Local News Archives for 2024-02

Local Ranchers Talk Wolf Policy With Rep. Bentz

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Oregon Congressman Cliff Bentz (R) met with local ranchers to discuss wolf management on Thursday in Prineville. He was joined by state and federal officials, including from the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, ODFW, and the Oregon Cattlemen's Association.

Paulina rancher Trent Smith told them Oregon is capable of managing wolves, “We don't have a wolf issue. We have a people issue. We have a great management plan in the state of Oregon if we can do it.”

He feels wolves aren’t welcome, but knows they aren’t going away either. “We know that the populace wants to see these animals here. So that needs to be a manageable number that does not pressure our businesses.”

Bentz doesn’t believe Oregon needs federal oversight, “The state of Oregon has a very good wolf management plan. And under that plan, the wolf still exists, there's still a couple of 100 of them roaming about the state of Oregon. And we need to point at that success from the standpoint of the environmental interests. This is what's going to happen in the event that the entire chore protecting this endangered species is delegated to the states.”

Bentz says he wants to keep the dialogue going between government agencies and ranchers to meet increasing challenges with wolves and livestock. Bentz tells KBND News he appreciates ranchers’ resiliency, “It's one of those situations where you're not allowed to help yourself, you have to follow the law and that means you have to work with the type of people who are here today and figure out a way to properly manage this new challenge.”

He’ll use the information gathered this spring when his Water, Wildlife, Fisheries, and Natural Resources subcommittee discusses the Wolf’s status on the Endangered Species list.


Jefferson County Fire Bond Heads To May Ballot

MADRAS, OR -- Jefferson County Fire and EMS is joining the list of taxing districts asking voters to approve more funding this year. Thursday evening, the fire board approved sending a $14.5 million bond to the May ballot. 

Fire Chief Jeff Blake tells KBND News, "This department has not done bond request for capital funding or capital improvements in 23 years. The last one was done in 1998. Those were used to buy the two fire trucks we have now, which are the two fire trucks that are our first responding fire trucks for this community." He says that's several years past when most agencies put an engine on reserve status. 

Blake also wants to remodel the Madras fire hall to accommodate a diverse workforce that’s now between 30% and 50% female, "This station was built in 1989 and it looks big from the outside. A lot of it is apparatus space, where we store all our equipment. We simply don’t have enough showers for our males; we certainly don’t have enough showers for our females, or just facilities and bathrooms." 

Also on the list of needs, "Remodel the Culver fire station, purchase new apparatus; purchase new ambulances because we’re running the wheels off of those things, especially with the consolidation of emergency medical services and the consolidation of the hospital." Chief Blake says his agency does a lot of transports from the Madras hospital to St. Charles Bend, and reimbursements for those rides have declined in recent years. And, according to the Chief, the permanent tax rate of $1.18 per $1,000 of assessed property value does not allow the agency to save money for big-ticket items. 

To help with building improvements, he's also asked the state legislature for $3.4 million in help, "Our total need, that I’m just looking at for the future of our organization over the next 15 years, is probably $17 million." He has a plan B if that ask is rejected. KBND asked if he’s considered a Plan C, if the state funding and bond fail? He answered, "I - I mean, I have. There’s possibly the ability of private financing or it’s grants. But those take a long time."

The request of voters is for 42-cents per $1,000 for the first five years. It would then increase to no more than 83-cents for the second five years. Blake says that would bring his district in line with the tax rates of other similarly sized fire  agencies. 


Bend Schedules Transportation Fee Listening Sessions

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors host two listening sessions next week, to get more public feedback on a proposed transportation fee. The fee would apply to commercial and residential utility bills and is expected to begin after July first, if it’s approved.

A Council work session is scheduled for March sixth and a public hearing is slated for March 20th. The draft code can be found HERE.

Next week’s listening sessions are Monday morning, 9:30 - 11:30, and Thursday, 4:30 - 6:30 p.m. Both are hybrid and will be held at City Hall. Meeting information is available on the meetings and events calendar at bendoregon.gov.

Bend-La Pine Schools To Add Make-Up Days

BEND, OR -- In a letter to parents Thursday, Bend-La Pine Schools officials announced the year will be extended in June by two days. Adding June 17 and 18 compensates for some of the instructional time lost in January due to a series of winter storms. The district lost a total of three days in January, but two were early-release Wednesdays.

The calendar change does not impact graduation schedules, from June 6-11. The district letter also notes: 

  • Wednesday, June 12, will now be a School Improvement Wednesday (SIW) early-release day.
  • Friday, June 14, will now be a regular full day, instead of early release for the last day of school.
  • Tuesday, June 18, will be early-release (90 minutes, following our SIW schedule) for the new last day of school.

file photo

No Decision Yet On County Short-term Rental Licensing

BEND, OR -- County Commissioners are not ready to require licensing for short-term rentals in unincorporated Deschutes County. They considered either creating a stand-alone business license, or wrap licensing with land-use permitting. 

Community Development Director Peter Gutowsky told commissioners Wednesday it would create extra challenges for his department, “I have real resource limitations and to administer a short-term rental program with or without a land use component still creates demands for my staff to ensure at a minimum fire and life safety is addressed,”

He said there are currently only three code enforcement officers, “We have four positions in our budget right now. We're recruiting for a fourth as we speak. We are very mindful of our budget right now.” There are more than 800 short-term rentals under the county’s jurisdiction.

Licensing would bring revenue into the county and provide health and safety standards.

Chair Patti Adair said she’s not ready for a decision, “At this point in time, people are so being burdened with this tax and that tax and this tax, I'm sure the businesses will look at it as a tax and we're already getting the revenue. I would honestly like to watch it for a couple of months and say, ‘ok, what kind of problems are we really talking about?’.”

Commissioner Phil Chang wants to keep exploring, “We don't have to load it up with requirements that aren't really critical to preserving public health and safety and the peace of the neighborhood. But we're not going to get at those things without having some kind of a program.”

Establishing a business license program could cost the county up to $1-million.

File Photo: Central Oregon Rental Vacation Home

Shevlin Park Rd Closed Due To Gas Leak

BEND, OR -- Contractors installing a new sewer line along Shevlin Park Road struck a gas line, Thursday morning. The road is closed in both directions, between the Mount Washington roundabout and Northwest Crossing. Bend Fire is on scene and asks drivers to avoid the area. 

Cascade Natural Gas confirms it's a 4" line, and estimates one to two hours before the leak is stopped. According to Bend Fire, the break is a distance from buildings and homes, and does not pose an immediate threat. However, there is a detectable gas odor in the area, and people living in the area are encouraged to keep doors and windows closed. No evacautaions have been ordered. 

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

Madras Attempts Crackdown On Abandoned Shopping Carts

MADRAS, OR -- The city of Madras has a shopping cart problem, "Between October and December of 2023, we collected over 204 shopping carts throughout the community." Madras Community Development Director Nick Snead says those carts are taken from stores around the city. "There were over 50 shopping carts down in Willow Creek in this homeless camp," he tells KBND News, "They would just put trash in there, and in some cases, they were actually being used for - call it a cooking grate. They were literally creating a fire underneath the shopping cart, and using the bottom of the cart that you’d normally put your groceries in, and using that as a cooking grate." Snead says the Madras Safeway later transitioned to plastic carts to deter this practice. 

Talks with stores about preventing cart theft have not resulted in improvements. Snead says he's seen people walk into the Safeway parking lot, take a cart or two and roll it down the street without ever entering the store. Safeway was asked to consider using carts that lock up when taken off property. But he says the city was told, "'The electronics to lock the wheels was requested but it wasn’t in the budget for this year,' and hopefully they could get that technology instituted next year." Snead says Madras can’t wait that long. 

He’s invited the stores to an open house next week to discuss proposed regulations. A draft of the proposed regulation obtained by KBND News says stores would be required to "Post signs in sufficient number to give notice to members of the public entering onto or leaving the business premises that unauthorized appropriation of a shopping cart is a crime." The sign would also provide a local phone number people could call to report abandoned carts. The city would also be allowed to hold carts until the owner pays a $50 fine. Violating the code would result in a $100 penalty. 

"We think that regulating the carts may be a solution, but that’s really the purpose of the open house for next week," says Snead, "One of the things we want to do at this open house is explain the problem, explain one solution and ask our retailers, ‘Does this make sense to you?’ Because, we have a problem. It’s affecting our community." He adds, "We want to ask the retailers at the open house, ‘what do you think is a solution? If these regulations aren’t wanted, how do you think we can solve this?’ And the intention would be to develop consensus."

Monday’s meeting is open to the public. It starts at 2 p.m. at City Hall. 


RPD Seeks Help Solving Cold Case Murder

REDMOND, OR -- Police are asking for help solving a homicide that occurred more than two years ago in Redmond. Authorities initially believed 26-year-old Dustin Hilsendager was killed in a car crash on Canal Boulevard, near Umatilla Avenue, December 30th of 2021.

Redmond Police Lt. Eric Beckwith tells KBND News detectives later learned Hilsendager was shot.

Despite ongoing efforts by Redmond PD and the Tri-County Major Incident Team, there are no suspects.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to contact Sgt. Tyler Kirk at 541-504-3488, reference RPD case #2021-33016.

Potential Deschutes Co. Landfill Sites Discussed

BEND, OR -- Two areas east of Bend remain under consideration for the next Deschutes County Landfill, after the Knott Landfill reaches capacity in 2029.

The Solid Waste Advisory Committee heard public comment Tuesday on the Moon Pit mine, near the Badlands Wilderness, and a spot in the Millican Valley, known as Roth East.

Craig Miller, with the Oregon Natural Desert Association, has concerns about both, “You'll be setting precedent by citing a landfill right on the boundary of the wilderness area. If you go that direction. On the other hand, I believe the Roth East is even worse in terms of wildlife. I think it's such an important corridor that it's very likely that those three Sage Grouse groups will blank out if the site is located at Roth East.”

“I've also hiked around the badlands quite a few times and around the Moon Pit area and the dry river canyon. I've never seen the birds in those areas,” said Steve Wright who lives in the Millican Valley. He worries about traffic safety, as well, “The highway shoulders are very narrow, I believe from the Horse Ridge Summit all the way towards Millican, Brothers, Hampton.”

Roth East would cost less to develop at $36-million comparted to an estimated $50-million to $64-million for Moon Pit, but would cost  $8.4-million per year to operate, about $800-thousand more than Moon Pit, according to consultant estimates.

The committee will meet in March and April, allowing for more public comment, before sending a recommendation to county commissioners, who could make a decision by the end of June.

Photo: Moon Pit Top Location, Roth East Lower Right

Barricaded Woman Surrenders To Redmond Police

REDMOND, OR -- A woman barricaded herself in a vehicle outside the Shepherd’s House Redmond shelter Tuesday morning, prompting a response by the Central Oregon Emergency Response Team (CERT).

According to Redmond Police, around 6 a.m., the 49-year-old tried to run down several people in the parking lot and threatened to assault others with a hammer.

Officers deployed STOP sticks to prevent her from driving away, but she then locked herself in the car. CERT negotiators responded, but were unable to convince her to get out of the vehicle. She eventually surrendered after being pepper sprayed.

The woman was taken to jail on charges of Assault, Attempted Assault, Reckless Driving, Elude and Resisting Arrest.

Redmond Man Killed In Icy Jefferson County Crash

CULVER, OR -- A 57-year-old Redmond man was killed in a five-vehicle pile-up in Jefferson County, early Monday. According to State Police, two semis were southbound on Highway 97 near Culver when one rear-ended the other. The road was icy, and the front truck slid sideways into oncoming traffic, striking two northbound pickups. An SUV also collided with the wreckage.

The drivers of the semis, SUV and one pickup were unhurt. But the fifth driver, Felipe Gamboa-Lupercio, and his front passenger were taken to the hospital. Gamboa-Lupercio's backseat passenger, Jose Refugio Gamboa-Lupercio, was declared dead at the scene.

The crash occurred at about 4:15 a.m. Traffic on Highway 97 was impacted for about five hours. Investigators say speed and road conditions were primary factors in the incident.

COCC Accepting Housing Applications

BEND, OR -- Amid the ongoing rental housing shortage in Bend, Central Oregon Community College is now accepting applications for its residence hall. COCC Director of Student Life Andrew Davis says with increasing rental rates around town, some students find it’s cheaper to live on campus, "For our students that live all year in a double year, they’re going to pay - depending on meal plan - somewhere between $10,000 -12,000. And to be able to do that for nine months of the year is pretty reasonable." That's much less than the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Bend. 

Applications for Wickiup Hall for the fall opened earlier this month, "We actually have taken in almost 100 apps in the first two weeks, which is really exciting," says Davis, "I think people are eager to get in and get the process done. It’s a multi-step process. We have to help people make sure they understand all the details that go with that: what it’s going to cost them, the policies and expectations, what kind of room they’re looking for, match them with roommates."

He tells KBND News, "In most years, we end up taking in somewhere around 500 applications for 300 beds. Most of the time, we can accommodate. There’s people who apply and then decide to go somewhere else. We encourage anyone who reaches out to us to apply early so you can get all those details ironed out. It’s one less thing to worry about when you get to September." 

Davis says help is also available through the nonprofit Thrive Central Oregon, "If students are struggling finding housing, they can make an appointment with Thrive. And they can do that just by emailing Thrive@COCC.edu."

It’s not unusual for a student to stay in the dorm for several years, especially given the shortage of rental housing around Bend, "As long as a student is enrolled in at least 12 credits, no matter how long their educational path is," says Davis, "If they’re earning multiple credentials and they want to keep living with us, we keep them."


Golf Cart Fleet Focus Of Early Campaign For Deschutes Co. Sheriff

BEND, OR -- The purchase of a fleet of golf carts has taken center stage in the campaign for Deschutes County Sheriff.

Sgt. Kent Vander Kamp talked with the Redmond Kiwanis earlier this month about what he considers runaway spending, "Golf carts have been a hot topic at my office for the last six months. I don’t have an explanation as to what we’re doing with five golf carts." He went on to say, "I know that we use one at the fair. All five of them are now sitting in a container in a lot somewhere. I don’t know why we bought those." Answering questions about the agency's budget, he told the group, "You turn around and buy five golf carts and slurpee machine with taxpayer money, I can’t justify - I can’t explain that. The big thing is going to be getting our spending back in line. We need to stop spending because we see shiny things." Click HERE to watch Vander Kamp's full presentation. 

Captain William Bailey tells KBND News he didn’t order the golf carts, but believes they’re a reasonable investment for the agency now in charge of security at the fairgrounds, "The fair is growing; the fairgrounds and the use of the fair is growing. Not only do we have the fair, we have the music festival this past summer. There was another festival that was there this last summer. It’s getting bigger. They’re going to be adding more events, more people."

DCSO borrowed two golf carts its first year of fair security, in 2022. But Bailey says they didn’t work very well, so the agency bought two of its own for ‘23. "Having a tool to get around in 100-degree heat with a little bit of sunbreak. It was important to give the deputies the tools they needed. And the deputies were very appreciative that they had those tools to patrol the fairgrounds." He says they've since been used at the Sisters Quilt Show and La Pine Frontier Days. 

Three more are on their way to expand the fleet for 2024, due to the growing fairgrounds and increased number of events, according to Bailey. All five were purchased used by the Automotive section, which Bailey does not oversee; he says he did not have any involvement in securing the fleet. The cost of the second batch of three carts is about half the cost of the first two and Bailey hopes the retrofitting for deputy-use will also be less expensive. He says those final three have not yet been delivered. 

Sgt. Vander Kamp also took issue with an industrial slushie machine, which Bailey says is used at local events and to reward student achievement, "The most requested reward is slushies with the deputy sheriffs. And that’s awesome. That’s what we should want from our law enforcement. We should want them engaged and connected with the community." As Captain of the Patrol Division, Bailey says he approved that purchase after another deputy proposed the idea as a way to engage with the community. "It’s unfortunate that a slushie machine and a golf cart has become the center of an election for Sheriff," says Bailey, "But in some point, I respect that the community has questions about the tools that we’re utilizing to do our job because it is their money that we’re spending."

Both candidates take part in their first joint forum Monday, in Sunriver. 

Image: (left) Sgt. Kent Vander Kamp speaks to the Redmond Kiwanis Club on Feb. 7, 2024. (right) Capt. William Bailey on patrol during the 2023 Deschutes County Fair, courtesy DCSO's Instagram.

BLS Mulls Levy For May Election

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools is considering a five-year local option levy for the May ballot. “It would bring in approximately $23-million in its first year to support the programs that our community says that they want,” School Board chair Melissa Barnes - Dholakia says a survey taken last year identified issues the community wants addressed. “They want to see more investment in career and technical education. Other things include maintaining class sizes, support for our struggling students, and then they also want to have robust course offerings,” she tells KBND News the proposed tax is $1 per thousand dollars of assessed value, “This has really been a board directed investigation and exercise. And I think what we're finding from our public is that the public is supportive at that rate.”

The board and administration have researched the levy for a year. “Really in Bend- La Pine schools, what we've heard is that our community wants more from its schools and unfortunately the state doesn't fund it,” she says, adding they’re optimistic the levy, which is separate from the current bond paying for building construction and maintenance, will pass, “Our public is really invested in making sure that all of our students leave our schools with a pathway for their future.”  The board could decide at their February 27th meeting to put the levy on this May’s ballot.


New Deschutes Co. Landfill Location In Homestretch

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County is still zeroing in on a location for a new landfill as Knott Landfill is expected to reach capacity in five years. The two final potential locations will be discussed at a meeting Tuesday, February 20th.

“Both have pluses and minuses still at this point,” Solid Waste Director Tim Brownell says both sites east of Bend present challenges and opportunities, “What we're looking at is over the next three years, there are land use review processes as well as a state permitting process with the Department of Environmental Quality. So, it's not a fast process and there will be many public hearings.”.

After an 18-month search, the Solid Waste Advisory Committee is near the finish line to select a location. “We're going to do an in-depth review at that meeting of all the different elements that were researched on the two sites. Then in the March meeting, we'll go into a lot of conversation answering questions both from the public and the SWAC members. We wanted to move through this committee by the end of April and then it'll take two months or so for the board of county commissioners to do their review, hold their public hearings and for them to make a selection, ideally by the end of June.” He tells KBND News one site would be cheaper to build but more expensive to operate, and the other, vice versa.

Estimates put the cost between $36-million and $64-million to develop, and another $8-million to $9-million to maintain.


Photo: Knott Landfill

DCSO Locates Missing Man

LA PINE, OR -- A 41-year-old man hasn't been seen since February 15th and the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office is asking for the public's help tracking him down. Kenneth Seymour left a home on Highway 31 in La Pine on Thursday in his white 2020 Ford F150 pickup. The truck has Oregon plates 061-PKZ

Seymour is described as a white male, 5'8", about 250 pounds with green eyes and blond hair. He may be wearing a gray Carhartt sweathshirt and black Muck boots or Hey Dude shoes. 

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact DCSO through non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.


UPDATE: Seymour was located Monday morning. He's safe and in good condition. 

Accused Lego Thief Arrested Twice In One Week

BEND, OR -- A 30-year-old Bend man was arrested Friday for allegedly stealing Legos from Target, for the second time in a week.

While monitoring social media for criminal activity, the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team saw a post from Wyatt Froome, offering to sell hundreds of dollars worth of new Lego sets at deep discounts. Detectives posed as potential customers and met up with the suspect at the Bend Outlet Mall, where he was taken into custody by Bend Police.

Froome was also arrested Tuesday during a drug bust in the Home Depot Parking lot. Detectives say he had $750 in stolen Lego sets at that time. As of Saturday, he remains in the Deschutes County Jail and is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday on multiple charges. 

Investigators believe Froome pre-sells the Lego sets online. Once an interested person contacts him, he fulfills the order by stealing the set from a local store.

Sisters Offers Civic Leadership Academy

SISTERS, OR -- Sisters will offer its first ever Civic Leadership Academy this spring, through a partnership with Portland State University and Citizens4Community. It’s open to anyone age 16 and older who lives inside the Sisters School District boundary or Camp Sherman.

PSU’s National Policy Consensus Center will lead workshop sessions at City Hall, once a week. The group will meet Monday evenings, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., beginning April 15. At the end of six weeks, participants will present ideas to the City Council.

Applications are due by March 15th. Click HERE to apply. Up to 12 people will be selected. Priority is given to those new to civic leadership and who live inside the Sisters city limits. 

OSU-Cascades Asks Legislature For $24M

BEND, OR -- OSU-Cascades says it needs more state funding to develop more of the Bend campus. "Right now, we’re working on preparing land for our future Innovation District, so we’re working on remediation and reclamation for that," says OSU's Jarrod Pentilla, "Also, looking at remediating and reclaiming another section of our campus, preparing more land."

Pentilla oversees development projects at the Bend campus. He recently told KBND News, "The site where we’re at is the Deschutes County construction and demolition landfill. And part of expanding the campus is remediating that landfill, so it’s a great opportunity to develop land right in the center of Bend." Remediation makes the land developable, "The waste that was there, we’re separating that into the waste and the reusable soil. And that waste we’re re-landfilling, using modern practices, in one corner. And we’re taking that reclaimed soil from the landfill and using that to build up the lower elevations of what was previously the pumice mine, here on campus. All of that will end up being part of the long-term view of the campus." Pentilla adds, "Where the waste will be in the long-term will end up being recreation fields; that’s a safe thing we can build on top of waste. And also where the pumice mine was will end up being structural fill that we can build buildings on top of."

OSU-Cascades is located on 128 acres in Bend; 118 of which are on top of the former landfill and mine. HB-5201 would send $24 million to the school to expedite the remediation of 24 more acres. Officials say that's enough space for up to seven more buildings. "As our campus grows, we’re seeing our freshman class increase, and actually starting to run out of housing in the next 3-5 years," says Pentilla, "So, we’re looking at where we’ll put the next residence hall for students on campus."

The head of OSU-Cascades, Chancellor Sherm Bloomer, testifies in Salem Friday in support of the bill. 


Redmond Airport Gets $7 Million Federal Grant

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Airport is getting more federal grant money. Airport Director Zach Bass tells KBND News funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-Airport Terminals Program will help with the terminal building expansion project, “We've been planning for the last four or five years for this expansion. And as we can tell by this grant of $7-million we're reaching out to get financing in any way possible. It's a small portion, but it's important. It does give us the opportunity to do some things we might not have been able to do without it.”

The project will double the terminal’s size over five phases. “Right now, the project is estimated to cost about $150-million or so. We are going to be moving forward with the expansion late this summer, or early fall. The project will have jet bridges, a new concourse expanded capabilities for baggage systems. And all the money that we receive helps kind of get us to the finish line,” Bass says, adding the airport continues to look for more funding. “We are in the process of putting in a $10 million grant with the state and we keep talking with the Feds about some other opportunities over the next few years. So, we always have grants somewhere in the pipeline, either in the application or in the review period.”


Historic Locomotive Moved From Prineville To Portland

PORTLAND, OR -- The 100-year-old logging locomotive Mount Emily Shay is now at its new home at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center. For more than 60 years, it was in the care of the Oregon Historical Society. Since 1994, the city of Prineville Railway has served as caretaker and operator. In 2021, the city requested it be relieved of that duty, and in 2022, the Historical Society selected the Rail Heritage Foundation to become the new owner.

Previous coverage: Historic Logging Engine Headed To Portland

The Mount Emily Shay traveled by BNSF Railroad flatcar to its new home in Portland, arriving early Thursday. The center plans to use the Mount Emily Shay to educate and entertain Oregonians of all ages.

Accused Fentanyl Trafficker Arrested East Of Bend

BEND, OR -- A Valentine's Day drug bust east of Bend led to the arrest of a 54-year-old Bend man, concluding a long-term investigation by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Street Crimes Unit.

Detectives say Jeffrey Cluff brought fentanyl into the area from Portland, and was a primary source of the drug for local distribution. They believe he was the head of a local drug trafficking organization.

During a traffic stop Wednesday, DCSO seized powder fentanyl, counterfeit Oxy pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine.

As of Friday morning, Cluff remains in the Deschutes County Jail. He's due in court February 22nd.

Uber Driver Accused Of Kidnapping 19-Year-Old Rider

BEND, OR -- A local Uber driver is accused of taking a customer on a ride she didn’t agree to. According to Bend Police, the 19-year-old victim ordered a ride Tuesday evening, just before 6:30 p.m. "The driver picked her up to drive her to her home, which is about five minutes away," says Bend PD's Sheila Miller, "The driver, about three minutes into the ride, canceled the ride, and then drove her around the city of Bend for about 25-30 minutes, despite her requests that he take her home." Miller tells KBND News, "He did drop her off at her home after about a half an hour."

The victim called police at about 9 p.m. and they found the car two hours later, along with the driver, identified as 48-year-old Rocky Heath, of La Pine. "Our officers conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle he was driving downtown. Our officers arrested him and took him to jail on suspicion of second degree kidnapping, as well as suspicion of second degree disorderly conduct." Heath was ordered not to drive for a rideshare service while he’s out on bail. He’s due back in court in a month.

Heath doesn’t have a criminal history and it’s unknown if there are other victims, "This particular incident remains under investigation. And if other people have had similar experiences, they’re encouraged to call non-emergency dispatch."

Miller says there are a few safety steps every rideshare user should take, "It’s always important to be alert and aware of your surroundings. Verify the driver, verify the vehicle when you get in. Not that there’s any indication that this woman did not do that, but that’s a step that you can always take. If you can ride with more than one person, that’s always a good idea." She adds, "This is one of those services that a lot of us use on a regular basis, and it does require a level of trust in the business and the people who are involved in the business."

It's unclear how long Heath has driven for Uber. KBND News reached out to the company for comment, and received this statement: “What’s been reported by the rider is unsettling and unacceptable. We removed the driver’s access to the Uber platform as we investigate and have reached out to law enforcement to offer our assistance.” The company says it takes reports of this nature very seriously and urges riders to call or text 911 in an emergency. Uber can record audio of rides, to be accessed if a safety incident is reported. Learn more HERE. It's unclear if that audio exists in this incident. 


Sisters Home Destroyed In Early Morning Fire

SISTERS, OR -- A home under construction northeast of Sisters went up in flames early Thursday. Firefighters from Sisters, Black Butte Ranch and Cloverdale responded to Old Barn Court at about 2 a.m. and found the home fully involved.

With no fire hydrants nearby, crews relied on water tenders from as far away as Bend. The home is considered a total loss, with damages estimated at $2.5 million. It was being remodeled and was vacant at the time. One firefighter suffered minory injuries due to a slip on the ice. They were treated and released by paramedics. 

The cause is under investigation. "On arrival we found defensive fire conditions, meaning that the fire had progressed throughout the structure and it was unsafe for firefighters to enter," Tim Craid, Deputy Chief for Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District, said in a statement, "Part of the roof had already collapsed prior to our arrival, and remaining portions of the home collapsed shortly after we got there." 

Redmond Safe Parking Looks To Extend Co. Lease

REDMOND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners will consider extending the lease for a Safe Parking site at the county-owned lot in Southeast Redmond, off Highway 126 for another two years.

Rick Russell from Mountain View Community Development told commissioners Wednesday 96 people live in 28 RV-parking spaces around the city, “We have staff who are visiting sites, I wouldn't say every site every day, but multiple times per week. And with volunteers there, there's an on-site presence, pretty much every day. And then it's to not just provide a place for people to be, but to provide a path out.”

The county owned property has five spaces occupied. “We saw no increased calls to law enforcement... We just went through a pretty significant weather and ice event. Everybody was fine. There was a real concern about that property and how we'll be accessible in snow, you know, 12 inches of snow and, everybody was able to access it, it was safe,” Russell said.

The program has an 85% success rate in finding more-permanent housing. “Heather” talked to County Commissioners about her successful transition from safe parking into permanent housing, “With safe parking, having a case manager and having someone to go to for the resources and to help you with a hand up instead of a hand out to move forward was the best thing for us. We're very grateful and thankful for safe parking. I still help out as much as I can with volunteering at the church or anything I can do with safe parking.”

Commissioners were also asked to consider helping to identify additional property to add 12 new Safe Parking spaces.

The proposed lease extension will be made official at an upcoming meeting.

Photo: Mountain View Community Development file

Redmond Voters To Decide On Council Term Limits

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond voters will decide in May whether to change who can be elected to City Council and for how long. 

Mayor Ed Fitch says a ballot question asking to prohibit members of the same household from serving at the same time is in response to former Mayor George Endicott and his wife, former Councilor Krisanna Clark-Endicott, "They were both duly elected; not a problem. But people did perceive it as something of an issue as not having seven independent people."

Another ballot question would limit Councilors and the Mayor to no more than two terms at a time. "They can run in the next election, but there would be about a two-year break." Currently, Redmond doesn’t have term limits for elected office. "The President has term limits, Governor has term limits," says Fitch, "So it’s not a new idea. It’s one that just gets fresh blood in there every now and then. But eight years is a long time to serve on a Council. It just is."

Fitch tells KBND News Council the two-term limit is just one of two issues in the measure, "I think that’s a healthy process of people getting off the council, getting back involved in the community without that title. If they want to run again, they certainly can. The other one is: in 2026, the Mayor term would go to four years instead of two." He says extending the Mayor's term to match Councilors gives the position more time to follow through on campaign promises, "When you’re trying to lead a community and have certain agenda things that you want to get done, it’s not going to happen in two years. It takes longer time to pursue the goals that you ran to be in the office in the first place."

City Council this week unanimously approved sending the questions to the May ballot. 


Animal Abuse Bill Is Response To Prineville Case

SALEM, OR -- Oregon’s House Judiciary Committee holds a work session Thursday on a bill making it illegal to make, possess or sell materials depicting animal abuse. State Rep. David Gomberg (D-Lincoln Co.) is the chief sponsor and spoke at a recent public hearing. "The bill before you was a response to a recent federal indictment of a Prineville resident, who was engaging in an online animal torturing ring." He told the committee the man is accused of, "Encouraging the creation and distribution of violent and cruel images and videos, in which monkeys were tortured, mutilated and murdered on camera, for profit."

But Gomberg notes the suspect in the "animal crushing" case is not charged with any state crimes, "While federal law is clear that the creation and distribution of these materials is illegal, federal law requires interstate or foreign commerce to prosecute. No such law exists here at the state level." He added, "It’s unlawful to intentionally torture animals in Oregon. It is not against our law and take pictures of these illegal acts and sell them." There are exceptions in the bill for educational materials and other legitimate uses.

Aaron Knott, with the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office, helped write an amendment addressing potential Free Speech concerns. "It’s not enough to say, ‘you just inflicted serious physical injury on an animal.’ Hunting does that. Bullfighting does that. Veterinary practices do that." He believes the bill passes the First Amendment test, "As an action that’s been taken for the primary purpose of inflicting pain, so there is no legitimate reason."

Knott says while this issue should be taken seriously, there is not an epidemic of this behavior. There is no organized opposition to the bill. 

"It’s horrific, it really happens, and it really happens here," says Gomberg. 


Stolen Diaper Bag Reunited With Owner After RPD Facebook Post

REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond Police Facebook post about a diaper bag got a lot of traction this week, and led to a car prowl investigation. The bag was found Tuesday at Hayden Park and turned in by a Good Samaritan.

Samantha Kazak says it must’ve been taken from her parked car over the weekend. "Saturday, I went out with some friends and the baby. I got home and I left it in the car. Didn’t get into the car at all and then on Monday, when I went to run some errands, the car was unlocked, which made me realize I forgot to lock it; and the diaper bag wasn’t in there." She tells KBND News, "I thought my fiance moved it. I called him and he said he didn’t. So then we figured it was stolen but nothing was broken or anything, so I didn’t make a police report." 

Instead, she posted to Reddit, warning others not to leave valuables in their car, "Someone had replied to the post, saying the Redmond PD had found a diaper bag. So I clicked on the link and I was like, ‘Oh my God! That’s my diaper bag.’" Kazak is surprised but grateful to get it back, "I’m from Seattle and I never would’ve seen that bag again. I wrote it off."

Thieves also got the emergency $5 bill she keeps in the car. But overall, she considers herself lucky, "I mean, it’s just a bag full of baby stuff. We were joking that if somebody did break into my car, because that had to be what happened, it’s the least successful car break-in ever. They got $5 and some diapers and wipes."

They also took a winter coat; Kazak says someone else obviously needed it more than she did. But she's more interested in what they didn’t take, "My fiance works for a hemp company and they’re doing medicinal mushroom research, and there was a medicinal mushroom chocolate bar next to the $5. They left that."

While she’s glad to get back her five-month-old daughter’s blankets and custom carseat cover, Kazak says it’s a good reminder not to leave valuables in the car. And always lock up. 


Bend Mayor Testifies In Support Of Shelter Funding Bill

SALEM, OR -- A key piece of Governor Tina Kotek's homelessness reduction plan is moving forward in the Legislature. Two bills would spend $425 million to reduce homelessness.  

Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler says funding for permanent shelters is critical. "With the help of one-time funds we've been able to stand up that shelter and upgrade it to a navigation center, the first to open in the state. At that center we've provided over 100,000 meals, provided over 34,000 bed nights, and moved over 230 people into more permanent housing in the first year." She told lawmakers this week, "Without the funding in this bill we are at risk of closing shelters, including our navigation center, in 2025." Kebler added, "Our gap in Bend is $3.6 million. And again, without this funding we will see hundreds of people living back on the streets and lose that precious progress that we've made."

Caleb Yant, deputy director of Oregon Housing and Community Development, told legislators funding will run out later in the year, "OHCS identified 86 shelters statewide representing 3,669 beds that were at imminent risk of closure. It's important to note that this does not represent the funding gaps generally, but rather sites that would close their doors without immediate support."

The bills include $65 million for shelters, $100 million for shovel-ready affordable housing projects, $18 million to house people in addiction recovery and $10 million to convert existing buildings into affordable housing.

There's also $40 million for rental assistance programs. Jimmy Jones, executive director of Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action, says those programs help stop homelessness from growing, "The need is so extraordinary and without this assistance we're going to have a much larger homeless population than we do right now." He says during the pandemic, homelessness grew 22%; it rose another 12% last year, "Almost all of that is being driven by the affordable housing crisis, the inflation we see in Oregon, the extraordinary housing costs across the spectrum. Almost everybody's first step into homelessness is a result of economic conditions. There are certainly things that go along after that.  It is a very critical need in our communities to make sure this rental assistance continues to be available."

There's also $75 million in loans for cities to finance affordable housing projects.


Winterfest Returns To Old Mill District This Weekend

BEND, OR -- Winterfest returns this weekend, and after two years in Redmond, it’s back in Bend at the Old Mill District.

“The Old Mill has always been our home and, you know, during the pandemic and with the construction down there, we had to make a shift to the fairgrounds and they were a great host. It was great being out there. But, you know, the vibe down in the Old Mill is just a little bit closer to what we want for that event,” Aaron Switzer, president of event organizer Lay It Out Events says, adding feedback for the location has been positive, “There's a lot of enthusiasm about our return to the Old Mill, and a lot of people who couldn't or wouldn't make the trip out to Redmond to the fairgrounds. We're expecting some pretty robust crowds down there over the course of the weekend, we'll probably see 25 to 30,000 people through the venue.”

Switzer tells KBND News there is one big change, “We are on the amphitheater stage this year. So, the concerts are going to be in the amphitheater. Before we were, as people will remember, in the gravel lot next door to that, creating our own party. But this will be in the amphitheater. That'll be new.”

Along with the live music, there are carnival rides, art exhibits, and fun runs. The event runs Friday through Sunday.


Two Arrested In CODE Bust

BEND, OR -- Two Bend transients face criminal charges, following an investigation by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) team. Detectives say 54-year-old Timothy Henkel was trafficking fentanyl.

During a surveillance operation Tuesday afternoon, authorities say Henkel sold drugs to two people in a car parked at the Bend Home Depot. Detectives approached the group and the vehicle took off. A passenger, later identified as Henry Duran ran from the scene and has not been located. 

Officers arrested Henkel and his passenger, 30-year-old Wyatt Froome. They searched Henkel's car and say they found commercial quantities of fentanyl pills and meth, as well as $750 in Lego sets allegedly stolen from the nearby Target store and intended for online sale.

Henkel is charged with having a commercial quantity of fentanyl pills and methamphetamine, as well as Theft II. Froome is accused of theft.

CODE Detectives are asking for the public's help in locating Duran.

Historic Building To Be Deconstructed

BEND, OR -- Crews will start dismantling the historic AJ Tucker building Monday in downtown Bend, brick by brick. It was built in 1919, but is now in the way of expansion plans for the neighboring Deschutes County Courthouse. 

County Facilities Director Lee Randall says they worked out a compromise with Bend’s Landmarks Commission, "The solution we arrived at was to save the front facade. It’ll be cataloged. We have an elevation plan that documents the original size and location of the various stones, so that it could be replicated in the future." He tells KBND News more than 300 bricks will be preserved, "They’ll be numbered with a number engraved on the back of each stone and rock, and then palletized. Our agreement is to store them for eight years, but hopefully we’ll find a solution well short of that, and find a new purpose for the rock and the stone from the facade."

The stone could eventually be sold to a private party or used for a public project, "Entryway to a plaza or a park-like setting. And we’ve looked at a variety of locations on county-owned property where that might be an option. We have some conceptual drawings showing it being used for a pavilion-type structure."

The crosswalk at Greenwood and Harriman, along with adjacent sidewalks will be closed while the work is underway. "On the masonry side, we’re scheduled for two weeks for taking down that front wall and saving the stone," says Randall, "And then from there, contractors will take down the rest of the building." That final demolition will be much faster. 

Construction of the courthouse expansion is expected to begin later this spring. 


Deschutes Co. Supports State UGB Expansion Proposal

BEND, OR -- The Senate Housing committee again discussed the Governor’s housing bill Tuesday. At a public hearing last week, local environmental groups strongly opposed the provision allowing communities a one-time tool to expand Urban Growth Boundaries for housing. As currently written, the bill would let cities bring in up to 150 "net housing acres" through a streamlined process.

State Rep. Emerson Levy (D-Central OR) recently told Deschutes County Commissioners, "That number encompasses acreage for complete communities, which is important to not have urban sprawl, and just really trying to convey that message that we need that larger acreage." She’s confident UGB expansion will be in the final bill. "Certainly, it’s a tension point, right now. I think when it comes over to the House side, we’ll have more flexibility and support."

Commissioner Tony DeBone reminded her the county isn’t allowed to site homeless services outside the UGB, and it's counting on the provision, "I mean, this isn’t ‘ooh, this is Oregon. We need to really fight for the UGB because we need to study the problem.’ This is critical, right now." Rep. Levy replied, "I completely share your urgency, and I assure you that urgency is in the building to act and to do things. We are just having to delicately deal with some interest groups. We will get to the other side." DeBone told her, "I would support you boldly dealing with those groups." And Levy reiterated, "That urgency is felt, 100%."

The bill would also create the Housing Infrastructure Support Fund, to provide grants and loans to local governments. Levy says, "The most important part of that bill to unlock housing, truly, for Deschutes County is the infrastructure money."


Deschutes Co. Apartment Vacancies Up, So Are Rents

BEND, OR -- Apartment availability in Deschutes County is higher than it has been in 10 years. “Over the last couple of years, that vacancy rate has gone from 6.5% all the way up to about 10.5%, 11% which is where it's predicted to go the end of next year,” says Dan Kemp, Compass Commercial Real Estate Principal Broker, Partner, and Vice President of Brokerage. He tells KBND News new construction is outpacing the number of people moving to the area, “We're only absorbing about 290 on average per year. So, with so many deliverables in 2023 and another 680 units underway, that's going to lead to an increase in your vacancy rate.” Over 500 units came online last year, according to the latest Compass Points Commercial Real Estate market report.

The average price for a one-bedroom apartment in Bend is more than $1,800 a month, according to online sources. Kemp reports rents have climbed about 5% each year since 2014, but he doesn’t believe rates will increase much this year, and could even come down as more units open up. “As you have an increase in supply and you're not absorbing as many units and that vacancy rate goes up. What happens to rents is they typically start to equalize or even come down. What we're seeing is that rent growth is going to be slower over the next couple of years,” he says. Renters make up about 40% of Bend households, but Kemp believes that number could rise, “We've seen an impact on the first-time home buyer with the increase in interest rates that are going to lead towards more of those folks looking at staying in the apartment unit.”


Mental Health Crisis Leads To Evacuation Of Madras Neighborhood

MADRAS, OR -- A Madras neighborhood was evacuated and others ordered to "shelter in place" Monday night, as law enforcement responded to a report of a man in crisis inside a home on NE Cedar.

The initial call came in at about 6:25 p.m. of an armed man who had reportedly harmed himself. Witnesses say he fired shots, although no other injuries were reported. Everyone else inside the home was able to get out. 

In addition to Madras Police, the Central Oregon Emergency Response Team (CERT) and Jefferson County Fire & EMS responded. Cascade Natural Gas was later asked to shut off gas to the area, after firefighters reported smelling a strong odor. 

A search warrant was issued and officers entered the home at about 8:20. The man was taken to the hospital for evaluation and neighbors were allowed to return home. 

In a statement, Madras Police Chief Timothey Plummer said, "From beginning to end, officers kept the safety of all, including the person experiencing crisis, at the forefront. Dispatchers did an outstanding job, neighbors did exactly what officers asked, and all law eforcement teams worked together flawlessly. While the incident caused some temporary inconveniences to the neighbors, the inconveniences were necessary for everyone's safety."

Litter Of Puppies Found Abandoned In La Pine

LA PINE, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is trying to track down the owner of eight puppies abandoned last week in La Pine. The dogs appear to be seven or eight weeks old and were found in the area of Boundary Road and Camino De Oro Avenue.

A witness reports seeing a green Subaru in the area at the time, driven by a man in his late 20s, with a female passenger. It’s unknown if they’re involved, but deputies want to talk with the pair.

A good samaritan brought the puppies to the La Pine Animal hospital. They’re now being cared for at the Humane Society of Central Oregom shelter in Bend.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Sheriff’s Office through nonemergency dispatch (541-693-6911), reference case number 24-7083.

Driver Injured In Crash Involving Powerlines

REDMOND, OR -- A Tesla crashed into a power pole on SW Helmholtz Way, south of Redmond Sunday night. The crash near the intersection with SW Canal Blvd shut down traffic in the area, after multipl power lines came down. 

When a State Trooper first arrived at the scene, just before 8 p.m., the driver was trapped in the car, which was on its top. Redmond firefighters began efforts to get the driver out and an air ambulance was dispatched. 

Central Electric Cooperative told first responders the wires across the road should be considered active and dangerous. 

The road reopened before 4 a.m. There is no word on the condition of the driver. 

Madras Aquatic Center Seeks New Rec District

MADRAS, OR -- The Madras Aquatic Center is closer to a new recreation district which could generate around $1.6 million from taxes.

Following a public hearing Friday, Jefferson County commissioners gave the go ahead to send the questions to the ballot. One more hearing is planned for February 29th.

The MAC wants to dissolve its current district that includes three separate taxes, and establish a new district with one combined rate.

“The idea is by taking this action, we're providing sustainable funding into the future without having to increase taxes for folks that are already paying toward the district. The dissolution has to pass if it ends up on the May ballot and then also the reformation of a new district. So, there's two measures that are associated with this reformation” MAC Executive Director Courtney Snead tells KBND News district officials are working on ballot language and other requirements in preparation for May’s election.

“Ultimately, the voters have to decide if they want to continue to support the district into the future at the level that they have for the last 15 years. And so that's why it has to be done through an election process,” Snead says, adding the aquatic center sees visitors from the entire region, “Our district spans beyond the city of Madras. It goes out to Metolius, up to Warm Springs, out to Ashwood. And then we have a number of folks in Deschutes County and Crook County that use our facility. We've got, I think one of the best pools, and no offense to my fellow Central Oregon Park and Rec districts. But I think we've got a really great facility for folks to come and recreate at.”

The facility needs significant maintenance and repairs, however. MAC officials hope the new but unchanged tax rate will help.


City Club To Discuss Elections Reforms

BEND, OR -- Oregon voters will decide in November whether future elections should be determined by ranked choice voting. Pacific University Political Analyst Dr. Jim Moore isn’t surprised by the ballot measure, "Remember, Oregon has kind of led the country in experimenting with how we vote; vote by mail and all these other kinds of things."

Dr. Moore says ranked choice voting is a popular idea, "People talking about ranked choice voting talk about, ‘aha! It’ll bring in new voices. It’ll lower partisanship. It’ll make government more responsive.’" But, he tells KBND News, many people find the system confusing, "In Oregon, I don’t think it has a good chance right now. And the reason is simple: When Oregonians get reform ideas like this, they think they’re great. And then, the opposition comes in- and the opposition may not even oppose the idea, but they’ll say, ‘this is a great idea, but this isn’t the right way to do that.’" He adds, "In Oregon, with ballot measures, the safest thing to do is vote ‘no,’ because that keeps the system that you understand, that we have now."

And, he says, the presidential race will impact every other voter decision, "A great number of Republicans are going to look at this and say, ‘would ranked choice voting be something that would help Donald Trump get elected.’ And a great number of Democrats are going to look at it and say, ‘will ranked choice voting be something that would prevent the rise of somebody like Donald Trump?’" A local Congressional race is also expected to have a big impact, "Oregon is at the center of who’s going to control the U.S. House, which is exciting. So, all you Bend voters in District 5, you’re a battleground." That seat is currently held by Republican Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer.

Ranked choice voting is one of several election reforms expected to appear on Oregon’s November ballot. Dr. Moore will talk more about those proposals with the City Club of Central Oregon on Thursday. That presentation starts at 11:30 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Click HERE for more information.


BLS Classified Workers Reach Tentative Deal

BEND, OR -- Bend - La Pine Schools has reached tentative agreement with Classified employees.

Oregon School Employees Association chapter six president Debbie Christian tells KBND News the new contract includes a cost-of-living raise of 10.55% over two years, and an insurance cap increase,Its a give and take. So, there were some things that we had to put aside for the next bargaining team to try and get. But I think overall we were happy.”

The district’s Scott Maben says the 900 custodial, cafeteria, transportation, maintenance, and clerical staff are crucial roles, “These negotiations began last spring, continued through the summer and into the fall and now into the winter. And so, you can imagine the sense of relief that everyone here is feeling.” He adds negotiations began at the end of last school year, “This shows how both the district and the OSEA Union found a way to come together and really improve the conditions for all of those 900 employees. We often talk about our support and classified staff as being the backbone of the district.”

School nurses received an important provision. “It is a lot of work for them to become National certification. So, to give them that stipend for that is a really good recognition piece,” Christian says. Mechanics also will get a stipend when they use their own tools.  “Some of the stuff we've been able to get in there is stuff that we've been working on for several bargaining cycles. So, I think overall it was a good job.”

The four-year contract needs OSEA members to sign it and the school board to give approval.


Listening Sessions Planned For Bend Transportation Fee

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors are advancing plans to impose a transportation fee on utility bills. "We’ve done a lot of work putting the policy together. We have now a draft code; people can find that at BendOregon.gov/transportation-fee," says Mayor Melanie Kebler. The next step is to get public feedback on the draft before it’s finalized, "So, we will have two listening sessions this month that are on that page, that people can come to - not only to ask questions, but to give input about this policy." 

Kebler tells KBND News the city's websit is the best place to learn about the proposal, "We have a full code people can look at. We’re going to present information going through that: Here’s what it does and here’s how it applies to people living in a residential home, here’s how it applies to non-residential businesses, which is going to be a different calculation for how that works; here’s how it applies to parks, here’s how it applies to schools. So all that information is available on our website."

She collecting money monthly on utility bills spreads out the burden for residential and business properties, "What we’re looking at, on the residential side, is about $5.50 for a single family home and less than that for multi family." Commercial properties would also be billed according to square footage. It would likely be phased in over three years, generating an estimated $5 million the first year, $10 million the second and $15 million the third.

City officials have said the fee is necessary to bridge a funding gap. A 2020 bond only pays for new projects. "The counterpart to that, and the funding plan that was put together, was money that’s sustainable for operations and maintenance," says Kebler, "So we can keep up with the need to plow and sweep; that we can keep up with filling in missing sidewalks and developing better intersections that flow better, and developing better, safer ways for people to get around town without a car."

Listening sessions are scheduled for February 26th, 4:30-6:30 p.m. and February 29th, 9:30-11:30 a.m. Both are at City Hall, with a hybrid option. Click HERE for more information.

Council will then discuss the feedback at a work session on March 6th. If approved, the fee would start appearing on utility bills after July first.


Fire Destroys Juniper Ridge Trailer

BEND, OR -- Bend Fire and the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office were called to the Juniper Ridge area Thursday morning, on reports of smoke coming from the east side of Highway 97, north of Wiley Circle.

Crews arrived just after 8 a.m. and discovered a 24' travel trailer fully engulfed in flames. Firefighters quickly knocked it down before the fire spread to nearby vegetation. 

No one was in the trailer at the time, and investigators say there were no witnesses. The cause of the fire could not be determined. 


Photo courtesy of Bend Fire & Rescue.

Redmond's Hola Restaurant Broken Into Again

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are investigating another break-in at Hola Restaurant on NW Greenwood. This latest burglary occurred between 11 p.m. Tuesday and 9:40 a.m. Wednesday.

Items taken include three bottles of tequila and cash. This time, investigators say there are no signs of forced entry, unlike the break-in January 21st. In the first incident, cash and a bottle of tequila were also taken. 

Anyone with information is urged to contact Redmond PD through non-emergency dispatch, at 541-693-6911. 

Deschutes County Declares Fentanyl Emergency

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners declared a 90-day state of emergency Wednesday for the fentanyl epidemic, so government funds and resources could be directed to the county.

Commissioner Tony Debone says it’s time for action, “We've got other police agencies; we've got other city councils and the citizens themselves. We all need to understand this is a crisis at this point in time.”

Chair Patti Adair told KBND News this week she wants to get the attention of state lawmakers.  Commissioner Phil Chang abstained from yesterday's vote, saying he agrees there is a drug crisis but this declaration doesn’t do enough, “Typically, emergency declarations are done so that you can deploy more resources, you know, to undertake new initiatives, not necessarily for legislative advocacy.”

Commissioners heard from the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team's Kent Vander Camp, “Since I've been on the team, I can tell you that fentanyl continues to be the monster that grows every day. Since I've been on the team. It's probably up 2 to 300% from when I first started on the team seven years ago as a detective.”

“I'll tell you last night [Tuesday], Bend police had three nearly simultaneous overdose emergencies which put a huge tax on both our fire and EMS, as well as law enforcement, and hospital staff, for that matter,” Vander Kamp stated.

Commissioner Tony Debone joined chair Patti Adair in voting for it. “Commissioner Chang mentioned ‘what's the county going to do?’ But, I would reverse that and say we need to acknowledge this as a community, look out for each other and, you know, put pressure on this activity that's so detrimental to our community,” DeBone said.

Chair Adair called for the state of emergency after Multnomah County, Portland and the Governor declared a tri-government emergency in downtown Portland last week.

The commissioners received a letter of support from the City of Redmond for the declaration, and further testimony from the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

The county provided the following facts in a press release: Overdose deaths increased by 100% between 2018 (six deaths) and 2022 (twelve deaths) in Deschutes County. In early January, Deschutes County Health Services identified four overdose fatalities within a six-day period that appeared to be linked to the use of fentanyl and in combination with other substances. Deschutes County Health Services distributes and provides training for Naloxone, a medication that can reverse an overdose from opioids, including fentanyl, when given in time.?

In 2022, more than 100 lives in Deschutes County were saved by residents who administered Naloxone to someone experiencing overdose. More than 95 percent of those resident bystanders (including friends, family members and strangers) provided either rescue breathing or CPR as part of their response to an overdose.

Photo: Fentanyl Pills and Paraphenila from December 2023 Redmond Bust

Second Attempt Underway To Convert Redmond Motel To Apartments

REDMOND, OR -- The city of Redmond supports renewed efforts to revamp the rundown Village Squire Motel. "We’re talking right at Highway 97, Fifth Street, the entrance to downtown and 126, and you really want to make a good first impression," says Chuck Arnold, the city's Urban Renewal Program Manager. "It was obviously a great place for a hotel for many, many years. But over the years, it really got to a place where it deteriorated."

Developers bought the motel a year ago, with plans to convert it into apartments. But the project fell through and the property went back on the market. Arnold says Hayden Homes is now in the process of buying it, "Now, we’re moving forward with a new partner to develop it into workforce housing. These will be small, micro-efficiency apartments for downtown workers, all the way up to two bedrooms. The idea is that someone would be able to live and work downtown."

Arnold tells KBND News, "Some of these will be ‘market rate’ and the owner of the property will have the opportunity to charge whatever the market will bear. And some of them will be restricted to the deed, saying that they have to keep it at this income level for a certain number of years." 

While it’s still very early in development, he expects the city will be asked to pitch in financial help. There is a vested interest in improving the property, "The city doesn’t own this asset; we never did own this asset. But the city - representing the community - we all own downtown. So, we have to put up resources and make proactive steps to really build the downtown that we want. This is a great opportunity to reposition this property and create a new story for it." City Council will discuss the project later next month. 

Village Squire could offer 20 to 25 apartments. Arnold says a different downtown project will soon bring another nine units online, "We are pretty optimistic and upbeat that we are creating places for people to live and work in the community that are affordable and within the reach of someone making the area median income."

file photo

Jefferson Co. Receives New Wildfire Engine

MADRAS, OR -- Jefferson County Fire & EMS received a new Type 3 fire engine Wednesday, thanks to a grant from the Oregon State Fire Marshal. Fire Chief Jeff Blake told OSFM, "This apparatus will be primarily, its function will be for the wildland season and supporting conflagrations around the state. But also for local response, mutual aid response, task force responses around the Central Oregon area." Chief Blake says it’ll also help crews respond to structure fires in and around Madras during the winter, when road conditions can be challenging. 

"This is such a huge thing for our organization, Central Oregon and the state of Oregon," says Blake, "This is actually the first Type-3 apparatus that our organization has ever had. And actually, quite honestly, the first new apparatus that we’ve had in our organization in 23 years." 

It’s the second delivery from a $25 million state program. The first was to Central Cascades Fire and EMS in Crescent Lake. Throughout this year, OSFM will provide 26 Type 3 engines, 20 Type 6 engines and 30 water tenders to agencies around the state. 

Chief Blake says it’s a huge benefit for rural agencies with small budgets, "These types of programs and things help us stay up with technology, stays up with the time and gives us the capacity to actually deal with this new or ever-evolving threat of wildfire that we have."

Photo and audio courtesy of OSFM.

Deschutes County Resident Diagnosed With The Plague

BEND, OR -- A case of human Bubonic Plague has been diagnosed in Deschutes County. Public Health officials believe the person was infected by their pet cat. The animal is very sick, but authorities say the person is responding well to treatment. "It was caught early, also it was not a real severe case," says Deschutes County Health Officer Dr. Rich Fawcett, "I wouldn’t say mild, but it was more like moderate in terms of how severe the infection was at the time of diagnosis and treatment."

He tells KBND News the person only presented with a fever. When their doctor couldn’t determine the cause, they ran bloodwork to see what bacteria showed up. "In this case, the bacteria was Yersinia Pestis, which is the cause of human plague."

That diagnosis came on Friday. Since then, Dr. Fawcett says they tracked down about a dozen close contacts, "We have identified some people that had close enough contact that we gave them antibiotic prophylaxis, where they’ll take a week of an antibiotic just on the off chance they could have contracted an early case of plague. None of the contacts were ill." He says human-to-human spread is extremely rare and no other cases have been found. 

The last Oregon case of plague was reported in 2015, in Crook County. It spreads through a bite from an infected flea or by contact with a sick animal. The most common animals to carry plague locally are squirrels and chipmunks, but mice and other rodents can also carry the disease. Dr. Fawcett says modern-day circumstances are very different from the epidemic in the 1500s, "These are sporadic cases, cases that occur one at a time and don’t really pass from person to person very much. Partly because we can treat and identify them quickly. We don’t have a huge flea problem or rats that are infesting half of a city, like you used to have in the 1500s. So, it’s just a different environment in terms of sanitation, in terms of pest control."

To prevent the spread of plague:

  • Avoid all contact with rodents and their fleas. Never touch sick, injured, or dead rodents. 
  • Keep pets on a leash when outdoors and protect them with flea control products. Do not allow pets to approach sick or dead rodents or explore rodent burrows. 
  • Pet cats are highly susceptible to plague, and infected cats can transmit the bacterium to humans. If possible, discourage their hunting of rodents. Consult a veterinarian immediately if your cat becomes sick after being in contact with rodents. 
  • Residents should keep wild rodents out of homes and remove food, woodpiles, and other attractants for rodents around homes and outbuildings. 
  • Do not camp, sleep, or rest near animal burrows or areas where dead rodents are observed. 
  • Refrain from feeding squirrels, chipmunks, or other wild rodents in campgrounds and picnic areas. Store food and refuse in rodent-proof containers. 
  • Wear long pants tucked into boot tops to reduce exposure to fleas. Apply insect repellent to socks and trouser cuffs to help reduce exposure to fleas. 

$100k In Illegal Pot Seized From Redmond Home

REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond man was arrested Tuesday on multiple drug and weapons charges, and detectives say they seized illegal marijuana from his home worth about $100,000. It was the result of a long-term investigation into Christopher Putnam by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Illegal Marijuana Market Enforement (DCIMME) team.

Putnam was pulled over Tuesday morning. Detectives then executed a search warrant at his home on SW 77th Street. In addition to the 152 pounds of illegal pot, investigators say they also found an AR-15, two handguns and $10,000 cash. The marijuana was pre-packaged, and detectives say it was destined for the black market.

Putnam made his first court appearance Wednesday. 


photo courtesy of the DCIMME.

Deschutes Public Library Debuts Local Tea Fundraiser

BEND, OR -- Deschutes Public Library has partnered with a local tea company to build awareness and support programs and services.

“We wanted to kick this off during a tea drinking month in February. And it also happens to be a national Library Lovers month. So, we thought that would be a great time to kind of launch this campaign,” says the library’s Dana O’Connell who helped in crafting the specialty beverage with Metolius Artisan Tea, “Amy at Metolius, they donate a portion to literacy programs which comes back in the form of our library foundation. Deschutes Public Library Foundation supports our summer reading program. There's a big author event that's free and open to the public called The Novel Idea in the month of May.”

“Reader's Blend highlights locally grown lavender and bachelor's buttons along with ethically sourced coconut, Italian bergamot, and rooibos. It’s rich, smooth, floral, and thoughtful,” says Amy Stahl, founder of Metolius Artisan Tea.

O’Connell tells KBND News tea drinkers are giving it good reviews, ”If people are so inclined, they can support Metolius tea by purchasing this tea. And then a portion of that funds these programs that are not funded through taxpayer dollars.” She says a social media campaign with the tea has been a successful part of Library Lovers Month, “Just the creativity that people have shown us, and their outcry for support of the library is just like getting a love letter,” adding it’s been a fun approach to build awareness, “It's a way to say, hey, here's all these things that the library can do and then we wanted a way to give back.”

You can enjoy free samples available at library branches during Random Acts of Kindness week, beginning next Tuesday.


OR Legislature Honors Bend Veterans Advocate

SALEM, OR -- Oregon’s House will soon vote on a resolution honoring Dick Tobiason, founder of the Bend Heroes Foundation. 

The House committee that deals with veterans issues held a hearing on HCR 202 Tuesday. "Dick needs no introduction to this committee," said Rep. Rick Lewis (R-Silverton) Committee Vice Chair, "He’s been involved in nearly every session over the past 14 years, with the committee, promoting legislation to honor veterans and their families." Lewis pointed out that Tobiason was the driving force behind highway designations across the state, "These are the WWI Veterans Memorial Highway, WWII Veterans Historic Highway, the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans Memorial Highway, the Purple Heart Trail, the Medal of Honor Highway, the POW/MIA Memorial Highway and most recently, the Gold Star Families Memorial Highway." He also spearheaded the effort for a national Medal of Honor Highway, from Newport, Oregon to Boston, Massachusetts.

Lewis added, "A number of other projects have been completed, including the designation of a bridge in Central Oregon, in honor of WWII Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Robert Maxwell." In addition to founding the Bend Heroes Foundation, Tobiason helped in the creation of the Veterans Village shelter in Bend. He's also a vet, "Dick served two tours in Vietnam and was awarded the Purple Heart for serious injuries suffered from a grenade blast," said Lewis, "He served as an army pilot for 20 years, including time flying aircraft as a scout for fighter jets in Vietnam."

Tobiason attended Tuesday's hearing virtually, and gave a brief statement, "Between the Legislature, Governors and your Senate counterparts, in Oregon, we will never ever forget those war veterans. The purpose of putting signs up along those highways - 3,500 miles of highway, is just to make sure the public knows that we honor and respect their service and sacrifice."

HCR 202 unanimously passed out of committee and is headed to the full House.

Deschutes County Commissioners honored Dick Tobiason in November


Deschutes Co. Considers Declaring Fentanyl Emergency

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners will discuss Wednesday whether to declare a local fentanyl state of emergency. Click HERE to read the draft declaration.

"I want to put pressure on the legislators to actually do something," Chair Patti Adair tells KBND News. She says she came up with the idea after last week’s joint emergency declarations issued by the state, Multnomah County and city of Portland. "Every county should be part of the emergency, [not just] Portland. We had four people die in six days in Deschutes County."

With the tri-government declaration for downtown Portland, state and local agencies are coordinating under an emergency command structure. KBND News asked Commissioner Adair if she’s talked to the Governor about a similar program here. "Oh yes," said Adair, "Well, I texted her. We had a whole conversation going because I was like, ‘Governor? Governor Kotek.’ So, anyway, yes. We’ve had some conversations there." She added, "First, when I said, ‘we had four overdose deaths - we had four deaths in six days,’ she thought I was talking about all those terrible traffic accidents with all of our ice. And I said, ‘no, no, no. These are overdose deaths.’ She went, ‘oh, gosh. Okay.’ So, she knows." 

Adair acknowledges the draft declaration under consideration for Deschutes County won’t carry much legal authority. "It’s a message giving to the lawmakers. That’s what I want to do," she says, "I just feel like if I just sit here and let it go and pretend like everything’s okay - everything is not okay."

She was in Salem Monday, pushing for lawmakers to increase criminal penalties for drug users and dealers. 

file photo

Three People Escape Madras Car Fire

MADRAS, OR -- An SUV was destroyed by a Monday evening fire, south of Madras. Jefferson County Fire & EMS officials say the driver and two passengers were alerted by the driver behind them that sparks were coming from underneath the SUV. They pulled over near S. Adams and SW Crestview, and fire engulfed the engine bay. Everyone escaped unharmed.

Firefighters responded and extinguished the fire, while law enforcement closed the area. 


ODFW Mule Deer Plan Seeks Public Input

BEND, OR -- Oregon's Department of Fish and Wildlife is taking input on the latest draft of its mule deer management plan. The first such update since 2003.

“The boundaries for wildlife management units are really more social and political. They don't really align with actual mule deer behavior,” ODFW spokesperson Michelle Dennehy says there is a shift in how the agency counts the species, moving to 22 separate herd ranges, from an overall management unit, “What that means for hunters is the deer that's counted on winter range is going to be the deer that you're hunting on summer or fall range. It's going to be all, be part of the same herd range.”

The plan identifies several factors causing a declining population. “Habitat degradation. Connectivity is a big issue because mule deer tend to take the same migration route every year. Predation, parasites and disease nutrition. All those topics,” Dennehy says, adding they’re getting good feedback on the hot-button issue for hunters, landowners, and others, “Generally, it was really positive about, you know, all our efforts for the plan, the comments more were related to, you know, ‘how can we help you reach the goals in this plan?’.”

ODFW hosts a public meeting in Bend tonight to take more public comment on the proposal at Embark on 2843 NW Lolo Drive, starting at 6:30.

You can also check out the plan and submit comments on the ODFW website.

The new policy could go to Oregon's Fish and Wildlife commission for approval as early as April.

Photo: ODFW Staff Radio Collaring A Doe

Construction, Fundraising Continues For La Pine Wellness Center

LA PINE, OR -- Construction of the La Pine Wellness Center is on pace, so is the fundraising goal of $5-million for the $16-million project. “We have about $2.8 million left to raise…. We are doing great. They've already poured concrete for our foundation walls and are installing utilities. The building is projected to be completed in January or February of next year,” the Health Center’s Courtney Ignazzitto says they currently serve about 6,000 primary-care patients, “Due to the new building, we will have space in our existing building to add four more providers and that equals around 4,600 additional patients. And with the growth we've been experiencing in La Pine, that is going to be just an amazing addition for the community.”

“We will have a dental clinic, an imaging center and expanded mental health services. So, people don't have to be a primary care patient of ours in order to access those services. There has been a gap of patients that have had to seek dental care in Bend or Redmond even though we have dental care available in La Pine due to insurance limitations. And we've never had imaging services in La Pine beyond X ray,” she says. The Wellness Center will be situated next to the La Pine Community Health Center.

Ignazzitto, also a city councilor tells KBND News the Wellness Center has received warm community support.

“We have several potential grant sources identified and we have a dedicated team from our community that is working on fundraising. So, we're hoping to chunk this off pretty, pretty quickly,” she says citing grant money coming from government and private sources, including a recent $500,000 grant from M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.


Renovations Coming To Crook County's Historic Courthouse

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Work is wrapping up on Crook County’s new Justice Center, funded by a $35 million bond passed by voters in 2021. Crook County Judge Seth Crawford expects it will open in June, "And then, to me, the most exciting part will start happening, is refurbishing the old county courthouse, which everybody’s kind of the iconic - I’ve always heard - the most photographed building in Oregon."

The courthouse was built in 1909. With the Circuit Court and District Attorney's Office moving into the new Justice Center, there will be room in the historic courthouse for county offices. But Crawford says, it first needs 21st century upgrades, "We’ve got to find ways to add the ADA, the HVAC, elevators, things that were not required a hundred years ago to the building; and IT, and different things like that, that would be very difficult to retrofit."

However, he tells KBND News, "One of the things that I think we need to do is be extremely respectful to that building and our history, in general. And I think we found a really good way to do that." Crawford says, "We’ve got a really exciting idea of having a building next door, to have a lot of that infrastructure, where we can then keep the interior and exterior of that building as historically accurate as we can." He adds, "I think we’ve got some really good ideas about building next to it, to add the modern amenities and the modern requirements that we have, by law. But, we don’t have to have serious changes in the actual courthouse."

The new Justice Center will eventually provide more than double the square footage of the historic courthouse. 

file photo

Fitch's State Of City Focuses On Redmond's Growth

REDMOND, OR -- Mayor Ed Fitch delivered his State of the City address Thursday highlighting economic and population growth. He says both are estimated to continue, “We have to build at least 365 to 400 living units, each year.” He told the gathered crowd at city hall there are expansion plans throughout all sectors of the city as nearly 8,000 people have moved in since 2018, an average of about one family per day. “It'll give us a unique opportunity to master plan where schools should go, where parks should go,” he said.

Fitch tells KBND News that growth presents opportunities and challenges, “Well, we're seeing a lot more of family wage jobs. The problem is that we're getting family wage jobs but the cost of housing is outstripping it. Now it takes two family wage jobs for a family to find a place that's affordable. That paradigm is going to have to change somehow.”

He also touted the city’s collaboration with Oasis Village and Mountain View Fellowship’s Safe Parking program, both serving the homeless. “Together with nonprofits, the County, COIC, the state, the Feds… We work as a team as best we can,” Fitch tells KBND there is also a plan for a managed-camp in Southeast Redmond, “What I envision it as is a place where we have individual sites. So, it's not a free for all into who's going to be where. Where they have trash, they have bathrooms, they have water. So, there's some level of dignity for these people. The idea is that we're going to get them off the streets… off the county lands, but also provide the services to help those who need it or want it, to get out of homelessness, into transitional housing, and into some type of permanent housing.”

In addition to affordable housing and homelessness, Fitch is focusing on Redmond’s water stewardship, and future transportation connectivity.


Local Ranchers Await Decision On Gray Wolf Protections

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to release an updated proposal Friday on whether to keep the gray wolf on the Endangered Species list. Under current federal law, wolves in Eastern Oregon are not protected; but west of Highway 395, they are. 

Crook County Judge Seth Crawford says it has a big impact on Central Oregon ranchers, "So there, on the other side of 395, if you see a wolf attacking or eating your livestock, you can shoot it. On our side, you have to sit there and watch this animal attack your animal and there’s nothing you can do but wave your arms and scare it away."

He says the county is working on a plan to help local ranchers develop non-lethal control methods, "Regardless of how that comes down, Crook County’s working on finding the right solution of adding some kind of a service that’s going to help those ranchers. If we’re still listed, it’s going to be a non-lethal situation where they can go out there, cruise the areas and do what they can. There’s some other things about bone pile removal and some other non-lethal things that you can do."

But, Crawford tells KBND News he believes population control measures are needed. "We’re really hoping in our community that they do delist it. And if they do that, then we can start to manage the problem a little better."

The Fish and Wildlife Service initially delisted the gray wolf in 2020. But a court order reinstated federal protections in 2022. 


Photo courtesy Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

$9k In iPhones Stolen From Redmond Store

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are looking for two women who stole eight iPhones from the US Cellular store, valued at about $9,000. Investigators say they got the phones by using fake drivers licenses to open new accounts on January 23.

They’re believed to have committed a similar scam in Madras in December, where three more iPhones were stolen.

The suspects were captured on surveillance footage (pictured). Anyone with information is asked to contact Redmond PD through non-emergency dispatch, at 541-693-6911. 


State Supreme Court: Knopp & Others Barred From '24 Election

SALEM, OR -- State Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend) and a handful of other Republican lawmakers will not be allowed to run for reelection this year, following a decision by the Oregon Supreme Court.

Prior to the court’s ruling, Senator Tim Knopp told reporters Wednesday his party is in a good place, "I think we win either way, quite frankly. If the court sides with us, it’s a clear victory. If it doesn’t, I think we still win because our members literally have no reason to show up. And so, in order for them to show up, they’re going to want to see that they’re going to be able to make a difference."

Thursday, Republicans said the decision comes from a “Democrat-Stacked Supreme Court.” Knopp went on to say in a statement, "We obviously disagree with the Supreme Court's ruling. But more importatnly, we are deeply disturbed by the chilling impact this decision will have to crush dissent."

He and other lawmakers had argued Measure 113’s language states lawmakers with 10 or more unexcused absences can’t run for reelection in 2026, but are allowed to run in ‘24. Oregon’s High court disagreed, siding with the Secretary of State’s interpretation of the intent of voters. Read the full opinion HERE.

Knopp led the longest walkout in state history. Ten Senators denied their chamber a quorum, holding up votes for six weeks, in 2023. The 2024 session starts Monday, "I am not predicting a walkout at this point, but we’re not taking it off the table," Knopp said this week. "Our members want to be heard. They want to be respected, and they want to be involved. So the degree that that atmosphere can be created, the more successful we’re going to be. I think we are on the right path right now, as it relates to being able to have a bipartisan session." Knopp added, "There are issues that, let’s just say, drive the parties to their corners and they tend to cause problems. And so, the more we can focus on the issues Oregonians are concerned about: housing, housing affordability and ballot measure 110, I think it will be a more successful session."

Of the 10 Senators who participated in the 2023 walkout, six are at the end of their term: Senators Boquist, Findley, Hansell, Knopp, Linthicum and Robinson. Senator Lynn Findley has already announced he will retire. In anticipation of the court's ruling, Knopp and several others have already endorsed alternative candidates for their Senate seats. 


BLS In Contract Talks With Classified Employees

BEND, OR -- Now that Bend-LaPine Schools has a tentative contract deal with the teachers’ union, they’re hoping to soon have the same for their 900 classified employees. That includes custodial, cafeteria, transportation, health providers, and clerical positions.

Oregon School Employees Association chapter president Debbie Christian tells KBND News they’ve worked without a contract since last June, “We're still obviously bargaining, we have several temporary agreements within our financial articles, but there's still some very important areas that we need to discuss and work through.” She says they’re looking for a four-year deal, “We would do wages and benefits for the first two years of the contract, which is this current year and the next school year and then open it again, next school year for the next two years. I would characterize this bargaining season as slow and steady. It takes a lot of time and effort to work through the full contract language along with the financial articles.”

The district’s Scott Maben thinks a deal is close after eight months of negotiations, “We’ve made a lot of progress with the classified staff’s bargaining unit in our most recent meetings, which leads us to have some optimism about what we can do.” He adds provisions from the previous contract stayed in place while they work toward a new deal, “Clearly, it's taken us a long, long time to get to where we're at today. I would say we're very close to the end. …Since we began this round of negotiations at the end of last school year, both of the bargaining teams have been working through a really long list of items that are in the OSEA contract.” A bargaining session was held Wednesday night and another is planned for Friday.



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