Local News Archives for 2024-01

School Exclusion Day Approaches

BEND, OR -- Exclusion Day is coming up in three weeks. Kids could be kept out of school February 21st if their immunization records aren’t updated. Deschutes County Immunization Coordinator Sarah Van Meter says it’s a state law, "All children that go to public, private schools, preschools, Head Start programs and certified childcare facilities need to have up-to-date documentation for certain vaccines that help prevent serious illnesses."

She tells KBND News, "Kids need to be up-to-date on their MMR - Measles, Mumps, Rubella - the DTAP - which is Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis - Hepatitis A and B, Polio, and the Haemophilus Influenza Type B and Varicella, which is chicken pox." Click HERE for more about what's required for each grade. Families can submit medical exemptions with certification from their doctor stating why the child is unable to get vaccinated. And there’s a process for those seeking non-medical exemptions. "Oregon is one of the states that allows for parents, guardians, or even the student themselves, if they’re 15 years or older, to apply for a non-medical exemption," says Van Meter, "And it could be because they have a personal, religious or philosophical reason." Oregon has a large number of kids forgoing shots for religious or philosophical reasons, "We’re second in the nation, next to Idaho, in the amount of non-medical exemptions that we’re seeing."

Van Meter says vaccines are important. "Just last week, on the 25th, the CDC issued a message to stay alert for Measles cases because between December first and just last week, the CDC was notified that there were 23 confirmed US cases of Measles. Most of these cases were amongst children and adolescents who have not yet received a Measles-containing vaccine." 

Your child’s school can tell you if you’re missing vaccines or the proper documents. If your child is behind on their shots, contact your healthcare provider, county public health office, or local school-based health clinic.

 

COCC Discusses Role In Gaza Conversations

BEND, OR -- A panel of academics and community leaders discussed the role for educators and higher-learning institutions amid the current fighting in Gaza, at the COCC Bend campus Tuesday.

COCC President Laurie Chesley tells KBND News schools can play an important part, “I'd like us to do more on how we talk to one another and how we try to solve problems together, and I think we can see that through many kinds of lenses with many kinds of conflicts or situations.”

She believes this type of Question-and-Answer session is important, “I have not heard widespread discussion about the topic, but it certainly has impacted individuals, faculty and staff, and students. And they're still in grief and shock and kind of trying to figure it out.”

COCC History Professor, Dr. Jessica Hammerman was among the panel, speaking about new challenges in the classroom. “I think what's happening here is that the thing that we rely on with teaching is language, and it's falling apart”, she said it’s a chance for teachers to recognize they don’t have all the answers right now.

President Chesley says she would like hold more forums like this, “We want to be a force and be a partner in trying to solve problems, and in trying to help people have difficult conversations on the campus. …We've got such a wealth of expertise and experience and intelligence in Central Oregon.”

Chesley and Hammerman were joined by Karim Bouris, principal at Mixte Communications, Marcus LeGrand, Afrocentric program coordinator at COCC, and Oregon state representative Emerson Levy.

The panel spoke of the importance of presenting and researching facts, rather than opinions, and using critical thinking. They also discussed misinformation challenges with social media.

(Photo: L-R Morgan Schmidt - moderator, Karim Bouris,  Laurie Chesley, Jessica Hammerman, Emerson Levy, - Marcus Legrand not present when photo was taken)

Crook County School Bond On May Ballot

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County School board this week unanimously approved sending a bond measure to the May ballot. Chief Financial Officer Anna Logan told them if the $11 million bond is approved this spring, it would unlock an additional $6 million grant, "That’s the most we’ve ever been awarded. The limit just recently went up to $6 million, so it’s probably the most that any of these districts have ever been awarded. But sometimes we don’t even get on the list."

That $17 million total would cover a short list of immediate needs. "Basically roofs, boilers and security. It’s a very simple, straightforward bond; very limited, fairly small," Logan told the board. Multiple roofs were damaged by the recent winter storm and Logan says $5 million is needed for a major project at Crook County Middle School, "The boiler system and potentially HVAC, but we’re not exactly sure because there’s a lot of work that’s going to need to go into figuring out the details before we actually do anything with this. But our estimate is $5 million."

Facilities Director Leland Bliss says the boiler system at CCMS is 75 years old and it would be cheaper to do that work during the roof replacement, "We want to try to take advantage of the section of the building where there’s just a crawlspace, when we tear that roof off. There would be some savings of us trying to get equipment into those spaces while we’ve got the roof off."

Logan also told the school board Crook County Schools has the lowest tax rate of any local district with a bond, "Meaning our taxpayers pay the least amount for school facilities, right now, in taxes." She says, "If we were to pass the bond that we’re proposing, that would be an additional 10 cents above and beyond our current 62 cents. So, that would put it at 72 cents, which is still one of the lowest tax rates; it’s less than a dollar. So, it would be one of the lowest tax rates around and the lowest in Central Oregon."

 

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Firefighters Respond To Fire At Brightwood Plant

CULVER, OR -- Jefferson County firefighters responded to a fire at the Culver Brightwood plant, Tuesday afternoon. Initial reports indicated the blower on a woodchip bin were on fire. 

Using a 105' aerial ladder, crews stretched hose lines to the top of the blower tube leading into the smoking bin. The fire was contained and caused minimal damage. 

The cause was later determined to be accumulated dust that caught fire due to friction created by the device. Although this is a large commercial wood-processing facility, fire officials remind everyone fires can occur in any mechanical device that produces dust. They urge people to follow manufacturers' recommendations when cleaning such equipment. 

Bend Trio Arrested By CODE

BEND, OR -- Three people were arrested over the weekend, following a multi-county investigation by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team. Detectives say 26-year-old Justin Vance sold large quantities of fentanyl in the area of the Lighthouse Navigation Center, near NE Second and Franklin in Bend. 

During a traffic stop Sunday in Terrebonne, CODE arrested Vance and his younger brother, along with the brother's girlfriend. Detectives seized a commercial quantity of fentanyl powder and pills from the vehicle.

Monday morning, they executed a search warrant and collected more evidence from the apartment 24-year-old David Vance shared with 20-year-old Katie Borden. They lived at the Frankline Hotel, which is one of three facilities on the Lighthouse Navigation Center campus. 

In a statement, the navigation center's Evan Hendrix said: 

We are grateful for the partnership with local law enforcement and appreciative of your support in this situation. We recognize the danger of fentanyl and its growing presence in our community. It is only through collaborative efforts such as this that we can find a way to curb this epidemic and ensure the safety of our community moving forward. Thank you for all you do to counter the flow of illicit substances into our community.” 

 
photo of Terrebonne traffic stop, courtesy of the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) team. 

Oregon Snowpack Declines Following Storm

BEND, OR -- Much of Oregon saw significant snowfall earlier this month. But the state’s snowpack is now on the decline. 

The Natural Resources Conservation Service measures snowpack as a percent of average - what’s considered "normal" for this point in the season. "Last Monday, statewide snowpack was about 100%. And today, it’s sitting at about 89%," says NRCS-Oregon Hydrologist Matt Warbritton. 

He says this month’s severe weather is unusual for El Niño, which typically brings warmer, drier weather. "Those storms that did bring significant snow accumulation, that was sort of an anomaly for an El Niño year. We got a bit lucky some larger climatic patterns aligned and El Niño weakened just slightly."

But now, our snowpack is on the decline, "And that’s in part - or mostly due to warmer temperatures and much of the precipitation that fell in the past few days, even up at high elevation, has fallen as rain." Warbritton says, "Now we’re seeing a more, again dominant El Niño signal these past few days, when we’ve had warmer temperatures and precipitation falling as rain. So, that’s pretty consistent, at least the above normal temperatures are, with stronger El Niño."

Warbritton says only some areas are actually losing snow, "Parts of the Central Cascades, we’ve seen some melting. In Southern Oregon, the Applegate Basin, as well as the Klamath, there’s also been some melting of snowpack. But overall, there’s just been a lack of additional snow accumulation." And he doesn't expect that to catch back up. The next storm system, coming to the coast and southwest Oregon this week, is expected to bring only rain, even to the mountains. 

The current outlook is proving challenging for reservoirs. Warbritton says, "Reservoir managers now have to switch their operations, because they’re used to receiving snow accumulation up in the mountains, as opposed to rain, to better control for flooding." Prineville Reservoir was forced to release some water last week. And that could mean less summer water for irrigators and recreators who rely on those reserves. Although Warbritton says one bright spot is the Ochocos, where the snowpack is faring better than much of the rest of the state. 

Images: Oregon's snowpack, based on the percent of average (top) January 30, 2024; (above right) January 22, 2024.

Sisters Medics Deliver Baby In Ambulance

SISTERS, OR -- Sisters paramedics took a very special call Saturday, of a woman in active labor. "I initially thought we were just going to load up and be heading to the hospital," Shift Commander Cody Meredith tells KBND News. When Meredith and his partner arrived, the woman's contractions were just a couple minutes apart. Still, everyone thought they'd make it to the hospital in Bend.

The father rode in the front of the rig while Meredith  helped the mom in the back. Before they could get to St. Charles, Meredith realized the baby was coming, "When it was identified that the delivery was imminent, we did pull over the ambulance at that time to finish delivering the baby; and then, called for the father to come to the back of the ambulance and help cut the cord." They then continued to the hospital with the new precious cargo. 

Meredith has been a medic for 14 years and says this little girl was his first, "Delivery of a baby in an ambulance is a really rare event. Most patients are able to get to the hospital prior to delivery." But, he says, they all train for such calls and ambulances are outfitted with the necessary equipment. "You just are in the moment, doing what you need to do to help the patient. And then, everything starts to settle in after the call, and that’s when you really get to take a deep breath on it and absorb it all." Meredith adds, "It’s a lot of emotions. It’s being grateful to be there and be part of that moment for that family, as well as just that everything went well." The Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District says both mother and baby are healthy and recovering. 

"It was amazing to be part of that moment for that family," says Meredith, "It was a bit overwhelming after the call was all over with, for sure. Rolling the patient into Family Birthing, I definitely got a little choked up as we pulled the mom into the room."

 

Accidental Shooting Leaves 7-Year-Old Hospitalized

BEND, OR -- A seven-year-old was shot at his home on Hunnell Road, Sunday afternoon. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident as an accident.

Detectives say 32-year-old Roy Ipock was "manipulating a handgun" in his living room when the gun went off, striking his son near his armpit. The boy was taken to St. Charles Bend, then transferred to a Portland-area hospital, where he remains in stable condition. 

DCSO obtained a search warrant for the home, collected evidence and cited Ipock for Assault in the Third Degree, Recklesly Endangering Another and Negligent Wounding. 

Deschutes County Officials Offer Suggestions For Legislative Session

BEND, OR -- State legislators met with Deschutes County commissioners and staff Friday to review plans for the legislative session starting next Monday, February 5th. Items of the county’s interest include amending measure 110.

Bend Representative, Democrat Jason Kropf said they’re taking input on proposed changes, “Law enforcement in public hearings, they said ‘we want a tool to intervene when we see something on the streets and we don't want to be taking people to jail.’ And the behavior health folks told us every time we make a connection between a person in crisis and treatment, there's a value to that. So that's what we've tried to blend together.”

Vale Senator Lynn Findley addressed the county’s concern with groundwater rule making, “We've got to figure out how to study our water better. Groundwater is a major issue. We keep running out of water.”

Klamath Falls Senator Dennis Linthicum suggests reservoirs could help, “Restoring the groundwater through natural filtration and whatnot versus just letting this precious water run out into the salty Pacific.”

Senate minority leader Tim Knopp of Bend identified key priorities, “Homelessness and housing affordability and the housing package, along with measure 110… Look forward to trying to resolve those issues this session because they both are emergencies.”

The county will also look to fund programs involving houselessness, behavioral health, and community corrections.

 

Bend Fire Relies On Peer Support To Reduce Job Stress

BEND, OR -- Bend Fire and Rescue has 25 firefighters trained to help their co-workers deal with stressful or traumatic calls. Battalion Chief James Adams tells KBND News exposure to traumatic incidents builds up over a firefighter's career, "Anything terrible you see on the news, there were firefighters there, most likely. And, they were taking that in." He adds, "Sometimes that call happened that day, sometimes all of a sudden a call from five years ago is bothering them, maybe."

Training firefighters to listen and help others costs time and money, but Adams says it’s a critical part of retaining good employees, "So, there’s a lot of cost to someone leaving the job early because their mental health isn't in a place where they can continue." He says those calls don't stop, "So we have to be able figure out how to take care of ourselves and each other, to get through that career and continue to help the community the best we can."

As KBND News reported last week, Oregon U.S. Rep. Andrea Salinas introduced a bill in Congress to allow existing federal firefighter grants to cover the cost of peer support training. Salinas calls it the Peer Support For Firefighters Act. She says, "It is probably one of the most accessible ways- to trust somebody you actually work with to be able to help you through that traumatic event."

Bend Fire’s peer support team is made up of 25 members, "And they span the different ranks, as well as different shifts." In addition to providing immediate help and ongoing support, the team refers people for more structured help, if needed, "Some of these programs that are graciously provided by a city or maybe even a state or grants, sometimes those can be a little tricky to navigate. And if you’re in a spot where you’re already at a higher level of stress, for whatever reason, that navigation might be even more difficult." And, Adams says, his team also helps teach firefighters and paramedics how to proactively deal with everyday job stress, "What are your coping mechanisms for the calls that you just saw the last 48 hours? Are you going to go for a walk? Exercise maybe before you get home. Maybe the transition between work and home needs to take a little bit longer, so when you go home you can engage the way you’re supposed to as a mother or wife, or father or husband."

Because not every local agency has a peer support program, Adams says his team volunteers to help when a neighboring fire district experiences a traumatic incident. Bend Police has a similar program.

To listen to our full conversation with Bend Fire Battalion Chief James Adams, visit the KBND Podcast Page.

 

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Human Foot Found Near Knott Landfill

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a disturbing discovery in southeast Bend. A person walking their dog on January 21 found a portion of a human foot in a field across from the Knott Landfill. The Medical Examiner confirms the foot was surgically removed, and detectives believe it was disposed of with biological waste from a surgery center.

The investigation is ongoing, but the Sheriff’s Office says the body part may have been removed from the landfill by an animal, and disposed of in the field across the street.

 

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DRW Manufactured Home Destroyed By Fire

BEND, OR -- A manufactured home in Deschutes River Woods was destroyed by an early morning fire, Sunday. A neighbor called 911 just after 4 a.m. and reported the house across the street was on fire. When crews arrived on Faugarwee Circle, they found the 1970s building fully engulfed in flames.

They were able to stop it from spreading, but it’s considered a total loss. Damages are estimated at $25,000. No one was home at the time and no injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire could not be determined, due to the extensive damage.

 

photo courtesy Bend Fire & Rescue

Co. Historic Landmarks Commission To Meet For The First Time In Nine Months

BEND, OR -- After County Commissioners signaled they would dissolve the Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) because of what they said was a lack of community interest, the group will meet again February fifth. It's the first HLC meeting in nine months.

With three newly appointed commissioners and a new ex-officio (non-voting) member, the board can again satisfy quorum requirements. Last fall, County Commissioners agreed to restart recruitment efforts, after backlash over a plan to disband the HLC. 

The HLC oversees issues related to historic and cultural preservation in unincorporated parts of the county and the city of Sisters.

Rep. Chavez-DeRemer Discusses Homelessness At Roundtable

OREGON CITY, OR -- Oregon Congresswoman Lori Chavez-DeRemer held a roundtable Thursday at a homeless outreach center in Oregon City. Homeless advocates told her federal funding regulations prevent them from opening facilities for youth. Chavez-DeRemer says she heard similar complaints during a visit this week to the psych ward at St. Charles in Bend, "Where they’re having crises with their youth as well, oftentimes in a holding room for up to a month because there’s no place for them to be. So, if I’m hearing it here in Clackamas County and I’m hearing it over in Deschutes County, just in my district in a two-day period, about the crisis that we’re in, it’s time for me to do my job."

Clackamas County Commissioner Ben West says addiction is a major factor in homelessness. He’s frustrated the government doesn’t take the issue more seriously, noting 100 Oregonians die every month from substance abuse, "Imagine if a bridge collapsed and a hundred people died, we would have the federal government, the state in a response that would meet the urgency of the tragedy in that moment. But we have that every month in Oregon." He also told Chavez-DeRemer homelessness rates  in Clackamas County have fallen consistently over the last few years, "Some of the counties in Oregon are doing a fantastic job and not all counties should be judged by other counties’ failures. And so, we could really, really use some capital investment, if any of those dollars could come to Oregon."

Marion County Commissioner Danielle Bethell told her the federal government needs to do more to support local shelters and other services, "I don’t want to talk about the state because you can’t do anything about the state of Oregon. But what you can do as a Congresswoman, is tell Congress to fund counties. And to tell organizations like HUD to see us in the uniqueness that we offer, for the services that we provide for our people in front of us today."

Chavez-DeRemer says she’s looking into a fix, "What they’re asking is, ‘We’re in crisis.’ They need the money today. They need the money yesterday." The Oregon Republican tells KBND News she understands the state is slow to dole out money it gets from the feds, "Is there a way to sometimes bypass the state level, if it’s going to get convoluted under regulation and the money doesn’t hit the ground where they need it most? So, I’m going to ask those questions, because I understand the block grant and how it works."

 

Prineville Reservoir Increasing Outflow Due to Wet Weather

PRINEVILLIE, OR -- More water is getting released from Prineville Reservoir to make room for heavy rains and snow melt. Bruce Scanlon, Ochoco Irrigation District Manager tells KBND News the reservoir reached the flood-control level earlier this week, “We need to increase more space or at least slow down the rate at which we're filling, which is not uncommon with Prineville reservoir. It frequently has in its history had to go through winter flood-control operations.”  He says these operations usually occur in a few months, “It's not an uncommon thing. It's uncommon that we are doing it in January. We typically have flood control operations in the spring in April and May.”

Levels below Bowman Dam won’t be very noticeable, right now.

“But, with the amount of rain and warm temperatures that we are seeing the increase in inflows could be significant. And so, we are really just preparing ourselves for a ‘what if?’ scenario”, Scanlon says the water can’t be stored for irrigation season and must be released because it reached flood-control levels, “We're kind of gambling on the fact that we're going to continue to get some additional flows into the facility in February, March and April when we normally would. If we could fill the facility during the winter and keep it full, that would be great. But we can't safely do that because the potential for spring runoff is significant on the Crooked basin. It's a whole different system than say, for example, on the Deschutes.”

The Crook County Sheriff's Office put out a notice Thursday about increasing water in Prineville Reservoir, and a resulting minimal impact to the level on the Crooked River below Bowman Dam as water is released. The OID is watching weather forecasts to determine if they’ll need to keep the outflow higher to avoid reaching flood levels.

 

State Considers Waiver For School Snow Days

MADRAS, OR -- This month’s winter storm forced a number of Oregon school districts to cancel classes, impacting students’ total number of instructional hours for the year. Jefferson County 509J Superintendent Jay Mathisen says his district is grappling with that equation after canceling five days of school and starting two hours late on three other days, "When you talk about instructional hours, you’re talking about school days: how long is your school day? And then we talk about how many school days. And then, we’re also able to add in some parent-conference time and professional development time."

Previous Coverage: Two Local Districts Consider Storm Make-up Days

Under the Governor’s Emergency declaration, the Oregon Department of Education is considering offering waivers to districts that lost instructional time, so they wouldn't have to schedule make-up days. "Then really," says Mathisen, "The decision for us is not about meeting instructional hours requirements. It’s about teaching and learning for students. And that’s okay; that’s where we want our decisions to be made. And so, at some point, even if there was no instructional hours requirement, we would say, ‘yeah, we’re going to add back some learning time for kids,’ potentially."

ODE tells KBND News it is working with the State Board of Education on a temporary rule to waive up to 14 hours of inclement weather time, if districts apply for the change to their instructional hours calculation. Mathisen says it's not unheard of, "It’s something that was done some years ago, when we had some really, really rough winter weather all across the state. So, there’s a chance that school districts are able to apply for a waiver from that requirement this year. Waivers would have to be approved by the state."

He won’t announce a decision for a week or two, "This is a possibility, that we add some days back. But we think it’s wise to wait right now, before we talk about if, how many and when."

If ODE approves the waiver plan, it could not be used for other closures, like Portland Public Schools’ three-week strike.

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Student Releases Pepper Spray At HDMS

BEND, OR -- Bend Police and Medics responded to High Desert Middle School Thursday, after a student released pepper spray in a hallway. In a statement to families, the principal said the incident occurred in a crowded hall on the way back from "first lunch."

One parent tells KBND News it happened during a fight. Their student wasn’t involved but suffered burning eyes, nose and mouth, and had to leave school early.

Principal Jessica Reilly told parents in an email the school "called EMTs and our school nurse to evaluate students directly affected." She went on to say they gave "some students a saline solution to rinse their eyes and advised that any student involved should rinse their hands and arms as soon as possible. They also advised affected students to shower thoroughly and change their clothes at the first opportunity."

According to Reilly, pepper spray and other noxious gasses are not allowed on school grounds. Students caught bringing such items on campus face disciplinary action. 

RPD Investigates Rash Of Fake $100 Bills

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond-area businesses report receiving numerous fake $100 bills, recently. Police say some of the money initially passed counterfeit detection. Several times, the suspect requested smaller bills or change for the hundred.

Investigators also received reports from a local bank, which received at least five fake $100 bills in the past few days.

Redmond Police asks anyone with information on the suspect (pictured) to call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911. Businesses are urged to visit the Secret Service website for tips on spotting counterfeit currency.

Redmond Senior Center Celebrates Renovated Kitchen

REDMOND,OR -- The Redmond Senior Center celebrates its newly- remodeled kitchen Thursday.

“The building was built in 1990; that's when the original kitchen was installed. Things were falling apart faster than we could fix them,” the Center board's chair Diana Barker says almost everything was replaced, “I believe the dishwasher was the only thing that was still fine to use.”

Barker tells KBND News it’s an important gathering spot, “I think it would be safe to say that one of the leading problems with people who begin to decline into dementia and Alzheimer's is that they lose contact with other people. A lot of seniors are beginning to experience depression and some other things that come from isolation. So, the Senior Center in Redmond is just becoming more and more a place where people can get together.” She says they are always busy, “We have a large group of Meals On Wheels drivers that serve around 150 people a day. And then we have between 30 to 50 other people who come to the center for lunch.”

Funding for the $500-thousand project came from Deschutes County and the City of Redmond, along with Hayden Homes pledging a donation for future operating expenses.

Today’s open house at 325 NW Dogwood Avenue starts at 4:30, and includes specially prepared food from the renovated kitchen.

 

COCC Presents First Ever "State Of The College"

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College President Dr. Laurie Chesley presented the school’s first ever “State of the College” Wednesday. She says it’s a pivotal time to start a new tradition, "This fall, COCC’s Bend campus will celebrate its 75th anniversary."

During the presentation, Dr. Chesley talked a lot about the school’s new strategic plan, focused on sustainability, equity and bridging gaps for students in need. "In the fall of 2023 term alone, the ASCOCC food bank served approximately 1,090 students and more than 3,200 family members," she said. Dr. Chesley noted there are also improvements for students not seeking a degree, "COCC recently launched the Center for Business, Industry and Professional Development, to house all our non-credit workforce training offerings."

A pilot program to teach Deer Ridge prison inmates job search skills like resume writing is now expanding statewide. And, she sayd, "This spring, the college will increase its course offering, so adults in custody at Deer Ridge can work toward an Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer Degree."

Chesley also touted the benefits of the upcoming $18 million Madras Campus expansion, "TThis spring, we will break ground on a new 24,000 square foot building." Eventually, that building will house a childcare center, in addition to offering classes in early childhood education and nursing. "This facility directly addresses the shortage of healthcare and early childhood education workers, as well as the scarcity of childcare sites." She added, "Most of these students will be employed in Jefferson and Crook counties, serving rural patient populations. We also expect to graduate 30 additional early childhood educators annually from our Madras campus."

That facility is expected to open in the fall of 2025.

 

Trails Are Top Priority, According To Bend Parks Survey

BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Rec surveyed 2,700 people last fall about the district’s priorities and facilities. The results are in and, "Trails are the most important amenity to the community," says the district's Julie Brown, "We hear that year after year." Brown tells KBND News, "More than nine in 10 people said they had used a trail in the last year. So, more than 90% of our community, based on this sample size, that they are using trails." Brown says the reason for the increase, compared to the last survey three years ago, is a combination fo factors, "One of the things that was pretty interesting: the group of respondents that have lived in Bend for less than five years and answered that they use the parks and trails on a daily basis was very, very high." Why people use trails is also changing, "We used to see a lot of people use the trails purely for recreational use and enjoyment. It is increasingly more of a transportation corridor, as well."

It's not all positive. The survey also revealed areas that need work, "They want us to make sure that we are taking care of what we have first, before we build new. They do want us to focus on areas where maybe we have underserved portions of town. We have a goal of wanting to have a park within a half-mile walk for all members of the community. We’re not there yet. We have about 60% of the community that is there. But that’s something that we need to continue striving towards."

The data will be used to make adjustments to the current 10-year project plan. "Maybe some of the things that we thought we were going to build, maybe they’re a lower priority now, moving forward," says Brown. District staff will present recommendations to the Parks Board at its February meeting. 

 

TRAFFIC ALERT: Hwy 26 Closes At 3 P.M. For Several Hours

MT. HOOD, OR -- Oregon's Department of Transportation will close Highway 26 Wednesday afternoon, between Mt. Hood and Warm Springs. The closure is expected to start at 3 p.m. and stretch a couple of hours, to allow crews to recover a semi truck that crashed Tuesday.

The blockade will occure between Frog Lake, at milepost 62, and the Highway 216 junction, at milepost 71. Eastbound drivers will be detoured on to Highway 35 then I-84. Westbound will detour down Highway 216 to Highway 197.

Officials say removing the semi requires a complex process that will block the entire highway. Crews will reopen the road as soon as work is complete. 

 

EVENING UPDATE -- ODOT reports the highway reopened before 7:45 p.m.

Deschutes Fairgrounds Seeks State Grant

REDMOND, OR -- Deschutes County's Fair and Expo will ask county commissioners Wednesday for permission to seek state COVID relief funds. 

Fairgrounds Director Geoff Hinds tells KBND News he's asking for the maximum grant amount, just over $280,000 of the $3-million earmarked by the legislature to recoup lost revenue and money spent on responding to the pandemic, “A large chunk of it will go towards our capital reserves which are what we use to maintain our facility here at Fair and Expo and continues to invest back into this property.”  Hinds adds smaller county fairs, like Crook and Jefferson, could make major infrastructure improvements, “For some organizations that are larger, which would include ours, it certainly helps to offset some of the significant multimillion dollar expenses that we incurred during COVID.”

Last year’s legislature allocated Lottery bonds for the state economic development agency, Business Oregon, to give to the state fair and all 36 counties.

“The funding was in recognition of the support of the network of fairs across the state in the state's support of COVID-19 response back in 2020 the financial impact that fairs across the state ended up taking on,” Hinds says, adding he’s grateful for the reimbursement opportunity, “A huge piece of this is also making sure we recognize the support of the legislature in authorizing these funds, and recognizing the work of fairs across the entire state, who really stepped up as they always do in the times of needs for their community.”

County Commissioners will be asked to green-light the grant application at Wednesday’s meeting. Grant awards are expected to be announced in the spring.

 

Bend Officer Fired Following Internal Investigation

BEND, OR -- Bend Police Officer Kevin Uballez was placed on paid administrative leave on June 6, 2021. He was fired by the department on Friday. 

Uballez was put on leave over accusations of excessive force, stemming from an incident with an allegedly intoxicated man. The District Attorney dropped criminal charges in November, but Bend PD launchd an internal affairs investigation. The results of that inquiry have not been released. 

Bend Police paid Uballez more than $184,000 during his two and a half years on leave. Citing an ongoing civil lawsuit, the agency refused to release further details. 

 

Photo: Officer Kevin Uballez with his K9 partner, 2019

Two Local Districts Consider Storm Make-Up Days

MADRAS, OR -- Severe winter weather may be gone for now, but local schools still must contend with the fallout. 

As of Wednesday, Jefferson County 509J lost five full days and had three late-starts. Superintendent Jay Mathisen says it's always a tough decision to close school, but outlying areas in his district have seen icy roads for a week, creating hazardous conditions for buses. Mathisen says his district has a long history of building buffers into the school calendar, "And so, at five days, we do not have to start adding days to meet our instructional hours obligations with the state." But, he tells KBND News there's always a concern when students lose time in the classroom. He says, "We’re at the point now where we’re starting to discuss if we add days back, and when those might be and how many." Mathisen says the final decision has to wait until the weather is finally clear, "We’ll let the dust settle on this; likely get some communication out in the next week or so."

Bend-La Pine Schools closed for three days over the past two weeks, due to bad weather. The district is now considering scheduling make-up days in June. Both 509J and Bend-La Pine expect to announce decisions soon. 

Redmond Schools Superintendent Dr. Charan Cline admits last week’s freezing rain was a challenge, "Packed snow can be dealt with pretty well with snow tires, chains and all-weather traction. But the freezing rain creates something completely different." Dr. Cline tells KBND News, "We’ve closed one day, which was last Friday. And then we’ve had two late starts; so roughly 12 hours of instruction." He adds, "We’re close for high school hours of instruction. We’re still okay, but if we get too much more of this, we’d have to consider some rescheduling." Cline says it’s especially tough for high school seniors who already have a shortened school year. 

file photo

Four Arrested In Bend Drug Bust

BEND, OR -- The Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team served a search warrant at a Bend home Tuesday morning and arrested four people, following a one-year investigation. The house on Willopa Court was the subject of multiple calls and complaints from the community, including reports of drug activity.

Detectives say just two days before the bust, a person overdosed on fentanyl powder at the same location. That person survived. 

Fentanyl, meth, steroids and items used in drug sales were seized Tuesday. The four charged in the case were identified by CODE: 55-year-old Scott Sims, 44-year-old Timothy Kempher, 53-year-old Andrew Hill and 33-year-old Lea Marie Carlson. All are accused of Frequenting a Place Where Controlled Substances Are Used. Kempher also had a warrant for a parole violation and was in possession of illegal brass knuckles.

 

file photo

Giving Plate Set For Expansion, New Buildings

BEND, OR -- The Giving Plate is moving ahead on expansion plans for two new buildings in Bend.

The food pantry’s executive Director Ranae Staley tells KNBD News the project has been in the works since 2017, “We're just on the brink of a really incredible leap when it comes to reimagining food relief and creating a space for our guests that they can shop with dignity and then a space where we can receive and warehouse and partner with other agencies.”

They’ll start moving into the Distribution Center on First Street next month. The Community Store on South Highway 97 opens in April.

“As we try to stay at the front lines of hunger, the need has just been growing so much and we just want to stay ahead of it. And I feel like in the past, we've been one step ahead of it, and now I feel like we'll be positioned to be well ahead of it. It’s not just one little change for the Giving Plate. It's really an organizational change. It's impacting almost all of our programs. It's impacting how we receive food from the community. It’s really an exciting time,” Staley says, adding they’ll need help with both projects, “It just goes beyond our normal scope of needing volunteers; people who have muscles and don't mind moving; people with handyman skills who can help us build out our space and make it really welcoming for our guests.”  You can find more info here.

 

RPD Unveils Design For New Public Safety Building

REDMOND, OR -- Next week, Redmond unveils the design for its new Public Safety Facility. The project is funded by a $40 million bond approved by voters in 2022. Police Chief Devin Lewis says the new lobby will offer separate entrances for people accessing different services, to provide privacy, which is lacking at the current building. "Unfortunately, we have had people in there that are victims of crime trying to report a crime; and at the same time, we’ve had somebody who’s there trying to do their annual registration as a sex offender," Lewis tells KBND News, "Both of those people deserve auditory and visual privacy."

There’s also more parking for employees. Lewis says they frequently have to park blocks away from the current downtown Redmond police station, "We’re going to have plenty of parking for the public, as well. Tied into that, there’s also going to be a safe exchange area. It’ll be two parking spots under a 24/7 video surveillance, well lit, right in the front of the police department." Similar to what’s available at Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office locations, Lewis says it’s a safe place for custody exchanges or to pickup an item bought online. 

It’ll also have an emergency operations center. Chief Lewis says, "Currently, we don't have one of those at the police department. We don’t have an area to do a large training event, or anything like that. So we’re going to have this emergency operations center right off the lobby. It’s also going to double as our training facility. But one of the other cool options, how it’s being designed, it’s also going to be open to the public as a community room."

On Monday, the city hosts an open house with the architecture and interiors teams. Lewis says the department relied on public input and feedback in the early stages, "We’ve taken that and have been working on the design for the last year-plus. And so this is that opportunity to give [the public] that update, show them what we’ve done at this point, incorporated some of their feedback and suggestions, and then give them an opportunity to see the latest renderings and then ask any questions they may have." Monday’s open house is from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Redmond City Hall. 

Construction will begin soon at the site on NW Canal, "We’re going to start doing some pre-work out at the site, hopefully here in February. And then, probably a more ceremonial groundbreaking in April or May; and then we’re looking at hopefully around 13 months construction time." The Public Safety Facility is expected to open by the summer of 2025.

 

Cash, Liquor Taken In Restaurant Break-In

REDMOND, OR -- Someone stole cash and a bottle of tequila from a Redmond restaurant over the weekend, and police are asking for the public’s help tracking down a suspect. 

Investigators believe the break-in occurred at Hola! sometime between 10 p.m. Saturday and 9:45 a.m. Sunday. Officers say they found signs of forced entry and possible DNA evidence at the scene.

Anyone who saw suspicious behavior or people in the area of the restaurant on Northwest Greenwood Saturday night or early Sunday is asked to call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.

Bend Street Crews Prepare For Melt Off

BEND, OR -- Local street crews are trying to keep up with varying winter weather.

“We adjust to what Mother Nature’s throwing at us, as far as our treatment of the roads,” Bend Transportation Director David Abbas says they’re keeping an eye on the extended outlook, “The forecast is warmer temperatures above freezing all day long, even in the evenings, with highs currently forecast up into the 50s. So, this snow and ice is not going to stick around long.”

He says they’re shifting from sanding and plowing, to clearing streets for draining the melting ice and snow. “The Transportation mobility staff - the winter operations are really trying to plow curb to curb where we can to open up those curb lines for drainage, get those catch basins opened up. That effort starts with areas that are either known for past ponding, flooding, any of the drainage systems that kind of flow down to the river or in a low sag point, that type of thing.”

Along with common trouble spots, crews prioritize clearing main routes. “Arterial collector type roadways that serve medical centers, hospital business centers; the major roads that move the most traffic, people and commerce,” Abbas says, adding that while City code requires property owners to clear sidewalks, clearing curb drains and fire hydrants is helpful too, “When we have winter storms like this, in my opinion, it takes the community as a whole to get through them together. If you have a catch basin out in front of your home, if you can help, make sure that that's exposed and the run off, especially as we head into the warmer temperatures. Community getting through it together. Be a good neighbor. If you have an elderly or disabled neighbor that could use a hand, use some help, and you're able to, please help out your neighbors.”

Along with regular staff, contractors were called in last week, to help clear neighborhood streets.

 

Sisters Library Remains Closed Due To Burst Pipe

SISTERS, OR -- Bitter cold led to frozen and burst pipes across Oregon last week, including at the Sisters Library. "That happened sometime between when we closed Tuesday night and when the first person - actually, one of our contractors - got there on Wednesday morning," says Deschutes Public Library Director Todd Dunkelberg, "The good news is, he was able to immediately shut off the water, get crews in getting water out and we got a restoration company in, immediately."

The Sisters library branch is now closed. "There’s no good way to put it: when you have water in a library, that’s not a good situation," Dunkelberg tells KBND News, "We were incredibly lucky that it happened over an area that didn’t have any furniture, didn’t have any electronics and no books." He adds, "The water seeped out into the children’s area. All of our shelves in that area are on wheels, so we just wheeled them out and started drying out the carpet. So, that work started right away. And right now, we’re just - as we’re drying everything out - trying to assess the damage. We will have to replace some baseboards; we’re having to take out some insulation."
The closure is heightened because the Sisters branch just reopened after a major remodel less than three months ago. "It was an existing pipe," says Dunkelberg, "It had been there from the beginning of that building, back in 2007. So it’s not a pipe that we added during the remodel."

Dunkelberg says the incident is especially tough on staff, "They’re there to serve people, and this is really hard; not being able to be open and be there for people. We appreciate people’s patience. We’re working as hard as we can to get back open and start serving."

Once reconstruction crews determine a timeline for repairs and reopening, the information will be posted to the Deschutes Public Library website and social media accounts. 

Photos courtesy Deschutes Public Library

Redmond Man Dies After Getting Stuck On Frozen Dry Canyon Rocks

REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond man died last week, after he was pulled off frozen rocks above the Dry Canyon, in two-degree weather. According to the police report released by the Deschutes County District Attorney, the Redmond man was found near his SUV, which was still running but stuck on rocks, at the end of a powerline alley off West Antler Sunday morning, January 14. The DA later released his identity. 

Police say it appears 38-year-old Phil Gerhart got out of the car and fell about five feet to the boulders below. No footprints were found in the snow, but the driver's door was open and an alarm was sounding inside the vehicle. 

Gerhart was barely conscious when firefighters freed him. He died later at the hospital. His cause of death remains under investigation.

Police say it's unclear what he was doing in the alley, which is only a narrow easement between two homes. There is no indication the vehicle was speeding. 

 

file photos of the area, courtesy of Google Earth. (Top) View of rocky embankment from Black Butte Blvd. (Bottom) View of easement access from W. Antler Ave. 

This story was updated 01/23/24 with the victim's name.

Redmond Shop Fire Causes $100k In Damage

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Fire and Rescue responded to a shop fire early Sunday morning. Crews were dispatched at about 3:30 a.m., but very icy conditions led to a slower than normal response. 
When crews arrived on NW 66th Street, they found flames coming from a 20x30 shop building. They were able to keep the fire from spreading to a nearby propane tank or other buildings. 

No one was in the shop, which was used to store vehicles. Losses are estimated at $100,000. Fire investigators are working to determine a cause. 

La Pine Woman Killed In Klamath Co. Crash

CHEMULT, OR -- A La Pine woman was killed in a Klamath County crash on Highway 97 Friday. According to State Police, an 87-year-old Fort Rock woman attempted to turn left onto Highway 31 when her SUV crashed into a northbound car.

Both drivers were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, but the car's passenger, 77-year-old Joanne Banzer, was pronounced dead at the scene. Highway 97 was impacted for more than three hours for the investigation. 

Road conditions do not appear to have been a factor.

Search Continues For Man Missing Since Tuesday

SISTERS, OR -- A 23-year-old man remains missing Sunday, despite search efforts. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office says Cameron McDermott Roe was last seen Tuesday, January 16 at a friends house in Sisters. He's known to frequent Sisters, Redmond and Bend. McDermott Roe does not have a car and relies on others for transportation.

He's described as 6' tall, 150 pounds, with black hair and blue eyes. 

Anyone with information on his location is asked to call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.

 

4 P.M. UPDATE -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office reports McDermott Roe was found by his family on Sunday. He is no longer listed as missing. 

Houseless Response Office Taking Shelter Proposals Next Month

BEND, OR -- The Coordinated Houseless Response Office is closer to establishing temporary shelters in Deschutes County.

Steven Emerson, with the county, told the CHRO board at Thursday’s meeting they will start accepting shelter proposals next month, “What we're really asking the provider community to do is help us design, develop, and operate temporary shelter sites in Deschutes County. ...Safe parking, managed camps, tiny home villages. There's several different options. We know that providers do best when they're supported through the process. And so, there's an explicit emphasis on making sure that this isn't some50-page super-burdensome thing that we're expecting providers to take on, on their own. But more of developing some partnerships to try to address this crisis together.”

Nine agencies provided input at a public partners roundtable meeting: the cities of Bend and Redmond, Deschutes County, Forest Service, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Homeless Leadership Coalition, Bend Parks & Recreation, Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council and ODOT.  “There is an express priority for local clients. We're looking for robust engagement and community outreach in a proposal. And we're also looking for a strong commitment to community partnership,” Emerson said.

The Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council will oversee the project.

They hope to approve proposals by mid-March.

file photo: Deschutes County unsanctioned camp

 

New Overnight Shelter In Madras Operated 84 Hours Straight During Severe Weather

MADRAS, OR -- The new Madras Secure Care Shelter is getting back to normal after the extreme winter weather. Just two days after the Jefferson County Faith Based Network (JCFBN) opened the facility on Oak Street, it expanded from an overnight shelter to 24-hour operations.

JCFBN Executive Director Tony Mitchell tells KBND News, "During an 84-hour period, beginning 6 p.m. Friday the 12th and ending this past Tuesday, I would say that we served probably 25-30 different people; possibly more." He tells KBND News, "They are dealing with possibly loss of life, or severe impacts to their physical health." 

In one case, Mitchell says, a man came in with frostbite on his hands, "He’s going to lose at least a digit and parts of other fingers, as a result of being out in the cold without gloves for as short of a period as about an hour and a half, while he was trying to perform some work and make some money."

Mitchell says ramping up so quickly hasn’t been easy because his organization is small and heavily reliant on volunteers, "When you need to operate during extended hours, the biggest challenge is being able to really sometimes staff the operations appropriately."

He says they’re ready to do it again if and when 24-hour service is needed. But for now, the shelter operates from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m.

 

Six Killed In Two Hwy 97 Crashes

CHEMULT, OR -- Two deadly crashes tied up traffic on Highway 97 Wednesday, between La Pine and Chemult, in Klamath County.

According to State Police, 39-year-old Juan Ochoa Bravo, of Bend, was driving northbound Wednesday morning, when he lost control and slid into the path of a semi. Bravo died, along with four of his passengers, including a one-year-old child.

OSP says road conditions contributed to the crash, and several passengers were not wearing seatbelts.

That evening, a 78-year-old California man also crossed into the path of a southbound semi. That pickup driver was also declared dead at the scene. The cause of the crash is under investigation. 

UPDATE: Missing La Pine Man Found Safe

LA PINE, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office is searching for a 58-year-old La Pine man who walked away from a home Thursday afternoon and hasn't returned.

Jonathan Cox was last seen in the Crescent Creek subdivision on Huntington Road at about 4 p.m. He reportedly has multiple health concerns and is without his medication. Cox frequents local businesses and is not known to travel outside of La Pine. 

He's a white male, about 5'10" and 200 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. Cox was last seen wearing a dark colored, lightweight jacket and blue mittens, blue jeans, brown boots and a dark blue winter hat. 

Anyone with information is asked to call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911. 

 

11:30 a.m. Update: The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office says Cox was found safe in an area hotel. He is in good health and spirits. 

Closures, Delays For Friday, January 19

BEND, OR -- Weather is again hampering travel Friday, leading to multiple closures and delays. 

SCHOOLS:

  • Bend-La Pine Schools are closed
  • Crook County Schools are closed
  • Culver Schools are closed
  • Jefferson County 509J Schools are closed
  • Redmond Schools are closed
  • All COCC campuses are closed Friday and Saturday
  • OSU-Cascades is closed

OTHER CLOSURES & DELAYS:

  • State offices are closed in Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson, Wasco, Gilliam, Sherman and Hood River counties. 
  • Deschutes County Circuit Court is closed
  • The Redmond Airport closed at 2 p.m. Thursday, due to freezing rain. It reopened Friday morning, but numerous flights are delayed or canceled. Travelers are urged to check their flight status with their airline. 
  • Bend Park and Recreation District is delaying the opening of recreation facilities. The Pavilion, Juniper Swim & Fitness and Larkspur Community Center will open at 8:30 a.m., weather permitting.
  • Crook County offices will open on a two-hour delay.
  • Crook County Parks and Recreation's district office is closed.
  • Jefferson County Community/Senior Center is closed, no meals provided.
  • The Deschutes Historical Museum is closed.
  • The Humane Society of Central Oregon shelter and thrift store are closed. 

LIBRARIES:

  • Deschutes Public Library branches opening 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.: Downtown Bend, East Bend, Redmond, Sunriver. 
  • La Pine Library branch opens noon to 4 p.m.
  • Sisters Library branch is closed due to a burst pipe and water leak.
  • Crook County Library on a two-hour delay.

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek declared a statewide emergency, late Thursday, due to this week’s severe ice storm. The announcement comes after multiple counties submitted assessments and requests, on the sixth day of impacts. 

A state of emergency declaration allows counties to access federal resources through FEMA and other sources.

Kotek noted thousands of Oregonians have been impacted by the storm … from power outages to a lack of transportation and an array of safety concerns.

Thursday Weather-Related Closures

BEND, OR -- As frigid weather moves back into Central Oregon, a number of agencies plan to close early on Thursday, January 18. The Jefferson County Sheriff issued an alert urging people to stay off the roads, due to "unpredictable weather patterns setting into our area." The message goes on to note, "ODOT is having difficulties keeping up with road maintenance due to various slide-offs." 

All Central Oregon Community College campuses will close at 1 p.m. Thursday. Classes, events and remote classes are canceled afte that time.

OSU-Cascades closes at 2 p.m.

Crook County offices will close at 2 p.m., due to the forecast of freezing rain and the potential impact on driving conditions. 

Sisters Library is closed due to a water leak.

Bend-La Pine Schools and Redmond Schools canceled all after-school activities Thursday.

Bend Parks and Rec facilities close at 4:15 Thursday. Facilities include the Pavilion. Juniper Swim & Fitness and the Larkspur Community Center.  

 

Photo: Highway 97/26 interchange in downtown Madras, courtesy of ODOT Tripcheck. 01/18/24

Crook County Officials Support M110 Reforms

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County Commissioners will sign on to a letter to the legislature supporting a statewide plan to reform Measure 110. 

During her request for approving the letter, District Attorney Kari Hathorn told Judge Seth Crawford, and commissiners Brian Barney and Susan Hermreck changes to the law are needed, including re-categorizing possession of drugs like fentanyl as a misdemeanor instead of a violation, “Criminalize this as a possession, as a Class A. …Fund treatment…That we fund supervised probation and that we really put some teeth into these laws that can help keep our community safe.” She says the state has been burdened since voters approved the measure decriminalizing drug possession, in 2020, “The hospitals are overrun with significantly mentally ill people. There is a significant correlation to drug use, in particular marijuana has a pretty significant impact on mental health with some of these cases that we're seeing,” adding the laws aren’t strict enough, “We're seeing increase of violent crime, we're seeing increase of overdose. We're seeing fatalities regularly. It is not working, measure 110, as we all know, did not work.”

Undersheriff James Savage says his agency faces challenges when dealing with drug users, “We're basically taking them into custody with no legal right to do so, in my opinion.” He said the jail is housing mentally-ill individuals under the influence of strong drugs like fentanyl, “What we're seeing in there is that this is, they're in a basically a drug induced psychosis because the drugs are not the same as they were back in the day.”

The DA and Sheriff’s Office will draft the letter for the Court to send to the legislature ahead of the February session. Deschutes County Commissioners and the Bend City Council have submitted similar letters.

 

Bend Considers Automated Traffic Enforcement

BEND, OR -- Bend’s Police Department is researching red light camera and photo radar programs. Chief Mike Krantz told the City Council Wednesday night, other Oregon cities saw significant reductions in speeding, running red lights and serious crashes after implementing similar systems. 

Such programs are funded by the tickets they issue and managed by the vendor, "The citation is issued by them, they do all the mailing. When a citation is paid, they take a portion out of that." The department does have to approve the violation. "Photo-enforcement systems, the goal of those are not to make money. They are to self-fund. But it’s motivated by safety, that we want to change behavior around traffic problems that are occurring that cause severe damage and harm in our community. This is one tool. It is not the tool."

He says public surveys consistently show speeding and running red lights are primary concerns in Bend.

If implemented, the system would be installed at the biggest trouble-spots. "We would benefit from maybe a minimum of five intersections, based on data that we’re seeing; at least as a pilot program to start with," says Krantz. Those red light cameras would also have the ability to catch someone speeding through the intersection. "We’d benefit from a mobile photo radar trailer, as well. So we could have different options and move through the residential areas or school zones, as well as construction zones, if we could."

Councilor Megan Perkins was pleased the proposal also includes a mobile option, for locations without a traffic light, "Due to the unique nature of Bend, and there are a lot of people that are driving unsafely on roads that do not have intersections, especially around school zones." She and other Councilors wanted assurances the program would roll out equitably, with locations around the city. Krantz explained the vendor changes locations as problems are resolved, "What they’ve seen by experience is that by five years, their return, because behavior changes, is highly diminished. So their goal is to either move it after five years or remove it after five years because they’ve seen behavior change."

Councilors gave the green light Wednesday for Krantz to gather bids from vendors, but said there would be extensive community outreach before automated traffic enforcement begins.

file photo

Nearly Four Dozen New EV Charging Ports Coming To Central OR

BEND, OR -- More than three dozen new charging ports for electric vehicles are coming to Deschutes County this year. Six others are slated for the parking lot at Deer Ridge prison in Madras, and four more in Warm Springs, "That’s due to a rebate program that we run here at ODOT, to reimburse most of the project costs of installing Level-two EV chargers," says Matt Noble, with the Oregon Department of Transportation, "Those are the ones that can charge up EVs in about six to eight hours."

The goal is to get more EV chargers in more public places. "Multi-family homes, like apartment complexes or condominiums, and also public parking areas, public parks, shopping centers or really anywhere you would go in your public daily life," says Noble. In Bend, new ports will be installed in the city’s parking garage and several multi-family housing complexes. A few local hotels are also included, like the Ponderosa Lodge in Sisters. "We’re really targeting areas, here at the state, that have seen less investment from the private sector," Noble tells KBND News, "Specifically, that’s more rural parts of the state and communities that have been traditionally underserved by transportation systems, in general."

Funding was distributed last fall, "We’re expecting all 370 new charging ports to be completed before the end of 2024. So that’s 94 individual projects, 23 counties." Another round of funding is expected in March. 

 

Street Crews Prep For More Hazardous Weather

REDMOND, OR -- With warmer temperatures and rain in the forecast over the next several days. Central Oregon is preparing for another round of hazards.

“You have the possibility of, I think 80% chance of freezing rain. So, we are geared up and ready for it. Everybody's on alert and stand by as needed,”

Redmond Streets Supervisor Anthony Ortgies tells KBND News crews worked around the clock during this week’s winter storm, “We do have two different shifts and crews. They stayed from 2 am to 2 p.m. And then my night crew came in at 2 pm and 2 am. So we have that opportunity to put them back on that schedule if we do have bad weather like we did this weekend.”

He says that effort paid off, “This winter storm event that we had, I believe that we were very proactive on it and we have only received a very minimal amount of calls. So, from the years past, I do believe we've done a very good job this year.”

They’re now watching for rapidly melting snow, which could cause flooding.

Ortgies says residents and business owners can make it easier for road crews, “If they could help us out by maybe exposing, finding their storm drains, if they are not already exposed, that would be super helpful for us. We will go around if we start having a problem via our GIS system and we can locate storm drains where needed to get things drained fairly quickly.”

 

Deschutes Co. Health Director Speaks Out About Deadly Drug Overdoses

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County officials worry about a recent spike in deadly drug overdoses. "We went from an average of 2.5 a month, to four in the last month," says County Health Services Director Janice Garceau, "So, that’s enough for us to say we want to make the community aware that there may be some increased risk." She tells KBND News it wasn't just a monthly increase, "The four overdose fatalities occurred within a six-day period."

Garceau says all were opioid-related and suspected to be linked to fentanyl use. KBND asked Garceau if all of the victims were from the homeless community. "That is one of the stereotypes about the people who are struggling with addiction is that they are all unhoused. In fact," she says, "In this instance, the folks recently who passed were - the majority of them were housed."

She urges addicts to not use alone, and to carry several doses of the overdose reversal drug Narcan, which is widely available. "We often hear people talk about, ‘Well, you know, people are making choices to use. And so the consequences are really the result of that choice.’ And what I would say is, if I had a child and they were out there using, I would want somebody to care about them enough to keep them alive long enough to have a chance to make a good choice." Garceau adds, "If people are dead, no more choices. So our goal is to keep people alive, to build relationships, to connect them to resources when they’re open to that."

It's also "alarmingly easy," according to Garceau, to mix fentanyl with other, seemingly less dangerous drugs. "A young person who might be engaging in experimental use and buys a pill off of someone who’s an acquaintance, may have absolutely no idea that pill contains fentanyl." And then, she says, they get hooked. 

Resources are available for addicts and their families looking for help. Click HERE for more information. Deschutes County’s Stabilization Center is open 24 hours; crisis services are also available by dialing 988.

 

Wednesday Closures & Delays

BEND, OR -- Freezing rain, snow and generally treacherous conditions led to numerous closures and delays across Central Oregon Wednesday, January 17. 

SCHOOLS:

  • Bend-La Pine - Closed
  • Jefferson County 509J - Closed
  • COCC - Closed (update from previous delayed start)
  • Redmond Proficiency Academy - Closed
  • Eastmont School - Closed
  • Cascades Academy - Closed
  • Trinity Lutheran - Closed
  • St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School - Closed
  • Bend-La Pine Head Start - Canceled
  • Redmond - Two-hour delay
  • Crook County - Two-hour delay
  • Sisters - Two-hour delay
  • Culver - Two-hour delay
  • Powell Butte Charter School - Two-hour delay
  • Redmond/Prineville Head Start - Two-hour delay
  • OSU-Cascades - Opens at 11 a.m.

Deschutes County Circuit Court is also closed. And Crook County Commissioners will begin their Wednesday meeting two hours late, at 10 a.m.

 

Mosaic health centers and pharmacies around the region will operate remotely or delayed as follows:

Closed: Madras High School-Based Health Center, Crook Kids School-Based Health Center, Mobile Clinic, Mosaic Dental - Madras

Remote operations all day: Bend High School-Based Health Center, Mountain View School-Based Health Center, Sisters School-Based Health Center, Harriman Health Center

Remote operations until 1 p.m.: East Bend Health Center, Connors Health Center, Courtney Health Center, Lynch School-Based Health Center, Redmond High School-Based Health Center

10 a.m. delayed start: Madras Health Center, Redmond Health Center, Prineville Health Center

 

The NAMI Family To Family support group scheduled to begin Wednesday is postponed until Wednesday, January 24. 

Redmond's Oasis Village Gets First Residents

REDMOND, OR -- The first people to move in to Redmond’s Oasis Village say the new shelter opened just in time. 

17 people are now living in 15 small cabins, getting settled just before last weekend’s winter storm hit. 

John was living in an area north of Bend known as “Dirt World”, and says Oasis Village is a big improvement, “500 times better. Yeah, Dirt World’s just about gone now.” He knows many of the others now staying at Oasis Village from “Dirt World” and other camps, “They get to bring their pets with them, too…just like it was before. So, it’s like it’s their own small community.” He says the heated bedroom shelters are a huge improvement, “Well, we have a good bed… in a place by ourselves. It is nice. Because it gets so noisy at places like we were staying that you can hardly sleep. I maybe got two or three hours of sleep at night because people were arguing and fighting, carrying on, all kinds of noises.”

He tells KBND News he appreciates the case-workers and volunteers offering support to get them into permanent housing, “They’re neat people. They are great people. They help you all they can.” And he appreciates the community building. “That's pretty nice because it’s got the laundry room and shower over here and they got two showers over this way.”

There’s also a kitchen with refrigerated storage, a dog run, and community garden at the East Redmond facility off Highway 126.

Residents began moving into the transitional housing Wednesday, January 10th. Oasis Village was funded and built by government grants, private donations, businesses, churches, civic groups, and schools.

 

Construction Underway On OSU-Cascades Success Ctr.

BEND, OR -- Construction crews have laid the foundation for another building at OSU-Cascades, following more than five years of planning and fundraising. 

The university’s Jarrod Penttila is managing the project. "It’s a 17,500 sf building; mass timber again for this building," he tells KBND News, "And that building’s going to be there - just like the name says - to serve students and help them succeed."

Penttila says, "It really centralizes a lot of the student services on campus. A lot of those exist already on our campus, but this provides one central place for those services. Things like Health & Wellness, Academic Advising, Career Advising, a place for our Student Life and Student Government folks; and then a coffee shop, a study commons and a lounge commons." He adds, "Really, this building acts as kind of a family room for the campus, over the next 30 to 40 years."

Some of those amenities already exist inside Obsidian Hall, "But, as we expand, we’re just kind of outgrowing that. And there’s also been a lot of studies over the course of the last 20 years or so that have shown that centralizing a lot of these services in one building can have a dramatic impact on student achievement."

Students agreed to raise their own fees, in order to raise $5 million for construction. The legislature committed another $13.8 million. It’s expected to open in the 2024-’25 school year. Click HERE to learn more. 

Penttila hopes eventually, OSU-Cascades will also have its own recreation facility, "One of the things the students increased their own fees for was to help support paying for that facility. And then we’re also looking to Central Oregon for different partnership opportunities that may support building a facility that might also serve the community in certain ways." He says the existing small workout room at the Bend campus isn’t enough for some students.

 

Rendering courtesy OSU-Cascades

Attempted Armed Robbery Suspect Arrested At Bend Hotel

BEND, OR -- A Bend man, believed to be involved in an attempted armed robbery last week, was arrested early Tuesday morning. Bend Police had been searching for 38-year-old Ethan Christensen since January 10 and offered a reward for information on his whereabouts. 

At around 1:15 a.m., BPD learned Christensen was staying at the Home2 Suites hotel near 27th and Bear Creek Dr. in Bend. The Central Oregon Emergency Response Team activiated and officers took Christensen into custody without incident. 

The search began after a man reported being the victim of an attempted robbery at a Bend car wash, late on January 9. He told police he stopped to clear snow from his truck and was approached by two men who demanded his wallet and money. One man had a gun. The three fought before the victim was able to drive away. 

St. Charles Revives Stop The Bleed Class

BEND, OR -- Swift action by a bystander could save the life of someone in a sudden bleeding emergency, but many people are afraid to jump into action. 

"It’s actually fairly easy to stop someone’s life-threatening bleeding with just some simple pressure and packing a wound with something like a shirt or a towel, or something like that, that you might have nearby," says St. Charles Trauma Program Coordinator and Registered Nurse Jeremy Buller. "Even if you don’t exactly know what life-threatening bleeding is, any bleeding is a problem. So holding pressure, packing the wound or placing a tourniquet on a limb is an easy way to keep that blood inside the body."

Buller leads a free two-hour “Stop the Bleed Class” at the Bend hospital, which returns this week after a pandemic hiatus. "What we’re going to teach you usually takes about 20 minutes to 30 minutes. And then we allow enough time, and as much time as they need, to do the hands-on portion: packing wounds, holding pressure on wounds and how to place a tourniquet properly." He adds, "We actually talk you through some of the scenarios and situations you might find yourself in: riding a bike down a trail and falling down, and getting impaled by a limb or cut by a limb, or something like that; more everyday situations where you might need to use some of this stuff. And then, kind of talk through how easy it is and how important it is." 

Buller tells KBND News bystanders often are afraid to leap into action. Calling 911 is an important first step, "Bend paramedics have a pretty rapid response time, but we’ve also trained all of our first responder law enforcement folks on how to stop the bleed. And they actually have bleeding kits and tourniquets in their cars."

The "Stop the Bleed" class is offered at St. Charles Bend Wednesday, January 17 at 10 a.m. and noon, Saturday, February 3 at 10 a.m., and Saturday, March 23 at 10 a.m.  Classes are limited to 20 people and registration is required.

 

Madras Opens Permanent Overnight Shelter

MADRAS, OR -- Just in time for sub-freezing weather, Madras opened its year-around Secure Care Shelter Thursday, January 11th. It will operate from daily 6 pm to 7 am.

The Jefferson County Faith Based Network previously operated temporary emergency shelters during extreme weather.

Shelter Coordinator Pat Abernathy says the permanent facility was a five-year effort, “We're very excited about this new era for us and being able to help our homeless population, which is really a joy. I mean, it's work, but it's really a joy to make a difference.”

She tells KBND News they will add staff, “We will eventually have a case manager that will help people find resources. We'll do things like foot care. We'll have haircuts, we'll have different people come in that are licensed people in their field and we'll actually help them.”

“Our community partners are really, really amazing from the city, you know, whatever we need, our police department, they're wonderful. So, we have really, really good support from different community partners… and the churches, the churches are extremely supportive of us here. So, we have a great community partnership and we're very close knit as a community in Jefferson County, anyway,” she says.

The City of Madras helped secure State and Federal grants for the Oak Street project.

 

Bend PD Awaits Changes To M110

BEND, OR -- Bend Police responded to more than 650 reports of drug activity in 2023. That's a couple hundred more than the previous year. But many of those involved weren’t arrested because of Measure 110. Approved by voters in 2020, M110 decriminalized user amounts of hard drugs. "Law enforcement is really hoping to see some clarification and changes to that," says Bend PD's Sheila Miller. 

Currently officers can only issue a violation and refer the person to treatment. Miller says the agency is hopeful the Oregon Legislature will take action next month, to reclassify public drug use, "From what it currently is, which is a violation, back to a misdemeanor. There’s no ability, really, to enforce a violation if you choose not to pay it or call the hotline." She says officers respend frequently to overdose calls, using the reversal drug Narcan at nearly all. Fentanyl is involved in the bulk of those. Miller tells KBND News, "I think they do feel a little bit, sometimes, that their hands are tied about what they can do when they see people who are clearly abusing drugs, beyond writing them a violation that may not go anywhere."

The Oregon Association Chiefs of Police helped create a proposal for lawmakers to overhaul Measure 110. Miller says it's, "An attempt to create a misdemeanor associated with misusing drugs in public, which I think a lot of people see out in their community and are troubled by. And also, using them in enclosed public spaces like bathrooms, where the next person who goes in could be put in danger."

Miller believes revising M110 would help protect the general public and drug users. "In the past," she says, "One of the things that we saw is when you got arrested for drug use, that allowed an issue to stop before it sort of steamrolled into something larger. And now, our officers respond pretty consistently and see people using drugs and they may issue you a violation, but there’s not much our officers can do until that drug use creates other illegal behaviors."

 

Deschutes Co. Warns Of Sudden Rise In Overdose Deaths

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County health officials say a recent rise in drug overdose deaths is linked to a combination of fentanyl and other substances. Four people died in a six-day span, leading to an urgent warning for drug users and their families and friends to take extra precautions.

The overdose reversal drug Naloxone is available at most pharmacies, and everyone who associates with an addict is encouraged to carry it. Click HERE for more information on how to spot and respond to an overdose. 

 

The Deschutes County Harm Reduction Program recommends the following steps and strategies for community members: 

1.  Assume any substance purchased on the street may contain unknown substances.

2.  Make sure everyone in the area can access Naloxone (aka Narcan) and knows how to administer it.

3.  Naloxone is safe. Even if naloxone is given to someone who is not experiencing an overdose, it will not harm them.

Get Support: If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug or alcohol use, here are some resources that can help:

  • Drug and Alcohol Helpline: (800) 923-4357) or Text: ‘Recovery Now’ to 839863. Help line for individuals and family members seeking crisis intervention, treatment referral, and chemical-dependency information: linesforlife.org/alcohol-and-drug-helpline
  • Crisis Services: Contact the crisis line by dialing 988 or (541) 322-7500 x9 or call (800) 875-7364 (toll free) or
  • Stabilization Center at 63311 NE Jamison Street Bend, OR 97703 which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
  • Youth Crisis line: (877) 968-8491 Text: ‘teen2teen’ to 839863. A teen-to-teen crisis and helpline for youth and teens. Teens available to help daily from 4 -10 p.m. (off-hour calls are answered by the crisis line) oregonyouthline.org
  • Mental Health Care Services: (541) 322-7500 to schedule an initial appointment with the Access Team to access counseling, substance use treatment, peer support services, and more.

Bend Man Wanted For Attempted Robbery

BEND, OR -- Bend Police looking for an attempted robbery suspect are asking for the public’s help. Investigators say the victim parked at a northeast Bend car wash late last Tuesday to clear snow off his truck. Two other men approached  - one with a gun - and demanded his wallet. They fought before the victim was able to drive away.

Police believe 38-year-old Ethan Christensen is one of the suspects. On Thursday, an officer tried to pull Christensen's car over on Arizona Ave., but he sped into oncoming traffic. The driver ditched the car at Farewell Bend Park. Officers set up a perimeter and searched the area, but Christensen wasn't found. 

Anyone with information is asked to call Bend PD through non-emergency dispatch (541-693-6911). You may be eligible for a cash reward.

 

Photo: Ethan Christensen shown with and without glasses

Sisters Opens Temporary Warming Shelter

SISTERS, OR -- Sisters opened a temporary cold weather shelter this week, in response to the extreme winter conditions. It's inside a currently vacant city-owned building on E. Main Ave. There is no permanent homeless shelter in Sisters. 

City Council approved an emergency declaration to allow the shelter to operate through January 25, 2024. It could be extended, if deemed necessary. Authorities outlined the following requirements for the facility:

  • Location:  291 E. Main Ave., adjacent to Fir Street Park.
  • Hours:  6 p.m. to 7 a.m. No re-entry allowed after 9 p.m.
  • Purpose: The building will serve as an overnight warming shelter for houseless families and individuals facing extreme winter conditions.
  • Code of Conduct: All visitors to the emergency shelter must agree to adhere to a specified code of conduct to ensure a safe and respectful environment for everyone.
  • Emergency Contact: In case of any issues or concerns, individuals can contact the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency number at 541-693-6911. The emergency shelter will provide a daily contact number, accessible through the City's website.
  • This emergency shelter is a temporary solution aimed at providing assistance to houseless neighbors during the winter season.
  • The use of the building as a temporary emergency cold weather shelter is contingent upon the availability of volunteers. Community members are encouraged to participate in this vital initiative.

file photo

Precautions Needed During Extreme Cold

BEND, OR -- From protecting your health to your pets and home, officials urge Central Oregonians to take necessary precautions during this weekend's cold snap. "Really cold weather is coming," says Deschutes County Public Health's Emily Horton, "You know, we’ve been used to it with some snow storms starting, but it’s about to get really, really cold."

As Emergency Preparedness Program Manager, she asks people to check on elderly neighbors and those who may not have reliable heat. Horton tells KBND News, "If we’re using other alternative heat sources, like burning fuels inside, it’s really important - Carbon Monoxide is a concern there. And using those extra heating away from curtains." She notes an open flame can ignite curtains or other nearby combustibles, "A cold space can turn into a really hot space with a fire really quickly, and that’s a problem too."

For people with pre-existing cardiac conditions, Horton suggests moderating outdoor activity. If you're shoveling snow, take frequent breaks. "Especially if it’s really, really cold and you have high blood pressure or heart disease, the risk of a heart attack goes up when it’s really cold outside."

Horton's biggest concern if for the unsheltered, who have other, more urgent needs, "Trying to keep dry and different types of blankets. I know in several of our communities, our community partners have been working really hard to get some of that out to people who are likely not coming into shelters. So, kind of preparing ahead and helping people shelter in place." She says efforts are underway to get people indoors, "There are places where they can go." If you need help connecting with resources or finding shelter, call 211. 

People who must be outside for prolonged periods should watch for signs of frostbite, "Red skin or pain - usually your fingers, toes, nose and ears - turning white or grayish, or in extreme cases black, or skin feels really firm or waxy," says Horton.  Hypothermia is also a concern, which can cause confusion and exhaustion. Click HERE for more health and safety tips, and a list of Deschutes County warming shelters. 

The Humane Society of Central Oregon asks pet owners to bring animals inside to protect against frostbite and other issues. If your pet must be outside, provide a dry, elevated shelter and make sure drinking water does not freeze. Heated beds and bowls are available. Use pet-safe ice melt for walkways, and consider dressing your dog in a jacket or sweater and booties if headed out for a walk.

Homeowners should take additional steps to protect from ice damage. KBND real estate expert Fred Johnson says during stretches of frigid temps, water is our nemesis, "Whether it comes in frozen form or non-frozen form, because the stuff that shows up in frozen form is eventually going to melt and we’re going to have to deal with it at that time."

The biggest risk to homes comes from ice dams. Icicles hanging from the eaves could be a symptom of a bigger issue, "It’s melting where there’s heat coming up out of the house," says Johnson, "And when it gets out over the eave end, then it freezes and sets up. Because there’s snow there, it stacks up and it creates what’s called a dam. Ice melts slower than the snow, so the water pools up behind and runs underneath the shingles and comes back into the house." A garden rake can help, "Make sure that you put the tines facing up, so you don’t scratch the roofing material. But if you just remove the first foot and a half- two feet of snow along the eaves’ end, that’ll keep from that dam being able to build up."

Johnson says clearning snow throughout the storm is more effective than waiting until the weather clears, "Get your trenching, get your walkways done, get the snow away from the areas you want to get in and out of, because it gets like cement, almost. And then what happens is the smaller the pathway, when you have multiple days of snow, each successive day it gets smaller and smaller and smaller and gets more and more difficult."

For indoor water pipes, Johnson follows the "eight-degree rule." When it falls below eight degrees, he says, "?If you’ve got outside wall plumbing, in other words, if you’re in a bathroom or a kitchen or laundry room and the plumbing that’s coming into that fixture is coming up on an outside wall, open the cabinet door underneath that, so some of the heat from the house can get in under that cabinetry is really a pretty good spot. If one’s pretty isolated or whatever, it doesn’t cost much to drip. And to drip will save you a plumbing bill."

Bend Fire & Rescue also reminds people to make sure outdoor spigots are covered. Clear snow and ice from utility boxes and gas shut-offs. And, if you live near a fire hydrant, they ask that you help keep it free of snow, so it's accessible in a fire emergency. 

file photo

MLK Day Of Service Monday in Central Oregon

BEND, OR -- Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when many Central Oregonians volunteer to serve the community. 

Becca Phelps, with the nonprofit, Connect Central Oregon explains the purpose of the annual event. "It's a day that's dedicated to honoring the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. And the way we encourage people to do that is through meaningful volunteer projects which are aimed at making a positive impact in our communities.”

There are many opportunities all over the region. “There's a diverse range of MLK day of service volunteer opportunities that caters to a variety of ages, but also interests and skills. There's projects where you can support local seniors and veterans. There's projects that are aiding environmental initiatives, assisting different community organizations in their day-to-day work, even things like cleaning up the Tower Theater,” she says, adding there has been a lot of interest, “Right now there's close to 200 volunteers signed up. So many of the projects are filling up very quickly, but there's still openings for at least half of the organizations.”

Learn more and sign up at volunteer.connectcentraloregon.org

File Photo

Redmond Eyes Legislature For More Shelter Funding

REDMOND, OR -- More than a dozen people are moving in to Redmond’s newest shelter facility, on the east side of town. Oasis Village - a cluster of small bedroom shelters - officially opened Wednesday, with the help of state emergency funding. Mayor Ed Fitch says it’s just the latest step in the city’s plan, "We had actually a very good year, in addressing the homeless situation. We were able to get Oasis funded, and they're now up and running." He tells KBND News, "Right now, they’re looking at 17 people. I think it’ll grow to probably 30, sometime this year. But it was a good achievement and a lot of people were very helpful on it. "

He's optimistic more shelter options will come online, soon. "We’re working diligently on getting 21st Street, near Oasis, funded and built this year, so that we can work out the terms of a managed camp on some county property there. That’ll enable us to find a safe place for the people to get off the street in northeast Redmond, and off the county property, which they want to exchange with the Department of State Lands."

Fitch also hopes lawmakers will send more money to the region during next month’s short session, to address homelessness, "We have a number of requests in with the Legislature, as do others in Central Oregon. We think some of those will probably get funded, and will enable us to not only help with the homeless situation, but also protect the integrity of all our community, including northeast Redmond."

Click HERE to listen to our entire conversation with Redmond Mayor Ed Fitch. 

Near-Victim Of Jury Duty Scam Speaks Out

REDMOND, OR -- Law enforcement-related scams are getting even more sophisticated and believable. Agencies around the state have issued warnings about the "jury duty scam," but reports of the calls continue to increase. A cluster of reports from Central Oregonians came in over the holidays, and one local woman found out the hard way just how realistic these calls sound. 

Treana Holsey was navigating the busy holiday season and packing up her Redmond house to move, when a man called on a Saturday, claiming to be a Deschutes County Deputy. "There was a warrant - a standing warrant for my arrest," she tells KBND News. He said she'd signed papers agreeing to serve on the Grand Jury but failed to show up, leading to $2,500 in fines. "His legal jargon was very professional. Pretty on-point. There are things I just don’t know about the law, so I was listening and taking things into consideration."

She was skeptical, telling him several times it sounded like a scam. He offered to send her a copy of the warrant, "He texted it to me. And it was this legal-looking document with my name on it. So every time I challenged it, he had an answer that seemed possible."

Holsey was told to pay the fine at a local kiosk, then take the receipt to the courthouse, "He gave me the courthouse address. I looked it up; it was accurate. He had my name, my address." She adds, "My husband asked to speak to his supervisor, so someone else came on the line. I mean, it was quite the play. They had a lot of good answers." 

She didn't send any money and the man on the phone grew frustrated, telling her to just come to the county courthouse. On the way to Bend, her husband called county authorities, "That guy could hear my husband on the phone and he started getting mad, ‘who’s your husband talking to?’" Then, she says, "The lady on the other line is like, ‘hang up.’"

Holsey disconnected with the scammer but he called back, "They actually left a message. They threatened to kill me." In fact, the man claimed he was sitting outside her house and would only leave if she paid up. A real Deschutes County Deputy followed up with Holsey and confirmed there was no warrant. 

In total, Holsey believes she was on the phone with him for an hour. She hopes the time  the scammers spent with her protected others from getting taken. 

Authorities say this is a common ploy. Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz tells KBND News his name has even been used in recent scam calls. Law enforcement will never demand payment for fines over the phone. And if you do have a warrant, an officer or deputy will likely come to your door. 

 

ODOT Preps For Next Round Of Arctic Weather

BEND, OR -- We get a bit of a break Thursday, before another blast of winter weather hits almost every corner of Oregon through the weekend. Central Oregon was hit hard over the past two days, as snow blanketed mountain passes and the eastern slope of the Cascades. ODOT's Mindy McCartt says plows are out in full force, "Crews are out, shifting to 24 hour service - 12 hour shifts, so they can cover the bulk of the traveled roads: 97, 84, 26, those highways that are used the most."

She says Oregon Department of Transportation forecasters predict treacherous conditions along the entirety of I-84, over the next several days, "Troutdale, even into Gresham, all the way through the Gorge and then out, down south of Pendleton, La Grande, Baker City - white-out conditions, even over through the weekend." The coast is also bracing for more high winds, snow and ice is also forecast for southern and eastern Oregon, and the Portland area could see as much as 4" of snow. Crews are preparing, even in low-lying areas, "They’re out there pre-treating. You’ve got sand, you’ve got deicer, you’ve got gravel in certain areas," says McCartt. 

Even with all that preparation, McCartt says not every highway will get cleared, "White-out conditions, heavy amounts of snow, some ice. At some point, even our max amount of snow plows and staffing, we still don’t have enough to beat Mother Nature this go-around. But we’re doing the best we can with what we have." She asks drivers to be safe and responsible, and not wait too long to chain up, "When those chain requirements are in place, that means those chains need to be on your vehicle when you pass that restriction point. It doesn’t mean ‘let’s just keep going until we slide off and then put our chains on.’"

ODOT asks drivers to delay travel, if possible, especially over mountain passes, "All of the ski resorts are up and open, so all of these people that have been just dying to get out on the slopes are maybe looking forward to getting out this weekend," says McCartt, "And it’s not going to be the safest choice for them to try to get up the mountain passes over the weekend." If you must travel, visit Tripcheck for the latest conditions and road closures. 

Photo of I-5 near Ashland, 01/10/24; courtesy Oregon's Dept. of Transportation

County Considers Short-Term Rental Licensing

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County may require short-term rentals in unincorporated areas to have a business license. Commissioners decided Wednesday to form a work group made up of county staff and others to create applicant rules.

Commissioner Phil Chang wants to make sure there are basic standards.

“I think there's definitely opportunities to take the experience of other counties and then tailor it for our local setting. I mean, I think that would be some of the real value of having a work group,” Chang said adding, “This is not anti-business. This is ensuring that businesses are being good neighbors.

Commissioner Patti Adair said it’s important to establish enforceable standards, “I think we have lost a lot of civility. You see it almost every day and, just by having these guidelines, I think it will, it'll be protective. We will give Deschutes County residents that are close to the rental…. the fact that their rights are being respected, and their peace and quiet are being respected.”

Commissioners heard from legal counsel that it's important to have enforceable guidelines for safety and living standards, including fire, water, and property management to avoid liability. “If you give a certificate of authority to a facility and they're putting people in a garage that doesn't have secondary egress and there's a fire and someone gets hurt or dead, the county's going to get sued, “said County attorney Dave Doyle.

The plan is for the work group to convene over the next few months to work on licensing requirements which have been drafted by County staff.

 

Prineville Man Admits To Animal Abuse Conspiracy

EUGENE, OR -- An Oregon man pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday, for his role in an animal torture conspiracy. According to prosecutors, 48-year-old David Noble conspired with others around the country to fund the production of overseas videos showing the mutilation and murder of monkeys. 

During a February 2023 search of his Prineville home, investigators found around 50 videos of animal abuse, along with several firearms. After the search, Noble moved to Nevada. 

He was indicted in May for conspiring to engage in animal crushing, as well as creating and distributing animal crush videos, creating animal crush videos and illegally possessing a firearm as a dishonorably discharged person. 

The US Attorney's Office notes Noble was dismissed from the Air Force in 2006, following a court martial for fraud and an unprofessional relationship. He was ordered to serve six months in military custody in that case. 

Noble was arrested in Nevada in June. He’ll be sentenced in April and faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

 

BPD Releases 2023 DUII Stats, Discusses New Laws

BEND, OR -- Bend Police arrested 602 people for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants in 2023. While it's a slight decline from the previous year, it's still an average of around 50 DUII arrests a month. The majority occurred between midnight and 1 a.m. But nearly 40% were between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. And, 119 had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .20 or above. A person is considered legally intoxicated witha BAC of .08. 

Fifteen people had a BAC of .30, which is too high to be booked into the jail without special clearance from the hospital. Numerous drugs were also identified during DUII investigations, including THC, Fentanyl, Meth, MDMA and cocaine. 

A new state law that took effect January first could make more drivers eligible for arrest. "House Bill 2316 expanded the definition of intoxicants, when it comes to DUII," Bend PD's Sheila Miller tells KBND News. "It’s been illegal to drive under the influence for a very long time in Oregon. But that was typically alcohol, and then controlled substances; illegal drugs, THC, that sort of thing. That has expanded to be any sort of intoxicant; anything that could impact your driving ability." She says that includes, "Anything you get over the counter, if you’re using it improperly. So, think about when you take a few too many slugs of Nyquil, or you have excessive amounts of caffeine in your system. It could really be anything that impacts your ability to drive, so that’s a big development."

There’s also a new law targeting organized retail theft, "It allows for a stronger possible sentence for that. That may be something that people have seen a lot of videos, or they’ve seen with their own eyes of people just walking out of stores with lots of merchandise. And I think that’s something that maybe will make a difference." Miller adds, "The law basically allows prosecutors to kind of consolidate charges and try a defendant in one county, even if they’ve hit the same retailer in a bunch of different counties." It also stiffens penalties for repeat offenders.

 

Residents Move In To Oasis Village

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s Oasis Village starts moving in residents Wednesday. Crews broke ground on the shelter project in early October. The construction timeline accelerated rapidly to meet the Governor’s January 10th deadline.

Twenty previously homeless Central Oregonians will live in individual 100-square-foot heated bedroom shelters. The village also features a community building with showers, bathrooms, laundry and kitchen facilities, and access to a community garden and the internet. 

Hoodoo Opens Amid Winter Blast

SISTERS, OR -- Snow is piling up in the mountains, much to the delight of ski resorts. Although high winds and blizzard-like conditions caused some issues Tuesday. Mt. Bachelor shared a video from mid-mountain, where Tuesday morning gusts reached 100 miles an hour. Wednesday morning, Bachelor reported, "We’ve seen over 2 feet of snow in the last 24 hours with almost 5 feet of snow this week! All lifts will be delayed this morning due to storm recovery and we expect to see moderate snowfall and strong winds throughout the day."

Hoodoo finally opened its season Wednesday. General Manager Matthew McFarland talked with KBND News Tuesday, amid his efforts to clear Hoodoo’s parking lot. "Conditions are white, white, white; very white," he said, "Snow’s coming in sideways and it seems like it’s blowing about 30 miles an hour. We’ve probably gotten eight inches in the parking lot in the last four-ish hours."

He admits the late start to the season is disappointing, "Very frustrating, but there’s really nothing you can do about it. Mother Nature gives us what she’s going to give us, so we can only do with what we have." McFarland added, "It’s disappointing to open so late, but we’ve got the snow now and it’s looking great. We’re all very excited."

His team is prepared for the weather, "We’re expecting there to be lots of wind and icing on the lifts. It just means we have to show up earlier in the morning to get things going." McFarland expects a limited number of lifts to be available on opening day, due to the conditions, "Ed, Manzanita, Easy Rider and The Magic Carpet open. So we will not have summit access, most likely, based on wind alone. If the conditions are favorable, that’s something that could happen. But looking at the forecast, it’s not probable." He notes school closures and delays make it a perfect day to, "Come on up!"

McFarland also has a warning for skiers, "This kind of storm, when it comes in big, deep and heavy, like it is, always be careful of deep snow immersion. So, if you’re skiing through the trees, always ski with a friend, always have a buddy; somebody to watch you and spot you. Keep your friends in sight. Stay safe."

 

Wednesday Closures & Delays

BEND, OR -- Snow plows have been out for the last 24 hours, but it wasn't enough for some school districts and programs. 

Closed on Wednesday:

  • Bend-La Pine Schools; all after-school activities are canceled.
  • Trinity Lutheran School
  • St. Francis School
  • Central Christian School
  • Cascades Academy
  • Central Oregon Community College; all COCC campuses
  • OSU-Cascades
  • East Bend, Healy Heights, Westside, South Bend, JCJ, Coach and Finley Head Start programs
  • Deschutes County Circuit Court
  • La Pine Library
  • Sunriver Library
  • Deschutes Historical Museum
  • Redmond DMV (due to staffing)

On a Two-Hour Delay:

  • Redmond Schools
  • Crook County Schools
  • Jefferson Co. 509J Schools
  • Sisters Schools
  • Culver Schools
  • Redmond Proficiency Academy
  • Redmond and Prineville Head Start programs

In addition, Bend Mosaic Community Health clinics will operate remotely until noon. Redmond, Madras, Prineville and Sisters sites will open at 10 a.m. East Bend Dental and Madras Dental clinics open at noon. 

St. Charles Health System Sisters Family Care will open at 10 a.m.

St. Charles La Pine Family Care will close at 3 p.m.

Deschutes County DA Discusses Simultaneous Murder Cases

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County District Attorney is busy with homicide cases. Randall Kilby was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences last week, for the hatchet killings of two men. The murders occurred a few months after Kilby was arrested but not charged in the death of Daphne Banks. DA Steve Gunnels tells KBND News, "That’s the first one where somebody had been arrested for a murder, released and then committed another murder; to my knowledge." Kilby’s trial for the Banks murder is on hold while the State Supreme Court rules on the admissibility of statements made to police. 

Another defendant also waits for a trial date, "On December 26, 2023, Theodore Bowser was arrested at his home for the stabbing death of his mother, whose name is Rene Carlson," says Gunnels, "I would not expect it to go to trial until, at the earliest, the fall of 2024."

Gunnels acknowledges the county has seen more violent crime in recent years, "I’ve been a prosecutor for 30 years here. And the typical murder per year for Deschutes County has been zero, one and in a bad year, two. But since COVID, in 2020, that number went up to four." In 2022, the number of homicides jumped up to eight. Last year, there were again four. He believes it's due to a variety of factors, "The Kilby case and the Bowser case, those are essentially domestic cases, where people were cohabitating."

He says there has been a spike in violent crime since COVID, nationwide and locally. "At least in Deschutes County, they largely have to do with drug and alcohol use increasing during that period of time, as well as the social isolation that results, in some cases, with psychosis," says Gunnels. 

 

Madras Aquatic Center Looks For Funding Solutions

MADRAS, OR -- The Madras Aquatic Center Recreation District voted Monday to put an updated tax levy on the May ballot.

Executive Director Courtney Snead told the MAC board it won’t increase existing taxes, “Our current tax rates are 65 cents for our local option levy and permanent rate. And then right around that 59-cent mark for our bond. So, this $1.24 per $1,000 adds those three together.” She added it would benefit aging swim facility, “Sustainable funding for capital maintenance, increased hours of MAC operation, cash flow and savings for our JASON months properly, staffing the district, having consistent programs and services and a potential reduction of land-based rec fees.” JASON refers to the months of July, August, September, October and November.

She tells KBND News they want to avoid more reductions in services, “We were trying to figure out how we could raise 1.6 million through property taxes. And that's how we came to this idea of dissolving the existing district and proposing a new district with an appropriate tax rate for that level of funding.”  She says they have had several maintenance issues, “Over the last couple of years, we've had a number of unanticipated capital equipment malfunctions, and replacements that needed to happen. And so, we've just been eating away at the money that we had.”

The added money would fill a gap, “We've got about $3 million in our five-year capital plan that would catch us up with all of the deferred maintenance we have from the last 15 years. And this level of funding would allow us to accomplish that five-year plan,” Snead says.

The proposed tax measure needs approval by Jefferson County cities at a meeting Tuesday, and the county commissioners Wednesday, before it goes to voters this spring.

 

Winter Storm Brings Needed Improvement To OR Snowpack

PORTLAND, OR -- A winter storm moving through Oregon this week brings much-needed snow to the mountains. 

"Conditions will be changing this week, quite rapidly," Matt Warbritton said Monday. "It’s certainly going to get us out of sort of the trend that we’ve been in throughout December and into the start of January, where we were almost seeing close to record low snowpack, statewide." Warbritton is a Supervisory Hydrologist for NRCS-Oregon.

He says the snowpack was dismal coming into the new year. "Most of our sites actually, in the Central Cascades - I’m talking about generally the Santiam Pass region, between Mt Jefferson and the Sisters - Several of those sites were at record low snowpack. And in the Mt. Hood region, several sites were below 25% normal." As of Monday, snowpack in the Upper Deschutes-Crooked River Basin was just 51% of normal for this time of year (pictured). But that changes Tuesday, when the Central Cascades is predicted to get up to four feet of snow over two days. "That’s certainly going to - if that does come to fruition - provide some significant relief, in terms of the snow drought we’ve been seeing in that region," says Warbritton.

El Nino brought warmer than normal temps over the past two months, causing precipitation to fall as rain. But snow is critical for spring streamflows and summer irrigation. Warbritton says, "It’s important also for reservoir managers, because they have to manage for flooding. So, if we keep getting rain, that’s a pretty high flood risk at reservoirs that are near full."

 

COCC Campuses Close At Noon, Due To Weather

BEND, OR -- All Central Oregon Community College campuses will close at noon Tuesday, due to weather and road conditions. All classes and events are canceled beginning at 12 p.m., including remote/online classes. The closure impacts both on-campus and remote personnel. Click HERE for information.

Anyone interested in receiving COCC Alert, the college's emergency notifications, can follow the sign-up instructions online.

Smoker Blamed For Prineville House Fire

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville home suffered significant fire damage, early Tuesday morning. Crook County firefighters responded to Northeast Sixth Street just after 3 a.m. and found flames coming from the east side of the building, threatening an adjoining house.

No one was hurt and crews were able to extinguish the fire quickly, limiting damage to the neighboring home. Investigators say it started from a smoker on the porch and spread inside.

 

Photo courtesy Crook County Fire & Rescue

Sisters-Area Barn Destroyed By Late-Night Fire

SISTERS, OR -- A Sunday night fire caused more than $300,000 in damages to a barn in Stevens Canyon. Sisters-Camp Sherman firefighters were dispatched to the blaze just after 11 p.m., but the exact location was unknown. The first call to 911 was from a property owner more than a mile and a half away, who reported seeing a glow in the distance. 

Fire crews were dispatched to Wilt Road, but were re-directed to the Ridge at Indian Ford Subdivision before determining the fire was off Stevens Canyon Road. It took 17 minutes for firefighters to arrive on scene. 

They found the two-story barn fully engulfed in flames. It is a total loss. The property owner's Ring footage revealed the fire likely started two to three hours before the initial call to 911. The cause is under investigation. 

Missing Redmond Man Found in Bend

UPDATE (11:20 a.m.) -- Redmond Police confirm David Holmes was found alive in Bend. The agency thanked the community for its efforts.

 

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are asking for the public's help to find a 40-year-old man missing since Saturday. David Holmes left work at about 12:30 p.m., January 6. Investigators say he later sent a social media message to a family member at 3 p.m.

He left his phone at work, and police say he may be suffering from a mental health crisis. 

David Holmes is 5'8", 135 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. He may be driving a white Toyota Avalon (stock image above) with Oregon plates 991-NKG. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call RPD through non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.

Area Home Builders Donate To Local Non-Profits

REDMOND, OR -- Two area home builders recently donated to a pair of local non-profits.

Hayden Homes contributed $50-thousand to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon.

Program Director Jenn Davis tells KBND News the money will be used to expand the program, and recruit more Bigs, “Hayden Holmes is a long-time supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon and it means so much to our program. It means that we're going to be able to match more kids. We have 40 plus kids, primarily boys on our waitlist. And this money means that we'll be able to help match those kids and get them mentors.”

She’s grateful for Hayden Homes’ commitment to the non-profit, “Their CEO Dennis Murphy is a long-time supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters. He was a Big Brother, and he was also our board president for many years. For our organization where we serve 220 kids, this donation goes a very long way. It's a huge part of our budget this year.”

Redmond home developer "The Peaks 360” will donate $50-thousand over two years to help fund operations at The Giving Plate. 

The food pantry helps over 35-hundred community members daily.

 

Bend Mayor Lists Priorities For Legislative Session

BEND, OR -- With less than a month before the start of the February Legislative Session, Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler anticipates state lawmakers will take action on the city's top priorities. "Making sure that we are able to continue our shelter operations with sustainable funding from the state, is a huge part of what we want to do. And then, we’re also looking at the focus on continuing to tackle the housing crisis, and to look at Measure 110 reforms. Those are the three areas I think we’ll be most active in," she tells KBND News.

"Number one is: we have stepped up as a city to provide additional shelter beds - over 500 shelter beds now in Bend. We did a lot of that with one-time money, relying on one-time ARPA dollars and some money that came from the state. So, what we’re worried about now is being able to continue to keep those shelters open." Kebler believes state funding is critical to that goal. "The Governor has declared a homelessness emergency and is trying to move people out of homelessness as quickly as possible. Shelters aren’t the answer to that, but they’re a very crucial step to stabilize people, especially to get them into case management."

On Measure 110, Kebler says, "There were public safety consequences that now the legislature has to grapple with, and how do we go in a right direction that’s not going to just re-overwhelm our criminal justice system and not get people into treatment, but is going to address some of those public safety concerns?" She says City Council supports reforms proposed by a group of law enforcement officials, "There is an 11-point comprehensive plan that came out late last year from the League of Cities; it was in conjunction with public safety partners - chiefs of police and sheriffs - talking about the public safety reforms as well as the programs and treatment enhancements that are needed." Deschutes County Commissioners have also signed on to support that plan. 

The short session begins February fifth in Salem. 

 

Pacific Power Urges Preparation Ahead Of Winter Storm

BEND, OR -- The National Weather Service issued a high-wind warning for Central Oregon, beginning at 4 a.m. Tuesday. Pacific Power says it is monitoring the winter storm expected this week in much of Oregon, California and Washington.

Strong winds, snowfall and sub-freezing temperatures could result in system interruptions and crews are on standby to respond to weather-related outages. The utility encourages customers to prepare by taking the following steps:

Pacific Power reminds you to stay away from downed trees and utility lines. 

 

file photo

Training For Families Of People With Mental Health Conditions

BEND, OR -- Homelessness, drug use and mental illness are often lumped together. But Pastor Kally Elliott, with Bend’s First Presbyterian Church, says not everyone with a mental health condition is an unsheltered addict, "A lot of them live pretty healthy lives and stable lives. And yet, there still are times of crisis, and they still have loved ones who care about their wellbeing and about their own wellbeing. And it still can be a bumpy ride."

Elliott is also a National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Central Oregon board member. She’ll co-lead an eight-week training for families to learn how to provide support to loved ones, "Just how to care for yourself, how to care for your loved one, where to find support in the community, what to do in a crisis with your loved one. It gives you tools for how to help the relationship along." She tells KBND News, "I think it also just provides a sense that you’re not alone in this; that there are lots of other people in your own community that are living this life with you and walking this road with you." Elliott adds, "It’s about being able to find space to breathe, either before or in the midst of, or even after a crisis. And finding people to walk alongside you as you take that deep breath."

NAMI’s Family to Family class is held at First Presbyterian Church (230 NE 9th St. Bend) Wednesday evenings from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., January 17 - March 6. It's free but pre-registration is required. Email NAMI to register. 

Updated 01/10/24 to reflect new dates. Due to inclement weather, the group will delay by one week.

 

Prineville Man Accused Of Trafficking Fentanyl, Meth

SISTERS, OR -- A Prineville man faces drug trafficking charges, following a search of his vehicle by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team. Detectives say they concluded a long-term surveillance operation Saturday morning, and arrested 35-year-old Travis Ingram. They believe he imported significant quantities of fentanyl pills and meth from the Yamhill County area, and distributed them in Redmond and Prineville.

Ingram was arrested during a traffic stop outside Sisters. He was pulled over for tailgating. CODE drug detection K9 Bonnie (pictured) alerted to the presence of narcotics inside the vehicle. After obtaining a search warrant, detectives say they uncovered methamphetamine and counterfeit Oxycodone tablets containing fentanyl. 

He's charged with Unlawful Possession and Attempted Distribution of Fentanyl, and Unlawful Possession and Attempted Distribution of Methamphetamine. 

Fire Damages SW Redmond Home

REDMOND, OR -- A southwest Redmond home was heavily damaged by a Friday afternoon fire. It was first reported at about 3:45 p.m. When firefighters arrived on SW 36th Loop, they found flames coming from the back of the house.

Everyone inside escaped without injury and crews were able to stop the fire from spreading to neighboring homes.

Losses are estimated at $25,000 and the cause is under investigation.

Petition Seeks To Add Deschutes Co. Commissioners

BEND, OR -- There is an effort underway to add two more commissioners to the Deschutes County board. A petition to put that request on the November ballot started with Bend business owner John Heylin who says it’s time for a change, “From seeing the dysfunction of the commissioner's meetings. And also realizing that three just is not a good ruling body for a county that has a budget of $730-million. We really need a couple more heads in the room in order to make progress on a lot of the problems in Deschutes County.”

He tells KBND News rules governing public meetings, which don’t allow a majority of commissioners to unofficially discuss issues, also limits their work, “By increasing it to five, you get it so that two commissioners actually could hang out and talk about what they read about or explore some of these ideas more in full, and stop wasting people's times during public meetings.”

Heylin tried to get the request for additional commissioners on the ballot last year. After consideration, Commissioners Patti Adair and Tony DeBone ultimately opposed the idea, Phil Chang was for it. Chang announced Thursday he’s running for re-election in the county’s first non-partisan commissioner race.

“If they had actually put it on the ballot themselves in May, then those two extra seats would have been up for election in ‘24 which would have been amazing because then we'd have five commissioners at the end of 2024,” said Heylin, who is now asking the public to send it to the ballot in November, “I think, because so many people are fed up with the current county government and the structure of it that I've gotten incredible support.”

The petition must get 6,581 valid voter signatures turned into the county clerk’s office by July 23rd.

File Photo: current Board of Commissioners during a 2023 meeting

Bend To Consider Changes To MUPTE

BEND, OR -- Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler is defending the city’s Multi-Unit Property Tax Exemption, after the City Council approved its second application this week. She says giving a tax break to projects like Jackstraw, near the Box Factory, and Platform, in the former Les Schwab facility on Franklin, doesn’t take money away from the city, "The idea is it’s a long-term plan to make some investments up front; but in the end, we see increased tax revenues because we’ve developed the area into buildings like the Jackstraw or other places where there’s homes and there’s commercial activity."

But, she admits the MUPTE program needs adjusting. "This is our first round of applications in the first year it’s been open. And so, I think we always intended to come back and say, ‘okay, what kind of applications did we get and do we need to make changes?’" Kebler tells KBND News, "There’s two more applications we’re expecting to come through for a couple different projects. So, that’s what we’ve got in our first round. And starting in our next meeting, we’re going to talk about how do we update the program going forward."

Currently, an applicant must show the project provides three community benefits from a list of options. Kebler says, "Our public benefit list - do we need to change that and raise that bar? And, do we need to change the process to make it simpler and easier to understand?" She adds, "It makes sense that early pioneers into these areas might have a little bit less public benefit standards than ones that come in later, when there’s more established development in the area already."

A developer must also prove the project is not financially viable without the 10-year tax exemption. Construction began on Jackstraw three months before its MUPTE application was submitted. Councilor Mike Riley said this week that timeline proves the developer, Killian Pacific, has the necessary funding. Killian Pacific told the Council it was a misunderstanding. Kebler wants to consider changing the process, "I don’t want it to be confusing for developers or especially for the public. And I think it is a bit, right now."

Councilors expect to start those discussions at the next Work Session. 

file photo

Veterans Village To Receive Additional County Funds

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners are sending another $53,000 to help Veterans Village renovate its community building.

On Wednesday, they got an update on work at the northwest Bend shelter from Erik Tobiason of the Bend Heroes Foundation. “The scope was to add seven cabins to expand on the 15 that we had. So, increase the capacity by about 50% which will require increasing the utilities and the services in the community building...increasing the parking, which is a big deal,” Tobiason said the new cabins should be ready for occupancy next month.

However, the volunteer-run organization encountered a funding gap while remodeling the community building. “We can continue to raise money through the private community. Everyone in this town and, and region is a supporter of the project. Like I said, we will be successful, we will finish the community building,” Tobiason told the board in his presentation asking for the additional $53,000 grant.

Bend Heroes Foundation was originally going to repay the county in exchange for the Bend Parks and Rec district waiving System Development Charges. 

Commissioner Phil Chang joined Patti Adair in support of the additional money, “I’m really excited about what Veterans Village has accomplished and the addition of these seven units and the future or the near future improvements to the community building,” Chang said.

Total grant fund spending on the project is now over $500,000. 

Commissioner Tony DeBone voted against the new grant, “This is a big commitment. We put a lot of resources in there and I'm so happy that those cabins are there. But seeing this come up on the agenda, I was kind of shocked…pretty bold request.”

Debone believes the foundation could have found help from private donors. 

Photo: centraloregonveteransvillage.org

OSP Investigates Highway Sign Vandalism

ANTELOPE, OR -- Oregon State Police are investigating a rash of vandalism incidents in Wasco County. Seven ODOT signs were cut down and removed from Highways 97, 293 and 218, sometime between December 15th and 20th. They were found on Highway 293, between Madras and Antelope. 

The discarded road signs include “Entering Wasco county,” “Entering Antelope,” a speed sign and the 45th Parallel marker. Repairing each is estimated to cost $500.

Anyone with information is asked to call OSP at *677 on a mobile device; reference case number SP23-400394.

 

Bend Councilors Approve $11M Tax Break For Jackstraw

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors approved a controversial tax break, Wednesday night, for the Jackstraw development, now under construction next to the Box Factory. It's the second project selected for the city's Multi-Unit Property Tax Exemption (MUPTE).

While several people spoke at the Council meeting in support of the additional housing, Kate Hunt worries the community benefit requirement doesn’t ask enough of wealthy developers, "Those standards need to be higher. They cannot just have two affordable housing units out of 313 and get almost $11 million in a tax break."

City staff assured Councilors the project meets the MUPTE requirements. But several councilors took issue with Killian Pacific breaking ground three months before submitting its application. A company representative says it was an error, "We did not understand that there was a discretionary review by all of the taxing districts. And we did not learn of that until a few months ago." She also said the bank would pull the loan if the application is denied, "If we had been aware of that, we certainly would not have started construction. There is no chance that we would have done that. So, we find ourselves in a difficult situation."

Under the city's guidelines, a developer must show the project is not financially feasible without the tax break. Councilor Mike Riley believes the early start to construction proves the development is viable without the MUPTE. "Approving such a project, to me, violates at least the spirit of the MUPTE code, because I don’t think it’s consistent with the financial viability criteria. I think it sets a big precedent for us." He was the lone vote opposed to Killian Pacific's application. "I do not support approval of applications that have already begun construction. A private, sophisticated, experienced business made a decision to begin construction prior to receiving the MUPTE."

Before voting in favor, Councilor Megan Perkins summed up the issues, "Does this project meet the requirements? Yes. Was it less than ideal that construction was started on this project before getting the MUPTE? Yes. Is that the fault of a potentially cumbersome and confusing and lengthy process? Probably, yes. Do we need to take a look at this program and make changes to it in the future? Yes. And, is that what we’re here to do tonight? No."

Council plans to discuss those proposed changes to the MUPTE code at its next work session. 

Councilor Anthony Broadman recused himself from Wednesday's discussion and vote, saying he received two campaign contributions from Killian Pacific. Broadman says he returned that money to the company. Councilor Mike Riley is the Executive Director of the Environmental Center and said Killian Pacific also made an unsolicited $5,000 contribution to the organization. That money was also returned.

Architectural rendering provided by Killian Pacific

Housing Works Opens Voucher Waiting List

REDMOND, OR -- Housing Works will open the waiting list for the Housing Choice Voucher Program on Monday. Low-income families needing financial assistance for housing should apply at the Housing Works website.

Applications are accepted Monday, January 8, 2024 at 8 a.m. through Friday, January 12 at 5 p.m. If you were on the list last year but didn’t get selected, you must re-apply for the 2024 waiting list.

Technical help is available in-person at the Housing Works offices in Redmond and Bend, over the phone or via email, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the application period. 

Click HERE for more information. 

Nearly 40 Dogs Seized From La Pine Home

LA PINE, OR -- A La Pine woman faces dozens of charges after the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office seized 37 young dogs from her home on Wayside Loop. "Over the course of the last 18 months, our agency has been dispatched over 40 times to this address," Deschutes County Sheriff's Sgt. Jason Wall tells KBND News. "The calls for service were specific to dogs at large, dog nuisance, dogs living in unsafe conditions, and then dog bites." In one case, a deputy was bit.

Wall says 48-year-old Dessie McIntire was arrested on unrelated charges in December, leaving more than a dozen dogs with her elderly roommate, "He didn’t have the ability to care for, did not want to care for, but was given no other option."

On December 21st, deputies took 11 dogs to the Humane Society shelter in Bend. Wall says a second visit on the 29th led to the discovery of more dogs, including a one-week-old puppy. "And in fact, it was only upon the Humane Society letting us know, ‘Hey; one of these dogs is lactating; it must have puppies.’ And then upon going back to the home we did find more puppies." On that second visit, Wall says McIntire surrendered more than 20 animals. They were taken to the Brightside shelter in Redmond.

Wall says the dogs are between the ages of one week and three years old. "Some don’t look like they’re in terrible shape. That being said, one had to have a tracheotomy because of a throat infection." Wall adds, "We have open sores, we have them living in their own fecal matter, their own urine." He says all suffered some sort of neglect, "We have malnourishment. We have living in terrible, terrible conditions. We have basically just minimum care not being met, which is: food, clean water and shelter."

Many of the dogs are aggressive, "When they’re mistreated, they start to revert back to their instincts, which is, ‘I need to take care of myself. I need to take care of my own food, my own shelter.’ So they almost - they get a little bit wild."

McIntire is charged with three felony counts of animal neglect, 29 counts of animal abandonment and 13 counts of having an unlicensed dog. Under county ordinance, dogs must be licensed if they're over six months old or have their permanent canine teeth.

 

Redmond Man Missing Since Early November

REDMOND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office is asking for the public's help in their search for a Redmond-area man missing since early November.

Dale Davison was last seen November 7th near his Eagle Crest home in his gray two-door Chevy Silverado pickup. The truck has Oregon license 724-NTW. 

Davison is described as a white male, 85 years old, 5'05" tall and 180 pounds. He has gray hair and brown eyes. 

Anyone with information is asked to call Deschutes County non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911, and ask for Detective Bryan Morris. 

 

UPDATE (01/08/24) -- Investigators say the body of Dale Davison was discovered Friday in a secluded area about 60 miles east of Bend. Foul play is not suspected. 

Prineville's Beebe Enters Race For 2nd Congressional District

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville mayor Jason Beebe has announced his candidacy for Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District against incumbent Cliff Bentz. He acknowledges there are fundraising challenges, “Representative Bentz is well ingrained into the Republican community. So, it's finding those people that that are like me, that aren't happy with him, and getting the funds from them,” but tells KBND News he's compelled to put his name in for the Republican primary nomination, “I don't think he's really supporting Oregonians in District Two and I think he's just in it for himself, and I'm not in it for myself. I'm in it for we, the people. And so, I decided to run.”

Beebe says his 13 years on Prineville’s city council, the last three as mayor, gives him experience he can take to Washington, D.C., “I've seen what it takes to fight for that process or fight for those results and I'm hopefully going to take that experience with me and do the same thing.” The Crook County native says helping guide Prineville through population and business expansion gives him insight into the inner-workings of government, “I've sat down with our city manager multiple times. I've had conversations with members of Congress, the state delegation and just get a good understanding of what it is that it takes.”

He says he’s ready to get constituent input, “I'm willing to go listen to anybody in the eastern side of Oregon and all of District Two and find out what it is they want for their communities. And let's try to do the same thing we did here in Prineville, and bring in businesses to those areas,” and adds finding energy solutions that would boost business, including hydro, biomass, and nuclear are important to him, “I definitely want to keep our hydropower and be able to use that, wherever we can find ways to use hydropower, even in small areas during the irrigation seasons, and stuff to offset some power usage, why not do it?”

So far, Beebe is Bentz’s only challenger. Candidates have until March 14th to file to run in Oregon’s Primary on May 21st. 

photo courtesy: Beebe For Oregon

Pile Burning Continues Across Central Oregon

BEND, OR -- More ignitions are planned throughout this week on the Bend Fort-Rock Ranger District, as Forest Service crews continue pile burning operations. 

"This is leftover material, after we’ve come through and done mowing, mastication and thinning work," Says Jaimie Olle, with the Deschutes National Forest, "This is branches, limbs, things that aren’t able to be used and turned into wood products." She tells KBND News, "If you’re out in the forest, you might see some of those stacks of sticks, if you will - anything from a small 10x10 size, all the way up to what we call a landing pile, which is the larger pile about the size of a house."

Crews are focused on piles west of Bend, "That’s been the area that we’ve been primarily burning, off Skyliners Road and that area. So, folks can anticipate we’ll continue that work probably throughout January. And again, as conditions are favorable." Work Wednesday is concentrated seven miles west of Bend, on the south side of Cascade Lakes Highway. "We’re lighting those on fire. They burn down pretty quickly and consume. And that sets us up for success, to not only reduce hazardous fuels next to our communities. But also prepare those areas for when we come in and do what people typically think of as our prescribed burning, which is that understory burning, that low-intensity burning that we typically do in the spring and the fall."

Olle says they don’t typically send out text alerts, like we see in the spring and fall for prescribed burns, "Unless it’s something really close or adjacent to communities. Otherwise, you can pretty much count on most days we’re pile burning somewhere in the forest. But CentralOregonFire.org is a great website to stay in tune to where that might be occurring."

All operations are dependent on moisture levels, forecasted weather and wind direction.

file photo

Schools Operating Normally Following Social Media Threat

REDMOND, OR -- Central Oregon school districts notified families Tuesday morning of a social media post allegedly threatening schools in numerous local cities. According to Redmond Schools officials, "The social media post was traced and found to have originated in Portland, OR." They say it included a photo of a rifle and "a vague message about not going to school." 

Authorities say the threat was not deemed credible and schools are operating as normal. However, in Redmond, police are "providing an extra presence" as a precaution, according to the letter to RSD famillies.  

Redmond Proficiency Academy contacted parents saying, "RPA takes matters of this kind seriously and has been in contact with the Redmond Police Department and other local school districts." But, it noted, "RPA will operate on a regular schedule today."

In a letter to families in Bend-La Pine Schools, the district noted the post did not name any of its schools. 

By Tuesday afternoon, RSD reported lower than normal attendance at its two high schools. The district's Holly Brown said Ridgeview High reported just 54% attendance on the first day back from winter break; Redmond High reported 64%. "I’ve heard anecdotally that our elementary schools had some attendance drops, as well," she added. Numerous parents listed the threat as the reason their child stayed home, "So, it has a pretty big impact on our schools." Those absences are considered excused. 

The incident is the latest in a string of hoax threats to hit Central Oregon and the state. KBND News asked Brown how schools avoid getting complacent, "It would be really hard to be complacent, because they’re going to follow those standard protocols and procedures to investigate every threat." Brown also sits on the Safe Schools Alliance Team, and says online threats are a real concern for districts and law enforcement.

Redmond Schools is now working to reassure parents that every threat is taken seriously and schools are safe, "We also really put a lot of work in with our most recent bond measure, to put in all those security systems with the cameras, the vestibules. So, we have a lot of physical security updates that have happened with our schools lately, that are also reassuring," says Brown, "And then, of course, just that vigilance that we have in our staff and continued training with our law enforcement partners."

 
 

More Bend-La Pine Schools Offer Free Meals

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools will serve free breakfast and lunch to all students at more than 20 schools, starting Tuesday, January 2nd.

"12 schools who previously were not eligible, now will be eligible. So,12 schools plus 10 existing schools. Essentially, we’ll have two thirds of the schools in the district that meet this eligibility,” The district’s Communications Director Scott Maben tells KBND News a lowered qualifying threshold means a significant rise in the number of eligible students, “We think over 6,000 additional students now will qualify for free meals in our district.”

The change will take effect immediately. “The state of Oregon petitioned the US Department of Agriculture to make sure that schools in Oregon could qualify for this new rule in the middle of the school year,” Maben says.

“This is a monumental change for thousands of Bend-La Pine families,” said Assistant Director of Nutrition Services Garra Schluter. “What this means to a family’s household budget is truly significant, and we are always proud to offer so many healthy, scratch-made options to our students at no cost.”

10 schools already offered free meals: Bear Creek Elementary, Ensworth Elementary, La Pine Elementary, Rosland Elementary, Three Rivers Elementary, Three Rivers Middle, La Pine Middle, Pilot Butte Middle, La Pine High and Bend Tech Academy.

Buckingham, Elk Meadow, Juniper, Lava Ridge, Ponderosa, and R.E. Jewell Elementaries, Westside Village Magnet, High Desert Middle, Caldera and Mountain View High, and Realms Schools are now included.

Maben says nothing extra is required of students, "They don't have to sign up. They don't have to apply. The eligibility is automatically extended to all families in those schools,” adding that it is a big help for the family budget, “If a student eats breakfast and lunch every day through the school year, that would be a savings of up to $1,200 per family.”

Families at schools not included should check if their student is now eligible at the BLS website.

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