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Local News Archives for 2013-02


Climbing Mt. Everest for a Cause


A father and son team leaves for Nepal Friday to climb part way up Mt. Everest, as thousands have done, but this time it's a very special feat.

 

Eli Reimer, a 15 year old student at Bend High, who happens to have Down's Syndrome has been training for this trip for a year. 

 

Eli’s dad, Justin says it's "all systems go."  "Eli's been given a clean bill of health from his heart doctors and pulmonary specialists as well. So it will be a challenge for him, though, stamina, just different things like that. for anybody, it's going to be hard, but I’m feeling pretty confident about his ability to do this."

 

Reimer says they hope to begin the Himalayan trek by March 5th and will take about 15 days to hike the 9,000 feet. 

 

The project is a fundraiser for The Elisha Foundation, an organization the Reimers created to support families with disabled children locally, and bring awareness of the plight of disabled children abroad.

Tanning Bend Restrictions to Be Voted in the House


With a unanimous vote, a House Committee approved House Bill 2896, that will restrict a teen’s access to tanning beds.

 

Joyce Brookman with Tan Republic in Bend is unhappy that the bill is moving forward, saying it should be a parent's decision about the fake tanning.  "Being a parent myself, if I am giving the go for my daughter, at age 16 or so, to do so, I think that's my choice."

 

But Bend Memorial Clinic Dermatologist Dr. Gerald Peters is happy with the bill saying the excuse that someone needs more Vitamin D from those rays is not valid.  "It's not a popular message, and I'm sorry, but the truth is, it’s a big danger and Vitamin D can be administered in an oral form that is not carcinogenic."

 

Oregon Representative Gene Whisnant of Sunriver says he's supporting the bill when it comes to the full House for a vote.

Bill in Salem takes aim at Parents of Stoned Students


If a student shows up drunk at school police can intervene, but if they're stoned the current law doesn't allow police to do much. 

 

A new bill in Salem tries to address this inconsistency by fining or putting parents and guardians in jail if they allow their kids to use drugs and go to school.

 

Bend Police Lt. Chris Carney says its a growing problem among students and also says smoking pot is much more dangerous than it has been in the past. 

 

"We like to say it's not your grandfather's marijuana anymore -- its not the same substance you would've smoked in 1960 - the thc levels are much higher- its much more potent- some  of the worst duii cases i've seen have been people under the influence of marijuana - but its there was no alcohol on board- i was shocked...because the person was so impaired, i figured there had to be alcohol involved - but there was not."

 

The Bill calls for a $1250 dollar fine- 30 days in jail - or both.  Bend La Pine school resource officers say they are seeing a shift from students using alcohol to mahy using drugs instead - and not just marijuana - but harder drugs as well.

Representative Gene Whisnant votes against I-Five Bridge project


It's a major transportation project that's been talked about in Oregon for about 17 years.  Earlier this week a bill related to the Columbia River Crossing project passed in the house by a 45 to 11 vote. Two Democrats with voters near the project voted against it- and nine Republicans joined them.  One was State Representative Gene Whisnant of Sunriver.

 

"My final decision on the no vote on the bill is i don't think the advocates on the bill are being honest with the people of oregon in saying there's going to be some costs- gas taxes or other things to pay for this. “

 

The other Central Oregon Representatives: Jason Conger of Bend, John Huffman of The Dalles and Mike McLane of Powell Butte,  voted in favor of the bill. 

They say while the project is not perfect the gridlock needs to stop in that i-five corridor in order to keep the overall economy strong.  "Les Schwab" is also supporting the bill. 

State Senator Tim Knopp Hears from Lots of Constituents on Gun Control


Lawmakers are hearing a lot about House Bill 3200.  The bill bans semi auomatic firearms and high capacity gun magazines.

 

State Senator Tim Knopp says people are letting their opinions be known on that bill.

 

"The big issues -- which has gotten a lot of people upset in House Bill 3200.  We've gotten 1200 to 1500 emails and phone calls. It essentially puts a ban on guns in circulation today and also authorizes warrantless searches.  I believe it's unconstitutional and a lot of people are concerned about that."

 

The bill is sponsored by democratic Representative Mitch Greenlich of Portland -- though he too is disillusioned with the bill and feels it goes too far.

 

The bill has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.

City of Bend Offering Homebuyers Assistance


It's part of the federal "Neighborhood Stabilization Program" to get foreclosed and short sale properties off the market.

 

Sheila Pyott is the Bend program coordinator.

 

"Folks who are 120 percent of the area's median income, for instance for one person that would be an income limit of $53,000 and for a four person family it would be $75,000.  I've rounded these numbers so."

 

The seventy foreclosed and short sale properties available for purchase are mainly on the east side of Bend.  To apply go the city of Bend's website.

 

To qualify, you must meet income stipulations and must be buying the home to be occupied and not for an investment.  These loans up to 35-thousand dollars don't have to be paid back until you sell the property.

Seniors Will Be Hit Hard by Sequestration


 

Funding cuts due to the sequestration go into effect Friday, and locally, some seniors could be the first to feel its effects.

 

Pamela Norr with the Central Oregon Council on Aging spoke with our news partner, News Channel 21, she says COCOA would take a big hit:  "The amount that sequestration would technically potentially cut to our programs locally would be huge. The money would only come out of the older Americans act funding, which we receive from the federal government; but a 10% cut to that would be significant for us."

 

Norr says those cuts could total about $700,000, mostly out of the nutrition assistance programs for seniors in Oregon.

 

She adds that the ripple effect from these cuts will be seen later on; such as taxpayers bearing the cost for medical care for seniors who become ill or need more care.

 

State Saves 45 million without cutting jobs or programs


Call it a silver lining to our weak economy - the State of Oregon is able to take advantage of historically low interest rates and save 45 million dollars by re-financing some bonds. 
 
James Sinks with the State Treasury Department says many of the  large projects in Oregon are for transportation, education and public safety and some of those bonds have been re-financed at two-point-seven (2.7) percent. 
 
The state treasury has now saved more than 100 million dollars since the beginning of 2012 by just refunding bond to lower rates.
 
 

U of O Professor on Looming Federal Cuts


 

 

 

 A University of Oregon economics professor says we need to cut federal spending soon- but now is not the right time to allow tomorrow's (Rri) sequestration cuts to go into effect.  Professor Mark Thoma says the economy is too fragile to take this hit tomorrow. 
 
He says independent numbers show it could cost the economy about 300 to 700 thousand jobs.  Meantime,  some conservatives are saying that the sequester cuts have been exaggerated and are politically motivated. They say the government needs to cut spending to deal with escalating national debt.
 

 

Bend La Pine Schools Board OKs Bond


With a unanimous vote - the Bend La Pine Schools Board approved placing a $96-million maintenance and construction bond on the May ballot.

 

Bond Committee Co-Chair Andy High says they worked very hard to make this bond attractive to voters. "The great thing about this bond is that we have been able to work all the number and fit it within the current tax rate that's being assessed. So if the voters approve this, they won't see any tax increase because of this bond."

 

High says the school district sorely needs two new schools and upgrades to many classrooms.

 

11 of the district's 17 elementary schools are near, at, or over capacity and three of the four middle schools are getting close.

 

He says the highest concentration and projected growth looks to be in the southwest, east and southeast areas.

 

High says now the hard part begins: educating the voting public about the need to continue funding our schools.

Muse Womens Conference This Weekend


March is Women's History Month, and to celebrate there will be a "Muse Women's Conference" at the Tower Theatre this weekend.

 

Organizer Amanda Stuermer says the conference will feature many international and local women speaking about how they found their inner strength to make changes:  "We think its time for women to really step into their full sense of their potential as change-makers in the world. We want to inspire women and girls, and show them their potential that they hold for change. our mission is really to empower women and girls to begin creating positive change within their lives, within our community, and within our world."

 

Stuermer says the three day conference will feature speakers, music and workshops.

 

The Muse Women's Conference is at the Tower Theatre this Friday through Sunday.  You can purchase one day tickets or a full conference ticket.  Men are also encouraged to attend.

For more information, click here.

 

Job Vacancies Up in Oregon


That breaks down to five unemployed people for each opening.

 

Healthcare and social services account for 22 percent of all the state vacancies.  

 

In central Oregon, Leisure and Hospitality actually have the most openings.

 

State Employment Economist Jessica Nelson says central Oregon workers saw hourly wages slightly below the state average and fewer prime jobs.

 

"Across the region, central Oreogn had fewer full time and permanent jobs as a share of total jobs and tha'ts due to Leisure and Hospitality popping up so large."

 

The average wage in central Oregon is $17.31 a nhour -- which is slightly below the state average of $17.92 an hour.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber Promotes State's Healthcare Changes as Innovative


He was on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" political talk show.

 

Kitzhaber, who is a physican, knows that Oregon's Medicaid program, known as the Oregon Health Plan, is crowding out other state programs that need funding.

 

In Oregon, the revenue growth is 4 percent a year and the cost of Medicaid is 5.4

 percent a year.  We  just got a huge wiaver from the Obama Adminsitration of an investment of two billion dolaras for reorganizing the financial incentives for our medicaid program.  It is estimated to save us 7 billion dollars over the next decade with our new delivery model.  If applied to all states, it could mean a savings of  1.2 trillion dollars.  If looking to save a million dollars, why not do that while making people healthier?"

 

The Obama Adminsitration agreed to give Oreogn two trillion dollars in exchange for proeceted cost savings of two percent in Medicaid spending.

 

If the state fails to realize those savings, Oregon would have to pay penalties.

 

Deschutes County Commissioners Put Final Approval on 9-1-1 Levy Going to Voters in May


At their meeting Monday, county commissioners heard from  local law enforcement saying they  support  the measure.

 

It will extend the current .23 cent levy per one thousand dollars in assessed property value for another five years.

 

Deschutes County Sheriff Larry Blanton says passage of this measure is priority number one.

 

"In my opinion, you can talk about education, you can talk about public safety.  But 9-1-1  and how the initail calls is handled is the foundation of all our public safety.  Whether fire, police or ambulance.  If this doens't pass, I don't know what we'll do."

 

Voters will decide the levy issue on May 21st.

Senator Knopp pushes for Bill to help low income Seniors


The Great Recession is jeopardizing a decades old program in Oregon that allows low-income seniors and the disabled to postphone their property taxes until after they die.

 

State Senator Tim Knopp (R) of Bend says reverse mortgages and equity disappearing almost overnight has put pressure on the state program.- and it’s set to expire son. 

 

So, he's pushing his bi-partisan bill, SB 672,  that would remove the sunset clause from the "Homestead Property Tax Deferral Program.” 

 

The program started in 1963.  Knopp said he’s talked to several Seniors in Central Oregon who say they need it- and that one woman said she’d lose her home without it.

 

House Bill ignites National Gun Debate


State Representative John Huffman of The Dalles says he's received about 500 to 600 emails against a house bill backed by "Ceasefire Oregon." 

 

Housebill 3200 was introduced on Friday and conservative website "Breitbart-dot-com"  quickly posted a headline that read "Oregon Drafts Invasive Gun Law."

 

Huffman says even without all of these emails he was already against the bill - he says besides infringing of people's rights it also wouldn't solve any problems.  

 

He *is* supporting another gun bill that calls for a 250 dollar tax credit for gun owners who buy safes for their guns. 

 

Even the chief sponsor of the controversial housebill says his bill as introduced goes too far.  Democrat Mitch Greenlich of Portland says in its current form it's a pretty "flawed bill" and he'll make big changes to it if continues to move forward.

 

 

 

Snowmobilers Found


40-year-old Eric Abney and his 13-year-old son Chase were missing after going on a snowmobile trip Sunday. However, after an extensive search by rescue crews and volunteers, a snowmobiler on a tour in the area spotted Chase. About a half hour later rescue crews were able to locate his father who had left for help about an hour earlier. Both the father and son are in good condition. They made a snow cave with a floor lined with tree branches. Deschutes County Captain Shane Nelson said if it were not for the snow cave they might not have survived the night.

State Representative explains his vote on Historic Project


it was another big vote in the Oregon house-  this time a large majority of lawmakers passed a bill that gives the green light to the  largest public project in state history.  Monday morning in a 45 to 11 vote the Oregon House authorized the state to issue $450 million in bonds to fund the state's portion of a $3.4 billion project.  State Representative Jason Conger of Bend explains his "yes" vote.

"it will create jobs- it will make Oregon more competitive- not just for Portland but for all of Oregon - because this has a huge impact of our ability to move freight from oregon to washington and it will help improve access to the port of portland which is a big point of entry and point of exit for goods."

The huge project could also bring in federal dollars to expand light rail from Portland to downtown Vancouver. Critics in Oregon say the project represents unchecked highway sprawl - and detractors in Washington State want to strip light rail from the plan.

Another Big Vote in Oregon House


Here is the governor's news release below,  issued shortly after the vote Monday morning.

***************************************

Kitzhaber Praises Bridge Vote from Washington D.C. Transportation Meeting

House takes important step on Interstate 5 bridge replacement


(Washington, D.C.) — Governor Kitzhaber today commended the Oregon House for its bipartisan vote in support of HB 2800, which authorizes bond funding for Oregon's share of the Interstate 5 bridge replacement. The Governor made his statement while in Washington, D.C., where he was meeting with U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Washington Governor Jay Inslee about moving forward on the project.
 
“The vote in the House today is an important step forward for our state and the Pacific Northwest economy,” said Governor Kitzhaber. “By investing in a safe and effective transportation system for Oregon, we are providing a safer and less congested trip for freight and commuters. It is time that we build this bridge.”
 
In recent conversations, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary LaHood and Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano have reaffirmed the federal governments strong support for the project. In today’s meeting with federal partners and Governor Inslee, Governor Kitzhaber reported in on Oregon’s progress on funding Oregon’s share of the project. 
 
Forty billion dollars worth of interstate and international commerce crosses the Interstate Bridge to nearby ports, businesses and distribution facilities, and commerce is increasingly impacted by congestion at a pinch point that is one of the worst spots anywhere between Mexico and Canada. In addition to construction jobs, the economic impacts from replacing the bridge and improving the interchanges will result in the creation of 4,200 jobs and $231 million in additional wages in 2030.
 


 

Let the Games Begin


 

Oregon used to be one of only two states that did not have a sanctioned "Senior Games."

 

The Oregon Senior Games comes to Bend in June of 2014.

 

It will be 14 sports in 14 venues for men and women 50 years and above.

 

Visit Bend's Kevney Dugan says ever since the news leaked out - people are stepping up to help put the event together.  “It's going to be a massive undertaking. But I’m really excited. You know since we announced this the amount of people who have come out in support of this; Bend Parks and Rec have been very supportive of this. There's a lot going on with the Senior Center and some developments there that will happen over the next 5 years. And they're really excited about supporting their senior community."

 

Dugan says they estimate about 500 competitors for the first year; but believes it will grow to several thousand over time.

 

Oregon Senior Games are open to people in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Crook County Ponders Making Buildings and Grounds Tobacco Free


Should Crook County buildings and grounds be totally tobacco free? That's a question the Commissioner are asking of the residents.

 

Commissioner Seth Crawford doesn't think that a new ordinance is needed, and disagrees with the wording of the survey.  "I feel that there are some misleading questions on there. Because the first question is, in general- 'When you're out and about, do you try to avoid second hand smoke?'  And I can't believe anybody would write no on that. So to me, you're already putting somebody's thought process in a certain direction."

 

Crawford says there are already 20-foot no-smoking restrictions at the county buildings and he doesn't think the county has the right to tell people how to live their lives or make decisions about their health.

 

The smoking survey is on the Crook County website; we have a link to it here

Historic Vote in Salem Friday


Many eyes across Oregon and the nation will be on the Oregon House on Friday, February 22nd.  it's a historic vote on in-state tuition for illegal immigrant students.

 

The issue has been hotly debated in Salem for years- barely making it out of the Senate,  and then dying in the house in committee, not ever making it to a floor vote.  But now it’s happening. The moment is not lost on Greg Delgado with latino advocacy group, Causa, or “the cause.” 

 

"We're super super excited about this .... this is a struggle that we've been working on for several years now- it was an uphill battle....a lot of great groups worked on this- we're very happy where's its going."

 

Degaldo says it if passes 100's of students here in Central Oregon will be impacted.

 

Meantime, State Representative Gene Whisnant of Sunriver is a "no" vote on tuition equity. Whisnant fears that giving in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrant students could flood the university system and have unintended negative consequences. 

 

"i wish first of all that leadership had waited to see what is coming out of federal government because whatever we do we want to make sure we comply with federal rules- its a tough issue- we know that the people=- the children are victims of actions of their parents- its not their fault - so hoefully we'll get some immigration policy at the national level that will help solve this thing- too. "

 

Whisnant pushed for a sunset clause on the bill so that in a few years lawmakers can re-evaluate its impact.  But that ammendment didn't make it into the bill on the house side, so he’ll push for it to be added if it moves to the Senate. 

Bend Chamber will weigh in on SWIP


The Bend Chamber has not held an "official position" on what may be the most controversial local issue- the proposed 68 million dollar drinking water project.  But now, the chamber says they are hiring a neutral third party expert to evaluate the project and then give the chamber board his opinion.  Chamber President Tim Casey told the city council during its meeting last night/wed. night that the chamber would move forward with this plan.  

 

“i thnk it's imperative that we do this- the city has their experts- the opponents have their experts-...we'll have someone come in - who's not associated with the city at all and give their honest opinion."

 

Casey says the Chamber had started moving in this direction a year ago - but when the council voted to move forward with the pipeline they thought it wouldn't be useful. 

 

He says now that the project is stalled again and the debate continues - they want to get another opinion from a neutral expert.

Bend City Council Gets an Earful at Meeting


Dozens of people; most opposed to the Storm Water Improvement Project (SWIP) spoke to the Bend City Council Wednesday night.

 

The Council had approved most of the project in their last meeting, and was going to vote on two clauses that they had re-worded.

 

But citizens had other plans for the Council.

 

Doug Worma spoke for many when he urged the Council to put the decision before the voters.  “You've made up your mind that the current SWIP is the right way to go. But I say, put it up to the voters; let them decide that, if what they want. If they decide that they don't want it; well, you make think they're wrong, but you have to respect that."

 

Frank Tureck supports the SWIP project, and applauded their action at the last meeting.  "I know its a hard decision, that's why we elected you to make the hard decision instead of saying ‘It's a difficult decision; lets have the people vote on it.’  We need you to be leaders and do that."

 

City Manager Eric King asked Mr. Willis from the engineering company who prepared the pipeline report to explain the condition of the current pipeline:  "Since this report was built, another 4 years have gone by and those pipelines have continues to fail during that period of time. They are now showing signs of imminent failure, imminent catastrophic failure. Those are things you simply cannot continue with. Those pipelines need to be replaced, and they need to be replaced as soon as you can reasonably do that."

 

The council voted to approve the re-worded resolution; but will conduct a series of meetings with a report and recommendation on treatment options.

Annual Eagle Watch This Weekend


It’s time to see some spectacular birds this weekend as the 18th annual "Eagle Watch" is happening near Madras.

 

Paul Patton with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department says Lake Billy Chinook is home to 10 breeding pairs of both bald and golden eagles.  "It’s a celebration of the resident bald and golden eagles that live in and about the area of Lake Billy Chinook. And then in the wintertime, from January to March, those birds are joined by migratory bald eagles from up further north in Canada."

 

The event kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday at the "Eagle Village” near the Visitor Center at Round Butte Overlook, and runs through Sunday.

 

Patton says to be sure to bring warm clothes, binoculars and a camera.  There will be games, guided bird walks, prize drawings and a lot more.  The event is free.

Consultant Chosen for Mirror Pond Project


A Portland firm, "Green Works" was chosen as the consultant for the Mirror Pond project.

 

At Tuesday night's Bend Park and Rec Board meeting, Board Chair Scott Asla says a committee thoroughly researched all of the bids and found "Green Works" to be the best fit.

 

Asla says an interesting item that was brought out at the meeting when discussing the Mirror Pond project:

"In the online survey, it's open until the 25th, for the entire City of Bend for anyone to respond to, we've had 1600 responses so far; which is huge. We'd like to see that double in size, if we could."

 

Asla wants everyone to have an opportunity to give their opinion and suggestion.

 

You can find the survey at: wwww.bendparksandrec.org.

Dan Fishkin to Replace Dallas Brown


The Bend Parks and Recreation District Board selected a new member to replace Dallas Brown.

 

Board Chair Scott Asla says they chose Dan Fishkin to sit on the board for the next four months.  "He's been very active with Bend Parks and Rec, he's been on the budget committee before. His trade is he's in entertainment and he is a practicing attorney."

 

Asla says if Fishkin wants to continue in the seat,  he will have to run for it in the May election.

 

Asla adds that they were very impressed with all 10 candidates who applied for the position and the decision was tough.

Prineville Comes Up with a New Noise Ordinance


The city's previous ordinance just addressed car stereos, but the new one looks at other concerns.

 

Planning Director Scott Edelman says police deal with lots of complaints.

 

"The main complaint is engines idling.  Someone has a truck and they are running it in to the night or using chain saws and carpentry saws at odd hours.  Of course loud car stereos and remote control cars, some are pretty loud."

 

The public can come out and offer their opinions on the new ordiannce at their next planning commission meeting on March 5th.

 

If approved, the  Prineville City Council will give the final o.k. sometime this spring.

Facebook Gives 182-Thousand to Crook County


The Crook County employer is giving 100-thousand to Crook County High School and 82-thousand to the Crook County Foundation.

 

Lee Weinstein with Facebook says they want to give back to the community they live in.

 

"We need new students graduating who can go into technology jobs.  It's a fast growing sector and not a lot of people are qualified for these technology jobs.  We need more people in the science, technology and engineering fields.  We had a couple of interns at the Prineville plant and they're now going to pursue technology careers."

 

The 100-thousand dolalrs for the high school will go toward the STEM program, which stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

 

The funds for the foundation will fund an economic sutdy on tyring to increase area tourism.

Rollover Crash Injures Two


Oregon State Police are investigating a single car rollover crash that injured two; one seriously, Tuesday afternoon. 

 

Lt. Gregg Hastings reports Hazel Whapat, 57, of Warm Springs was driving eastbound on Highway 26 when she lost control of her car during a sweeping left curve, eight miles west of Madras. 

 

The car rolled at least once before landing on its wheels off the highway. 

 

Wahpat and her passenger, Leon Chase, 41, also of Warm Springs, were both injured and taken to St. Charles – Madras; but Whapat's injuries were deemed "serious" and made it necessary to transfer her by air ambulance to St. Charles Bend.

 

The crash occurred in one of the locations announced last week where OSP received an ODOT grant to provide overtime enforcement hours to prevent roadway departures.

Heart Attack Preparedness


The City of Bend’s police department is encouraging people to not only get CPR training but also to invest in a defibrillator as well. 

At a press conference Monday, EMS Program manager Tom Wright talked about how having a defibrillator on site at Healing Reins Therapeutic Riding center when volunteer Bill Butner had a heart attack saved his life and how the staff and volunteers were able to get his heart restarted before the ambulance arrived.

Virtual Career Fair


Oregon State University will be hosting their first annual virtual career fair tomorrow.

Even though it is being administered from the main campus, it is on-line so students and alumni can connect with possible employers without having to go to Corvallis.

The fair is open to all O.S.U. students and alumni, but registration is required.

For more information go to OSUCascades.edu.

Packed House at Town Hall


The issue of gun control was one of the first questions raised by one of the people attending Monday’s Town Hall with U.S. Senator Jeff Merkely of Oregon.

 

Most of the audience agreed  that assault-style guns are not necessary in everyday society and should be limited to police and the military.

 

Senator Merkley says he wants to be even handed when taking a position on the Senate floor.  "The 2 tests I am bringing to this conversation is: what is consistent with the Second Amendment and what will make a real difference; what is effective? Because the bills are a long way from coming to the Senate floor, but they will be debated in judiciary in the next few months, this is a great time to take feedback, and I encourage folks to give as much feedback on a whole range of ideas."

 

Merkley says a key component must address the mental health aspect, and he's looking forward to hearing a wide range of ideas and opinions.

 

Many people were very vocal about their frustrations with getting their interests addressed in Washington D.C.

 

One woman, "Shelia" from Bend, asked for Merkley's support in making a level play ground when it comes to big business versus the average American.  "I would really like your support in amending the constitution, related to the FTC versus “Citizens United,” such that corporations are not endowed with the rights meant only for persons, individuals and that money is not equivalent to free speech (applause)."

 

Merkley says they may be able to curb some of the huge donations through the Disclose Act; all of the special interests and Super PACs would have to be identified in political ads, but more needs to be done

 

Merkley says he's supporting a bill that will close the spending tax loopholes to be able to fund the core programs that help working Americans. "What we need to do is get that replacement in place for one year so we can our ordinary budgeting process, our ordinary appropriation process working, and avoid this basically crisis to crisis system that is doing nothing but shooting ourselves in the foot. In the course of that, in order to enable things to get done in the Senate to restore order, we have got to fix the broken Senate."   

 

Merkey says the "Sequestration" will do very little to stop spending on the tax loopholes, but will hurt domestic military spending and discretionary domestic spending.

Big Week for the Oregon Legislature


State Representative Jason Conger of Bend says this is going to be a big week in the Oregon Legislature.

 

Three controversial bills should be heard:  "The Columbia River Crossing, which is the construction of a replacement bridge between Portland and Vancouver, probably to be voted out of committee. That's a huge financial commitment for the State of Oregon, the State of Washington and the federal government. And the aggregate project is expected to cost $3.4 billion. Oregon’s portion for that, at least the initial stage, the bridge itself is about $450-million."

 

Conger says other items on the Legislative list include a comprehensive PERS reform bill and tuition equity, which he believes the way the bill is written now, is more of a political statement rather than a solution, because even if these "undocumented" children get an education, they still won't be able to get a job in the U.S. until they are legal.

Virginia Reddick Memorial Service Scheduled for Saturday


Virginia Reddick, died unexpectedly last week of a stroke at the age of 81.

 

Her son March, says people still can't believe she's gone.

 

"She died of a sudden, shocking, massive stroke.  She didn't have any heart problems.  Several prominent people have called the house, shocked she died."

 

It's been estimated that Reddick donated thousands and thousands of hours helping fellow seniors.

 

Her memorial service will be Saturday February 23rd at Bend's Community Center at 1:30.

Sisters City Council Getting Along Better


It's a new year, with new councilors.  There are three new members to the council.

 

Council President McKibben Womack says things are going better.

 

"I would say things are going well.  Everyone is very optimistic and working very well.  There's a sense on the council we want to get stuff done and we're concerned about our legacy.  We want things that are good for Sisters now and twenty years down the road.  So we're doing the work, going out in the community and making it official."

 

The council's past prickly relationship with the city manager is better as well.

 

Womack says they've come up with a more efficient way to evaluate the city's manager's performance.

Bend Native Wade Fagen Weighs In on Mirror Pond Debate


The silt build up is getting bad again and the district is deciding what to do going forward.

 

Some possibilities include dredging the pond again or doing away with the dam and consequenlty the pond eventually.

 

Bend native Wade Fagen ran on this issue when running for city council last year.  He thinks the solution is simple.

 

"You lower the water during the low flow in the fall, when the canals are still running on the south side.  And you'l l see the channel for Mirror Pond is only 8 to 16 feet.  All the rest of the mud flats will dry out.  You let that dry out and you're left with top soil which is easy to extradite without every touching the water."

 

Fagan says if you don't touch the water, he doesn't see why the district would need any state or federal permits to do the work.

 

Bend Parks and Rec is asking residents to fill out a questionnaire on their website to get a feel for the direction the community wants to go on this issue.  They plan to make a final deicison this June.

Seven Applicants for Bend Parks and Rec Board Opening


So the department opened the position up to applicants.

 

The deadline to apply was last Friday.  Seven applcacnts have put their names in for consideration.

 

The Bend Parks and Rec Board is scheduled to hear from the applciatns and possibly select one at their meeting Tuesday night.

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon in Central Oregon for Townhalls


In the morning he'll be at Crook County High School in Prineville.  

 

In the afternoon, he'll be in Bend at the Hollinshead Barn in NE Bend starting at 1:30.

 

And he'll end the day at the Jefferson County Senior Center at 5 p.m. in Madras.

A Central Oregon Group Helps Soldiers


A Central Oregon group hopes to make a big difference in the lives of soldiers serving oreveases in the military. 

 

Diane Brock of Bend has a son in the military and helped start "Caring For Troops" about 10 years ago.
 

They send care packages filled with things like beef jerkey, other goodies and personal items.  It helps loved ones take some positive action, while making a big difference to these men and women who are so far from home. 

 "WE WANT THEM TO KNOW THAT THEY AREN'T FORGOTTEN - THAT WE APPRECIATE THE SACRIFICE THEY DO FOR OUR FREEDOM."


Brock says the soldiers who get the special care packages don't have to be from central oregon - just have a local connection of some sort.  She says they need more people to sign up for this important morale boosting service. 

State Revenue Forecast is Tepid


The latest revenue forecast in Oregon is mostly flat, and House Republican Leader Mike McLane of Powell Butte says there is alrealy some talk in Salem about raising taxes and fees.  He says budget cuts and PERS reform are better ideas to make the math work.

 

"We're here to get oregonians the services they need and jobs- that's our priority and for those who are trying to do things other than that i'm not going to be supportive of that i'm going to keep beating the drum of private sector jobs." 


Meantime, House Speaker, Democrat Tina Kotek was more optimistic about the report, and says while there is still more work to be done, the stat is seeing a staedy pattern of improvement in the economy. 

Drive for World War II Memorial Kicks Off


There's a statewide effort underway to raise 1.2 million dollars for a special world war 2 memorial, which would be built in Salem. State Representative Gene Whisnant of Sunriver says the campaign kicked off recently - and they have already have an idea of what the memorial would look like.

 

"They actually had some stones right in front of the Capital - it looks nice- simple and nice- and I think with this generation we need to do it pretty fast cause that generation is leaving us every day."


Whisnant says most of the effort is being done through private funding, but the state is being asked to pitch in 250 thousand dollars for the memorial.

Voter Registration Deadline of Special Election is Tuesday


The special election on March 12th will only affect residents in the Sisters School District.

 

Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship says these special elections only happen on odd numbered years.  "Special elections are really based on what a district wants to do; so it's district driven. Unless the Sisters School District had not have a levy, we wouldn't have an election in March. Same would be true with the upcoming September or November election. In odd years, we have elections only in May for sure; and depending on what districts wants to do; when have one in March, September or November."

 

She says on even numbered years there is only an election in May and November.

 

The May 12th election will ask Sisters School District voters for a five year extension of the current levy of .75 cents per $1,000 assessed value that expires in June.

 

The deadline to register for the March 12th election is Tuesday, February 19th. Ballots go out Friday.

Oregon Senators Fighting Post Office Decision


Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden joined 22 other senators in challenging the Postmaster General's authority to discontinue Saturday mail delivery without Congressional approval.

 

The Senators signed a letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donohoe that acknowledges the financial challenges the Post Office is facing and urged him to work with Congress to solve the problems.

 

They pointed out the a shift to a 5-day service could lead to more declines in mail volume and revenues, making things worse.

 

They also pointed out that the Postal Service has recognized that they do not have the power to terminate 6-day service themselves.

 

Both Senators say that limiting delivery to 5 days would impact about 70,000 jobs and a $5.2 billion loss as well as negatively affecting rural communities.

 

The next move is up to the U.S.P.S.

Basic Rights Oregon Rallys for Same Sex Marriage


"Protect Marriage Oregon" is responding to efforts from "Basic Rights Oregon" to put a gay marriage vote on the November 2014 ballot. 

 

The group says traditional marriage is the foundation of society and has served Oregon well since its inception in 1859. 

 

Teresa Harke says a 2004 statewide initiative defining marriage as between a man and woman passed by 57% of the vote, but a recent poll shows 54% of Oregonians support the idea of same-sex marriage.

 

"That argument really bothers me- I have very close gay friends and this is not an issue in our friendship and our relationship. I see part of the shift you do see in the polls; a lot of name calling, a lot of words like 'bigot."

 

Basic Rights Oregon held a pro-gay marriage rally  in Bend Thursday at the Environmental Center.  They held similar events throughout the state as part of a kick-off to the campaign.

Standoff in Redmond Ends Peacefully


Redmond Police had a couple of volatile situations on Thursday  - one lasted for about five hours.

 

Several streets in Redmond were blocked off by police as an unidentified man, who allegedly threatened 3 women in 2 separate incidents with a knife, holed up in his home on southwest 7th Street. 

 

Around 3:30 Thursday afternoon, Redmond Police blocked off 7th Street between Highland and Glacier and residents were evacuated. 

 

A nearby bank closed, and using a loudspeaker, police urged the man to come out of his home. 

 

Highland Ave. was also closed and the region's "CERT" (SWAT) Team was called. 

 

Our news partner, News Channel 21 reports neighbors said the man's mother died late last year; he had been laid off from his job and evicted from his apartment.

 

Around 8 p.m., the "CERT" team entered the man's home and found a man lying on the floor. He was taken to St. Charles - Redmond for evaluation.

Tracking Crime Trends for Bend Police


Bend Police are learning new ways of tracking crime and possibly even stop it before it occurs at times.

 

They have hired Nancy Watson, a crimes analyst from Los Angeles to research and track trends.

 

She's already mapped graffiti crimes in Bend - helping to track down a suspect responsible for hundreds of taggings. "I see a lot of similarities; the same symbols or words, or time, location, anything. Then I make note of it and continue to track it and speak with patrol or detectives, whoever's involved and try an get as much information as possible."

 

While keeping details at a minimum, Lt. Chris Carney says they are working on a big case now; hoping to catch the "serial" bank robber who's gotten away with four hold-ups in the past year.

Redmond Police Chase Ends in Crash


Michael Hanson, 34, of Redmond is in custody today after a police pursuit north of Redmond.

 

Thursday morning, Redmond Police attempted to stop Hanson after he was identified as being wanted on felony warrants; specifically parole violation for kidnapping.  He claimed to be armed and made threats against police and his parole officer.

 

Lt. Nathan Garibay explains that Hanson fled in his car, driving at a high rate of speed and endangering the public.  “A Deschutes County Deputy attempted to stop him, and again, he refused to stop. We were able to contain him within an undeveloped area, northeast of the Tetherow Crossing Subdivision. Eventually he was located and taken into custody, but not after he collided with an OSP trooper."

 

Hanson is lodged in the Deschutes County Jail, and Garibay says Hanson's activities are still under investigation.

Deschutes County Commissioners Support Governors Forest Budget


The Deschutes County Board of Commissioners agreed to support Governor Kitzhaber's budget item that will bring about $4.5 million to keep forests healthy east of the Cascades.

 

Commissioner Alan Unger says officials from the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council spoke with them about the importance of getting the funding.  "We learned that it's important for us to support those projects that will help support the mill in John Day; so we have an economy in Grant County. And also bring resources to the Deschutes collaborative group and the Ochocos collaborative group, to help move forward projects in the forests that bring logs to the mill and create a healthy forest."

 

Unger says the lions share of the money will go to Grant County because they have the most risk with the mills in danger of closing.

 

He says the Legislature will have to approve the Governor's budget.

Governor Kitzhaber Attend State of the Union Address


Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber was invited to the State of the Union address by the First Lady, Michelle Obama, because of Oregon's advances in health care.

 

Kitzhaber says other states are paying attention:  “The Governor of Alabama actually sent some folks up to take a look at what we’re doing.”

 

Oregon's coordinated care organizations provide better primary care to Medicare and Medicaid patients. “We’re trying to change the financing structure so that you get paid for actually producing healthy people.”

 

Kitzhaber says the President delivered a compelling vision for America and a comprehensive plan to grow the middle class. 

Deschutes County Commissioners Consider 911 Temporary Levy


The Deschutes County Commissioners decided to go ahead with a May ballot measure, asking for temporary funding for the 911 District.

 

Funding for Deschutes County's 911 District expires in June, so Rob Porier,  the head of the department asked for a renewal of the temporary levy.

 

“My recommendation to the Board of Commissioners is to allow the levy go ahead and pursue a five year local tax for another five years.  It would be the same .23 cents per $1,000 currently operate with.  No increase whatsoever.”

 

Currently taxpayers pay 39 cents per $1000 in assessed property value. 16 cents is a permanent levy, 23 cents is the temporary levy.  Both levies are needed to fund the department.

 

Last May a permanent tax rate of 39 cents was voted down by voters. 

 

If the temporary levy isn't renewed, it's possible fire and police department would have to charge user fees.

Wolf Debate Carries On


Crook County’s Wolf Compensation Committee met Wednesday to come up with plans for next year's state funds.

 

The group wants to apply for state funds that would allow ranchers to dispose of their bone piles that may attract wolves.

 

County Commisioner Seth Crawford.  “We're kicking around applying for money for ranchers to cover up bone piles because that's an attractant to wolves.  But there's only $26,000 for the whole state. So we have to decide if the money would be better spent given to other areas harder hit by the wolves.”

 

Wallowa and Baker Counties near the Idaho border are seeing a lot of wolves killing livestock there.

 

Currently there haven't been any confirmed wolf kills lives in Crook County, but the county is trying to keep it that way.

 

Meanwhile, a committee of interested residents is looking into applying for state funds again to prevent wolves from killing their livestock. 

 

Committee member Chris Gannon says:  “I think it's really important, there's not a lot of wolf kills, but like the Boy Scouts we have to get prepared.  We need to start planning.  It's not happening now, but it will.  They'll start taking down our stock and that's not a good situation for us.”

 

Last year, Crook County got  $1200 to try non lethal methods of deterring wolves.

 

The committee is looking at applying for funds to get rid of bone piles on ranches that often attract wolves.

Mt. Bachelor Gets Tentative OK for Improvements


 

The Deschutes National Forest Service has given approval to Mt. Bachelor to move ahead on its ten year improvement plan for the ski hill. 

 

The Forest Service held public hearings and heard public comment and studied the effects the project could have and gave the green light. 

Amy Tinderholt is with the Forest Service: “We look at the full scopes of wildlife, vegetation, botany and the effects to recreation opportunities and traffic on century drive.  We look at the full effects both environmentally and on the public that is utilizing the area.”

 

There is a 45 day appeal period from mid February to April 1st.  If no one objects, the project will go forward.

 

Some of the improvements slated for Mt. Bachelor include new chairlifts,  a new kids adventure zone,  new lodge and parking lot for the Sunrise base and moving the tubing hill.

Walden Proud of Hydropower Bill Passage


 

U.S. Representative Greg Walden of Oregon joined a bipartisan effort to pass the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act in the House. 

 

Walden says he was proud to be a cosponsor of the job-creating bill that will help facilitate the development of new hydropower by reducing red tape and streamlining the permitting process for new projects.

 

He says even though 75% of electricity in the Pacific Northwest already comes from hydropower and there's been several new projects that have come online in Central Oregon in recent years, we can do more.

 

New hydropower development has the potential to produce thousands of megawatts of affordable power and create thousands of American jobs in the process.

 

The bill had a unanimous approval in the House and now goes to the Senate.

 

Oregon Wines Heading to South Korea


 

South Korea’s largest retailer is about to receive about 27,000 bottles of Oregon wine as part of a promotion celebrating the Korean Free Trade Agreement's first anniversary.

 

Oregon Department of Agriculture spokesperson Amanda Welker says two 40-foot containers of Oregon pinot are on their way.

 

"All Oregon pinots. The majority will be red, but that's what the preference is in Korea because they associate that with good health.  But the white wine is increasing in popularity largely because it goes with the Korean food."

 

The transaction marks the largest ever single shipment of Oregon wines to South Korea.

 

The Free Trade Agreement eliminates tariffs on U.S. wines and now Oregon wines can better compete with those from Chile, Australia and New Zealand in the fast growing South Korean market.

Merkley Pleased with State of the Union Address


Here’s the reaction to the State of the Union Address from Senator Merkley:

 

President Obama was absolutely right when he said, ‘A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs – that must be the North Star that guides our efforts.’ There is no better program of any kind than a good, living-wage job as a foundation for a successful family.

 

“The President mentioned many strategies to spur job creation, now and for the future. Let’s have that discussion right now on how we can get our economy back on track. Let’s invest in our infrastructure and put people back to work rebuilding America’s crumbling roads and bridges. Let’s offer low-cost loans for homeowners to make their homes energy-efficient. Let’s hire back the teachers that were laid off during this terrible depression, and help prepare our children for the jobs of the future. And let’s do more to make sure that anyone who works hard can make ends meet, by raising the minimum wage.

 

"We won't make America stronger, create jobs, or build for the future by making life tougher for seniors or turning our back on the hungry and hurting.  Businesses won't invest while we're lurching from cliff to cliff, with uncertainty looming over government policy every few months.  It's time to end the manufactured crises and focus on making this country work for the middle class. 

 

"I look forward to working with my colleagues to move our country forward. Let’s heed the President’s call to work together to focus on creating good jobs now and growth for the future.”

Walden Says Obamas Speech Lacks Olive Branch


U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) issued the following statement in response to the President’s State of the Union Address:

 

“In over forty town hall meetings in just over a year, I’ve heard from hardworking taxpayers throughout Oregon that they want good jobs that pay the bills, that they are concerned about health insurance premiums going up, not down, and they are worried about the government borrowing and spending so much. 

 

“I’m disappointed that the President didn’t do more tonight to extend an olive branch to work with Congress to solve the country’s problems. Instead, he doubled down on his agenda from the past four years: more spending, more debt, higher taxes, and a bigger federal government more involved in our lives than ever before. This approach has not produced a strong economy or the kind of family-wage jobs that Americans need and deserve. The federal government must stop throwing up barriers to job creation and learn to live within a budget.”

Consumer Cellular Employees Get Big Surprise


Consumer Cellular employees got the shock of a lifetime when then reported to work this week.

 

Tiffany Smith, Redmond Contact Center Manager says the company hit a huge milestone; one million customers, and officials wanted to give "a million thanks."

 

"They’ve taken a million dollars, and they've split it. So $500,000 goes to our employees. So our employees didn't know anything about it. But today, when they came in they found that they're receiving a bonus to celebrate. Which is fantastic for them. And then as well, they have committed to giving $5000,000 to charities. We have 5 charities that they've selected, so that's fantastic as well."

 

Smith says she's planning on using her money to visit family in Florida and maybe go to Disney World.

 

The charities that will receive the gifts are: the Alzheimer’s Association, American Cancer Society, Make-A-Wish Foundation,  Meals on Wheels Association of America and Parkinson's Disease Foundation.

Crook County Meeting Three Principal Candidates


Crook County School District officials are hosting three candidates vying to become the new Crook County High School principal.

 

Jayel Hayden, Executive Director of Human Resources says all three candidates are well qualified.  "Risa Hawley, she's currently a principal in the state of Georgia, in the Jackson County School District; Mark Hebert, he's currently a principal in the Phoenix, Arizona area; our current Vice Principal, her name is Michelle Jonas; she's been the vice principal here at Crook County High School for the past 3 years."

 

Hayden says all candidates will meet with students, parents, the community and district officials.

 

The Crook County School Board could select the new principal on their February 26th meeting.

 

The new principal will replace Rocky Miner, who is retiring at the end of June.

Text A Tip A Winning Program


Summit High school may have found a way to connect with kids and keep them safe at the same time. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

 

A new program called "Text A Tip" was implemented at the beginning of the school year by School Resource Officer Scott Vincent.

 

Vincent says its a confidential way in which students can communicate with him - anonymously - to report dangerous behavior or situations.  "We've had some issues where I’m sure that people would have actually walked into my office to discuss this. But because it's a communication that's so part of their lifestyle; texting is a predominant way that these teenagers will communicate nowadays.  It’s just a way for them to communicate with us. They don't have to come into the office. This way they can communicate with me completely confidentially."

 

Vincent says almost every student who has texted him with an issue has wanted to meet with him to discuss it in person, because he's earned their trust.

 

Vincent says he's received at least 90 texts since the beginning of school; compared to a handful last year before the program.

Town Hall on PERS


PERS has a significant impact on school budgets as well a other levels of government across Oregon.

 

The Bend Chamber of Commerce is holding a Town Hall Friday with a panel of speakers including Bend La Pine School Superintendent Ron Wilkinson to address how the future of education will be affected.

 

"What’s the big picture? A little bit in terms of how we got where we are with PERS today. And look at specifically at the impacts to local school districts and the cities and counties. And then Senator Knopp will summarize where the legislature is; what kind of legislation is being considered and what kinds of possibilities there are in terms of passing the reform that's needed in this session."

 

Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger, School Board Member Cheri Helt and State Senator Tim Kanopp of Bend will also be on the panel.

 

The Town Hall is Friday at 7:30 a.m. at the Bend Golf and Country Club.  Contact the Bend Chamber of Commerce for reservations and information.

Businesses Finding Prineville a Great Place


Sisters based GFP Emergency Services, a shipping container revamping business has opened a new facility in Prineville, creating up to 90 new jobs for the area.

 

With Crook County having the highest unemployment rate in the state for the past four years, this is good news.

 

Russell DeBoodt with Prineville and Crook County Economic Development for Central Oregon says more companies are looking to Prineville to move to because of the people.  "The reason why they came to Prineville is really for our business climate. I think the City of Prineville and also Crook County is a very pro-business community. They're easy to work with and I think that that word is getting out to individuals in surrounding communities and also within the state that if you want to grow your business and work in a community where you're looking more for a partner than just a company to come in and put people to work; then Prineville and Crook County is the place to be."

 

DeBoodt says they have some great incentives that are not limited to big companies like Facebook.

 

He adds that there are several more businesses currently looking at the Prineville - Crook County area.

East Coast Winter Storm Will Wreak Airline Havoc


A big winter storm hitting the east coast could have some effect on Central Oregon.

 

The FAA announced they canceled about 3,000 flights in and out of the east coast Friday and through the weekend.

 

Redmond Airport Security Coordinator Nicole Jurgensen says local flights should not be affected; but if your travel plans are to go to the east, you may want to touch base with your carrier.  "We do have a website: www.flyrdm.com that also has our local carriers contact information on there as well as direct links and a flight tracker on that site as well."

 

Most of the air carriers servicing the storm area have announced they will allow a one-time date or time change for a flight in or out of the area Friday and this weekend.

Bend Councilors Contentious on Water Project


The Bend City Council tackled a contentious subject: the storm water improvement project, in the work session Wednesday night.

 

The subject took up almost the entire hour of  the session, with Councilors voicing their positions on the project.

 

Councilor Mark Capell wanted to go forward with the project and was very a little frustrated with opposition:

“What it seems to me is a minority opinion in opposition of the project is going to – because they can’t win the argument is going to delay the project until they win. And delay, and delay and delay, and it ends up costing money.”

 

Doug Knight:  “I wouldn’t characterize the opposition as the ‘minority report’’ in this particular incident, Mark.” 

 

Capell:   “That’s your opinion.”

 

Knight: “Well, we’ve got 4 new councilors here that the Bulletin describes as being elected in a mandate for the community specific to this project.” 

 

Capell: “And I’m not sure that’s accurate.”

 

By the end of the session, Councilors agreed that they want a dual water system, but also want more public input on much of the project.

 

As they say..."to be continued..."

Transient Room Tax Increase Tabled


The Bend City Council heard from a large number of people, both for and against a proposed 2% increase in the Transient Room Tax.

 

The question before the Council was whether to put the proposed tax on the may ballot for the voters to decide.

 

Sean Everett, who works in a hotel is against putting the item on the ballot.  “Oregon is supposed to be a state of no tax. And you would be surprised of the look on people’s faces when they see we’ve tacked on 10% to their room. The fights we’ve been in; the people we’ve had to escort out of the lobby, that don’t want to pay the 10% tax. I think it would be detrimental if we increased it 2-more percent.”

 

Noelle Fredland with the Old Mill District and Les Schwab Amphitheatre is in favor of the tax.  “Ouur marketing budget is simply not large enough to significantly impact the regional and multi-state markets that comprise the lion’s share of our visitors. We rely on the efforts of Visit Bend to drive people to our destinations and we court them when they get here.”

70 % of that additional 2% would go to Visit Bend to help market the city and bring in more tourism.

 

Doug La Placa with Visit Bend offered an alternative:  “I don’t believe that this is an urgent item. One possible solution is: lets table it and take a couple of months to consider our options. Let’s take a couple of months or however long its going to take.  And if Council wants to go readdress this in the future, we’re ready to re-engage.”

 

After all speakers had spoken, the Council decided to table the vote and form an ad hoc committee to do more research and then possibly put it on the November ballot.

Proposed Post Office Saturday Delivery Will Not Affect Some


The U.S. Postal Service announces that they plan to stop Saturday delivery, except for packages, by the summer.

 

Pete Pierce, owner of Postal Connections in the Forum Shopping Center says he's not too sure that will become a reality.  "I have my doubts that they will be able to stop Saturday delivery. If you'll look carefully into it, Congress has mandated that they have Saturday delivery to the post office and unless Congress gives them the ok, they're actually going against what they can do. So their announcement is all great and fine, but if you'll remember last time when the post office tried to close small post offices throughout the country, up to about 3,000-4,000, every Congressman who had one of those in their district complained and they shut that down."

 

Pierce says he understands that there will still be Saturday delivery to places like his business; so if it does become a reality, it won't affect him.

Bend Singled Out as Romantic City


Livability.com has rated Bend as one of its top ten romantic cities in its latest list.

 

The Riverhouse Hotel and Conventin Center and the Pine Ridge Inn were highlighted for their romantic packages.

 

Bend was rated number three on the   list.  The top two spots went to Scottsdale, Arizona and Napa, California.

Bend Councilors Scott Ramsay and Victor Chudowsky Are Against Raising City's Hotel Tax


Last week the council was split on the issue, but this week, more local hotel owners are expected to show up and offer their two cents.

 

Councilor Scott Ramsay isn't in favor of increasing the hotel tax from 9 to 11 percent.

 

"Personally I feel very strongly about this -- every time government's answer is to turn around and raise taxes.  It's this philosophy, other communities are charging this and we're leaving money on the table.  Instead of saying, let's remain an affordable community and maximize what have and make sure we're running it as efficiently as possible."

 

Councilor  Victor Chudowsky also plans to vote no on raising the hotel tax.  

 

He's heard from a lot of local hotel owners in the last week and many of them feel they are not being helped by the city's marketing efforts.

 

"There's a certain faction that benefits from the promotion and others who don't.  And this has been going on for awhile.  There seems to be a lot of fighting over this.  And this feeling has been simmering in the background for quite a long time now."

 

Chudowsky says he's heard criticism about lack of cooperation between the region's tourism agencies.  He feels there could be better synergy between Visit Bend and the Central Oregon Visitors Association."

OSU-Cascades high on Capital Improvements List


 

The Governor's proposed $242-million budget for higher education construction shows the OSU-Cascades expansion as third on the priority list.

 

State Representative Jason Conger says the project is expected to receive about $16-million of that money, which is a demonstration of Kitzhaber's  promise to put education as a priority, and it's a nonpartisan issue.

"It doesn't hurt that all of the Central Oregon delegations who were squarely behind this were Republicans; that the Governor's a Democrat. Clearly it makes it not a partisan choice, which is a good thing; it's another reason to celebrate this. And I sort of think it reinforces my point that the project obviously makes a lot of sense and it speaks for itself."

 

Conger says the budget won't be voted on until the end of the session; but he doesn't see any problem with it's passage.

March of Babies Kicks Off Thursday


In an average week in Oregon, 906 babies are born and 89 of them are born too soon.

 

The annual "March for Babies" is in April, but the kick off event where  teams start forming is this Thursday.

 

Aimee Corey is with the March for Babies:  "The kick off is where teams captains from different companies and family teams come together and listen to families that have been touched by the mission through premature births or birth defects. And set goals for their teams. And then they go back to their companies or their families and launch their campaign internally for their team and set forth for that goal."

 

The original name, March of Dimes, began 75 years ago by FDR, who was himself afflicted with polio, and he wanted people to help with the research to get rid of the disease, which happened in 1959.

 

Corey says hundred of people are dedicated to the March and they encourage anyone who wants to find more to go to their website:  www.marchforbabies.org.

Partnership to End Poverty Gives Grant for Bus System


The Partnership to End Poverty awards the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council and Cascades East Transit $25,000 to establish a fixed bus route in Redmond.

 

Jason Carr with the Partnership says the money will help a lot of people in Redmond who are seeking to make a better life for themselves.  "Our goal has always been to create community infrastructure that help low-income populations. And the reality is: if you're low income and don't own a car, or have a way to efficiently get around town; you're going to lose that access to education, that access to the Employment Department and other important services, so this is one of the reason why we feel it was important to make a contribution to this project."

 

The route will connect COCC's Redmond Campus, the Department of Human Services, the Employment Department and NeighborImpact and out to the airport.

 

Carr says this will be the first local fixed route service in Central Oregon outside of Bend.

Bend Police Investigate Suspicious Death


A 31-year-old Bend man was found dead with an apparent gunshot wound at a home in southeast Bend early Monday in what police termed as a suspicious death. 

 

Lt. Ben Gregory says The Oregon State Police Crime Lab was assisting Bend Police investigating the death of David Andrew Ryder at a home at 20753 Will Scarlet Lane in the Nottingham Square Neighborhood. 

 

Police were dispatched around 2:30 a.m. to the home on a report someone had been shot in the home, Gregory said. They arrived to find Ryder dead with an apparent gunshot wound.

 

Reward for Arson Information


Bend Police are offering up to $5,000 for your help in finding the people responsible for a damaging fire in December.

 

The fire in the vacant Lake Place Sobriety Residence for Women sustained major damage from the fire.

 

Sgt. Nick Parker says their investigation revealed the fire was stared in several places in the building.  "We haven't identified a suspect at this point. We do have evidence that we've secured from the initial investigation through interviews and neighborhood canvasses and what not. We do have information, however, it hasn't led us to a specific name of a suspect or suspects, that actually started the fire."

 

Parker says the Bend community has always been very helpful in providing information to help them solve these cases and they are hoping someone will come forward.

 

If you do have information, contact Sgt. Nick Parker at the Bend Police (541-693-6911).

Election reform is on his mind


A former candidate for the Oregon Secretary of State says getting good candidates to run in state and local elections is getting harder to find and there needs to be some changes.

 

Dr. Knute Buehler lost his bid for the office to the incumbent, and says the entire ordeal taught him some valuable lessons; especially when it comes to how districts are drawn.  "I think there's a number of factors. The districts get more and more “safe” from the districting process. So that means when they draw up these legislative districts, the parties do it and the incentive is to create safer and safer districts, which make them more and more extreme, so one party has an overwhelming advantage over the other, so it discourages people from participating."

 

Buehler says 85% of elections are no longer competitive in Oregon, although historic amounts of money are being spent.

 

Buehler says he has some definite ideas on election reform that he believes Governor Kitzhaber is willing to hear.  "And it's important for Oregon, because we're a step behind our neighbor to the north and south has done many of these election reforms, namely independent redistricting and opening up their primary process. And it's a little disheartening to me. Oregon used to be that shining star in the west for good government, and being a step ahead of other states, and now we're falling behind. And for someone who grew up in Oregon and loves Oregon, that's painful to see. So we need to change that."

 

He says another change he would like to see is an open primary in Oregon.

 

He may not have won his race for Secretary of State last November; but he says he certainly learned a good lesson.

 

Buehler says the hard fought November election loss is just still to fresh for him to consider running again - but he wants to stay politically active.

Police need help finding more sex abuse victims


Bend Police are looking for potential victims of sex abuse by 78 year old George Ellis, Senior of Bend. 

 

Bend Police Sgt. Nick Parker says Ellis was arrested on January 12th for sexual abuse of a female child between October and December of 2012.

 

The investigation indicates there could be more victims.  Ellis routinely frequented the Romaine Village Park and pool - but the pool is not where the known victim was abused.

 

Ellis remains in the Deschutes County Jail at this time.  If you have any information on George Ellis - Senior , contact Bend Police (541-693-6911).

Shots Fired at Home


No one is hurt when shots are fired into a home on Bunchgrass Place right outside of the northeast Bend city limits on Eagle Road.

 

Deschutes County sheriff's investigators received the call around 4:15 Friday morning and found a vandalized car and multiple gunshots in the second story of the home.

 

Some windows were broken but no one inside was injured.

 

No suspects have been identified; but a dark colored sedan was seen leaving the area just before the Sheriff's Deputies arrived.

 

Officials are asking the public to call them if they can help in this investigation. You can call the non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.

The City of Bend wants to hear from you


The City of Bend would like your opinion on City services, priorities for future planning and the general quality of life in Bend.  This online survey coincides with the City’s biennial budget process, and the results will be shared with the City Council and staff to help with budget prioritization.

 

The survey will be open throughout the month of February.  Your responses are completely confidential, and your name is not associated with your answers. The survey should take no more than 10 minutes.

 

To take the survey, visit www.BendOregon.govand use the link in the “In the Spotlight” box on the homepage.

Commissioner Baney Supports Change in Direction on Jail Expansion


Last fall Deshcutes County Commissioners decided to take a step back from going forward with a 10.9 million dollar additon to the jail -- and instead consider renovations to existing facilities  to get us by.

 

But cost estimates have shown those renovations would be much more than anticipated.

 

So it's back to the original plan and adding 144 beds to the existing jail.

 

Commissioner Tammy Baney says the cost of renovating the juvenile facility just wasn't cost effective.

 

"We can get about 17 beds but the cost was almost four million dolalrs.  We are faced with a decision, do we spend money to repurpose a facility that is near capacity or do we go with our original idea to build at 10.9 milliion dollar addition and take some of that money to meet our needs.  And that's where we landed."

 

Baney says the county has enough money in their reserves to fund the addition.

Deschutes County Farmer Vows to Continue to Fight to Hold Weddings on His Farm


Deschutes County Commissioners failed to waive thousands in application fees for John Shepherd, but he is still moving forward.

 

Shepherd, who owns 215 acres northeast of Sisters, says it's been a three year process.

 

"So I'm persistent.  I don't really want to spend $8200 on fees with an unsure outcome.  But I think it's my best option forward. I got the sense the commissioners  wanted this to work.  It will generate one million dollars for Deschtues County which is really important."

 

Shepehrd is seeking input from county planners and groups like "Oregonians for Action" about his next step.  He's considering applying for a commercial permit or a park permit to hold weddings.

Deschutes County Farmer Vows to Continue to Fight to Hold Weddings on His Farm


Deschutes County Commissioners failed to waive thousands in application fees for John Shepherd, but he is still moving forward.

 

Shepherd, who owns 215 acres northeast of Sisters, says it's been a three year process.

 

"So I'm persistent.  I don't really want to spend $8200 on fees with an unsure outcome.  But I think it's my best option forward. I got the sense the commissioners  wanted this to work.  It will generate one million dollars for Deschtues County which is really important."

 

Shepehrd is seeking input from county planners and groups like "Oregonians for Action" about his next step.  He's considering applying for a commercial permit or a park permit to hold weddings.

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