact of seeing these violent images can be profound. Our counselors and support staff are available to provide resources and assistance to any students or families who may be directly or indirectly affected by recent events. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you or your child requires support or assistance during these times. (See links to resources below)


As we navigate these challenging times, let us remember the importance of dialogue, compassion, and understanding. We encourage open and respectful conversations within our schools to promote unity and cultural awareness.


Together, we will overcome adversity, promote peace, and strengthen the bonds that unite us as a community. We are committed to creating a nurturing and supportive educational environment for all, regardless of one's background or beliefs.


Know that our entire Bend-La Pine Schools’ family is here to support our Jewish community, now and always. We stand with all families impacted by recent acts of intolerance, and we remain resolute in our commitment to fostering an inclusive and caring school district. 



Dr. Steven Cook, Superintendent Bend-La Pine Schools



  • Talking with your child about bias, dignity, and belonging
  • Talking with your child about current events in the news
  • Harassment/Hazing policy
  • Every Student Belongs policy and bias incident reporting
  • Nondiscrimination policy
  • Treatment of Religion in Schools policy and feedback form

City Hosts Meeting On Stevens Road Tract

BEND, OR -- An open house is planned for this week to discuss future developments at the Stevens Road Tract in southeast Bend. Senior Planner Damian Syrnyk says it’s time to gather in person after more than two years of work on the 261-acre parcel, "Communicate to folks: here’s what we’re proposing. Some of it may not be really exciting, but it’s critical, like comprehensive plan policies, map changes."

He tells KBND News, "But also just get questions answered and feedback about everything from road alignments to whether we have enough housing, too much housing. We’re looking at establishing a green loop trail system within the tract, getting some feedback on what that might look like." Syrnyk adds, "One of the things I get asked a lot about the Stevens Road tract is about transportation. So, we want to take this opportunity to talk about improvements to Stevens Road, Ferguson Road. But also be able to answer questions about what projects the city will be doing and what other projects another developer will be working on, related to the property to the west, which is the Stevens Ranch Master Plan."

He says the end goal is to adjust the comprehensive plan and development code for the property’s owner: Oregon’s Department of State Lands, "So when they surplus the Stevens Road tract, it can be conveyed to a developer who can then develop a master plan for future development of housing, some commercial, some employment."

The open house is Thursday at Caldera High School from 5 to 7 p.m. For more on the proposed planing amendments and other work on the tract, click HERE. Written comments will also be accepted through December sixth, when City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed amendments. 


ODOT Budget Cuts Affect Plowing

BEND, OR -- Oregon Department of Transportation budget cuts will mean less snow removal and winter maintenance on our roads. Declining gas tax revenue is the reason for the 5% drop across all programs; services and materials are slashed by 15%.

ODOT’s Kacey Davey tells KBND News high volume roads, those seeing over 3,000 vehicles per day will still get plowed, “97 and 26 and I 84... we're going to keep those clear and open the best we can because they see such a large number of folks and that's where all of our freight goes and our commuter goes and our school buses are, so we're going to really focus on the safety of those areas.” She says it won’t be the same for roads that see less than 3,000 cars a day, “In central Oregon, almost 60% of our roads are considered low volume, even popular traveled roads like the road up to Mount Bachelor, for instance.” She says drivers will need to be alert, “We're just asking that folks be extra prepared for this winter. Be patient if it's taking us longer to clear the roads because we've got less staff out there doing the job.”

This has Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler worried, “There may be a moment for Central Oregon in general to come together and say that it's not acceptable to reduce that kind of service because it creates more danger.”

Kebler spoke at last week's joint meeting of the city council and Deschutes County commissioners, and suggested they may ask the State to get involved. 


Madras Man Charged In Connection With September Stabbing

MADRAS, OR -- A 40-year-old man will be arraigned Monday on numerous charges related to a stabbing at a Madras homeless camp last month. Police responded to St. Charles Madras on September 11th after a man came in with non-life threatening stab wounds. During the investigation, officers determined the incident occurred at a camp near SW 4th and Maple Street.

Following interviews with the victim and others, investigators identified Sampson Price as a suspect. He was already in custody in an unrelated case, allowing officers to talk to him about the stabbing. 

Price is charged with first and second degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon and tampering with evidence. 

Redmond Fire Asks Voters For More Funding

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Fire and Rescue is asking voters to approve a higher local option levy on November seventh. It would replace a 2020 levy a year early. 

Fire Chief Pat Dale says the district has seen a 26%increase in population in the past 10 years, while call volumes have risen 68%. "We’re already behind currently, because we have staffing of two firefighter/paramedics on engines," Chief Dale tells KBND News, "Where really the national standard is four, and what we’re aiming for is three people on a fire engine." He also wants to end the practice of cross-staffing, which is when there aren’t enough people to staff a station’s engine and a medic unit at the same time. Dale cites the Eagle Crest station is an example of how dangerous it can be, "80% of the time, eight out of 10 calls, they get on the medic unit, and when they transport - We transport people to local hospitals - When they transport, there’s probably a two to three-hour turnaround time that leaves that whole station’s area uncovered for two to three hours." If a fire or other incident occurs during that time, he says, a truck would have to respond from downtown Redmond or even Bend. 

The 75 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value is a 48-cent increase over the current rate. Dale says that’s about $94 more a year for the average Redmond home, "We’re going to discontinue the final year of the current local option levy, that’s at 27 cents, if it passes in November." He adds, "100% of it will go to staffing. It’s not going to any equipment or stations or fire trucks. It’s all to hire additional firefighter/paramedics and to address recruitment and retention of our current employees."

If the levy fails next month, Dale says they’ll have to ask again in the next election, "We’re not able to keep up with the current increase in population and that disproportionate call volume. So, likely we’ll have to, frankly, search for another source of revenue, which our only other option really is to go back out again for that levy." Visit Redmond Fire & Rescue's levy website to learn more about its request. 

Crooked River Ranch Fire is also asking for voters to approve a levy increase. Tuesday, October 17th is the voter registration deadline for the special election on November seventh. 


Family Of Four Killed In Redmond-Area Crash

REDMOND, OR -- State Police have released details of a fatal crash that shut down Highway 97 just north of Redmond for four hours Thursday evening. A Troutdale family of four was killed in the collision.

Investigators believe a Montana man was northbound in a Chevy pickup when he crossed the centerline, sideswiped a semi and hit an SUV head-on, just before 7:30 p.m. That SUV caught fire and became fully engulfed, killing Gary and Michelle Rutledge and their two teenage children, 17-year-old Ryan and 15-year-old Kate. KGW-TV reports the family was traveling to view Saturday's solar eclipse.

The Montana driver, 43-year-old Jesse Carl Ross was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. OSP's investigation continues, in coordination with the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office. Any witnesses to the crash are asked to contact State Police and reference case #SP23326671.

Jefferson County Crash Claims One Life

CULVER, OR -- Highway 361, known as the Culver Highway, was fully or partially closed for three hours Thursday afternoon, due to a fatal crash. According to State Police, a Metolius woman was southbound when she tried to negotiate a corner at high speed. Just before 2 p.m., her car crossed the center line and collided head on with a sedan driven by 51-year-old Melonie Aldred, of Culver. 

Aldred died at the scene. The other driver, Maria Calderon, was pulled from the wreckage and flown to the hospital with serious injuries. 

OSP says the investigation is ongoing. 

Redmond Man Killed In Bend Crash

BEND, OR -- A 45-year-old Redmond man was struck and killed on the Bend Parkway early Friday morning. A 22-year-old driver told Bend Police he was southbound on Highway 97, near the exit to Highway 20 and Empire Ave., when he ran over someone lying in the right lane. Officers then found James Paris deceased in the road. 

The southbound lanes of the Parkway were closed more than three hours for the investigation, which is ongoing. Police say the driver, who was on his way home from work, remained on scene and cooperative. He has not been cited.

Three Groundbreakings Coming For Housing Works

REDMOND, OR -- Housing Works will break ground on three sites early next week. Central Oregon’s Housing Authority begins work on two properties in Bend on Monday, and one in Redmond Tuesday.

Executive director David Brandt tells KBND News the three locations will be within walking distance of grocery stores and other basic services, “Oftentimes they'll have more residents per unit that don't have cars. So, it's just easier for folks not to have to rely on a car. And being this close to all those amenities is helpful if you don't always have an access to cars.”

Redmond’s Spencer Court on Timber Avenue will get a major renovation.

“It’s a 60-unit project that will replace 16 units of old formerly public housing. And it's designed for families,” Brandt says adding, “We have a big community room. It will have a laundry room. All the three-bedroom units will have in unit laundry, we'll have a dog walk. There will be a little playground. So, it's much more efficiently designed for the new residents.”

Monday’s groundbreaking events are at the 99-unit mixed income Simpson Community on Simpson Avenue, and the 33-unit permanent support housing community on 4th street. 

The properties are supported by funds from Deschutes County, Oregon Housing and Community Services, and the Cities of Bend and Redmond.


Owners Of Missing Pets Targeted In Local Scam

BEND, OR -- A new scam has emerged targeting pet owners whose animals are missing. "People who have lost their pets are so vulnerable," says Lynne Ouchida, with the Humane Society of Central Oregon. At least five people received calls this week from someone claiming to be from HSCO's Bend shelter, asking for payment over the phone to cover emergency surgery for their pet that was just brought in seriously injured. Ouchida says, "They appear to be victims who have lost their pet a while ago. So of course, there’s always that lingering hope that their pet might be found."

The calls were clustered within a two-hour timeframe Wednesday evening, "They’re timing it so that maybe we do close and they can make these calls and people can’t call to verify whether or not the animal is here." In one case, the husband immediately called the shelter, "The wife was talking to the scammer on speaker phone, so our staff member actually heard that it sounded like a young male, could hear that they were using broad, general medical terms that 'the dog is suffering from nerve damage, broken bones, hips'," Ouchida tells KBND News, "So that’s what the alarming and sad thing about this was, it could be believable."

Shelter staff also noticed red flags when the victims called to verify their pet was at the HSCO facility, "When people said they want to speak to our male manager; well, we don’t have any male managers here, right now. So it was pretty easy to say 'no, it wasn’t from us.' Also, at that point in time, our veterinarian had gone home, so we could also tell them that." Ouchida says the shelter will never ask for payment over the phone, especially by gift card or mobile app. 

Ouchida believes lost and found pet pages on social media make it easier for scammers to target victims, because people post their phone number, location, pet’s description and often a photo - all data a scammer can use to contact a pet owner and sound legitimate. "People are relying on social media to post lost and found animals, and they’re forgetting that important step of reporting it to their local shelter," says Ouchida, "People - if they find an animal, they’re going to call us. If you lose an animal, you should call us." She says shelters work confidentially to reunite lost pets with their owners. And, if your animal is microchipped or has ID tags, it makes that process even easier. 

file photo

Bend Parks Bathrooms Damaged By Vandals, Drug Use

BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Recreation has seen a big increase in damage to public restrooms, including from drug use, "Finding drug paraphernalia, needles," according to Park Stewardship Manager Jeff Hagler. He says general vandalism has also gotten worse, "Either writing inappropriate stuff on the walls, to breaking the sink or the toilets, or just leaving it a mess. You know, those type of things."

He's has been with the district 10 years. "It’s slowly increased over that time," says Hagler, "We’ve always had some vandalism, some graffiti. But over, particularly this last year, it just seems like it’s really increased in both the amount of vandalism, and certainly the amount of drug use, and having to close restrooms because of that." According to district staff, there have been 35 incidents of "inappropriate restroom use" so far this year, which is an 84% increase over last year. 

Hagler says reports come in from park custodians and stewards, but also from the public who discover sometimes dangerous drug paraphernalia. In addition to the public health and safety concern, the damage is expensive to fix. "It’s several thousand dollars this year, for sure," Hagler tells KBND News, "Two weeks ago, Alpenglow Park was vandalized. Damage was estimated at about $1,050 in materials and labor. Through this last summer, we had to close a number of restrooms to repair from vandalism." And, he says, those closures are happening more regularly, "We are starting to put up signs in front of the door saying ‘closed for 24 hours due to vandalism and drug use.’" Repairs range from pressure washing graffiti or drug residue to repairing damaged infrastructure.

Parents are urged to supervise children in public restrooms, to reduce the chance of touching an unknown substance or hazardous object. BPRD partners with Bend Police and Park Stewards check restrooms regularly. 

Fourteen of Bend Park and Recreation’s 85 parks have permanent, full time restrooms. Hagler says the biggest problems have been at Pioneer, Juniper and McKay parks. 


Nearly Naked Hit And Run Suspect Arrested In Downtown Bend

BEND, OR -- A 31-year-old Bend man faces numerous charges after a hit and run on NE Greenwood. According to Bend Police, several people reported a driver involved in a three-vehicle crash threatened another driver with a knife, then ran from the scene, Wednesday afternoon. At least one person was taken to the hospital after the collision.

Investigators say a Toyota pickup was driving the wrong way on Greenwood, just before 3:30 p.m., when it struck two other trucks. After threatening another driver, the Toyota driver, later identified as Timothy Murphy, allegedly ran west on NE Kearney. 

Soon after, firefighters were flagged down by a "nearly naked man," who reported he'd been assaulted. But he ran south on Wall before police arrived. More calls came in from witnesses describing a man running through downtown dressed only in his underwear. 

Officers tried to detain the man, but he ran from police and Sheriff's deputies trying to assist. Murphy was ultimately tackled near Bend City Hall and taken into custody. He's charged with Hit and Run, Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangering x6, Criminal Mischief II, Menacing I. 

Bend Holds Third Transportation Fee Discussion

BEND, OR -- The city of Bend held its third and final roundtable on a proposed transportation fee Wednesday. Participants voiced concerns about equity, revenue accountability, and long-term funding strategies.

Mayor Melanie Kebler told the group some equity consideration has figured in to prior road improvement projects, “But there are other ways that we can use data to talk about where has been underserved in our community and where we need to invest more to meet those equity goals.”

The Central Oregon Council on Aging’s Cassie Regimbal wondered how the fee would impact older residents, “How are we going to justify an additional fee to them when it does not benefit them in any way? Because they're not able to leave and we have not actually improved their access to other modes of transportation.”

The Bend Chamber’s Sara Odendahl offered ideas to ensure transparency, “The idea of a scorecard is always really interesting, right. So there's some agreement upon the values and the projects that are going to be put forth and funded by this fee coming back and revisiting it in a really public manner.”

Mark Buckley, from the city’s Environment and Climate Committee, is in favor of an online dashboard to provide transparency for how and where money is spent, “The key elements of this accountability is affordability and being sure that we're demonstrating to the community that this is being done as cost consciously as possible.”

Gina Franzosa, with the Transportation Bond Oversight Committee, says it's important to have metrics on outcomes rather than accomplishments, “It's really easy to say, ‘Oh, we built, 10 miles of bike lanes.’ But if the cars are moving 40 miles an hour next to the bike lane, then you know how many people are actually using that bike lane? A really small percentage of the population.”

The city plans to hold more meetings with neighborhood groups and other organizations, as well as council listening sessions before deciding whether to implement a transportation fee for Bend residential and business utility bills. The process is expected to stretch into next year.


Power Slowly Returns Following Bend Outage

BEND, OR -- A widespread outage knocked out power for an area of Bend stretching from downtown to Tumalo, Thursday morning. The outage impacted more than 18,000 Pacific Power customers, starting at 8:40 a.m.

By 9:50 a.m., the utility reported power for around 13,000 customers was back on, and restoration for the rest is estimated by noon. Initial reports set the estimated restoration time at 2 p.m. and the Deschutes County Circuit Court announced it would remain closed until that time. 


Bend-La Pine Schools says the outage affected a number of schools, including Amity Creek Magnet, Highland Elementary, Juniper Elementary, Ponderosa Elementary and Pilot Butte Middle School. District officials say safety system are functioning and the schools remain open. By 10:40 a.m., the district said power at all but Amity Creek and Highland had been restored. The downtown Bend Library closed for the day.

According to Pacific Power, the outage is "due to loss of transmission."

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Deschutes Co. Homicides Trend Down After Record Year, DUIs Increase

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County prosecutors and law enforcement are very busy. "We’ve really returned to pre-COVID levels of crime here," says District Attorney Steve Gunnels, "Which is bad news."

He tells KBND News the county averaged fewer than two homicides a year prior to 2020, "We had one in 2019. And then in 2020, the first year of COVID restrictions, we had four. And then four in 2021. And both of those numbers we thought were big numbers for us." But then, he says, 2022 set a record, "We had an off the charts number of murders. We had eight people murdered here in Deschutes County, which is an astounding number." But the number of murders is trending back down. So far this year, Gunnels says there have been three homicides in Deschutes County. 

Driving Under the Influence cases saw a big dip during the pandemic but are rising again, "In 2020, the number of DUIs fell from about 1100 the year before, to 700. And we believe that’s because of bar closures," says Gunnels. Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz says his agency alone will hit nearly 700 DUI arrests this year. "2021 into 2022 is when we added two specific DUI officers. And there were 692 DUI arrests in 2022, which was, per capita, the highest of any city." Krantz tells KBND News, "We’re continuing on that trend in 2023. We’re really close to the year-to-date same. So, we expect in the high 600s or mid- to high-600s in 2023, as well."

Krantz doesn’t think more people are driving impaired. But with more focused enforcement, more are getting caught. "This is not good news. This is really, more DUIs, more 6,000-pound missiles driving down the street that are folks who are impaired and dangerous for the rest of our community."


Volunteers Needed For Earlier Than Expected Fish Rescue

BEND, OR -- Organizers of the annual fall fish rescue are scrambling to find volunteers after the event was moved up several days due to changing river conditions.

The Deschutes River Conservancy is looking for help over three days, starting this Saturday, to rescue fish stranded in drying pools. The effort is paid for by the Deschutes Basin Board of Control, which includes the eight irrigation districts in Central Oregon.

Volunteers take part in one of three tasks depending on their skills and experience handling fish:

  • wade into the pools to help capture fish,
  • hike the buckets of fish from the pools to the river,
  • or help identify and count the fish as they are returned to the main channel of the Deschutes.

The rescue starts Saturday morning at 9 a.m. at Meadow Camp, off Century Drive. Sunday morning, the rescue base will shift to the Lava Island Boat Ramp area for the remainder of the operation.

Those interested in volunteering are required to register through the DRC’s website.

The rescue was expected to begin October 16th, but flows are dropping faster than anticipated, due to reduced river recharge and drier conditions resulting from drought. With the wind-down of the growing season in Central Oregon, says DRC, local irrigation districts are reducing flows in the Upper Deschutes River below Wickiup Dam in order to fill the depleted reservoir for the following irrigation season. 

One Arrested In Commercial Pot Bust

BEND, OR -- One person was arrested Wednesday following a bust by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team. Investigators executed a search warrant at a 10-acre property on Berg Lane in Bend and say they found four greenhouses with nearly 200 pot plants, 95 pounds of processed marijuana, packaging and a Butane Honey Oil lab.

Bend Code Enforcement also responded and deemed the house unsafe, temporarily condemning the building.

They took 39-year-old Thomas Myers into custody on several drug-related charges that carry a Commercial Marijuana Enhancement Factor. 

Mirror Pond Level Lowers For Infrastructure Work

BEND, OR -- Mirror Pond’s water level will be drawn down by about two feet starting Monday, October 16th, to allow for the installation of a storm water outfall structure along the riverbank.

Engineer Brittany Barker tells KBND News it’s part of a larger project happening downtown, “This last segment of work is really to just replace the stormwater system within the Pageant Park area to connect to the new infrastructure that was built for the Newport Corridor improvements project. So, this is really just the final step of conveying that water all the way to the river.”

She says the water level will be similar to when Parks and Rec was doing trail construction last Fall and Winter. “We're putting in a more natural-looking rock outfall system which will slow down the water before it goes into the river. And it should at least minimize erosion along the riverbank,” she adds it will look nicer, too, “Right now, there's a corrugated metal pipe that's sticking out into the river with a grate on it that doesn't look overly aesthetically pleasing. It is an eyesore. So, we're hoping it to look much more natural when we are completed with this work and much more efficient for our uses also.”

It should help problem areas during big storms. “There's also an additional catch basin that we're putting in right at the end of where Nashville and Drake Road connect to eliminate flooding issues in that one location.”

Water levels at Mirror Pond will return to normal in about four weeks. The project is expected to be complete in December, with the possibility of some vegetation planting in the Spring. 


Central Oregon Villages Celebrates Second Location

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Villages is nearly done building its Desert Streams Village - a transitional housing project at 27th and Bear Creek, in Bend. Executive Director Nicky Merritt says six individual bedroom shelters are still under construction, "They’re considered temporary outdoor shelters. And we have a kitchen trailer, a shower trailer, a mobile office and we’ll have a yurt for a community room."

Once complete, there will be 20 units. Merritt expects the facility to be at capacity next month. "We’re currently sheltering 10 people here. And they have full access to a small kitchen, showers, bathrooms, weekly case management with our case manager," she tells KBND News, "They get one meal a day and then they’re on their own with their other daily living needs."

Eight of the residents are women, most are over 55 and all have medical needs, "Some have come out of the woods off of China Hat or Dirt World. Some have come from Bethlehem Inn, some have come from Second Street." She adds,  "Some older women have SSI and that’s $800 a month. They can’t rent an apartment on $800 a month. And they have medical needs that really they can’t be in the woods or even at Second Street Shelter." Those health concerns run the gamut, "Probably four people use walkers, some have oxygen needs, diabetics, congestive heart failure, COPD, emphysema." 

Residents of Desert Streams Village must be clean and sober, both on and off premises, and must follow rules and procedures. This is the nonprofit's second and largest location.

With the facility nearly complete, Merritt says, "We thought it was time to welcome the community in and show them what we’ve been doing the last year." A grand opening will be held at the site Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the public to tour the facility. Desert Streams Village is located behind Desert Streams Church. Access and parking are at the back of the facility, off Benson Way and Livingston Drive.


Camp Clean Up Continues At Juniper Ridge

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners and Bend City Councilors got an update on efforts to clean up Juniper Ridge, during a joint meeting Tuesday. Work began months ago to address code violations in an area prone to unsanctioned camping.

Deputy County Administrator Erik Kropp told the groups a contractor is working on both city and county-owned property, "There are approximately 30 abandoned camps, and we’ve cleaned up most of those. We’ve also cleaned up or had BioSolutions clean up the burned out camps, which is about two. So, we’re still working on some abandoned camps and burned camps. There remain approximately 17 occupied camps. And those camps are really going to be difficult to come into code compliance with the people living there." He says they'll next work to remove the unknown number of abandoned vehicles. "BioSolutions has cleaned up 225,000 pounds of waste. That includes both having the big dumpsters out there, they also hand out the yellow garbage bags so the people living there can dispose of the waste. And that’s about 133 cubic yards of waste."

An estimated 200 people are still camping in the area, utilizing drinking water stations and portable toilets provided by the county. Commissioner Phil Chang is concerned about the lack of an exit strategy, "The longer we provide these minimal stabilization services for people at Juniper Ridge, the more gray it becomes for the public - ‘so, is this a managed camp?’ No, this is not a managed camp. It does not have the case management and the wrap-around services."

Kropp agreed, "This doesn’t get people out of homelessness. What I see that could be beneficial with this model is: you start out with the basic supports, so the problem’s not getting worse. Or, at least, in terms of providing people with basic services and impact on public lands. So you put in this basic support with a notice of a date when they need to relocate, and have a place for them to go."

A legally viable location for a managed camp has yet to be determined. 

Photo: Bend City Councilors and Deschutes County Commissioners meet at Bend City Hall 10/10/2023

Crook Co. School Board Criticized For Survey Silence

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County School Board is facing criticism after the results of a staff survey were leaked on social media. Several parents spoke at Monday night’s board meeting, frustrated there was not a plan to release the data. "My husband and I were disappointed that this wasn’t on the agenda tonight," said one mother. Another said, "Chair Brumble. As the person who sets the agenda, I feel like your immediate concerns should’ve been our staff and addressing survey results." 

Another parent urged the board to openly discuss the survey responses, the majority of which are reportedly negative, "This feedback is a gift. Even when it’s hard to hear. And keep in mind, it’s the gift-giver’s reality. I’d like to know if there’s a plan underway to publicly share what you’ve heard from the feedback and what your actions will be."

Board Chair Jessica Brumble says there was talk at a summer workshop of issuing a survey, but the proposal was never finalized. She says she didn’t know about it until after the survey was done, "We received a packet of surveys that were given. Us, as the board, did not ask necessarily for these questions to be asked. We didn’t know the survey was given. We were given the results."

Brumble acknowledged the majority of the responses were negative, but said they were only a fraction of the surveys issued, "It was given to roughly 400 people within our district. We probably got back about 25% in surveys answered." She went on to say, "I looked at them and said, 'well, we got roughly 20+%. Yes, a lot of them were upset. We did get some positives back.' But that leads me to believe that overall, the district is happy. That’s 75% that didn’t feel a need to submit a survey to say they were ‘whatever.’"

A few parents who testified during the public comment period of Monday's meeting spoke in support of the administration and speculated the unapproved survey was sent by the previous board or a disgruntled employee. But, Board member Scott Cooper said it came from former Assistant Superintendent Joel Hoff, "I don’t believe Joel Hoff was intentionally doing anything negative to the board. I believe he thought he was implementing the board’s wishes in trying to put the survey out. He probably should’ve talked to us before he did it. But I don’t think it was a negative intent." Hoff resigned in August after the board hired interim Superintendent Duane Yecha.  

Each board member admitted they’ve read the more than 60 survey responses, but did not talk about a time to publicly discuss the feedback.


Wyden Hears From Local Food & Bev Producers

BEND, OR -- U.S. Senator Ron Wyden met with a dozen Central Oregon food and beverage producers, along with a local state representative, members of the Oregon Business Council, and EDCO.

“Deschutes and Jefferson and Crook are hereby being designated by me as your senior senator as ‘Ag bounty counties.”

Wyden tells KBND News workforce housing continues to be a major concern for agricultural producers, “We’ve got to increase supply. You know, Democrats don't talk about supply side much, but we just have to increase supply. And I'm looking at using tax credits in that area.”

While more housing is expected in the next two to three years, he admits solutions to address the problem now are hard to come by, “People have suggested to me some vouchers, for example, for those workers, but it still doesn't deal with the shortage of actual housing being available.”

He hopes to address industry concerns at the Oregon Business Council summit in December, “Citizens want government to find smarter ways to drive down costs and make their small businesses, for example, more competitive. And that's what I heard today.”

Andrew Desmond from the Oregon Business Council says they’re hearing similar issues across the state, “The goals are to basically bring the issues that our food and beverage manufacturers and farmers have. And raise that in the consciousness of leadership in Oregon.”

Wyden says as chair of the Senate Finance Committee he’ll also work in Congress to find ways to promote Oregon products, “Oregonians, we do a lot of things well. One of the things we do best is grow things, we’ve got to grow them, we’ve got to add value to them. We’ve got to ship them all over the world.”


Giving Plate Heads Into Busy Season

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon non-profit "The Giving Plate" is making strides in raising funds for its new food distribution center and community grocery store, set to open next year. A recent red-carpet gala brought in over $137 thousand.

But Executive Director Ranae Staley says their hunger-relief programs are busier than ever, “A couple of weeks after the event, we hit an all-time record day for our grocery program helping 157 families, which is close to around 3,000 individuals.”

She tells KBND News the need has grown since a federal emergency food program ended in February, “We have seen a big, big increase and we really started to see that shift after this change in SNAP benefits. We've been consistently serving well over 1,000 families every single month and we only had one month last year.”

Staley is grateful for the public’s support, “So the need right now is so great and we need the help from the community to keep up with it. We are heading into the holidays, the need for food really ramps up this time of year. So, we're not even into our busiest time of year and yet we're setting records.”

Construction continues on a new food distribution center set to open in January and community grocery store opening in April. “We can't wait to open up our new model of bringing guests into a community store where they can have a shopping experience and really remove fully that shame and stigma that surrounds accessing food,” Staley said.


Smith Rock State Part Footbridge Reopens

TERREBONNE, OR -- Visitors to Smith Rock State Park can, once again, access both sides of the Crooked River. A new, wider footbridge is now open after nearly two months of work. The project was delayed when one of the massive support beams was damaged during transport into the steep canyon. 

The new bridge is eight-feet wide and officials say it will better accommodate life-saving equipment during frequent rescue operations at the park. It replaces a nearly 50-year-old bridge that had seen significant wear.

“Smith Rock State Park is thrilled to have a beautiful footbridge that will increase safety and serve the public well into the future. The new bridge will accommodate the increased visitation by allowing for two-way traffic across the river, and it will continue to provide critical access to the park’s main climbing and hiking areas for many years to come,” Park Manager Matt Davey said in a statement. “Thanks for everyone’s patience during this complex project. The contractor did an excellent job under very challenging conditions.”

Davey added, “Restoration work will continue near the footbridge over the next couple of weeks, so expect to see contractors continuing work in the area. Please be considerate when passing through.” 

Photos courtesy Oregon State Parks and Recreation Dept.

Son In Law Arrested A Year After A Bend Man Was Found In A Roundabout

BEND, OR -- It’s been almost a year since a 76-year-old man was found critically wounded in the roundabout at 14th and Newport. Walter Lane later died at the hospital from blunt force trauma to the head. Bend Police have now arrested the victim’s son in law in the case that started as a suspected hit and run. "We had crash reconstructionists and detectives conduct a thorough investigation, and they were unable to find any physical evidence that this was a hit and run," Bend PD's Sheila Miller tells KBND News. 

Police now believe Lane he was left in the road by his son-in-law, Todd Brown, on October 27, 2022. "Mr. Lane lived with Mr. and Mrs. Brown," says Miller, "On the night in question, Mr. Brown and Mr. Lane went out drinking together at a couple places: Westside Tavern and Stars Cabaret." She adds, "Our investigation has shown that Mr. Brown was intoxicated when he left Stars with Mr. Lane in his Cadillac Escalade." That vehicle matches the desription of the vehicle witnesses saw speeding from the roundabout just before Lane was found.

Miller says the investigation took so long because, "Mr. Brown and his wife did not cooperate with our investigation. They weren’t forthcoming with information, like for example that they owned a vehicle that matched the description of the vehicle that we were searching for." She also says, "They were not providing us with information about Mr. Lane’s whereabouts in the hours leading up to his injuries. In fact, Mr. Brown left town and went to California shortly after Mr. Lane’s death."
But Brown is only - so far - charged with Misdemeanors: Two counts of DUII, Reckless Driving and Reckless Endangering. He's not accused of causing Lane's death. "He was in the vehicle with Mr. Brown shortly before he sustained those injuries. And we know that Mr. Brown left Mr. Lane behind in the roundabout and he left the scene. And then Mr. Lane ultimately died of his injuries." According to Bend PD, Brown does not have a valid Oregon license and is revoked in California. 

"We still do not know how Mr. Lane ended up outside of the vehicle. That might be a question for Mr. Brown. He declined to answer that question, when questioned by our detectives," says Miller. 


Suspected Bend Thief Faces Additional Charges

BEND, OR -- A Bend man, arrested last month after nearly five-dozen bottles of stolen liquor were found in his car and home, now faces additional theft charges.

Police say while investigating the liquor store theft, they also noticed a large number of unopened boxes from Harbor Freight at Benjamin Brambila’s house. They recovered 125 stolen tools and other items, valued at $3,739.23.

The merchandise was returned to the store and Brambila is banned from Harbor Freight Tools for life, in addition to the criminal charges.

In September, Brambila was allegedly caught on liquor store surveillance concealing three bottles of tequila in his pants while buying a $10 bottle of vodka. Investigators say he told them he gives away the bottles to friends or as payment for services. 

Bend Plans For Airport Traffic Control Tower

BEND, OR -- The Bend Airport is getting an air traffic control tower. "We have one of the top five busiest airports in the state, and we actually have twice as many take-off and landings than the Redmond Airport," says Mayor Melanie Kebler, "And of the top five busiest airports in the state, we’re the only one without an air traffic control tower."

She tells KBND News, "This has been a top priority when we poll the people that use our airport, that they want to see a tower." She says it's a matter of safety, "If you’re coming into our airport, you are just on the radio with everybody else, saying, ‘here I come.’ And trying to work with folks on the radio, instead of having an air traffic control tower that’s really telling everyone, ‘here’s where you go and here’s what you do.’"

The tower project comes with a $15 million price tag. "We have gotten some great grants from the federal government and the FAA to start working on this. And we are moving through the process, where we’re now able to do a contract to actually start designing the tower." Bend City Councilors this week approved a $1.3 million contract with an architectural firm for that design. "We’re still waiting on potential grants to fund the construction. And we’re also thankful to our federal representatives who have indicated that they would be happy to direct some spending to us for the tower, in particular. Of course, that requires passing a federal budget, which we’re not in control of but we remain hopeful that we’ll get some money that way, as well, and help get this fully funded."

The goal, she says, is to have an air traffic control tower operational at the Bend Municipal Airport in 2025. 


St Charles Won't Accept All Medicare Advantage

BEND, OR -- St Charles Health System will not be an in-network provider for Medicare Advantage plans offered by HealthNet, Humana, and WellCare in 2024.

The hospital has been re-evaluating its agreements with insurance providers since August. Chief financial officer Matt Swafford, recently told KBND News the goal is to reduce patient restrictions and administrative burdens, “That will promote access to care and also promote the ability to get patients into the right settings of care at the right time. And that is evidence based and clinically appropriate.”

Last week, the hospital came to agreement with Pacific Source to accept its Medicare Advantage and other plans. Swafford spoke on the challenges in negotiating the plans, which are publicly funded, but privately managed, “When you're actually embarking on something that is new and quite different from the typical conversations that you might assume go on between insurance companies and hospital systems, those are difficult, but they're difficult getting oriented around what really truly will impact patients positively.”

After the hospital worked out a deal with Pacific Source, Swafford said it will streamline processes for seniors who rely on Medicare Advantage for medical care, outpatient services, and prescriptions, “2024 will be an important test year for initially with the cancer center and looking at other areas where we can collaborate to reduce administrative burden.” Swafford had hoped the Pacific Source deal would serve as a model for other insurance companies.

St Charles chief clinical officer Dr. Mark Hallett cites restrictions on care and other hoops patients have to jump through as the reason hospitals can’t continue with the insurance status quo. “All those different steps slow down your care, and actually potentially risk financial denial of coverage on the backside,” Hallett said.

In 2024, in addition to Pacific Source, St. Charles will also accept plans from Providence, Moda, and Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield. The Medicare open enrollment begins October 15th.


Historical Haunt Walking Tours Return To Downtown Bend

BEND, OR -- One of the Deschutes Historical Museum’s most popular fundraisers is back for another spooky season. The Historical Haunt walking tour program is now in its 14th year. Museum Manager Vanessa Ivey says this isn’t a haunted house, "It is 90% history, it’s 10% paranormal and it’s 100% fun." 

Over the course of a one-hour stroll through downtown, tour guides stop outside businesses and talk about the history of the buildings, "And then, also sharing some of the few paranormal stories that we’ve heard," Ivey tells KBND News, "These are stories that multiple people shared with us, so it’s not like a one-time occurrence kind of thing." She adds, "We hit about six or seven locations, and it is a lot of fun. About every three or four years, we kind of shake it up a bit. We have found that the tours that we’ve been doing this year and the last couple years are some of the museum’s favorite stops. They have some wonderful stories and we’re just excited. Each year it gets better and better."

Ivey says it’s one of the museum’s biggest fundraisers, "The majority of everybody who go on this event have an extraordinary experience because they’re learning something new about their community, they’re having fun. And that’s that whole point: history is fun. History is not boring."  

Each walking tour starts at the historic Reid School building, now home to the Deschutes Historical Museum. Tickets include museum admission. The tour ends downtown, covering approximately one mile of flat sidewalks and through alleyways. Tours leave every 20 minutes. As the featured locations are operating businesses tours do not enter any buildings.

Tickets are available online and Ivey says tours frequently sell out. "It is still as popular as ever. And I am amazed at how many people participate." They are offered over just two days, beginning Friday the 13th. 




Rep. Levy To Propose E-Bike Legislation

BEND, OR -- A Central Oregon lawmaker wants to tighten rules around electric bikes. State Representative Emerson Levy told the Bend City Council Wednesday she's proposing legislation, "That kids 16 and above can be on pedal-assist only; Kids 16 and under cannot be on a throttle bike. And the current law, for the record, is that any child under the age of 16 cannot be on any form of electronic bicycle. We know that’s not being followed, but I think it’s important to state."

She also wants more education for riders and bigger penalties for violators. Currently, the largest bike-related fine is $25 - for not wearing a helmet. "We don’t have the police force to be able to commit the time for enforcement. And pulling over a kid can be really unsafe, and maybe that’s not what we want to do," she told Councilors, "But I believe the statutory mechanism should be there, and right now it doesn’t exist at all."

Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz agrees resources are limited, "The challenge also comes in the fact that we’ve had a couple times where young riders - early 20s, late teens - have turned a simple violation stop into a felony elude." He added, "We prefer not to chase those folks. We really are going to put them in danger, put our officers in danger." Krantz acknowledged e-bike usage has skyrocketed in Bend since May. 

Rep. Levy says her proposal comes from roundtable discussions hosted by the city, following the death of a Bend teen in an e-bike crash in June"Our goal has been threefold, which is to clear up our laws and really to put that clarity into the laws that haven’t been updated since 1997, educate our students about bike and e-bike safety, and then work towards long-term solutions." 

Through those roundtables, Levy says she learned some bikes can be easily modified to go much faster than advertised; in one case, as fast as 74 miles an hour. "How you get around the regulation is you ship it and match Oregon law, but then you switch it to ‘off-road.’ And then that’s how you go to 74 miles per hour." Under Oregon law, an e-bike's electric motor is supposed to top out at 20 miles per hour. But Levy says modifications are easily found online to make the engine go faster, at no cost.


Opening Of Rifle Season Brings Warnings

BEND, OR -- Rifle deer hunting season opens Saturday. But with warm weather returning this weekend for much of the state, KBND outdoors expert Gary Lewis worries there could be conflicts between hunters and other recreators. "If you’re not a deer hunter, don’t go up where deer hunters go. I mean, I’m talking about Broken Top and Tam McCarthur Rim, and the Forest - this is just a good time to go golfing. You know, go to the pumpkin patch." Lewis acknowledges there are a lot of forest trails hikers and bikers like to explore, "And there’s a lot of year to do it in. And the hunters, they have about 12 days, and so let them have their space and their time."

He says the weather may actually help reduce conflicts because dry and sunny conditions are typically not good for deer hunting. Lewis predicts it’ll improve with cooler temps on Tuesday. 

Kassidy Kern, with the Ochoco National Forest, asks hunters to take the necessary precautions to prevent starting a wildfire. "If you’re headed out this weekend for the beginning of rifle season, I hope you enjoy it, I hope you fill your tag. And, I hope you bring enough water to put out any campfires that you start." 

Recent rain has reduced the overall fire danger. But Kern notes, "I also think that we shouldn’t get completely complacent. We had so many abandoned campfires this year. In fact, that was the majority of the fires that our firefighters responded to on the Ochoco National Forest this year." She tells KBND News, "We know better, and we know enough to take our bucket of water or be near a water source and start bailing water into your campfire, so that it’s cold to the touch when you leave."

Oregon's Department of Fish and Wildlife also reminds hunters to correctly tag fish and game this season. Nearly half of hunters and anglers in Oregon are using e-tagging instead of a paper tag. But that means your phone must be charged and with you, to present to authorities if asked. ODFW provides more tips and reminders HERE


Crook Court Discusses Appointment Of New Commissioner

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County Court has 90 days to appoint a replacement for Commissioner Jerry Brummer, who resigned last week, citing health issues. That resignation will be certified by the county Thursday.  County Counsel Eric Blaine told Judge Seth Crawford and Commissioner Brian Barney at Wednesday’s court meeting a vacancy notice will be issued. “The public has 30 days from the date of the public notice to submit to the county courts nominations for someone to fill that vacancy,” Blaine explained, adding, “Thereafter, the county court will schedule a public meeting at which it would decide who would fill the vacancy.”

Crawford and Barney expressed interest in interviewing as many candidates as possible, but will determine the exact selection process at a later meeting, “I would like to see some kind of an application form and I would like to see resumes as well,” Crawford said. Barney agreed, “Yes, I would. And I'd like to also know if they are interested in seeking election further in or just to serve as a temporary position.” Barney added, “I would like to see us have a set of questions that we send out and have people answer questions that come from the court. Just to kind of see what they know about Crook County, what their feelings are, what their desires are.”

During the citizen input portion of the meeting, a few people spoke in favor of a proposed change in governance, moving away from the county court to a commission. Others spoke of having it go to a voting ballot. Judge Crawford has tabled that discussion for now. Both Crawford and Barney, along with those who have public comment said they appreciated Brummer for his service to the county.


Construction Underway On Oasis Village In Redmond

REDMOND, OR -- Dignitaries and volunteers were on hand in Redmond Tuesday for the groundbreaking of Oasis Village. The low-barrier homeless shelter, in the works since 2020, is set to open by January.

“The last several years it's been organized and with the help of many of you here, (a) number of different agencies, the City of Redmond, Hayden Holmes, et cetera this day has finally come,” Oasis Village chairman Bob Bohac credited various organizations for helping fund and build the facility, including Heart of Oregon Corp and Redmond High School students.

Oasis Village Executive Director Eleanor Bessonette thanked the crowd of nearly 100 people, “We're gathered to celebrate a significant milestone in our community's journey to provide transitional housing for our unhoused neighbors. We aim to fill a critical gap of services in Central Oregon by providing immediate low barrier access to shelters.” She added she’s grateful for the partnerships, “All this would not be possible without public private partnerships between government, private builders and community organizations. Oasis Village is a testament to what we can do when we all work together.”

Hayden Homes’ non-profit arm is one of the groups that stepped in. Vice President Deb Flagan says while a lot has happened, there is more work to be done, “Construction makes it feel like it's real… it's a really short time frame. So, we're going to be done by January 10th. We have a lot to do in the next few months.”

Oasis Village sits on three acres northeast of the airport. It will house up to 20 adults in 15 100-square-foot ‘bedroom shelters’, along with communal laundry, kitchen, pet area, garden and RV storage area. 

Project leaders plan to expand to 30-bedroom shelters within two years.

In a statement, Oasis Village recognized individual partners that have been involved.

  • City of Redmond supported and assisted with state grant applications resulting in the awarding of $975,000 for the construction of Oasis Village.
  • Deschutes County Commissioners made approximately 12 acres of land available in east Redmond for Oasis Village and other projects assisting the unhoused. The county also awarded $367,500 in Federal ARPA funds to Oasis Village.
  • Hayden Homes and Simplicity by Hayden Homes are working together to play a pivotal role through advocacy for Oasis Village and project management expertise gained from building successful transitional housing projects including Veterans Village and St. Vincent’s Place in Bend.
  • H.A. McCoy Engineering and Survey provided invaluable support on site plan development and surveying.
  • Heart of Oregon Corps recruited, trained and hired local youth to construct some of the bedroom shelters.
  • Redmond High School CTE students built multiple sleeping units for the village.
  • Rotary Club of Redmond provided the initial $10,000 for Oasis Village to construct the first bedroom shelter and has been a vocal supporter of the housing project.

Oasis Village is still trying to raise an additional $50,000.

Redmond City officials

La Pine Library To Reopen Following Renovation

LA PINE, OR -- The La Pine library reopens next week, after a $4.5 million renovation. Chantal Strobel, with the Deschutes Public Library, says the project didn't add square footage, but the public has more space, "We’ve really opened up the library. We’ve taken down some walls, we’ve changed some of our doors - they’re now glass that open up, so we’ve combined the children’s area with the large meeting room. But we can also divide the area when needed, as well." There are more meeting rooms, a fireplace, an area for teens and more books. "And I think just overall, the library feels a lot more open. It’s been brought up to 21st century standards, with faster technology, better technology."

Strobel tells KBND News the La Pine branch, like others in the future, will also have an Early Learning Center for young children, "They can do interactive-type activities, either on their own or, when they’re really little, with a parent or a guardian. And it’s just - it could be life-changing. These things that we’ve placed in our Early Learning Discovery Centers help a child to begin to get ready to read."

A grand reopening celebration is planned for Saturday, October 14, from noon to 2 p.m. at the branch, located at 16425 1st Street. A ribbon cutting will take place at 12:15 p.m.

A temporary library opened in La Pine when construction began early in the year. But it was forced to close in June after a car crashed into the building, "So La Pine, of all of our libraries, had to endure the longest time of us being closed without service." Strobel says renovations at the Sisters branch were originally planned to be complete first. But after that crash, work shifted so La Pine could open sooner. The Sisters branch is now slated to reopen October 28. Once Sisters and La Pine are fully operational, Strobel says the Sunriver library will close for its renovation project. 

Voters approved a bond in November of 2020 to remodel the La Pine, Sisters, Sunriver and downtown Bend branches, as well as reconstruct the Redmond library and build the new Stevens Ranch Road branch on the east side of Bend. 


BLM To Impose Seasonal Closures For Raptor Nesting

TUMALO, OR -- Several popular local areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management will temporarily close to the public next year, to protect the habitat of nesting eagles and prairie falcons.

According to the BLM, people walking, riding, or even being within view near a nest can cause an adult bird to abandon it. If an adult bird abandons a nest, the eggs can get cold, the young may not get fed, and the nest will be open to predation. 

Hiking, biking, horseback riding and other uses are not allowed during the seasonal closure in these areas:

  • Tumalo Reservoir: Closed from January 1 to August 31 of every year to protect nesting bald eagles. Visitors can still hike or ride in the northeast corner of this area or enjoy the nearby Cline Buttes Recreation Area.
  • Trout Creek Trail (south side of the Trout Creek Trail only): Closed from January 15 to August 31 of every year to protect nesting golden eagles. Visitors must stay on the Trout Creek Trail or between Trout Creek Trail and the Lower Deschutes River. This closure includes the Trout Creek climbing walls. Visitors can enjoy climbing nearby at Rattlesnake, Skinners Butte, and the Gorge at Smith Rocks year-round.
  • Cline Buttes Recreation Area (portions of the Deep Canyon, Fryrear, Maston, and Jaguar Road only): Closed February 1 to August 31 of every year to protect nesting golden eagles and prairie falcons. Visitors can enjoy other trails throughout this recreation area, including in the Tumalo Canal Historic Area and the Buttes year-round. 
  • Horny Hollow Trail near Crooked River Ranch: Closed from February 1 to August 31 to protect nesting golden eagles. Visitors can enjoy other nearby trails, including Otter Bench, Scout Camp, Folley Waters, and Steelhead Falls year-round.

Violating closure orders could lead to up to a $1,000 fine and or jail time. Click HERE for the full BLM notice. 

Tech School Graduating Skilled Workers In Prineville

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville is reaping the benefits of a partnership with Baker Technical Institute. The latest graduating class of heavy equipment operators will meet a demand for the specialty skill as Crook County, and the region, continues to grow.

City manager Steve Forrester tells KBND News the trade school has been a great fit. “For the new industry that we have here in Central Oregon as a result of Meta being here and all the construction that goes along with that, not to mention the construction, just generally speaking, things going on in our community that require those trades are really very important,” Forrester adds he’d like to see the program expand, “Our long-range goal with Baker Technical Institute as a community is to get them a spot here with classroom availability. We've worked with a lot of our partners to get them an area where they can drive trucks and backhoes and stuff and it's just gone really, really well.”

Prineville's partnership with BTI started in 2021. “We really felt that we had the culture and qualified folks, young and old alike that came out of the, what I would call a kind of a blue-collar working environment,” says Forrester, “We just kind of have that aptitude in my opinion and it seems like there was a real void.”

Students recently completed work on 60 feet of sidewalk. Prineville officials worked with local contractors on the project. Forrester says those partnerships help B-T-I graduates get jobs with those construction companies.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the country will see more than 42,300 heavy equipment operator job openings in the coming year.


New Roundabout Art Installed In NE Bend

BEND, OR -- A new sculpture now graces the center of the Butler Market Road-Empire Avenue-27th Street roundabout in northeast Bend. It's the 23rd roundabout art installation in Bend. No tax dollars are used to purchase roundabout art. 

"Golden Squirrel's Wondrous World," by Michael Stutz, features a woven steel wheel. According to Bend's Art in Public Places, the wheel, "Connects the timber mills from Bend’s past, the rolling wheels of cars, and a hamster wheel— humorously representing the routine of daily life." Inside the wheel are blue and green silicon bronze strips, symbolizing the Deschutes River and Earth.

This fall, "Red Sides" will be removed from the Colorado-Simpson Avenue roundabout for repainting. It was installed in 2001 and should return by the end of November. Repainting work is covered by the city's conservation budget. 

Libraries Honor Banned Books

BEND, OR -- This is Banned Books Week; although, Emily O'Neal says it's a bit of a misnomer, "It comes across a little bit like we’re here to go ban all the books; so, please don’t do that."

O’Neal Chairs the Oregon Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee, and is the Technical Services Manager at the Deschutes Public Library. She says this week is a chance to raise awareness, "To celebrate and honor the materials that have gone through this process over the last year." And there are a lot. The State Library of Oregon reports a record 93 challenged titles over the past year. The previous record was 70, set three decades ago. O'Neal believes censorship efforts run in cycles based on current events and social trends, "The late 80s/early 90s, there was the ‘satanic panic,’ and it was all books about religion, and satanism or witchcraft. You go back to the 70s and it would be communism and the ‘red scare.’" In the past year, nearly all challenged materials were related to the LGBTQ+ or BIPOC communities. O’Neal says threats against librarians are also on the rise in Oregon. 

If you come across a book you think is inappropriate, O’Neal suggests two options. One: don’t read it, "You don’t have to absorb that material; nobody is making you do that. The second is: If you want to expand that world view and that belief system, it’s a great time to read that material and maybe get to know why it does exist." She says it’s important to consider the topics certain groups want censored, "And really dive into why they have value, why they exist and why they need to remain on library shelves and available for community members to read and enjoy."

As part of Banned Books Week, a “Let Freedom Read” rally is scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m. at Redmond’s American Legion Park. O'Neal tells KBND News, "It is a week to celebrate and honor anti-censorship and really recognize the importance of intellectual freedom and the First Amendment rights of individuals in your community."

Oregon is home to the new nonprofit Parents Defending Schools and Libraries to push back against censorship. 


Deschutes County Seeks New Budget Committee Member

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County is looking for a new member to serve on its budget committee. The vacancy is for a three-year term, through 2026. 

"The budget committee is three public members associated with our budget, and the three Commissioners," says County Board of Commissioners Chair Tony DeBone, "We have a meeting four days in May, kind of going through the whole $500 million budget; and then a mid-year meeting in December." 

DeBone hopes to fill the volunteer position quickly, "To be able to attend in December and then take that position and be involved in next year’s budget." He tells KBND News there are no prerequisites, "Just a resident of the area and engaged in what we do. A lot of services at Deschutes County: the Sheriff’s Office, the Assessor, the Treasurer, the Clerk, the Health Department, the Road Department. So you just get to see the big budget and that’s where the rubber hits the road when we talk about budget."

Applications are accepted on the county’s website through October 23rd. '


St Charles, Pacific Source Come To 'Groundbreaking' Agreement

BEND, OR -- St. Charles Health System has come to agreement with Pacific Source for patients enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan and Medicare Advantage through 2024.

Dr. Mark Hallett, St. Charles’ chief clinical officer, praised the insurance provider. “Pacific source has done a great job of partnering with us to create a new process that will allow our cancer specialists to be able to care for not only Medicare advantage but all Pacific Source patients,”

Dr. Hallett tells KBND News the deal streamlines service, “The agreement with Pacific Source reduces administrative burden and improves access and speed and reliability of cancer care for people of Central Oregon.”

Pacific Source is the first company to secure an agreement since St. Charles announced in August it would re-evaluate its contracts with Medicare Advantage plans.

Chief Financial Officer Matt Swafford tells KBND News the deal could guide negotiations with other insurance providers, “This is a groundbreaking opportunity for a health system and an insurance company to take the large numbers of administrative burden that are quoted out there and actually drive specific levels of change that impact patients’ lives directly.”

“The challenges are thorny that makes the discussions challenging. But Pacific Source has really partnered with us extremely well in that collaboration. And I want to give them credit for stepping up and meeting our concerns and our mutual concerns for the benefit of advancing care for patients in our community.” Swafford says the deal covers not only Medicare but all Pacific Source policies through the end of 2024, and will then be reviewed.  

The health system is still negotiating with other providers. Officials say the goal is to have deals in place before Medicare open enrollment starts on October 15th.

A statement released Friday from Pacific Source president and CEO Dr. John “Espi” Espinola, also praised the deal, “This agreement is a positive result for our region’s Medicare-eligible seniors, and also some of its most vulnerable community members,”

“Pacific Source will continue to advocate for our members to make certain that they can continue to access affordable, high-quality healthcare in Central Oregon. We are pleased to have secured this successful outcome with St. Charles and will continue to work with them to improve the Medicare Advantage experience for their patients.”


Tumalo Food Cart Destroyed By Fire

TUMALO, OR -- A Sunday afternoon fire destroyed a Tumalo food cart. Bend Fire & Rescue responded to the Bite food cart lot on Seventh Street at about 3:10 p.m., after several people called 911. Crews quickly knocked down the flames, but the Rogue Chef cart is a total loss.

Investigators believe the fire started in the ductwork of the kitchen hood, due to grease accumulation. It originated above the suppression system, rendering it ineffective. The loss is estimated at around $100,000. 


Photo courtesy of Bend Fire & Rescue


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