Feb. 28, 2015 -- After the last couple of days blanketed Mt. Bachelor with over eight inches of fresh snow, the popular ski resort is expecting better conditions -- and more tourism.
Drew Jackson, the marketing director for the mountain, says crews have been busy dealing with the onslaught of snow.
"It's been an awesome refresh for the slopes and terrain," Jackson says. "The mountain definitely looks like it's covered in white again, and winter has returned to the mountain."
Previously the Cascades area was seeing a shortage of snow coverage. The Great Nordeen Snow Race, the biggest Nordic ski race in the Central Oregon area, was even postponed to March 14. The race, which runs from Mt. Bachelor to Wanoga Snow Park, was unable to continue after snow levels became too low to hold the race.
Jackson says there were also spotty areas on the Mt. Bachelor runs:
"The new snow has helped cover some spots, especially down near the base, that were starting to get a little bit thin," Jackson says. "[It's] helped improve the quality of the surface for both skiing and snowboarding."
Mt. Bachelor has been dealing with strong wind conditions that came with the snow. But as the snowfall has slowed, Jackson says the sun has come up, and the conditions should be better than weeks past.
"The forecast is already calling for a week of nice weather," Jackson says. "I think this is going to be one of the best weeks of skiing and snowboarding we've had all season."
TUMALO, OR -- Tumalo farmers say they’ve struggled to convince egg buyers that their products are safe, ever since the Oregon Department of Agriculture discovered avian influenza in a local flock over two weeks ago. Gary Dale raises about 600 chickens on his Tumalo farm, which is located near the center of the quarantine zone set up by the ODA. He tells KBND News his roadside egg business is suffering. "We’ve been doing it for years. It’s gotten to a point we go through 20 dozen eggs a day. And now, we haven’t sold any. It just dropped off to nothing. So, I’ve asked around, and other people in Tumalo, same thing has happened."
Dale says the decrease has occured over the past two weeks, despite a federal inspector's reassurances that his chickens are fine. "I was just told by the head scientist at the USDA that they are checking chickens. You should be concerned if your chicken’s head is drooping, their comb turns black and they usually die within 48 hours. None of that has ever happened." According to the ODA, birds and poultry products cannot be brought into or out of the 10-kilometer quarantine zone, to protect other birds from potentially being infected. However, there is no evidence bird flu can spread to humans, and the county health department says poultry products are safe to eat, if properly cooked.
Dale is now in the process of getting a permit that will allow his eggs to cross the quarantine boundary, but officials recognize that doesn't make up for lost business. The ODA encourage bird owners with questions or concerns to contact the department at 1-800-347-7028. If the area continues to avoid any new bird flu detections, the quarantine would be lifted in about 2 weeks.
BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine School District officials have narrowed down options for naming the newest elementary school, selecting three finalists. Superintendent Ron Wilkinson tells KBND News he expects the school board will make a final decision within the next 2 weeks. "It’s a board decision, in terms of naming." Wilkinson says, "We have this committee that included a couple of parents in the area, and then the leadership team that’s been working on the planning for the school. They worked through the process and received over 300 nominations from the community for names, and these three were among those that were received."
The choices include “Silver Rail Elementary” and “Homestead Elementary.” Wilkinson explains, "The Silver Rail is in relation to the Railroad, which has been so critical in our history of Bend, particularly in the lumber industry in this community. And, the railroad tracks are not far from the school. The Homestead is, it’s the Old Farm Neighborhood, where the school is going to be located, and it was actually a homestead, several homesteads in that area."
However, the third finalist, "Amelia Earhart Elementary," is drawing some controversy. The Des Chutes Historical Museum
has expressed concern Earhart's name was selected because of an urban legend surrounding reports she lived here at some point. Wilkinson says the school board is aware that Earhart never actually lived in Bend, however she is still an important historical figure. "I think they selected her more for her contributions from pushing new horizons, particularly for women, I think that’s the reason for selecting her. The fact that she has this attachment or connection to Bend - where she ultimately married a former Bend mayor and publisher and editor of The Bulletin, George Putnam – it’s sort of a connection with Bend."
Before making a final decision, the School Board will hear public comment on the name choices at their March 10th meeting. Wilkinson says it's possible the board will make a final decision at that time. The new elementary school is scheduled to open in September.
REDMOND, OR -- Brightside Animal Center lost its Executive Director last week, when Chris Bauersfeld stepped down as leader of the Redmond shelter. Lindsey Bivens with Brightside says the shelter is currently accepting applications to fill the Executive Director vacancy. "It’s been a big change. Chris was an amazing part of our shelter, not only for the employees but really for the animals. She was the one that brought in our High-Save mission. And, really made what we are very proud of today." Brightside’s “high save” mission is based on a belief that every animal at the shelter deserves a secure future.
Bivens tells KBND News, "[Bauersfeld] felt comfortably enough, and told us all before she left that it was ok to leave finally, that she felt comfortable to leave. And, that’s what makes us proud to keep that mission going. So, it’s time for us to take the step up." Bivens says the shelter will continue the practice Bauersfeld started, of reaching out to shelters across the west coast and offering to take in animals at risk of being euthanized. Bauersfeld left Brightside reportedly to pursue work with those California shelters.
LA PINE, OR -- A La Pine man has been charged with attempted murder in connection with a January drive-by shootign near La Pine. 31-year old Gary Davis, who was identified as a suspect in the case at the time of the shooting, was arrested Wednesday and transported to the Klamath County Jail.
Investigators believe Davis fired shots into a residence on Collar Dr., just south of La Pine, in the early morning hours of January 25th. He had allegedly threatened a man at that location prior to the shooting. When Deschutes County deputies tried to talk to Davis later that morning, he and a female companion were involved in an hours-long standoff that eventually brought the SWAT Team to her La Pine home. No one was injured in either incident.
BEND, OR -- The Federal Communications Commission approved new rules on net neutrality this Thursday that will impose regulations for internet service providers. The internet was reclassified under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, which treats ISPs as utilities. The vote will also allow the FCC to block internet paid prioritization, as well as fast lanes and slow lanes.
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) says he's been fighting for this for decades and is happy with the vote. "I called for the reclassification of broadband under Title II because it is the best avenue to project the free and open internet," Wyden said."I am pleased to see the FCC approve the strongest rules possible."
Wyden says he will continue to fight for policies that preserve the internet as a platform for learning, speech and commerce. He is also plans to preserve the internet as a level playing field for business.
Reacting to the vote, Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) said consumers, internet networks and job creation all stood to lose from the FCC's decision. Walden said, "Resorting to Great Depression-era rules will trigger a stampede to the courts, unleashing years of lawsuits and uncertainty at a time when U.S. leadership and the internet economy are more important than ever."
Walden believes the vote along party lines -- Democrats voting for the new rules, Republicans voting against it -- was heavy-handed. He stated that he thought the result was not the policy consensus the issue deserved.
Chris Cappuccio of Yellowknife Wireless in downtown Bend fears the new rules will benefit the "big guy." He tells KBND News, "You know the net effect of regulatory burden -- it's going to entrench the bigger companies that have the resources to do the paperwork and filings that are now going to be required." He adds, "I'm worried about the bureaucracy, if [companies] don't have a regulatory department and people who do nothing but deal with the FCC."
Cappuccio says right now, as the rules have yet to be rolled out, it is unknown what the full impact will be for his company. He does not anticipate much change while litigation continues.
BEND, OR -- Fire caused thousands of dollars in damage to a Southeast Bend home, Thursday evening, and investigators blame an improperly installed woodstove flue adaptor. When Bend firefighters arrived at the house on McGilvray Rd, just before 7 p.m., they found the homeowner trying to extinguish the fire with a garden hose.
Flames could be seen between the ceiling and the roof, however the fire was confined to the living room.
BEND, OR -- A welding shop located inside a southeast Bend industrial park, was significantly damaged by fire, Thursday night. According to Bend Fire, crews responded to an alarm just after 9:30 p.m., at 1310 SE Armour Road.
Damage totaled about $15,000 and was limited to the Quality Welding section of the industrial complex, in suites 13 and 14. The fire department says it could have been worse, if it weren't for the sprinkler system that suppressed the flames until crews arrived.
The cause of the blaze is under investigation.
BEND, OR -- A Bend businessman accused former Governor John Kitzhaber’s fiancée, Cylvia Hayes
, of theft back in 2001. It appears the charges were never prosecuted, even though they were referred to the State Justice Department.
KGW 8 in Portland reports the allegations come from Bend Pine Nursery owner Fred Swisher. He told KGW, "In 25 years, I've never had a bad check, except for her." Swisher says Hayes came to him with a plan for him to donate trees for her to sell, and the proceeds would be split between him and an environmental charity she said she was working for. Swisher says he gave her about a thousand trees, but she kept all the money.
The allegations were reported to Bend Police, who referred the case to the Attorney General's office. It's unclear why it didn't move forward. Most of the documents, the TV station said, have been destroyed due to the amount of time that has lapsed.
BEND, OR -- The vision for Mirror Pond is becoming clearer. The Mirror Pond Committee met Wednesday and continues to look at ways to fund future dredging and maintenance of the pond. Committee member and City Councilor Victor Chudowsky is encouraged by the propsoal by State Representative Knute Buehler to seek $5 million in state funds to help the project along. "Well, it's supposed to be parceled out by the end of the physical year, so that money could be available in the fall. And if we could get all our testing done and work with the people who own the land under the pond, the dredging could be done fairly quickly, perhaps as early as next year."
Rep. Buehler expects to introduce the bill for state funds toward the end of the session. Chudowsky says the committee plans to present their plans for Mirror Pond to the City Council and Bend Parks and Rec Board next month. "I think the public support for this is there. And the nice thing is its not going to cost taxpayers money and that's why we are dong this redevelopment plan, so it won't fall on the citizens at large. People love the pond and they don't want to pay a lot for it and we understand that. We are at a critical juncture right now and things are moving. They are moving slowly, but they are moving."
BLACK BUTTE RANCH, OR -- Black Butte Ranch residents will vote this May on whether to approve another five year levy to fund police services. Back in 2010, voters approved a 55-cent per one thousand dollars of assessed value levy. It expires in June. They will be asking for an exension of that same tax rate.
Curtiss Abbott, the chair of the Black Butte Ranch Police Board spoke to Deschutes County Commissioners Wednesday, "We're just ending a five year levy 55-cents and we managed with the Chief's good work to come in under budget most fo the time, so we're asking for a continuation of the 55-cents."
The election is scheduled for May 19th. Currently, Black Butte has 24/7 police patrols, but if the levy fails, there would be a reduction in those hours.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners formally appointed Capt. Shane Nelson to the position of Sheriff, effective July first. Larry Blanton announced in December that he would step down after seven years as Deschutes County Sheriff, and immediately began lobbying for Capt. Nelson to become interim sheriff. During Wednesday morning's Board of Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Tammy Baney called it a "bittersweet day," and the full board thanked Sheriff Blanton for his dedication to the county.
Nelson says he doesn’t plan to make any dramatic changes. "I look forward to continuing to build on Sheriff Blanton’s legacy and our office’s reputation of proudly serving our community." He adds, "Of course, we all have some challenges that will continue, such as how we deal with the mentally ill folks in our jail. So, we’ll continue to look at those challenges." Capt. Nelson tells KBND News he plans to file in September to run for election in 2016.
Nelson was born and raised in Bend and has been with the Sheriff’s Office for more than 20 years. He is also a current member of the Redmond School Board. His school board term ends June 30th - the day before he takes over as Sheriff.
It's been several months since the Central Oregon Irrigation District has tried to find some common ground with homeowners along the Pilot Butte canal -- and the two sides haven't even met.
COID wants to pipe parts of the canal and homeowners are dead set against it.
They have applied to be listed to the National Register of Historic Places, which could delay piping projects. A final decision will be made next month.
COID Director Craig Horrell says it could slow potential piping projects, but not stop them.
"It definitely puts a kink in what we'd like to do to conserve water for our basin and it makes it harder. But our basic right is to operate this district and I don't believe it will stop it. I believe we still have the right to do projects on places nominated."
Horrell says they've tried to coordinate meetings with neighbors involving a mediator to find some common ground, but neighbors have refused to attend them.
"My perception is there is a lot of distrust on what we're saying and I think it has spun out of control as far as what we're saying and the issues. And the neighbors won't buy into that."
Construction is moving along on schedule on Prineville's new hospital.
The new facility will open up this September.
St. Charles Prineville CEO Jeanie Gentry says although the new hosptial will be smaller, no one is losing their jobs.
"We don't have any plans to do any reductions or layoffs. It is 30 percent smaller in square footage than the current facility, but its more efficient and more flexible and we will be getting the most out of every square foot."
The new hospital is scheduled to open by the end of September.
As for the former hospital, the Pioneer Hospital Board will decide what it will be used for. Some considerations include county office space, a county justice center or possibly a veterans clinic.
The Veterans Administration just started allowing veterans to see non V-A doctors if they qualify a couple months ago, and now they're looking to reduce the program.
V-A officials say few people have started using the "Choice" program that allows them to go to non-V.A. doctor.
The legislation was passed following the V-A scandal showing the long wait times for care.
Veterans advocate Dick Tobiason says many people are just getting their choice cards and may not be familiar with the program.
"Now the V-A says because veterans are not using the choice program, we want to take some of that money back and use it within the V-A and the chairman of the committee, Jeff Miller out of Florida says that's a non starter. He says -- We want to make it permanent, so we're not going to let you do that."
In order to use the choice program, veterans must live 40 miles from a V-A facility or they must not be able to see a V-A doctor within 30 days.
Tobiason says veterans who use non V-A doctors often have to pay the bill themselves and get reimbursed by the V-A, which can take a long time.
BEND, OR -- The Bend-La Pine School District has narrowed down its four finalists to replace Superintendent Ron Wilkinson, when he retires this summer. One is Shay Mikalson, the current assistant superintendent of secondary programs for Bend-La Pine Schools. Other finalists include Dr. Robert Hess, the current superintendent of the Lebanon Community School District in western Oregon; Dr. Consuelo Yvonne Curtis, who is the current superintendent of Forest Grove School District in northwest Oregon; and Dr. Sloan Presidio, an assistant superintendent for Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia.
The four candidates will hold public "meet and greets" in Bend, next week. The new superintendent will begin July 1st.
Meet and Greet Schedule:
Curtis: Tuesday, March 3, 4:30-6 p.m. at Rosland Elementary; Wednesday, March 4, 4-6 p.m. at the Education Center.
Mikalson: Wednesday, March 4, 4:30-6 p.m. at Rosland Elementary; Thursday, March 5, 4-6 p.m. at the Education Center.
Presidio: Thursday, March 5, 4:30-6 p.m. at Rosland Elementary; Friday, march 6, 4-6 p.m. at the Education Center.
TUMALO, OR -- Nearly two weeks after first discovering bird flu in Deschutes County, the Oregon Department of Agriculture has implemented a quarantine zone. Bruce Pokarney with the ODA tells KBND News the restricted area encompasses about a 10-mile radius surrounding the Tumalo property where the highly pathogenic avian influenza was detected. "That flock has been humanely euthanized and disposed of, the premises has been cleaned and disinfected. Now it’s a lot of outreach and education in the immediate area, along with additional surveillance just to make sure there’s been no spread of the disease." Pokarney says, "What that really does is establishes a zone to prevent the spread of high-path avian influenza. Anybody that has poultry or poultry products, the movement of those animals and products are restricted in and out of that quarantine zone unless they contact the Oregon Department of Agriculture and get a special permit."
He says the agency is also asking backyard bird owners to carefully monitor their flocks and immediately report any unusual behavior or sudden bird deaths to the ODA. "What we’re really talking about are these domestic birds that people own, not for commercial purposes. It’s important to know that so far, we have not had any detection of high-path avian influenza in commercial poultry in Oregon. They continue to be safe and protected, but the backyard birds are probably the most vulnerable at this time." The ODA is asking domestic bird owners to report sick or dead birds to the agency. Pokarney says the quarantine will be lifted if there are no new bird flu detections within the next 30 days.
REDMOND, OR -- Alaska Airlines announced Monday the addition of two more flights in and out of Central Oregon.
"This summer, we’re adding two daily seasonal round trips: One between Seattle and Redmond and one between Portland and Redmond. That begins June 7th," said Halley Knigge with the airline.
She tells KBND News the seasonal flights will be available through August 22nd.
"Bend is a really popular destination for customers up and down the west coast in the summertime," Knigge says. "Many people like to visit, and this is great, not only for customers in Portland and Seattle, but for customers connecting through those cities up and down the west coast."
The new Seattle flight will arrive in Redmond at 9:00 a.m., and return to Seattle at 9:30 a.m. Portland’s new flight will arrive at Roberts Field just after 7:30 p.m. and return at 8:05 p.m. Roberts Field officials say the new flights provide an additional 152 daily seats for Redmond passengers.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police are asking for the public's health in tracking down a man suspected of a Valentine's Day jewelery theft. At about 6:15 p.m. on February 14th, officers were called to Kay Jewelers at the Bend River Promenade on N. Hwy 97, after a man ran off with a couple of rings.
Investigators say an employee allowed the man to hold the rings to look at them, but he ran out of the store with the items. Police say he made no threatening comments or gestures. He's described as a white male in his mid-20s, medium build, with dark hair and some facial hair. Anyone with information is asked to call Bend PD.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prescribed burns are planned for the Madras and Prineville areas in the coming weeks. As many as 1,000 acres between the Crooked River National Grassland near Madras and the Maury Mountains southeast of Prineville will house these burns.
Goals for both of these projects include improving wildlife habitat and range conditions and reducing hazardous fuels. Light smoke will be visible, but it is not expected to impact major highways.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville woman wants to see the former Pioneer Memorial Hospital turned into a veterans clinic. Kim Kambak has talked with local commissioners and U.S. senators about turning the facility into a VA clinic after the new St. Charles Prineville Hospital is completed later this year.
"There was an agreement with St. Charles that there will be a non-compete with the new hospital," Kambak says. "I think people didn't consider that we would use it for this; they just assumed it would be utilized for something else. I'm just hoping since it's set up as a medical building and since veterans have to travel for medical and mental health care, we could utilize it."
Kimbak says that Crook County Commissioner Ken Fahlgren and Senator Ron Wyden both expressed interest in looking into whether the facility could be converted into a veterans hospital.
SALEM, OR -- The rate of parents not vaccinating their children has gone up significantly in the last decade in Oregon. Nationally, we're seeing outbreaks of measles and whooping cough because an increasing number of parents are not vaccinating their kids.
The State Senate Healthcare Committee is considering a bill that would do away with religious or philosophical reasons for not vaccinating your child. The bill would only allow exemptions for specific medical conditions.
State Representative Knute Buehler of Bend, who is also a doctor, testified in support of the bill.
"Again, I personally think one of the fundamental roles of government is to lead people to do the right thing, even when it's difficult or controversial," Buehler says. "In my role and training as a doctor, I know vaccines overall are much safer then the risk imposed by getting these infections. I urge you to support Senate Bill 442."
If the bill passes, it will take affect immediately.
BEND, OR -- The Oregon Department of State Lands announced the nighttime closure of the 640-acre Stevens Road Tract. The state-owned property near SE 27th Street and Ward Road has become increasingly popular with transients. Regional Manager Larry Quackenbush says the department has received numerous calls from neighboring residents. "Transient camping has become a real issue here," Quackenbush told KBND News. "This summer and fall it has really increased significantly in terms of numbers and concerns that we hear from the neighbors for aggressive dogs, and trash and sanitary conditions."
Effective immediately, the land parcel will be closed from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., every day. Quackenbush says firearms and vehicles are also now prohibited on paths in the area. The department has tried to crack down on those in the past, but people continued to shoot guns on the land, and would push barrier rocks aside to drive into the area.
BEND, OR -- A local woman with a diverse ethnic background is trying to grow a support group for minorities and increase community awareness. Robin Gyorgyfalvy with the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District is hosting a "Cross Cultural Awareness Storyteller Series" meeting Tuesday night, on the topics of diversity and bullying in Central Oregon.
The keynote speaker is Kecia Kubota, Executive Director of Camp Fire Central Oregon and a native of Hawaii. "We're trying to bring different perspectives, bring cultural perspective and sensitivity in our community and especially in the workplace," Gyorgyfalvy tells KBND News.
Last year, six speakers from diverse backgrounds presented during the storyteller series, part of the local HAPA'EA group created by the Forest Service. Gyorgyfalvy says she sees a lack of perspective on discrimination, as minorities make up a small percentage of the Central Oregon population.
"Someone who's part of our HAPA'EA local chapter told me that I'm the first person he's friends with who's not white," Gyorgyfalvy says. "There's not that much exposure. And when you see someone who's different from you, it's hard to go up to them and try to learn about them."
Gyorgyfalvy is a native of Hawaii, with a Japanese-Korean background. During World War II, her mother was held in a Japanese-American internment camp. Gyorgyfalvy says it's something not all of her coworkers can understand or relate to. She originally started the storyteller series as a way to bring people together, mainly adults in the community, and talk about the many issues of ethnic diversity. Gyorgyfalvy says it's a non-threatening way to hold discussions on important societal topics, and is a format for other minorities to feel connected.
"I think people all of a sudden feel like they have support, a community of support, and when they have this happen to them, they don't feel singled out," she says. "They can say, 'Well, there's someone I can talk to who can help me sort [issues] out and hopefully resolve them.'"
The meeting takes place from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District Office, off of Deschutes Market Road.
BEND, OR -- One person was injured and Highway 97 was blocked for a time, following a crash at Cooley Road, at the north end of Bend, Sunday afternoon. According to Bend Police, 20-year old Aubri Kahalekulu from California was southbound on the highway and failed to stop at a red light. Kahalekulu's vehicle collided with another trying to cross the highway at Cooley, causing significant damage to both cars.
Kahalekulu's passenger was was taken to the hospital with minor injuries, and both cars were towed from the scene. Aubri Kahalekulu was cited for reckless driving and failing to obey a traffic device.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man is under arrest, accused of an armed carjacking early Friday morning, and police say a second suspect is still at large. The Crook County Sheriff's Office believes Dominic Isherwood and Michael Shrauger, both of Prineville, threatened a man and woman at about 6 a.m., Friday. The two men reportedly had a gun when they allegedly ordered the couple out of their car on Barnes Butte Road, just north of Prineville, and took their cell phones.
"They were able to get to a phone and call the sheriff's office, and within a few minutes we were there, taking a report," says CCSO Sgt. James Savage. An Oregon State Police Trooper located the victim's vehicle in Grasshopper Village, Friday afternoon. The Central Oregon Emergency Response Team searched the apartment, but neither of the suspects were found at that time.
At approximately 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Redmond Police pulled over a vehicle for a minor traffic violation. Isherwood was identified as one of the occupants of that car and was subsequently arrested.
Although Isherwood has been charged with first degree robbery, Michael Shrauger is still at large. Sgt. Savage warns he should be considered armed and dangerous. "Anyone who comes in contact with him should call 9-1-1 and do not approach him," Savage says. Anyone with information on Shrauger's whereabouts is asked to contact CCSO at 541-447-6398.
Michael Shrauger is wanted in connection
with Friday's carjacking outside Prineville.
SALEM, OR -- Governor Kate Brown held her first press conference Friday morning, since being sworn in Wednesday. She took questions for about 20 minutes, including on her accessibility to the media. "Governor Kitzhaber and I have very different personalities, and hopefully you'll see that," she told reporters. "I have instructed by communications director to come up with regular interactions with the media. I'd like to avoid late evening TV cameras taping me as I'm walking into my home."
She promised to increase transparency in the Executive Branch, saying her office is working to release more e-mails from teh continuing investigation into former Governor John Kitzhaber and fiancee Cylvia Hayes. "We will be releasing public records, as many as we can. I've spoken to the AG's [Attorney General's] office about providing special council so we can release them in an orderly manner. As I mentioned, we're looking at the public records legislation and I know the AG is also working on that legislation, as well." She added, she plans to remove the Governor's authority to veto appointments to the Oregon Ethics Commission, and called on lawmakers to pass legislation strengthening the independence and capacity of the commission.
Brown says she plans to uphold Kitzhaber's moratorium on death penalty executions in Oregon, but believes the state needs to have a broader conversation on how to approach the issue, going forward. Brown also said she and her husband Dan Little plan to move into the Governor's Mansion in Salem.
BEND, OR -- City Councilors continue to push the Bend Parks and Recreation Board of Directors to agree to an SDC exemption for affordable housing development. Bend City Manager Eric King tells KBND councilors are trying to take a multi-pronged approach to the area’s lack of affordable housing options. "We’re just looking to try and incentivize the market to produce more affordable housing by looking at a reduction in fees. Other cities have this - Portland, Salem and Eugene all have exemptions for affordable housing."
System Development Charges (SDCs) are collected from developers as they construct new housing units, and pay for a variety of infrastructure, including streets, sewer and parks. King says that currently, SDCs can increase the cost of building a single-family home in Bend by up to $20,000. He says the Parks Board has been resistant to cutting parks SDCs, although the board has not formally declined the proposal. "There are ways to address some of their concerns; like we would cap the number of exemptions that we would offer per year. There’s another side of this: The less you collect on these impact fees, the less you’re able to address some of those issues with growth. And, we know folks are concerned about growth paying for itself." King says the city would also take steps to make sure developments receiving an exemption remain available for low-income families.
Bend's Affordable Housing Manager Jim Long says the city is in an affordable housing crisis, with only about 20 units available at any given time. Long says the city is also considering cutting other SDCs, like street and sewer, charged to affordable housing developments to encourage construction.
BEND, OR -- Two and a half years after a Bend man was killed after he was discovered inside a stranger’s home, Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says there was no crime. At a Thursday morning press conference, Hummel said Kevin Perry and his then girlfriend returned from a night of drinking in June 2012 and found the front door smashed in. They found Shane Munoz asleep on the couch and a struggle ensued, during which time Perry shot and killed Munoz. "While we don’t know why Shane entered the house, I’m confident that based on the evidence I reviewed, a crime did not occur. Consequently, I’m not filing charges against Kevin Perry and Amanda Weinman."
He acknowledged that the investigation was emotional for all involved, especially after rumors surfaced that Munoz knew Perry, and may have been involved with Perry’s girlfriend, Amanda Weinman. "Police thoroughly investigated those and many other theories, yet those theories did not check out. Video surveillance cameras in bars and other businesses, reviews of cell phone records and an interview with the taxi driver who drove Kevin and Amanda home, established that they did not encounter Shane until they arrived at Kevin’s house."
Hummel was not able to explain why it took so long to make a formal decision on not charging Perry. "A week after I took office, I started reviewing this case, and it took me about 5 weeks to work my way through the evidence. And, after doing so, I was comfortable making this decision. But, you’ll have to ask my predecessor why he did not make a decision."
Members of Munoz’s family was at the press conference, and expressed disappointment with the D.A’s decision. Munoz's mother spoke exclusively with KBND News. Kathy Gilliam says she was hoping the investigation would clear her son's name. "I want people to know the kind of person he really was. He was not that kind of person to fight with people. All I know is my son is dead. And we are shocked." She told KBND, "He was not a physical type person, at all. I tried to talk him into going into the service when he was younger, and he told me ‘I could never kill anybody, Mother. I could never be a murder.’ That’s the kind of person he was."
Gilliam says she still doesn’t understand why Perry won’t be charged, given how intoxicated he was at the time of the shooting. D.A. Hummel revealed that 8 hours after Perry shot Munoz, his blood alcohol level was nearly .06 and several drugs were found in his system. Six hours after the shooting, Weinman’s blood alcohol was .121; she also had several drugs in her system. At the time of his death, Munoz had a blood alcohol level of .19.
Bend Police Chief Jim Porter said Thursday the department dedicated 13 detectives to the investigation, who conducted approximately 500 hours of interviews with 56 people. Both Chief Porter and D.A. Hummel expressed confidence that the story relayed by Weinman and Perry was the truth.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel and Bend Police Chief Jim Porter are holding a press conference Thursday morning, regarding an undisclosed case. In a statement, Hummel says families involved have waited for a charging decision in the "tragic case" for over two years.
The public is invited to attent this morning's event, which begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Deschtues Services Center Building (1300 NW Wall St.) in Bend. KBND News will be there and will have more details, later today.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon businesses are starting to feel the pinch of the labor dispute slowing work at west coast docks. Young Joen with Ruffwear says the Bend-based dog gear company is faring better than others, however it now has a number of containers just sitting at ports in Portland and Seattle. He tells KBND News they are now 10 to 15-percent off inventory targets at its Bend distribution center. "It’s been getting progressively worse by the day. Typically when the vessel docks at the port, it takes two or three days to unload everything. Now it has been in some cases 30 days or plus."
Joen is not optomistic that the problem will be quickly resolved. "What I’m hearing now, is because the backlog is such, even if a negotiation is reached this week – and I highly doubt that’s going to happen – in order to go through all the backlog we currently have, it would take another 4 to 5 months to clear the backlog." Much of Ruffwear’s product is manufactured in East Asia and shipped to its Bend warehouse before being sent out to customers all over the world. Joen says the company is considering turning to more expensive air freight to transport product to its Bend facility. He says outbound shipments aren’t yet impacted.
SALEM, OR - Oregon lawmakers packed the House chamber this morning, to witness the swearing in of Kate Brown as Oregon's 38th governor. Former Secretary of State Brown took the oath of office, administered by Senate President Peter Courtney, following John Kitzhaber's resignation amid mounting ethical and criminal investigations.
Read more on Former Governor Kitzhaber's resignation.
In her acceptance speech, Governor Brown announced she would distance herself from ethics controversies during her term. "I pledge to you today, that for as long as I am Governor, I will not seek or accept any outside compensation from any source. And, I pledge further, that while I am governor, the members of my household and the members of my staff will not seek or accept any outside compensation from any source."
Brown is the first openly bisexual governor in the country, and is Oregon's second female governor.
Former Governor John Kitzhaber has yet to appear publically since announcing Friday he would step down.
Read more on Oregon lawmakers' reaction to Kitzhaber's resignation.
Photo courtesy Fox 12 Portland
BEND, OR -- The Bend Chamber of Commerce is speaking out in opposition to a pair of bills that would mandate paid sick time for Oregon workers. HB 2005 and SB 454 would allow full- and part-time workers to accrue an hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 56 hours per year. The bills have been supported by Democrats and Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). Portland and Eugene have city sick leave laws already on the books.
Jamie Christman says the Bend Chamber is not opposed to the idea of paid sick time, but the problem is how these bills are written. "Primarily, this puts the cost of the burden to implement the program entirely on the employer regardless of the number of employees, with no required employee investment before eligibility. And, then in many cases, at the expense of having rearrange and compromise current benefits that are often already preferred by the employees" Christman tells KBND News. "Really what it really is, we’re just opposed in its current form." She says many Central Oregon businesses already provide Paid Time Off (PTO) in the form of vacation time. "A PTO plan rewards both healthy and sick employees with the same number of paid days off. So, an employee shouldn’t get less paid time off just because he/she is healthy and/or not willing to lie about being sick in order to use sick leave as a vacation day."
Christman says a number of local businesses have written letters to lawmakers expressing their concerns. "They need to be able to implement it in a way they can afford; that, of course, there aren’t unintended consequences where abuses are in place. They’re already seeing examples in Portland where Mondays and Fridays are just a challenge, particularly in industries with lower incomes and less employees. And that’s what we see in our tourism industry here, too." The Bureau of Labor and Industries, contracted to enforce Portland’s paid sick leave law, refutes that claim. A BOLI representative testified at a legislative hearing earlier this week that most Portland employees don't take all the time off they earn.
BEND, OR -- Many Central Oregonians are used to suffering through allergy season beginning in mid to late March. But, this year, those allergic to juniper pollen are already struggling with symptoms, thanks to our unseasonably warm winter. Bend Memorial Clinic allergist Dr. Adam Williams is already receiving lots of calls from suffering patients seeking treatment. He tells KBND News juniper pollen levels are already 10% of peak. "I’ve been here 7 years, and this is definitely the earliest I’ve ever seen juniper season hit. A couple years ago, we had a little beginning of it in early March and that was, to me, very early. But, this beats that by a lot."
Dr. Williams says this year's allergy season could drag on. "Honestly, it’s a little difficult for me to anticipate, just because it’s so off the charts early. It largely depends on what the weather does. I would say that if we get a lot of rain and wind, it could blow a lot of the pollen out of the little cones on the juniper trees, and it may end up being a shorter season. But, if it stays nice and warm like this, I could see this being a very long season, probably ending the usual time in mid- to late-April."
Temperatures are predicted to remain in the 50s and 60s for the next week, with only a 10% chance of rain over the weekend. He says unless Central Oregon gets a rain or snow storm soon, other seasonal allergies will move up the calendar. "The other trees, like the aspen and cottonwoods- we don’t have a ton of those here, but we do have people around town who are sensitive to them- those will probably come early as well. So, those would be as early as March and early April; then grasses could certainly come early May instead of late May."
That means, allergy sufferers need to seek proactive treatments sooner than normal. "Typically, I tell people we don’t need to start worrying about allergies in Bend-proper until St. Patricks Day-ish. And, if it’s been going on for at least a week or two, now, we’re looking at 4-6 weeks early," says Dr. Williams. He suggests patients contact their allergist or primary care physician now to discuss what help is available for symptom relief, and when they should seek treatment, given how early the season has arrived.
BEND, OR -- A Bend transient was arrested early Wednesday morning after allegedly stealing alcohol from the 7-11 on 3rd Street, just south of Reed Market Rd. Investigators say surveillance video also shows the suspect threatening the clerk with a rock.
According to Bend Police, 56-year old Andrew Salazar was found hiding behind a nearby dumpster after the robbery, just after 12:30 this morning. A police K-9 unit apprehended him when Salazar failed to comply with officer commands. He was treated at St. Charles for minor injuries before being booked at the jail on multiple charges.
SALEM, OR -- Kate Brown will be sworn in as Oregon's 38th Governor Wednesday morning. After taking the oath of office, Governor Brown will address the legislature and the people of Oregon. Her remarks are expected to focus on uniting Oregonians and getting back to the work of the state. She plans to lay out a series of immediate reforms needed to restore the public's trust in government, along with plans to implement a bi-partisan approach to help Oregon's working families.
State Representative Knute Buehler of Bend knows incoming Governor Kate Brown fairly well- he ran against her for Secretary of State in 2012. He knows the state is recovering from a tumultuous time and hopes Brown can get the state back on track. "Well, certainly we wish the new Governor well. She has a lot of hurdles to overcome and faces some real challenges, but it's important to move on from the distractions from the last several months and start solving the state's problems and working in a bipartisan way," Rep. Buehler told KBND News from Salem. "And, hopefully she will lead this building in that direction."
Some are speculating Buehler could take on Brown again in 2016, if he decides to run for Governor. Buehler refused to discuss the matter, saying he is focusing on working for the people of Bend.
SALEM, OR -- Republican lawmakers introduced a package of bills to help strengthen state ethics laws, in light of recent troubles. Governor Kitzahber was forced to resign because of growing ethics investigations involving him and fiancee Cylvia Hayes. Representative Julie Parrish introduced the legislation to improve transparency in state government. "I think the Governor should be able to say, my partner is going to be involved in this issue, but they can't make money and they have to register with the ethics commission. And after that, there has to be a cooling off period. If your goal is to get toothbrushes to all the pooor chidren in Oregon, you can't go to work for Crest the next day."
Other bills would increase the legislature's ability to ask the Attorney General to investigte the executive branch. Currently, lawmakers do not have that power.
SALEM, OR -- Will Governor Kitzhaber commute the sentences of Oregon's death row inmates in his final hours as Governor? Clatsop County D.A. and death penalty proponent Josh Marquis talked with Lars Larson about the possibility on Tuesday. "I honest really hope Kitzhaber is not that foolish and vain. Some believe he could do it to create a new legacy. But there's only one governor who tried that and he ended up in prison."
Marquis is referring to former Illinois Governor George Ryan who commuted the sentences of 160 inmates on death row before he was convicted of corruption charges and served five years in federal prison. Governor Kitzahber has not given any indication whether he'll issue any last minute executive orders.
BEND, OR -- Our warmer weather is allowing the Deschutes National Forest to start prescribed burns as early as Wednesday. Fuel specialists are planning to burn 400 acres in the southern most part of the forest, 40 miles south of Bend.
This area was originally burned back in 2003. Smoke could be visible from Highway 31.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon will be in Madras and Prineville this weekend. The senator will hold townhalls on Saturday February 21st at the Madras City Hall and the Central Oregon Community College campus in Prineville.
The Madras townhall will start at 11:30 A.M. and the COCC townhall in Prineville will get underway at 3:30.
SALEM, OR -- The Oregon Senate approved legislation to extend the low carbon fuel standard in the state. The bill passed Tuesday following three hours of debate on the Senate floor.
Republicans tried to have the issue go to the voters, but Democrats voted down that suggestion down. Republican leaders had wanted to wait until the investigation into Governor Kitzhaber's fiancee Cylvia Hayes and her potential influence involving this legislation was clear, but Democratic lawmakers rejected the delay.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- Police arrested a Bend man in connection with the 2009 murder of a Portland woman who was killed while hiking in the Columbia River Gorge. 40-year-old Stephen Wagner Nichols was taken into custody at the San Francisco Airport, and is accused in the death of his girlfriend, 23-year-old Rhonda Kristen Casto.
The Hood River News
reports a secret murder indictment was filed against Nichols last April. He was arrested Thursday, February 12, and is scheduled to appear in a Hood River County courtroom on March 3rd.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police are investigating an early morning robbery at the College Way Chevron mini-mart. Store employees say a masked man approached the counter just after 3 a.m. Tuesday. He demanded money while keeping his right hand inside the pocket of his black hooded sweatshirt. He got away with an undisclosed amount of cash, leaving the store on foot. Despite a police search of the area, he has not been found.
The suspect is described as a 25-30 year old white male, about 5'9", 170 pounds. He was wearing a black mask, black hoodie, black pants and black gloves. He had one white tennis shoe, and possibly a black walking cast or "boot" on his right foot.
No one was injured in the robbery. Anyone with information is asked to call Bend Police at 541-693-6911.
BEND, OR -- Governor John Kitzhaber ended the daily drama over whether he will resign on Friday when he announced he is stepping down, effective Wednesday, February 18. Secretary of State Kate Brown will be sworn in as Oregon's next governor at 10 a.m., Wednesday. Central Oregon Community College political science professor Rodney Hanson says both Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum were able to remain removed from the scandal, while Kitzhaber was in the hot seat. "These executive officials that we vote on separately have some independence. And, I think that's kind of cool. When our founders came up with the state constitution, they wanted some independence in the Executive Office of the state."
Hanson tells KBND News he knows some fear Brown will be more liberal than Kitzhaber has been. "She is still going to, I believe, as governor, going to have to move more into the middle and encourage bipartisan support. I think you usually see that, when you move into the top position in the state, in the Executive department. And, I hope so."
Not a lot is known about Brown. We know she has served as a state representative and state senator before being elected twice to the office of Secretary of State. She is married, and is a self-proclaimed bisexual.
WARM SPRINGS, OR -- Oregon State Police are investigating a motorcycle crash Sunday morning on State Route 216 near Warm Springs. OSP says 45-year old Arthur Kem of Gresham was eastbound just before noon, when a saddle bag slid off and got caught in the rear wheel, causing the man to lose control.
The man was transported by Life Flight to St. Charles Bend with severe head injuries.
BEND, OR -- We’re learning more about the woman who helped bring down the Governor. John Kitzhaber's fiancee Cylvia Hayes moved to Bend in the late 1990s, working for a time at the Central Oregon Environmental Center. It’s there she helped create Earth Connections, which she eventually launched as her own project and later turned into 3E Strategies.
is a Bend sustainable building architect who worked closely with Hayes in those early days of Earth Connections. He tells KBND News, "I thought that she was a very dedicated person to preserving the environment and promoting ecological practices. She was tireless in her devotion to the work and she worked without pay, worked long hours. And I felt she was very focused and dedicated." He says Hayes was always assertive and proactive, doing whatever it took to protect the environment.
Schechter and others who worked with Hayes in Central Oregon have defended Hayes, citing her passion and commitment to her cause. "I don’t know whether she had indeed abused her privilege in the Governor’s office, but from my experience with her, she has been a dedicated person to the protection of the environment," says Schechter. "And, I know she has worked very diligently on creating sustainable practices." He adds, "She is a very proactive person who puts herself on the line. She may have been overly aggressive in some areas, in obtaining contracts - I can’t really comment on that, I don’t really have any firsthand knowledge." Schechter last spoke with Hayes six months ago, before much of the allegations of influence peddling were revealed. He says Hayes left a deep imprint in the green building movement in Central Oregon, helping create the Solar Tour of Homes – now the Green and Solar Tour, run by The Cascadia Green Building Council.
Hayes ran for State Representative in Bend in 2002, losing to Ben Westlund. It was that unsuccessful bid for state office that first brought her in contact with Governor Kitzhaber. Hayes still runs Bend-based 3E Strategies
, where she is listed as the only staff person. She continues to own a house in southeast Bend.
BEND, OR -- A Bend woman says she was sexually assaulted by her neighbor early Saturday morning. Bend Police responded to the apartment on Northeast Neil Way, where the 19-year old woman reported Michael Harrison entered her apartment just after 4 a.m. and assaulted her while she was sleeping.
23-year old Harrison was arrested and now faces charges including burglary and rape.
SALEM, OR -- Lawmakers from Salem to Washington, D.C. are reacting to Governor Kitzhaber's announced resignation.
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D):
“John Kitzhaber loves Oregon deeply and has contributed enormously to making our state a better place. Today, he did what was right for Oregon by resigning. I know that our incoming Governor, Kate Brown, will continue the fight for our Oregon values, from clean air and clean water to a robust economy, and I look forward to working with her.”
U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R):
“John Kitzhaber has a long record of dedicated public service but sadly the circumstances of his resignation leave another stain on a chapter of Oregon history. If what we have all read is true, this may well go down as one of Oregon government's darkest moments. Many Oregonians are left wondering, how much more is to come? Will those who bankrolled what looks like influence peddling be brought to justice, too? Just how infested is our state government?”
Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland):
“Governor John Kitzhaber has accomplished much for Oregonians in his 35 years of public service to our state. As a physician, as a legislator, and as our Governor, he has been a distinguished leader. In 2011, I worked closely with the Governor during his signature effort to transform how health care is delivered to low-income Oregonians under the Oregon Health Plan. That work fundamentally changed health care in Oregon, and will benefit families throughout our state for years to come. I support his decision to resign because it is the right decision for Oregonians. Moving forward, I will continue to champion the priorities we have shared in the areas of equity in educational outcomes, quality early childhood education, and rural economic development. The Oregon Legislature will meet the challenges facing Oregon and stands ready to show that even in the most trying times, we are committed to doing the right thing for the people of our state.”
Oregon House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte):
“Today is a sad day for Oregon. I take no delight in John Kitzhaber's resignation but understand his decision. House Republicans have remained focused on working for the people of Oregon and that’s where our focus will remain moving forward.”
Oregon Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day):
"This is an unprecedented situation for Oregonians. I expect our leaders to work together to lead a thoughtful transition that respects Oregon citizens. We need to restore trust and accountability with the Governor's office and the executive branch."
State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend):
"Trust is the foundation of a healthy democracy and it must be earned each day no matter which office you hold or how long you hold it. I encourage our new Governor to set a higher standard for doing the people's work in an open, accessible and independent manner. Representing the people of Bend, I remain fully committed to working with our new Governor and leaders in both parties to create a better Oregon and restore confidence and accountability in our state government."
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum:
“Today is a sad day for Oregon. I want to thank Governor Kitzhaber for his service to our state. The governor’s decision to resign will not affect our ongoing criminal investigation into allegations of his and Ms. Hayes’ conduct. Oregonians deserve nothing less than a full and fair investigation of all the facts, as well as the opportunity to reach a resolution that will truly allow our state to move forward.”
Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown:
"This is a sad day for Oregon. But I am confident that legislators are ready to come together to move Oregon forward. I know you all have a lot of questions, and I will answer them as soon as possible. As you can imagine, there is a lot of work to be done between now and Wednesday."
John Kitzhaber announced his resignation as Oregon's Governor on Friday, February 13th, effective February 18th.
In a public statement issued at noon, the governor stated, "It is not in my nature to walk away from a job I have undertaken – it is to stand and fight for the cause. For that reason I apologize to all those people who gave of their faith, time, energy and resources to elect me to a fourth term last year and who have supported me over the past three decades."
It was widely anticipated that the governor would resign after Secretary of State Kate Brown unexpectedly returned to Oregon on Wednesday from a conference in Washington, D.C.
Brown, who is next in line, reported she met with the governor and let him know that she and her staff were ready if he were to resign. At that point, Kitzhaber insisted he wasn't stepping down.
Kitzhaber saw a dramatic loss in support over the last few weeks over the many conflicts of interest allegations involving him and fiancee Cylvia Hayes. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum began a criminal investigation into Kitzhaber and Hayes on Feb. 6. Both Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek asked Kitzhaber to step down in recent days, stating that the situation was escalating.
Oregon lawmakers from Salem to Washington, D.C. have reacted to Kitzhaber's announcement.
Kitzhaber was sworn into an historic fourth term as Oregon's governor on January 12, 2015. When he resigns February 18, 2015, he will have served the shortest gubernatorial term in the state's history. When Secretary of State Kate Brown is sworn in as Governor on February 18th, she will be the second female and first openly bisexual Oregon governor.
Read Governor Kitzhaber's full statement, HERE.
SALEM, OR -- Governor John Kitzhaber released the following public statement along with his formal letter of resignation:
“I am announcing today that I will resign as Governor of the State of Oregon.
It is not in my nature to walk away from a job I have undertaken – it is to stand and fight for the cause. For that reason I apologize to all those people who gave of their faith, time, energy and resources to elect me to a fourth term last year and who have supported me over the past three decades. I promise you that I will continue to pursue our shared goals and our common cause in another venue.
I must also say that it is deeply troubling to me to realize that we have come to a place in the history of this great state of ours where a person can be charged, tried, convicted and sentenced by the media with no due process and no independent verification of the allegations involved. But even more troubling – and on a very personal level as someone who has given 35 years of public service to Oregon – is that so many of my former allies in common cause have been willing to simply accept this judgment at its face value.
It is something that is hard for me to comprehend – something we might expect in Washington, D.C. but surely not in Oregon. I do not know what it means for our shared future but I do know that it is seriously undermining civic engagement in this state and the quality of the public discourse that once made Oregon stand out from the pack.
Nonetheless, I understand that I have become a liability to the very institutions and policies to which I have dedicated my career and, indeed, my entire adult life. As a former presiding officer I fully understand the reasons for which I have been asked to resign. I wish Speaker Kotek and President Courtney and their colleagues on both sides of the aisle success in this legislative session and beyond. And I hope that they are truly committed to carrying forward the spirit of bipartisanship and collaboration that has marked the last four years in Oregon.
In 1968 I was inspired to commit my life to public service by the last campaign of Robert Kennedy. Forty-one years ago I started work as an emergency room doctor in Roseburg with a goal to make life better for those in my care. Ever since then, I have sought to keep that focus by trying to make things better for the people and the communities of this state that I love. I have had the extraordinary privilege of pursuing that work as a State Representative, State Senator, Senate President and as your Governor.
Over those years, I have had the honor to be a part of some remarkable achievements.
We responded to the worst recession and financial crisis since the Great Depression by rebuilding an Oregon economy that has added jobs and vitality in many regions of our state. And, unlike many other parts of our nation, we did it together with cooperation and respect for Oregon and for each other.
We successfully defended Oregon’s spectacular natural heritage of clean water, clean air, forests, farmland and special places. We created the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds and nearly 90 watershed councils.
We have also found ways to support our rural communities and to create jobs in our natural resources industries while enhancing the environment.
When forces of intolerance sought to divide us we stood up for the principal that every Oregonian deserves respect and basic rights – including the right to choose and the right to marry the person we love.
And I am proud that Oregon has not invoked the death penalty during my last four years on the watch.
We have stood by our working men and women steadfastly supporting collective bargaining and the right to form a union.
We have transformed our health care system, improving access and quality while lowering costs through our new Coordinated Care Organizations. Tonight over 95 percent of Oregonians will go to bed knowing that they have health insurance coverage. We did that together.
In a three-day special session we reformed our public pension system, provided tax relief to small businesses and raised new revenue for mental health and for public education -- the foundation of our future.
We have passionately pursued the goal of equity and opportunity – especially for those Oregonians who have been left behind: communities of color, English language learners and those in poverty, those in the rural parts of our state, the very young and the very old.
We have laid the groundwork for eliminating the achievement gap and ensuring that over 90 percent of our children could be reading at level in 3rd grade within five years.
And we are poised to reach agreements that will resolve the century-old water crisis in the Klamath Basin and expand irrigated agriculture in the Umatilla.
As important as what we have accomplished – how we have accomplished it is perhaps even more important. We have had a great tradition of overcoming partisan differences in this state and doing what is right for Oregon. That tradition had faltered, but over the past four years we have rebuilt a functional political center, reaching across party lines to do difficult, important things by reducing polarization and building community to help right the ship and chart a better course for our future.
I ran for a fourth term as your governor to continue that progress. But the questions that have been raised about my administration – specifically allegations against me concerning the work done by my fiancé Cylvia Hayes and the contracts she obtained during my last term – and the escalating media frenzy that has stemmed from this – has clearly reached the point of no return.
I am confident that I have not broken any laws nor taken any actions that were dishonest or dishonorable in their intent or outcome. That is why I asked both the Ethics Commission and the Attorney General to take a full and comprehensive look at my actions – and I will continue to fully cooperate with those ongoing efforts. I am equally confident that once they have been concluded Oregonians will see that I have never put anything before my love for and commitment to Oregon and faithfully fulfilling the responsibilities of the public offices I have held
But it is also clear that this process will take months.
I have always had the deepest respect for the remarkable institution that is the Oregon Legislature; and for the office of the Governor. And I cannot in good conscience continue to be the element that undermines it. I have always tried to do the right thing and now the right thing to do is to step aside.
One thing I hope people know about me is that I love this state and its people, its rivers, its mountains and its landscapes with every fiber of my being. It is because of that love that I tender my resignation as Governor, effective at 10 a.m. on February 18, 2015. Secretary of State Kate Brown will take the oath of office as Oregon’s Governor at that time. Oregon will be in good hands and I wish her well.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you and our state. It has been the honor of my life. And I believe I can say that looking back over those years we have left it better than we found it."
Click HERE to read reaction from Oregon lawmakers.
BEND, OR -- The lawyer who brought a couple of lawsuits over Casey Roats' eligibility to serve on the Bend City Council has dropped his latest suit. Attorney Charlie Ringo filed the lawsuit on bahalf of Foster Fell, the partner of fellow City Councilor Barb Campbell.
Ringo says it's time to move on. Councilor Roats says he is relieved. "I'm very happy that taxpayers won't have to fund another lawsuit and the expense about my eligibility for city council. What I want to make sure people understand is, I would not have moved forward if there's any chance I wouldn't be found eligible. And, while I'm glad the lawsuit won't go forward, I was looking forward to a judge hearing the argument and ruling in my favor. But, I'll take it just the same."
Roats tells KBND News, "I really am looking forward to getting down to work. This really has been a distraction. I hope local politicians have seen you don't need rancor. Politics doesn't have to be partisan. And, I hope this doesn't discourage other qualified people from stepping in. We need them in the future."
This most recent suit was not filed against Roats, but against the city of Bend, over whether to allow the new council to vote on his eligibility. The previous City Council voted in December that Roats was eligible to serve.
BEND, OR -- An 11-year-old boy was hit by a car as he attempted to cross Highway 97 south of Brosterhouse Rd. in Bend, just before 8:00 p.m. Thursday night. The boy was transported to St. Charles Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.
According to Bend Police, he was crossing the highway in front of the Budget Inn Motel, about 50 yards from a signaled crosswalk. nvestigators say the 53-year-old driver was not impaired or negligent, and she was not cited.
SALEM, OR -- Secretary of State Kate Brown released a statement Thursday morning, calling the controversy swirling around Governor John Kitzhaber and his fiancee Cylvia Hayes "Bizarre and unprecedented." According to Oregon's Constitution, Brown would become Governor should Kitzhaber vacate his position.
"Late Tuesday afternoon, I received a call from the Governor while I was in Washington, DC at a Secretaries of State conference. He asked me to come back to Oregon as soon as possible to speak with him in person and alone," Brown said in the written statement. "I got on a plane yesterday morning and arrived at 3:40 in the afternoon. I was escorted directly into a meeting with the Governor. It was a brief meeting. He asked me why I came back early from Washington, DC, which I found strange. I asked him what he wanted to talk about. The Governor told me he was not resigning, after which, he began a discussion about transition."
Brown continued, "This is clearly a bizarre and unprecedented situation. I informed the Governor that I am ready, and my staff will be ready, should he resign. Right now I am focused on doing my job for the people of Oregon."
BEND, OR -- A Bend transient is accused of starting two fires at his mother's home, destroying her vehicle while it was parked in the driveway. According to Bend Police, 39-year old Adri Pitts was arrested after he was found hiding in his mom's backyard, early Wednesday morning. Bend Police and Fire units responded to Priscilla Pitts' home on Southeast Douglas Street and extinguished the car fire, just before 3 a.m. Investigators then discovered a second fire, which caused minor damage to the home's siding. Bend Police believe it was also intentionally set. It burnt itself out before crews arrived.
Bend Police report Priscilla Pitts has a restraining order against her son, and believe he started the fires after she refused to allow him into the house. Adri Pitts is charged with violating a restraining order, attempted assault, reckless endangering and arson II.
BEND, OR -- Domestic violence activists across the country are speaking out against the blockbuster film, 50 Shades of Grey, opening nationwide on Friday. Bend-based Saving Grace is not calling for a boycott. However, Lauren Biskind with Saving Grace hopes movie-goers are aware of the subject-matter. "One of the main concerns with the relationship that’s depicted in the books and in the movie, is there’s a major power and control issue that goes on. That’s what causes a lot of unhealthy relationships and can lead to abuse is that conflict matter of someone having that power and control over them," she tells KBND News. "Often times, that’s when we see violence really escalate." Biskind says some of the film's scenes could trigger strong emotions, especially for abuse survivors. "More than anything, just really being aware of the subject nature and knowing that this could be an unpleasant experience for many people and especially those that have been through similar situations, themselves."
She says, especially for parents, the hype over "50 Shades" could provide a good excuse to have a conversation about domestic violence. "Even before 50 Shades of Grey came out, there are lots in the media that portray unhealthy relationships. Our job is really to continue raising that awareness and continuing to educate folks on what a healthy relationship looks like, and why it’s so important to treat one another with respect. And to be a part of a healthy relationship, and not feel like when you’re in that type of [abusive] relationship that it is ok, or that it is normal, because it’s not."
A grassroots online campaign to boycott the movie has gained international attention. 50 Dollars Not 50 Shades
encourages people to take the money they would otherwise spend on the movie and donate it instead to a local domestic abuse shelter. 50 Shades of Grey opens in Bend
PORTLAND, OR -- Despite the rumors, Governor John Kitzhaber says he will not resign. Kitzhaber spoke to reporters outside his Portland home Wednesday night and said he did talk with legislative leaders and Secretary of State Kate Brown, confirming he asked Brown to return early from a conference she was attending in Washington, D.C. She is the president of the Secretaries of State Association and was slated to speak at that conference. Brown is next in line, should the Governor step down.
Some news outlets quoted sources with direct knowledge of the situation that Kitzhaber had reached a decision to resign, but changed his mind for unknown reasons. "Let me be as clear as I was last week, that I have no intention of resigning as Governor of the state of Oregon," Kitzhaber said in a statement. "I was elected to do a job for the people of this great state and I intend to continue to do so."
Nigel Jaquiss with Willamette Week has followed the scandal since the beginning, and says the ever changing story isn't over. "He's now pulled an about face that he won't resign. I suspect there's negotiating going on and this could be part of those negotiations. I don't know, but my guess is he's trying to cut a deal with the Attorney General - 'I'll go away if you drop the investigation.' That's my speculation."
Kitzhaber, who just started his fourth term as governor, has battled ethics allegations surrounding consulting deals involving his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police discovered suspicious items inside a pickup truck involved in a two-vehicle crash, Wednesday afternoon. Just before 2:00 p.m., a silver Dodge pickup crashed head-on into a semi truck on Highway 97 at Odem Medo Road. According to Oregon State Police, 27-year old Troy Schaffner of Redmond was driving his pickup northbound when, for an unknown reason, he crossed into oncoming traffic and hit the semi, driven by a California man. Schaffner was taken to St. Charles Bend with unknown injuries. The driver of the semi was unhurt.
When Redmond Police first responded to the crash scene, they say they discovered items inside the Dodge pickup similar to improvised explosive devices. Oregon State Police Bomb Technicians were called to secure the scene. Traffic was diverted around the crash site for more than three hours as officers investigated and secured the suspicious items. Highway 97 was completely closed for 5-10 minutes while Bomb Technicians secured the devices in an explosives containment trailer.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, and OSP investigators will follow up on the devices found inside Schaffner's pickup.
BEND, OR -- The Bend Chamber is taking applications for their first ever "Woman of the Year" awards. Connie Druliner with Express Employment Personnel is one of the judges who will help decide who wins. She says the chamber came up with the idea following some popular talks. "As a result of the successful women roundtable series, the powers that be started thinking -- how to put together something to honor women," Bruliner tells KBND News. "So they're doing it in 2015."
The chamber will be handing out awards for "Women of the Year" and "Young Woman of the Year" as well as "Community Hero of the Year." Nominations are due February 20th, and are available either at the Bend Chamber business location or on their website.
"I think we've had more and more women that have taken higher and higher leadership positions," Druliner says. "And we all know these people. Heroes you hear about. There are also unsung heroes in our community who you haven't heard about yet."
The awards ceremony will be held at the Tower Theater on March 11th.
A new Bend group has set its sights on kickstarting small projects that benefit the community. "Awesome Bend" is a new branch of an international organization, the Awesome Foundation.
Bend co-founder Pam Stevenson says the local branch will be opening up this month, with the hopes of providing financial support for ideas that help the community.
"What's unique about the awesome concept is that it's social entrepreneurship, really," Stevenson says. "The projects are meant to better our community to do social good, so they're not about for-profit ventures."
After starting, they plan to give out $1,000 grants every three months for innovative ideas fitting needs that aren't addressed quite as often.
"I know that some people are working on developing an avalanche forecasting center for Central Oregon, which I think would be a useful thing for this community," Stevenson says.
The chapter is hosting a kickoff event Wednesday, February 18th at Bad Wolf Bakery, to ask potential donors for micro loans. Stevenson believes they'll get more than the 50 supporters they had originally anticipated.
After gaining initial support, Awesome Bend expects to host "Pitch Nights" every three months to decide on what new projects to support.
"I've been on the boards of various things like the Humane Society," Stevenson says. "But this is to support innovative ideas outside the box of the standard already established."
BEND, OR -- Recent studies show the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke … as well as reduced incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. However, Registered Dietitian Annie Baumann, from Bend Memorial Clinic, tells KBND it’s more important to make lasting changes to your nutrition, instead of getting caught up in a specific diet. "If the Mediterranean diet isn’t one people think they can live with long term, then it might be just a piece of the Mediterranean diet that they take away with them. I might just really try to switch all of my grains from white bread and white rice to whole grain bread and brown rice. Really any change you make to the way you eat needs to be one that you can commit to, forever."
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes plant-based foods, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts and beans. But, Baumann says the most successful changes are made with baby steps. "They don’t have to change every single thing about their diet, they don’t have to give up all their favorite foods. That’s pretty unrealistic for most people. It’s picking one or two things you know you can change and stick with. And, once those are no problem for you anymore, then you pick one or two more things. You still enjoy eating and can enjoy your diet, but that you’ll still get the health benefits you’re looking for."
Baumann also suggests staying away from foods labeled “low-fat,” which often include added salt and sugar. For more on how nutrition and lifestyle impact your heart, listen to Part 2 of our month-long series on Heart Health, available at our Podcast Page
SISTERS, OR -- If you don't have health insurance, the deadline to sign up for 2015 coverage is this Sunday, February 15. Elizabeth Cronen, with Cover Oregon, tells KBND sign-ups have surpassed last year's numbers. "94,000 have chosen plans and that's a very good sign. It shows that Oregonians are getting through the website and are finding plans that appeal to them."
The only people who don't need to sign up for coverage by the Sunday deadline are those on the Oregon Health Plan. If you qualify for a special exemption- you lost coverage through your employer or you got married- then you can apply any time. For everyone else, the next open enrollment period will be at the end of the year, for 2016 coverage.
The Oregon Health Authority will be at the Sisters/Camp Sherman Fire Station to help sign people up today (Wednesday) from 1-6 p.m.
LA PINE, OR -- A La Pine man faces charges of illegally killing a large number of mule deer bucks last fall. 37-year old Gene Parsons was arrested after Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife troopers in Deschutes and Klamath counties conducted an investigation into possible poaching.
During a search of Parsons' home, numerous large deer antlers, meat, firearms and controlled substances were seized. Another suspect, 44-year old Lance Cournoyer of Grants Pass, also faces charges of unlawful taking of deer. Parsons' parents, Oliver and Suzan parson also face charges of aiding in a game violation, illegal possession of mule deer and tampering with evidence. The investigation is ongoing and additional charges are pending.
Governor Kitzhaber has bent to increasing pressure to allow an independent investigation into corruption charges regarding his fiancee Cylvia Hayes.
There are allegations she used her role as First Lady to benefit her consulting business.
Kitzhaber had resisted an independent investigation -- instead insisting the Oregon Government Ethics Commission was looking into the matter.
OSU Cascades political science professor Jim Foster says the controversy hasn't been handled well.
"My initial reaction was surprise followed by disappointment than disillusion. A lot of us who have been in the state for awhile and have followed Kitzhaber are thinking, What is going on John? What happened to your vaunted political savvy and judgement and strength of character?"
Foster says the Governor has already paid a political price.
"He's going to be ineffective even if he stays in office. He's going to be severely damaged. His reputation is going to be damaged. Will he stay in office? Yes. Will he be an effective Governor? I doubt it. The story has legs and its going to last for awhile."
The Oregon Government Ethics Commission is also investigating allegations regarding the Governor's handling of Cylvia Hayes' contracts.
The Deschutes National Forest is again warning people snow conditions are less than great -- espeically with the busy President's Day holiday weekend coming up.
Conditions vary from icy to slushy to completely bare in lower elevations below 6-thousand feet.
Snow pack in the area is 30 percent of average.
The Forest Service is warning people wanting to snowmobile they may find poor trail conditions with significant exposure to dirt, mud and open water on creeks and streams.
They are warning users to use caution or make alternative plans.
The Secretary of State's office says the Independent party in Oreogn has achieved major party status.
In order to qualify as a major political party, membership must total at least five percent of the number of registsred voters in the general election.
That would mean -- a party must have at least 108,739 members.
The Independent party has three members over that.
A record number of pasengers used the Redmond airport last year.
Slightly more than 524-thousand people flew out of the Redmond airport -- and that's an increase of nearly 7 percent.
Nicole Jurgenson with the airport says its good to see.
"We had really strong year after year passenger numbers up unitl 2008. And then after 2008, they declined and now they're back up and trending upward again."
The previous pasenger record was set in 2008 at the airport when 492-thousand passengers used the airport.
Lawmakers in Salem are considering dedicating more of the state's highways to our veterans.
Representative John Huffman introduced legislation to make Highway 395 honor World War One veterans, Interstate 5 to honor Korean War veterans and U.S. Highway 101 to honor Afghanistan and Iraq veterans.
Veterans advocate Dick Tobiason testified in Salem in favor of the legislation.
"We, the Bend Heroes Foudnation is trying to speak for those vetearns who have no organization, like those who fought in World War One or in Afghanistan or Iraq. The foundation is trying to honor all war veterans who served over the last 98 years and its a large group of 250,000 who served and about half are living in Oregon today."
The legislation will be considered by a House Committee this week and is expected to receive support from the House, Senate and Governor.
The state already has highways honoring World War TWo and Vietnam veterans.
NBC News anchor Brian Williams is taking a lot of heat for lying about coming under fire when covering the Iraq War.
Williams claimed a little over a week ago, his helicopter came under attack when he was covering the war in 2003.
Veterans challenged that recollection and it was revealed Williams was in the helicopter behind the one that was fired upon.
COCC journalism professor Jon Boulknight says the exaggeration has turned into a firestorm.
"He attributes the mistake in that apology to the fog of memory. And he acknowledged he made a mistake, but I don't think he acknowledged the gravity of the mistake."
NBC News is conducting an investigation into the matter and Williams has taken himself off the anchor desk for a little while.
REDMOND, OR -- School districts across the state are evaluating enrollment numbers in preparation for new students who want to attend class outside of their neighborhood school. Redmond Superintendent Mike McIntosh tells KBND, "Now the law says districts only have one choice, and that is to accept or not. If you choose to accept, you take em all. And there’s no ability as a district to close the doors and keep them in. So, in other words, if a student wanted to leave my district, that’s a wide open arrangement. So then, their job is to find a district that will take them. But, there’s no discrimination about those kids, if you take one, you take them all." However, McIntosh says districts can put a cap on the number of transfer students accepted. "Part of the law established the ability to set capacities. So, later this month, I’ll take to the school board a spreadsheet that has the capacities of those available seats by grade level, by school, in my district." He says each Redmond school ends up with anywhere from 2 to 10 openings in each grade at each school for open enrollment students.
McIntosh says transportation is often the biggest problem for families, as districts are only required to provide bussing for students attending neighborhood schools. "If you are an open enrollment student, I can’t get you there, necessarily. That’s one of the considerations parents have to make when they make that choice is, can they get their child to and from school. That’s unfortunate, but I can’t have a big enough fleet to get all these singleton people to and from places." This is now the fourth year the state has allowed open enrollment, and McIntosh says his district has developed a pretty smooth process. Visit the district's website for more details on transfer requests and to download necessary forms. Open enrollment applications are accepted throughout the month of March, and decisions are made by mid-April.
To listen to our full conversation with Redmond Superintendent Mike McIntosh, visit our Podcast page.
BEND, OR -- A 25-year old California man is accused of driving under the influence, following an early morning crash near the Bend Police Department. His passenger, 21-year old Kellie Driscoll of Bend, called 911 just after 2:30 this morning, saying her vehicle was in the bushes and she didn't know where she was. Bend Police found the car down an embankment off Highway 20 and 15th, near the Bend Public Works and Police Department buildings.
Investigators say Keith Gilchrist, Jr was driving westbound when he crossed into oncoming traffic, struck a curb, and drove down the dirt embankment, finally stopping in a grove of trees. There were no injuries. Gilchrist was arrested on several charges, including DUII and reckless endangerment.
BEND, OR -- After four months, nine meetings and more than 600 public comments, the Bend La Pine School District has settled on new boundaries. Superintendent Ron Wilkinson accepted the recommended maps from a 30-member committee, yesterday, making two minor changes.
The first adjustment allows students in the Mid Town area (between the Deschutes River, Greenwood, Olney, and NE 12th streets) to attend Bend Senior High, instead of the committee's recommendation of Mountain View High School. And, those in the Old Bend downtown area (between the river, the Parkway and Arizona and Greenwood streets) will continue to attend W.E. Miller Elementary and Cascade Middle schools.
Wilkinson also accepted the committee's recommendation that next year's 5th, 8th, 11th and 12th grade students be allowed to remain at their current school, if they wish. Boundary changes were necessary due to current overcrowding, and the opening of a new elementary and middle school, next fall.
BEND, OR -- The City of Bend is starting work on its last stretch of pipeline going in near Tumalo Falls, and that has forced the closure of Forest Road 4603, leading to the scenic falls, beginning Monday. City crews are replacing the final 2.5 miles of aging pipe as part of the Bridge Creek Pipeline Project. Cassidy Kern with the Deschutes National Forest says the closure will remain in place until the work is completed. "The closure is going to include all traffic. That means skiing, snowshoing, and of course, vehicles. The installation of the pipeline will involve trenching that goes directly into the road bed, so there's no safe path around the narrow single lane road."
Tumalo Falls and the trail system above it can still be accessed by foot or bicycle from the Skyliners Trailhead as well as the trail along the south side of Tumalo Creek. City officials have not set a date for when the work is expected to be completed.
BEND, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Revenue is again finding inconsistencies in tax returns filed electronically through third-party software, like Turbo Tax. Bob Estabrook with the department tells KBND News the software is often used by scammers due to the ability to submit a lrage number of fraudulent returns in a short amount of time. "What we’re seeing is something not dissimilar to what we saw last year, where fraudulent returns were filed by individuals who have essentially able to steal someone’s identity. So, filing a return on behalf of the legitimate taxpayer but trying to route that refund to the fraudster." Estabrook says electronic filing is still a good way to submit your tax return, because it cuts down on math errors and gets everything to the state quickly.
He says to protect yourself, file your return early. If you've already filed, a thief can't use your information to file again. And, if you receive a notification that your return has already been submitted, you need to take proactive steps to correct it. "Contact the software company to address that issue, but you can contact the department of revenue directly." He adds, "We have a hotline, but also access through our website for folks to report potential identity theft so we can identify those potentially fraudulent returns and try and help the taxpayer get the situation sorted out as quickly as possible." Once you've filed, he says the best way to protect your refund is by requesting a direct deposit. "If they’ve electronically filed, and requested direct deposit, and they’ve passed the 4-10 day window, they can pick up the phone and call us to check on their status, or through our website, check on the status of their return that they’ve filed. So, if it seems like something has potentially gone awry, there’s opportunities for them to get more information and engage with us, so that if there is an issue we can try and get that resolved as soon as possible.
Visit the Department of Revenue
online to request tax forms, check the status of your refund, or make tax payments. Or, call 1-800-356-4222.
BEND, OR -- A number of weather related power outages across the state over the weekend caught crews off-guard. Bob Crabley with Pacific Power tells KBND News, "I think the duration and how wideswpread the damage has been was a little surprising. We had lots of areas that were hit at the exact same time, so it definitely stretched our crews."
Pacific Power reports Central Oregon was hardest hit Friday, with several hundred customers without electricity. Thousands lost power across the state, particularly in southern Oregon. Crabley says most outages have been addressed, but they're watching conditions carefully and expect more wind and potential damage, today. "And, we just hope people understand that these conditions are difficult and we're doing the best we can to keep their lights on." Crabley says they try to have power restored within one day, but it's harder to fix single incidents in rural areas.
Central Oregon is under a high wind advisory until 8 p.m., Monday, with wind predicted at 30-40 MPG. Gusts could reach 50 MPH, along with rain showers.
BEND, OR -- The founder of Central Oregon's High Desert Museum passed away Wednesday at the age of 69. Current museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw says Kerr's knowledge of Oregon's western scenic beauty greatly impacted exhibits. "He wanted to make a museum, a people's museum, that really didn't have walls or boundaries. It had rivers flowing through it, and forests, and a wagon- a real wagon- right next to you. And, that's what creates those moments of real inspiration for visitors." She adds, "The arid inter-mountain west has more subtle landscape, and he really wanted to bring that landscape to light for visitors. His intimate knowledge of it was able to create the incredible exhbitions that we see there, today."
Kerr founded the museum in 1982. Whitelaw says he created an innovative and popular attraction for everyone. "In the 90s we had about 100,000 visitors, and now Bend's population is about 80,000 and we have 160,000 visitors a year. So, it's just grown exponentially and we're so proud that his vision was such a driver, not only for visitors in the area, but our local community." Kerr received a biology degree from Oregon State University and taught at the Oregon Zoo.
The High Desert Museum is the only institution in the country with a focus on inspiring stewardship of a region's natural and cultural resources. Whitelaw says a falconry exhibit is already dedicated to Kerr, but staff plan to honor his life in another museum exhibit, soon.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police continue to investigate an early December burglary at Central Oregon Brakes For Less. On surveillance footage, a man is seen forcing his way into the building at 1315 NE 3rd St. in Bend. The suspect damaged and stole several items at the location during the break-in. Investigators are asking for the public's help in identifying the man from the video. He was seen driving a light colored passenger car.
Anyone with information is asked to call Officer Andrew Davis at 541-322-2960.
BEND, OR -- Due to a number of fallen trees, Bend Park and Recreation District has closed Pioneer Park in Northwest Bend, effective immediately. “We ask that park patrons use caution during this storm and avoid areas with large trees. During high winds, it is not uncommon for trees and limbs to come down in parks and on trails,” said Pat Erwert, Park Services Director, in a press release.
Erwert said other parks could also close without notice due to current weather conditions and dangerous circumstances. Pioneer Park will reopen once gusts subside and the fallen trees and debris can be removed.
BEND, OR -- Congress has passed a bill that would improve mental health services for veterans. President Obama is expected to sign it into law, soon. The "Clay Hunt Veteran Suicide Bill" is named for a Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, who suffered with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and committed suicide in 2011.
Kathy Skidmore with Central Oregon Veterans Outreach applauds the Legislation. "We're becoming much more aware of the number of soldiers who are suicide prone in all eras and services. They suffer from PTSD, unemployment is very high, soldiers are coming back and don't have incomes and don't have homes." She tells KBND News it's important the effort also involve more rural areas. "Because it often goes to the bigger cities. They tend to get more of the funds. I'm not sure where the funds will go in this bill, whether they are addressing [our] type of treatment center."
Senator Ron Wyden co-sponsored the bipartisan bill, which is designed to improve a range of suicide prevention services for veterans, including information and counseling by mental health professionals. It would also aim to recruit more professionals into V.A. service by repaying student loans for Psychiatry students.
Wyden is convinced the bill will save lives in Oregon and across the country. In Oregon, 27% of suicides involve veterans. He spoke about continued veterans issues at a recent town hall in Bend, "So many veterans are injured, have woulds that will require care for the rest of their lives. They were people who, ten years ago, would not have survived. What I mean is, they would not have come off the battlefield." Wyden says we have a solemn obligation to provide services and care to our veterans, and he believes this new legislation will help do just that.
BEND, OR -- For the first time in its 15 year history, Bend’s Winter Fest will not include any ski or snowboard events. Aaron Switzer, owner of festival organizer Lay it Out Events, tells KBND News temperatures expected for next weekend could make it the warmest Winter Fest on record. "It’s going to be Summer Fest in February, from what the forecast looks like. But, people have an affection for the idea that it’s gonna snow at Winter Fest and it’s gonna be cold, and that is great. But, the reality of what we see in terms of attendance numbers is, the warmer the weather, the more people come out. So, our expectation, given the high temperatures, is that this will probably be the biggest Winter Fest on record."
In the past, the festival has trucked in up to 55 loads of snow from Mt. Bachelor to the Old Mill District, to create an area for snow competitions. But, this year, Switzer says that is not possible. "What we were able to do is reach out to Metal Mulisha, who performs the Red Bull highflying acrobatics on Sunday, and pull in additional [motocross] riders. There’s a higher class of riders so we’re going to have four instead of two riders, and we’re going to put on just a bigger, much more exciting show for people."
Winter Fest kicks off at the Old Mill District next Friday, when temperatures could hit 60-degrees.
CENTRAL OREGON -- Redmond Fire crews responded early this morning to a power line fire, near Cline Falls Road and White Rock Loop, between Eagle Crest and Tumalo. Just after 4 a.m., a nearby resident called 911, reporting flames were spreading to a tree, 20' from a house. When crews arrived, they say it appeared high winds caused the tree to fall into the line, catching fire. Pacific Power responded with firefighters and shut off electricity to the area. Crews extinguished the fire before it could spread to nearby buildings.
Just after 7 a.m., crews were dispatched to a report of a brush fire on Gerking Market Rd., near Highway 20, outside of Tumalo. A passerby noticed an orange glow, then flames. Througout the morning, road crews have responded to reports of downed trees and missing street signs, due to high winds.
Central Oregon is under a High Wind Advisory until 11 p.m., with gusts peaking this afternoon. Winds are expected from the south, 35-45 MPH, with gusts up to 65 MPH. The National Weather Service says the area could see property damage from downed trees and power lines, and driving could be hazardous, especially for high-profile vehicles.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College has released the name of its top pick for President. The Board of directors met again Thursday, and identified Dr. Anthony (Tony) Miksa as their first choice. A team plans to visit McHenry County College in Illinois next week to talk with Dr. Miksa's colleagues.
Miksa was one of four finalists in the running for COCC president who visited Central Oregon and interviewed last month. Following next week's site visit, the board expects to begin negotiations. Assuming both those steps are successful, a formal announcement on the next COCC president is anticipated later this month.
BEND, OR -- Former Oregon Congressman Wes Cooley passed away in Bend, Wednesday, at the age of 82. Cooley represented Oregon's 2nd Congressional District from 1995-1997. He dropped out of his re-election race in 1996 after he was accused of lying in the voters pamphlet about his military service. In 2009, he was charged with money laundering for his role in an alleged online investment scheme. And, in 2012, he was sentenced to a year in prison for filing a falsified tax return.
Former Cooley campaign manager and Current 2nd district Congressman Greg Walden released a statement yesterday, saying: "Despite his various legal issues over the last 20 years, I know he cared deeply about the rural west and the country."
REDMOND, OR -- A teacher with the High Desert Education Service District is being honored for her work with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Sue Hayes received the 2015 Achievement of Excellence Award this week, by a state education organization. High Desert ESD Superintendent John Rexford tells KBND News, "Sue really works hard to coordinate a variety of services in Central and Eastern Oregon and we’re particularly proud of her work with Traumatic Brain Injury. She works to really support students who have been impacted by TBI, so that they can get back on the road to their education and success in the future."
Rexford adds, "She is really a state leader. She has dedicated her career to helping students with special needs. And in this case, she’s really a state and often a national leader, in this regard. This is really cutting edge work that she’s doing in the area of traumatic brain injury. So in addition to her regular workload, she’s gone beyond the call of duty and focusing in on success of students with Traumatic Brain Injury."
Hayes works closely with the national Center for Brain Injury Research and Training, and played a key role in bringing a national concussion conference to Bend for the past several years.
Photo: Sue Hayes, special programs manager for the High Desert Education Service District, accepts the 2015 Achievement of Excellence Award from the Oregon Association of Central Office Administrators joined by HDESD Deputy Superintendent Paul Andrews (left) and HDESD Superintendent John Rexford (right).
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville home is a total loss after fire swept through the double wide mobile home, Wednesday morning. A neighbor discovered the blaze on Southeast Olsen Lane, just before noon, and called 911. No one was home at the time.
Firefighters were forced to take defensive measures to prevent the flames from spreading, but were unable to save the home. That Loss is estimated at $45,000 and the cause of the fire is under investigation.
BEND, OR -- Bend city officials are trying to increase involvement in neighborhood associations. Cheryl Howard got involved with the Orchard District in 2001, to learn more about activities for her then-young children. "It’s keeping an eye on each other, it’s community building, it’s working collaboratively on a common goal. And sometimes what that looks like, is it might be working on doing something with an empty lot in your neighborhood, or developing a walking school bus to your child’s school, along with other neighbors with children that go to the same school."
Howard says many may not understand what neighborhood associations do. "There are 13 recognized neighborhood associations in the city of Bend. And, to be clear, sometimes folks get them confused with homeowners associations, and neighborhoods are different. There are no fees, there’s no cost. We don’t care about clotheslines, those sort of issues, although they may address land use matters going on in a neighborhood. They work at a much higher level, and sometimes it’s working at communicating better with city government." She says the groups are a great way to effect change. "We know we have members on our own neighborhood association, which is the Orchard District, who have no interest in ever attending a neighborhood meeting. However, they would love to show up with their truck and a shovel if it’s something on the ground, get your hands dirty type of projects. We have other people who are interested in starting initiatives. They see a problem in their neighborhood and they’d like to do something to resolve this."
The Orchard District is helping to organize a community forum this weekend for those interested in learning more about getting involved in their neighborhood. Howard says you don’t have to live in Bend to benefit from the free forum, which will cover topics ranging from neighborhood best practices to create a successful non-profit board. Click HERE
for more information and to RSVP.
SALEM, OR -- This week, State Senator Jackie Winters of Salem introduced a bill that would repeal sections of Oregon's voter-approved recreational marijuana law. Senate Bill 542 was requested by the League of Oregon Cities. Redmond Mayor George Endicott supports the bill.
"Cases like this, where [the state] tries to force you to do something that the local people just don't want you to do -- the whole issue gets around local options, local control," Endicott says. "And that's really the league's underlying philosophy on these kinds of issues. It isn't marijuana that's the issue here."
SB 542 would allow a city or county to regulate aspects of the production, wholesale, retail and distribution of recreational marijuana per the leadership of a city or district. It would also allow cities to tax recreational marijuana, which is currently prohibited under Measure 91.
Before voters passed Measure 91 in November, at least 70 Oregon cities had already passed ordinances trying to put in place 10 to 15 percent taxation rates on local marijuana sales. Endicott says in some cases, that taxation is important to cities' safety and regulation.
"I believe in democracy and the will of the people, but I think sometimes legislation is written without thinking through all the aspects of it," Endicott says. "For example, the local taxation outlets. We know that if we have outlets [of recreational marijuana] in our community that it will increase the public safety costs."
The bill also raises issues brought up by a ruling in Cave Junction. On October 17th, 2014, Josephine Circuit Court Judge Pat Wolke ruled that cities do not have to follow state laws that violate federal law. While that ruling focused on the delegation of government rather than the state's right to legalize a federally controlled substance, it raised still unanswered questions on a city's power to regulate Measure 91. Endicott hopes this bill will clear up some of those questions.
Proponents of the bill are also hoping to make it easier for jurisdictions to opt out of the measure. As it stands, cities can only block recreational pot sales if they can prove it hurts the city. Endicott says that process does not allow cities to be proactive, or account for personal sentiment within the community.
"You have to go through this huge study to demonstrate that there's an adverse impact on your community," Endicott says. "I don't know how you do that, as many other people don't know how you do that. How do you prove a negative?"
SB 542 was introduced Monday. It was referred to committee on Tuesday.
"It's hard to tell with the balance the way it is right now, Democrats over Republicans, on how they're going to come down on an issue like this," Endicott says. "I just can't read the tea leaves."
Recreational marijuana possession and growth becomes legal in Oregon on July 1st.
REDMOND, OR -- Nosler has purchased 60 acres near the Redmond Airport for an expansion of their Central Oregon operations. Zach Waterman with Nosler, says the gun and ammo company expects to hire 20 new workers to staff the facility. "Nosler at its current location was growing faster than the physical space that we have available to us. So we were looking for somewhere to expand; and with the acquisition of the Silver State Armory up in Washington we needed some extra space."
The Bend-based gun and ammo company plans to build a 30,000' square facility on the property to store ammunition and cartridge brass operations. Waterman says there's not a clera timeline for the facility to become operational, and hiring won't take place until after machineray is installed.
BEND, OR -- With the rise in measles cases nationwide, the discussion over whether to vaccinate children is heating back up. In 2014, Deschutes County had the fourth highest rate in the state for the number of kindergarten students receiving non-medical exemptions for required shots. Jill Johnson, Deschutes County Immunization Program Coordinator, tells KBND the exemption rate is concerning. "We haven’t had a measles case here in Deschutes County, but that’s not to say we couldn’t. With all the travel folks are doing and with the prevalence internationally, there’s certainly potential for a measles case to come here. There’s only been one case of measles recently in Lane County, in Oregon, but no other cases." In 2001, less than 0.5% of Deschutes County kindergarteners received a non-medical exemption; last year, that rate climbed to 10.1%. In Oregon, the statewide average has grown from 1.9% in 2001 to 7% in 2014.
Johnson says the danger of contracting diseases previously thought under control in the U.S. is real, especially for those who are not able to be immunized. "Very young babies who get measles are likely to be seriously ill. Also, people that have diseases with weakened immune systems, such as cancer or transplant recipients. Those kids that aren’t vaccinated in school could be the source of them getting sick." She says an other preventable disease is making a comeback in the county: Pertussis - also known as, Whooping Cough. In 2014, there were 60 cases of Pertussis reported in Deschutes County. That's more than three times the number reported during the past 5 years, combined. Pertussis can be prevented with the dTap and Tdap vaccines.
Children without updatd vaccination records, or appropriate exemption documentation, will not be allowed in school or daycare on "Exclusion Day," February 18th. Johnson hopes the number of families seeking non-medical exemptions will decrease this year, with the implemenation of a new law, "Prior to March 1st last year, families were able to claim a religious exemption, which could be for religious or philosophical [reasons] or just didn't want to get their child vaccinated. So, they could claim a religious exemption and just sign off. But now, the requirement is that a parent receives education either through an online module or getting education about the risks and benefits of vaccines through their healthcare provider."
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County School District officials are re-releasing graduation statistics after discovering an error in data submitted to the Oregon Department of Education.
Initially, Crook County High School's graduation rate was reported at less than 49%in 2014. However, district officials said Tuesday students who were eligible to graduate but chose to participate in a 5th year program, should have been counted based on new state reporting standards. Those students push the school's graduation rate to 79%, more than 7 points above the state average.
The recalculation also increases Pioneer Alternative High School's rate by more than 8 points to 29%. Recent changes in state reporting standards allow districts to include students who attend an extra year of high school in order to attend community college courses for free.
Bend, Ore. -- Three runaways from an Eastern Oregon juvenile facility suspected of car theft were discovered at a Bend motel, Tuesday night.
An SUV belonging to the Eastern Oregon Academy in Hines was found abandoned near Scalehouse Loop in Bend, late Sunday. Through that investigation, Bend Police tracked down 18-year-old Mattaeo Kuhn, 19-year-old Matthew Robinson and a 17-year-old to the Bend Value Inn.
Officers tried to talk with the three suspects, but they refused to come to the door.
Police obtained a search warrant and the three were taken into custody without incident.
REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond man is accused of attempted murder, in connection with the stabbing of a 16-year old, Monday morning. According to police, 20-year old Bernardino Martinez and the boy were arguing behind the old Redmond hotel, downtown, when Martinez stabbed the teen at about 10 a.m., Monday. The victim was treated at St. Charles Medical Center.
Martinez was lodged at the Deschutes County jail on attempted murder and assault charges.
BEND, OR -- After meeting for six hours over the weekend, Central Oregon Community College's board is still trying to decide who will be the school's next president. During Saturday's deliberations, students, staff and community representatives gave their input following visits by the four top candidates.
The board is now asking for additional time before moving into the next phase of the process. COCC Board Chair Laura Craska Cooper issued the following statement: "This has been a great process and I want to thank everyone who participated. The Board believes we had four great candidates and those who presented to us today all confirmed that. Saturday's meeting was quite challeging for us because of the strength of the candidates. We are moving forward and will be looking at making one or two site visits to find out more about our top choices."
Board members will meet in in Executive Session on Thursday to continue discussions.
BEND, OR -- A Bend day care owner faces child abuse charges after a 3-month old girl suffered what police are calling suspicious head injuries. Investigators say the baby attended the day care on Northeast Saranac Place, owned and operated by Nicole Johansen. Aimee Craig with the state’s early learning division, says Johansen has been licensed since 2009, and has had two complaints filed against her. "There was a valid complaint in 2009 for having too many infants in the facility. So, two are allowed, and there were three present. There was an additional 'unable to substantiate' complaint; that was 2014. What I can say is that the unable to substantiate was on an allegation around spanking children in care."
As a licensed facility, Crais says Johansen's day care would've been subject to inspections. "So, when you first apply to be a provider, there’s an initial health and safety review of your facility, of your home, in this case. Then, under the rules that this provider would’ve been under, there’s one announced visit within the two-year licensing period. If there are any complaints, a licensing specialist would follow up on those complaints." After that second allegation in June, Craig says a licensing specialist visited the home, however nothing was found at that time. Beginning today, licensed day cares will now receive one un-announced visit every two years.
Johansen’s license has been suspended, pending a full investigation on last week’s incident. She has been charged with two counts of first-degree assault and one count of first-degree criminal mistreatment. The baby is being treated at St. Charles Bend for her injuries.
SISTERS, OR -- A Sisters hiker reported missing Saturday evening, was found dead not far from his car. Family members grew concerned when 70-year old James Holcomb didn't return home after hiking in the Three Creeks Road area, south of Sisters. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff's office, he was prepared for the weather with proper clothing and supplies.
Search and Rescue volunteers were called in, however a deputy located Holcomb's body just after 8:30 pm, prior to their arrival. An initial investigation revealed Holcomb suffered a medical emergency and passed away several hours before he was found.
BEND, OR -- A Bend woman was critically injured while crossing NE Revere in Bend, Saturday evening. According to Bend Police, 49-year-old Pamela James was wearing dark clothing and was not using a marked crosswalk when she was struck by a car at about 6:30 p.m.
Lt. Nick Parker says the driver, 45-year-old Michael Jones of Bend, is cooperating with the investigation, and no charges have been filed. "Some of the things that play into account are vehicle movements, whether there was speed involved intoxicants. As well as with the pedestrian -- whether the pedestrian was wearing appropriate clothing, crossing in the appropriate area, and intoxicants as well. Some of those things that could impair either the pedestrian or the driver." The investigation is ongoing.
So much for Punxsutawney Phil ... zoo curators at the Oregon Zoo in Portland say their hedgehog is rooting for an early spring.
Punxsutawney Phil, the famous weather-predicting groundhog, called for six more weeks of winter. But Whiskers J., the Oregon Zoo African pygmy hedgehog, did not see his shadow this morning.
Crowds gathered at the zoo this morning, some holding signs that said "Hedgehogs Rule!"
And so far, Oregon Zoo hedgehogs are more correct than Punxsutawney Phil -- they're correct 40 percent of the time, compared to Phil's 39 percent likelihood of being correct.
Their prediction last year, by hedgehog Mayzie, did end up being correct. That was for six more weeks of winter.
BEND, OR -- A Bend Day Care owner faces child abuse charges after a three-month-old suffered what police are calling suspicious head injuries. Investigators say the baby girl attended a licensed daycare on Northeast Saranac Place, owned and operated by Nicole Johansen. She was treated for internal head injuries at St. Charles Medical Center, Friday.
Bend Police arrested Johansen after a search of her home. She's charged with two counts of first degree assault and one count of first degree criminal mistreatment. The Department of Human Services is working to contact other families with children who attended the daycare.
Police recovered drugs and drug packaging materials on a Prineville man.
Wednesday, January 28, Crook County Sheriff's Office stopped a maroon colored Honda Civic for a traffic violation. During the following investigation of the driver, Mikel Harris, a K9 deputy with a drug detection dog named Jett came, and found controlled substances.
Deputies recovered methamphetamine, drug packaging material, digital scales with residue of meth, money ... and an AK-47 rifle in the car.
Harris was arrested for possession, delivery and manufacturing of meth. He's being held at Crook County Jail.