BEND, OR -- Former Deschutes County Sheriff Larry Blanton is expected to be deposed next week in an ongoing civil suit relating to the death at the jail, in December 2014. Attorneys for the family of Edwin Mays claim the Sheriff’s Office had a culture that allowed deputies to ignore clear signs of a meth overdose.
Current Sheriff Shane Nelson is now also named in the suit. He tells KBND News, "Several positive changes came out of that, and some new equipment in our
jail. But, one of the things that we learned from the DOJ report is how difficult it is to try and diagnose someone – They conferred with two medical experts in that situation and had determined that the deputies acted medically appropriately." Mays family attorney Jennifer Coughlin says the Department of Justice report did not say deputies acted "appropriately," but found that, due to the level of meth in his system, Mays would’ve likely died anyway. It's an assertion Coughlin disagrees with, as well. "Our experts say that methamphetamine overdoses come into ERs all the time and there are very specific things that ER facilities can do to sort of reverse the negatives associated with a methamphetamine overdose."
The suit also names Lt. Robert Trono, who was in charge of scheduling the team working at the jail that night. In the filing, Coughlin claims Lt. Trono should have scheduled a nurse for the shift. Sheriff Nelson tells KBND News, "We just did not have enough nurses for 24-hour/7-day a week coverage. And so, the move that we made, one of the positive changes that came out of that, was we went to having nurses on 24-hours a day, 7-days a week." But, Coughlin says the Sheriff’s Office had medical staff who could have helped Mays, if they’d been scheduled. "It’s not like they just had one nurse, and when she takes a vacation there’s just no nurse on duty. They had four other nurses, that when one nurse says months in advance she’s going on vacation, they could’ve scheduled one of those other four, maybe even five nurses that they had at that time, in December of 2014."
The suit outlines behavior by those on duty, including acknowledging the man had "split" his head "wide open" but no one called for medical attention. And, the suit claims, deputies waited nearly 30 minutes to call non-emergency dispatch after Mays was found unresponsive in his cell. She says Sheriff Nelson, who was jail commander at the time, created a culture that allowed staff to act inappropriately "I think that he should have probably terminated some of the deputies for their callous behavior and for failing to see the signs that somebody needed medical attention when they were clearly dying."
Nelson acknowledges staff were caught on tape making fun of Mays’ behavior for several hours prior to his death. "We were unprofessional on that videotape and there was discipline that came out of that. We had two supervisors that were demoted and two Deputy Sheriffs who were disciplined. Look, we work with our Employees Association as we work through issues and discussion of consequences. There are due processes that you go through before you would hand out a consequence to an employee." The suit claims those consequences include a Sergeant demoted for making a derogatory statement about Lt. Trono, and a letter of reprimand for a deputy who imitated Mays’ erratic behavior. But, Coughlin says none were punished for failing to get Mays medical care.
Aside for the more than $16 million sought by the family for civil and punitive damages, the attorney is also asking a federal judge to force the agency to make immediate policy changes. "We’re not just asking for money, we’re actually asking them to make changes so that hopefully this doesn’t happen to another person. We’ve asked for that detox clinic; that they [jail staff] all get immediate training in drug recognition and overdose, and the medical problems associated with those things – for methamphetamine and other narcotics." She says it's more than a wrongful death lawsuit; it’s also a civil rights case. Coughlin claims in the suit Mays was refused his right to receive appropriate medical care.
To listen to this week's full interview with Sheriff Shane Nelson, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.
BEND, OR -- The Central Oregon Shooting Sports Association has been forced to shut down its public range, east of Bend, due to safety issues. COSSA President Sharon Preston says the public range has always had some vandalism, but incidents have escalated in recent months. "We’ve had a lot of beer bottles in the trash cans, and actually bullet holes coming from the backside of our Buffalo range and from the backside, actually, of the bathrooms. They’re shooting up the bathrooms, for whatever reason." She tells KBND News, "For safety reasons, because all those bullets are headed for the highway or for the membership range, we’ve had to temporarily close it."
Preston says COSSA's lease agreement with the BLM said the nonprofit group would keep the land open to the public 24/7. But that changed, she says, after the vandalism was discovered. "We finally had the BLM out there and showed them the dangerous direction that these bullets are being fired, and they finally agreed with us that it would be prudent to close that public range, because there’s no oversight there, at all."
She says the range will remain closed until a more permanent solution is found. "We’re looking for volunteers who want to run three-hour shifts out there to kind of oversee it. It’s just become a dangerous situation and people are not being responsible."
BEND, OR -- The plan to expand Bend's Urban Growth Boundary easily cleared its last local hurdle, Wednesday. Deschutes County Commissioners unanimously approved a number of zoning and planning ordinances relating to the city’s plan.
At the meeting, Commissioner Tony DeBone explained why all were approved with an emergency clause. "We are supporting the city of Bend’s timeline by stating the emergency; and that’s the bottom line, here. Instead of really putting that hard 90 days in before anybody can proceed, we’re allowing other actions to happen."
After the vote, County Commissioner Alan Unger appeared relieved. "I guess we’re celebrating the fact that we’ve gotten through this long process and we’re moving forward." Commissioner Tammy Baney added, "I’d like to say thank you to the city of Bend, as well. I think our partnership has been really strong, and I think that we’ve been able to walk this together in a way that’s been as expeditious as we possibly could be. But, I think without that good partnership, and without the commitment of working well together, we wouldn’t be here today."
The city’s proposal to expand the UGB by about 2300 acres is much smaller than a version rejected by state officials six years ago. It will soon be sent to the state Department of Land Conservation and Development for consideration. Bend City Manager Eric King has said he’s hopeful the plan will be approved by early next year.
BEND, OR -- A former Central Oregon Community College student was convicted, Tuesday, for trying to kill his roommate. A Deschutes County jury returned a 10-2 verdict of guilty except for insanity of Attempted Murder, Assault in the First Degree and Unlawful Use of a Weapon.
On Halloween 2014, Eric Norgaard, who is now 24, stabbed James Briles 14 times in their on-campus dorm. Briles is now 20. The prosecution and defense agreed Norgaard suffered from a mental disease and that he committed the crime. The jury had to decide whether his mental illness prevented him from following the law.
Following the verdict, the Deschutes County District Attorney issued a statement:
"This case presented complex, emotional and difficult evidence for the jury to process and analyze. Their attention to detail and service to our community are appreciated." D.A. John Hummel went on to express sympathy for the victim, "What James experienced two years ago on Halloween night was horrific."
Norgaard is scheduled to be back in court Monday for a hearing to determine when further mental health evaluations will take place.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police used a tazer to subdue a hit and run suspect they say refused to comply with officer commands.
Investigators say 28-year-old Robert Jay Nelson, of Aloha, is responsible for hitting at least two vehicles in downtown Redmond, Tuesday afternoon. About an hour after the first report, residents reported a man on NW 21st acting confused inside their home.
After Nelson refused to comply and was tazed, he was arrested on charges including DUII, Hit and Run and Reckless Driving.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville City Councilors unanimously approved an ordinance, Tuesday night, that allows police to exclude people from a park for up to 180 days. Mayor Betty Roppe says initially there were concerns from citizens, but there is an appeals process for those issued an exclusion. "And, I suppose that’s – I have a lot of faith in my particular police department. But, I suppose that it’s feasible that it could be abused."
She tells KBND News the ordinance will make the dozen or so properties run by Crook County Parks and Rec safer for everyone. "The police department say they have found some things that have been disturbing to them – there have been some fights that have been disturbing. And, I know that Parks and Rec has commented on finding some drug paraphernalia. There are some things that have occurred that we want to make sure does not keep all of the rest of the citizens out of the park." She adds, in the past, police had no way to keep out those found fighting or participating in other illegal activity. "They can arrest them. And, when they are then booked they are released. And they go right back to the park."
When the ordinance takes effect in 30 days, exclusions will only apply to the specific park where the offense occurred.
BEND, OR -- More than 81 million people tuned in for the first debate, this week, between Presidential candidates Hillary Trump and Donald Trump. Television ratings broke the previous debate record set in 1980 between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. A consensus of media outlets found Clinton the victor in the 90-minutes forum. But, with Central Oregonians, the winner varies, depending on who you ask.
Bob Perry, with Deschutes Republicans, watched the debate with other local Republicans at Aspen Lakes, in Sisters. He tells KBND News, "I felt that Trump was talking to the people, and Hillary was talking to media elites. And, the style of each was so dramatically different, in that Trump seemed to be so much more relaxed and pointed and Hillary, in my opinion at least - I've heard the word 'robotic' used - but she was rather stiff and smug on many of her comments." He adds, "I thought he was very pointed with regard to trade, trade agreeements, the economy, jobs; that's where I thought he excelled. And, I thought he went into enough detail on his proposals in those. I didn't see a lot of detail on Hillary's proposals."
Despite tightening polls in battleground states, many Democrats are feeling much better after what they see as a strong performance by Hillary Clinton in Monday's debate. Deschutes Democrats met at their downtown Bend headquarters to watch the debate together. Ross Centers believes Clinton showed she is the stronger, better prepared candidate. "Hillary Clinton was the clear winner in that debate. Donald Trump showed that he lacks the knowledge, values and temperment to be President." He hopes the success translates to votes. "This has been a weird election, but I have faith in the American people. That faith tells me this will move the needle. This debate is showing a clear difference, night and day, between the candidates. And, we're going to move forward from here." Most pollsters say any potential bounce, for either candidate, won't be seen in the numbers for at least a week.
Trump and Clinton will face each other again Sunday, October 9. Their final scheduled debate is Wednesday, October 19. The Vice Presidential candidates will debate Tuesday, October 4.
BEND, OR -- Bend has made it on another nationwide ranking; this time for being in the middle of the political road. Livability.com is out with its annual list of the best places to live for liberals, conservatives and moderates. Bend comes in fourth for moderates.
Former Democratic lawmaker and KBND Political analyst Judy Stiegler isn't surprised. "You’ve got people on the polar opposite side of a variety of issues. But, overall, this area tends to be ‘ok, how can we solve problems.’" Former Republican lawmaker Jason Conger agrees, "I think this area offers a lot for people of different political persuasions."
Researchers noted that Bend tends to vote Republican, yet they also lean liberal on issues like the environment. Conger notes, "So many outdoor activities, it would attract people who are concerned about the environment and about access to outdoor recreation activities." Stiegler adds, "And, preservation of a lot of those areas because that feeds the economy around here, significantly." The website found Bend has an average number of registered Democrats, compared to the rest of the country, but an above average number of Republicans and non-affiliated voters.
No other Oregon city made it into the top ten of any of the three political rankings. Bend came in as the fourth best place for moderates behind Chattanooga, TN, Pocatello, ID and Avondale, AZ.
BEND, OR -- The family of a man who died while in custody at the Deschutes County Jail, has amended the civil suit to include Sheriff Shane Nelson and the Lieutenant who was in charge that evening.
According to the Bend Bulletin, the $15 million lawsuit now alleges Nelson, who was jail commander at the time, and former Sheriff Larry Blanton failed to adequately discipline staff involved in the incident. It also claims Lt. Robert Trono should have scheduled a nurse to work the night Edwin Mays died of a drug overdose in December 2014.
Jail surveillance video shows deputies watching a football game and joking about Mays’ erratic behavior before he died. Sheriff Nelson told KBND News in May, "Yes, we lacked professionalism in that video. And, discipline arose out of that: two people were demoted and two other people were disciplined." He added, "A lot of changes came out of that investigation. We have the Alive-Lock wristband that measures oxygen levels; we went to 24 a day, 7-day a week nursing coverage. So, there are positives that come out of that."
Following an investigation, the Oregon Department of Justice found the deputies' actions did not warrant criminal charges.
BEND, OR -- In his bid to be Sheriff of Deschutes County, Deputy Eric Kozowski has repeatedly said he would improve efficiency and service delivery at the Sheriff's Office. However, according to productivity statistics obtained by KBND News through a public records request, Kozowski consistently ranks among the lowest performing deputies, most notably in the past nine months.
The agency compiles quarterly statistics for its four patrol teams, which show Kozowski had 54 self-initiated calls in the second quarter of this year; that's the lowest of the team, behind the commander. His team's per-deputy average was 116.9 self-initiated incidents. Patrol Lt. Ty Rupert tells KBND News that three-month stat includes traffic stops. "He had seven traffic stops in the timeframe of April to June 2016, compared to another deputy on his team that had 157 traffic stops; another deputy on his team had 77. The average traffic stops were 55.56 for the team, during that same time period." In the first quarter (Jan.-Dec.) of 2016, Kozowski self-initiated 72 calls, compared to his team's quarterly average of 120.3. In both quarters, Kozowski's team had the lowest average among the four patrol teams at the agency.
In the fourth quarter of last year, from October to December, Kozowski handled 51 self-initiated calls, compared to his team's average of 143.
At a recent debate, Kozowski defended his low numbers, saying, "A lot of deputies are going call to call, don’t have time for self-initiated statistics. Often times, I’ve had 12-hour shifts where ten of that is I’m on dispatched calls." The report shows that in the second quarter (April-June 2016), he had a below average number of dispatched calls, as well. According to the Sheriff's Office, Kozowski is typically assigned to one of the busiest districts in the county. He logged 126 dispatched calls during Q2, while his team's average was 132.4.
Lt. Rupert says there are acceptable reasons for putting up low numbers. "If I have a deputy that has low stats, potentially it could be that they had a recruit with them- if they’re a training officer. Other reasons for low stats could be if a deputy was hurt and on light duty, or on vacation for an extended period of time, or sick." Deputy Kozowski is not a training officer; and, as far as Lt. Rupert was aware, he was not off-duty for an extended period.
Deputies are not required to answer a specific number of calls, according to Lt. Rupert. "Long-standing, I think it’s been a perception of the public that law enforcement agencies have quotas. And, that’s not true – we don’t have quotas," He says. "We don’t have expectations of requiring a deputy to go out and write a certain number of traffic citations or stop a certain number of cars. That’s at the deputy’s discretion." But, he admits supervisors expect deputies will perform at a certain level, based on which district they work and the time of year.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Portland General Electric is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for damaging Crook County power lines.
The vandalism was discovered a month ago near Millican and Stearns Road, south of Prineville. According to the Sheriff's Office, someone shot the insulators that support 500 kV transmission lines. Investigators say the incident created substantial danger to those in the area and resulted in expensive repairs for PGE.
Anyone with information on who might have been in the area on August 25, between 6 and 6:40 p.m., or who know who is responsible for the vandalism, is asked to call the Crook County Sheriff's Office at 541-447-6398.
TUESDAY MORNING UPDATE: The Rush Springs burn was canceled Monday due to unfavorable conditions. Fire managers expect to try the East Maury burn on Tuesday.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Recent moisture, coupled with cooler temperatures in the past week has created the opportunity for fire managers to light a couple of prescribed burns in the Ochoco National Forest, beginning Monday.
The Rush Springs burn unit is about 320 acres, located about 15 miles northeast of Prineville. Burning should last two days. The East Maury unit is about 333 acres, located near Elkhorn campground along Forest Service Road 16 in the Maury Mountains. That burn is expected to begin Wednesday and last two days.
Light smoke could impact the vicinities of each burn, but no road closures are planned. Prescribed burns are designed to rid the area of hazardous fuels and improve big game habitat and range conditions for livestock, according to federal forestry officials.
Click HERE to access the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forest prescribed burn fire map.
BEND, OR -- Oregon's leading candidates for Governor faced off for the first time, in a debate at the Riverhouse in Bend on Saturday. Many of the questions focused on rural parts of the state, especially the economy.
Democratic Governor Kate Brown supports Measure 97. At the debate, she said the corporate sales tax on large companies would give Oregon a solid revenue source. "It's time that corporations pay their fair share." Republican candidate Dr. Bud Pierce says government will always want to be larger, and it needs to stop. "The issue before us is, can government learn to live within its means, or does it always need more money.
On the Malheur Refuge takeover, Pierce says the state needs to control more federal land. "States will function better if more of the land within their borders are controlled and optimized by the citizens of the land." Governor Brown responded that it's not feasible, but there are ways for the state to work with the federal government. She cited a program that allows Oregon to thin federal forests, "It's a win, because it puts Oregonians back to work in our woods and it also creates healthy forests."
The two also sparred over whether the Owyhee Canyonlands should become a national monument. Brown says it should be decided between the federal government and local land owners, "A collaborative process, where local voices have had an opportunity to be heard; and I think that’s the right approach." While, Dr. Pierce says the feds should stay out of it. "Trust the people who live on the land to protect the land and live on the land. We don’t need yet another layer of bureaucracy in the Owyhees."
On the economy and jobs, Brown says new technology in timber and high-tech will add jobs. "Cross-laminated timber and Unmanned aerial vehicles. This is a great opportunity to grow the economy." Pierce says there needs to be a level playing field for all businesses. He cited low-cost power sold to Google and Facebook data centers. "I’m determined to give those same advantages to everyday Oregon businesses. Not just to the 1% that are connected to government."
BEND, OR -- Eleven adults and three children were impacted by two separate Central Oregon fires, over the weekend.
A Sunday afternoon fire destroyed a southeast Bend home, along with a boat and car. Firefighters responded to Southeast Ventura Place just before 5 p.m. after the residents discovered smoke coming into the house from the garage. Due to heavy fire and a downed live power line, crews were forced into a defensive strategy. There were no injuries and the Red Cross is helping the five adults and one child displaced by the blaze.
And, Saturday afternoon, a shop northeast of Redmond went up in flames, damaging a nearby home and scorching a quarter acre of brush. A passerby first noticed the fire on Northeast O'Neil Way just after 4 p.m. and awoke the people napping inside the home. The Red Cross is helping the family of six adults and two kids with immediate basic needs, like temporary housing food and clothing.
Both fires remain under investigation.
BEND, OR -- Bend La-Pine Schools officials are looking at how to best handle this year’s record enrollment. Julianne Repman says the district is making arrangements to deal with the short-term issue of overcrowding at some schools, while investigating long-term solutions. "With this growth comes great opportunity and some challenges. So, we have students who might be experiencing some classes in unique locations. We’ve ordered modular classrooms; so, we’re definitely working with that growth and benefiting from it, as well." Benefits, she says, include the addition of new programs that help students stay involved and feel connected.
And, Executive Director of Middle School Programs Jim Boen tells KBND News those accommodations are not one-size-fits-all. "Each school is taking on its own identity and we’re being very strategic about that. But, one thing that’s very common among middle schools is breaking up into smaller groupings; sometimes it’s a house system, sometimes it’s certain wings, sometimes it’s keeping groups of kids organized together. In doing so, I think that helps with building community."
Repman says the district is investigating long-term solutions, "We’re looking at a lot of different opportunities; adding classrooms, modernizing classroom spaces so that they can work better for students. And then, also, just the fact that we know that we need to build new schools in the future. Our Sites and Facilities team of volunteers and staff members took a look, and they went 20 years out. It looks like what we need are seven new schools in the next 20 years. That’s how we’re growing in this community."
District enrollment has grown - on average - by about 300 new students a year, in the past three decades. It topped 18,000, last week.
To hear our full conversation with Julianne Repmand and Jim Boen, click HERE
or visit our Podcast Page
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Fire and Rescue unveiled its new Basic Life Support, or “B-L-S,” ambulance on Friday.
Redmond EMS Chief Doug Kelly tells KBND News, "80% of our total call volume is emergency medical services related. Of that 80%, 45% of our call volume is non-emergency calls." He says a new team of EMTs will help the agency increase efficiency. "We’re going to send the right resource at the right time to the right call. So, if it’s a non-emergency call, we can send our BLS unit and our EMTs, instead of sending the firefighter/paramedics. We can keep them in service to respond to the true critical calls."
Kelly defines "critical" as a life-threatening event like cardiac arrest. A "non-emergency" call could be a headache or helping an elderly patient who has fallen out of bed. The 17 new part-time and full-time EMTs are finishing training and should be ready to respond to calls by mid-October.
PORTLAND, OR -- There were tense moments, Thursday at the trial of the occupiers who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, earlier this year.
While questioning FBI negotiators, attorney Marcus Mumford kept bringing up the fatal officer involved shooting of Lavoy Finicum during a traffic stop. Judge Anna Brown eventually threatened Mumford, who is Ammon Bundy's attorney, with contempt of court and a $1,000 fine. Negotiators were talking about their conversations with occupiers David Frye and Jeff Banta. Near the end of the standoff, Frye told agents he would not come out alive.
Owners of the ranch next to the refuge also testified, Thursday. They said two men from the occupation pointed rifles at them when they used binoculars to see what was happening.
The trial resumes Monday; prosecutors expect to wrap up their case on Tuesday.
LA PINE, OR -- Work continues at Wickiup Junction in La Pine, despite delays caused by last month’s construction accident.
Peter Murphy, with the Oregon Department of Transportation, says Crews were trying to place two massive cement and rebar beams for what will eventually be a highway overpass. "The process of putting them in place is delicate," Murphy tells KBND News. "What we had was, the first one went in and the second one didn’t quite go in the way it was supposed to. We had a bit of an issue; it fell and knocked the other one down. They immediately set to remaking them and, I believe, in the next couple of weeks or so, they’ll be back putting them in place, once again, and then building the deck of the bridge." He says the beams weighed about 100 tons and were 173' long.
No one was hurt in the accident and Murphy says it shouldn't delay the overall project timeline. "It slowed things down a little bit. It’s not on the highway system itself, so it really didn’t impact motorists. I don’t think it’s going to have an impact on the overall project. It wasn’t supposed to end until next season, anyway."
Click HERE to learn more about the project.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County voters will decide in November whether to approve funding to build a new jail. Sheriff John Gautney says the county is in a criminal justice crisis due to the lack of jail beds. More than 90 people are on a waiting list to serve their sentenced jail time.
Read more on the plan HERE.
Sheriff Gautney is hosting a series of community meetings to discuss the plan, the need and the election. The first meeting is Monday, September 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Juniper Canyon Baptist Church.
Six others are scheduled throughout the county:
Oct 5 - Powell Butte Community Hall at 7 p.m.
Oct 6 - Paulina School at 6 p.m.
Oct 11 - Crook County Library at 6:30 p.m.
Oct 19 - Meadow Lakes ("What's Brewing") at 7 a.m.
Oct 20 - Crook County High School at 6:30 p.m.
SUNRIVER, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is conducting a death investigation after a hunter found human remains on forestland in South County, this week. Search and Rescue, the State Police Forensics Lab and the State Medical Examiner’s Office assisted in recovering the remains from near South Century Drive, Wednesday.
Investigators believe the remains had been in the area for an extended period of time prior to Tuesday's discovery. They’re working to determine the person’s identity and the cause of death.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson is raising questions about his challenger's plan to reduce the number of supervisors. One of Deputy Eric Kozowski’s main campaign issues has been the number of commanders, saying at Tuesday’s debate the department has too many supervisors who are paid too much, and not enough deputies actually responding to calls.
But, Nelson claims Kozowski's plan, revealed to local media, wouldn’t save the agency money. "The other candidate mentioned to the local radio station that he might be put in a position where he had to have some demotions," Nelson said at the debate. "But, the story quoted that he said they would be 'non-punitive demotions.' And, that means that supervisors would keep their pay. So, I just want to have some accurate information out there."
Kozowski immediately responded at the debate, "The accurate information is that I was misquoted. I never said that to the newspaper or the radio station or whoever it was. They assumed that on their own."
Last month, KBND News asked Deputy Kozowski how he planned to reduce the number of supervisors. He said then, "I think we can realign some positions to move them from supervisory or management into service delivery. Certainly I want to take advantage of things like pending retirements to minimize the impacts to employees. But, it may ultimately come down to doing what I believe is best for the community, which may result in non-punitive demotions for a few people, back to – from a supervisory to a service-delivery position."
Deputy Kozowski now admits he wasn't misquoted. But says by using the term “non-punitive,” he was referring to demotions that aren't a punishment for bad performance. "They would be reassigned to a non-supervisory position, which would be in the best interest of the public both providing service-level-wise and fiscally-wise. Unfortunately, there may be some instances where people would incur a pay cut as part of that reassignment or demotion."
He tells KBND News that if elected, he will evaluate the budget and make cuts where he deems necessary while ensuring there are more deputies responding to calls. "If that decision, unfortunately, means some employees end up with a pay-cut through no misdeed or malfeasance or poor performance on their own, then that’s ultimately, I think, the decision that’s best for the community; that’s the wisest use of the tax money." Kozowski acknowledges the plan could upset employees. "There’s going to be some people that aren’t happy about that, no doubt about it. And, if I’m elected, I will take every step possible that I can to ensure that that doesn’t happen. But, again, it may boil down to - at the end of the day - I have to do what’s best for the community as a whole and take those steps."
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office legal counsel tells KBND News the move would be unusual and there is not currently a process in place to force a supervisor to take a demotion with a cut in pay, when there has been no wrongdoing nor due process.
The two candidates debate again October fourth, at a forum hosted by the Bend Chamber of Commerce.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors unanimously approved the Urban Growth Boundary expansion plan, Wednesday night. The proposal would grow the UGB by about 2,300 acres, distributed across nearly all sides of the city. It includes a mix of residential, employment, parks, open space, schools and civic land, according to officials.
Councilor Doug Knight said at the meeting, "It’s a product that I think we can not only be proud of, but it’s something that I think reflects the attitude and the mentality of the city. And, when I say the city, I mean the Planning Department, but also the development community and even the citizens."
The plan is much smaller than a previous version rejected by the state in 2010. Knight said, "It’s a wonderful feeling, being at the tail end of this, knowing the quality of product that we have. And knowing that, more than likely, it stands to be accepted by the state and more importantly, accepted by those in the community it reflects." He added, "I think we stand a much higher probability of not having any people who would be against it or any objections."
Before it’s sent to the state, County Commissioners must discuss and approve the proposal. They are scheduled to begin that process Monday.
BEND, OR -- The discussion about changes to Bend's city charter got underway in earnest, Tuesday evening, at a forum hosted by Bend 2030, the Bend Chamber of Commerce and City Club of Central Oregon. The biggest questions were whether voters should select the Mayor, and whether Councilors should be paid more than the current $200 monthly stipend.
City Councilors Victor Chudowsky and Jim Clinton, both in support of revising the charter, participated in the forum at the Central Oregon Collective on Bend's east side. Chudowsky told the crowd, "I think, if you had a directly elected Mayor, that position would be more accountable. In other words, a voter would say, 'I like the job he or she is doing; I'll re-elect him.' Or, if not, 'I'll not vote for that person.' That doesn't work right now because seven of us are responsible for everything but no individual person is responsible for any single thing; especially in neighborhoods."
Clinton, who currently sits as Bend's Mayor, agreed. "It's that accountability factor that's essentially missing to some degree - I wouldn't say totally, obviously - in our system. Being appointed, being elected by the other six Councilors, makes me sort of accountable to them. I would rather have a Mayor who's more accountable to the people that elected them." Former Bend Mayor Oran Teater also spoke in favor of changing the charter to allow voters to decide, and to pay Councilors more than the current stipend.
Bend's form of city government was first established in 1929, with a city commission format where Councilors are elected and they appoint the Mayor; a City Manager runs the day-to-day operations. A second charter review forum is scheduled for November first.
REDMOND, OR -- A local home builder is accusing Redmond City Councilor and Mayoral candidate Anne Graham of interfering with the building permit process. Kevin Fitzpatrick, of Alder Creek Homes, told Council last week that the Planning Department rejected his design six weeks after he submitted plans for a home to be built next door to Graham. And, he says it’s not the first time she's gotten involved in his projects.
Fitzpatrick claims the design for the project on SW 41st Street was rejected because he refused to make what he describes as a minor change to the roof-line. He asked the city to refund or defer his permit fees. Fitzpatrick claims city staff told him they denied his permit because they have to “keep Councilors happy.” At the Council meeting, Graham categorically denied the allegation. She admitted to viewing the plans at the Planning Department, but said she did not speak with staff. Fitzpatrick told Councilors, "If Anne says she didn’t say one word, she just looked at it and left the room? That’s too much without asking permission." He added, "There’s a track record here, too. This came up the year before. This particular Councilor, the year before, interfered with one of my houses. We don’t need to go into it tonight."
Fitzpatrick tells KBND News Graham contacted the Planning Department in February of 2015, just a month after she was sworn into office
. In an email obtained by KBND News, dated February 10, 2015, Graham wrote to then-Community Development Director Heather Richards that she was upset over the design of a home two lots away from her own.
"I am very unhappy that the City review of this submission did not appear to me to meet the intent of the design codes we worked so hard on in Planning Commission."
She went on to say the builder was not making enough changes to the plan to make it different than her own home, which was also built by Fitzpatrick.
"The bones of this home are the same as the bones of my home. All the exterior walls are the same, all the exterior windows are the same, the front visible deck will be the same, etc. As a private citizen I would like to ask the City what we might be able to do at this point about the home currently half-built..?.. and then, more importantly, perhaps with my Councilor hat on, what can be done to insure the codes about this are more carefully enforced."
At last week's Council meeting, the City Attorney said staff was right to deny the most recent application, but told Graham she needs to work with the City Manager to look at neighborhood plans, in the future. Fitzpatrick accepted apologies from several other Councilors but said he felt targeted by Graham. "The fact that I’m building next door to a Council member who wants to show their power and to control what’s built next door to them for their own personal liking, leads me to believe there’s a conflict of interest and I’m being singled out for no good reason; just a paragraph under the code that could be interpreted in different ways."
Fitzpatrick submitted a new plan for the lot this week, which was approved by the Planning Department in three days.
BEND, OR -- There were fireworks at the Deschutes Republicans debate between Current Sheriff Shane Nelson and his challenger, Deputy Eric Kozowski. The Tuesday night forum drew a big crowd to the Bend Shilo Inn.
One of the hot-button issues was Kozowski's continued criticism of what he calls the departments "pervasive culture of mismanagement." He told the audience, "Certainly, there's a lot of fodder there. Scott Beard, obviously; everybody knows about that. He just got sentenced to federal prison for stealing from the Sheriff's Office. You have another Captain that was forced to resign because of inappropriate behavior with employees. You have two Lieutenants currently out on paid administrative leave for policy violations of some kind or another."
Sheriff Nelson took issue with the characterization. "I don't think anybody is disagreeing with the elephants in the room, but we're taking care of business there so I'll leave that alone. My actions have shown that that's not going to be tolerated. OK, if you want to shift a culture, the first thing you do is you start with taking care of business. The second thing you do is, by taking care of business, you establish what you're expectations are. And, you establish the fact that, if you're not in line with our mission and values, you won't work with us."
Kozowski also criticized Nelson of not being transparent. The Sheriff responded that he's been more transparent with local media than his challenger. "I was asked by a local radio station if I would sign a release for the four Sheriffs I have worked for. They wanted to be able to go interview them and the Sheriffs' release said I would release them from any liability for discussing my character, how I performed my job, how I was thought of, how effective I was. And, I signed all my forms and turned them in."
This summer, KBND News sent a request to both candidates, asking that they sign liability waivers for all Sheriffs under which they've worked. Kozowski refused to sign waivers for current Wallowa County Sheriff Steve Rogers and former Wallowa County Sheriff Fred Steen. Tuesday night he defended his actions. "So, I'm not in the habit of signing blanket liability waivers. They can talk to whoever they want; they don't need my permission to go do it. The fact of the matter is, is the current Sheriff of my current employer, I supported his opponent; he and I don't see eye to eye. So, why would I want to let him say things that potentially aren't true?"
Following Tuesday's debate, the Deschutes Republicans chose to endorse Sheriff Shane Nelson. According to a representative of the group, a vote of Deschutes County Republican Party members at the event showed more than 90% support the current Sheriff.
BEND, OR -- After several months of increases, Central Oregon unemployment rates showed little change from July to August. According to the Oregon Employment Department, Deschutes County’s jobless rate remained at 5.4%, last month.
Crook County ticked up 2-tenths of a percent to 7.5%, and Jefferson County rose a tenth of a point to 7.1%. Both increases are described as statistically insignificant.
State Economist Damon Runberg says the job market seems to be cooling after a summer consistent with expectations.
SISTERS, OR -- Sisters voters will not have much say in the make up of the next City Council, with only three candidates filing to run for three open seats. Interim City Manager Rick Allen says he would have liked a bigger pool of candidates, following a year marked with turnover. "When you have no opposition, number one: no one wants to hear from you. You don’t have debates; you don’t have discussions. In general, I think you definitely want to have some choices. And Sisters has been through a lot. Only one of the current Councilman was actually elected; they were all appointed." Andrea Blum was appointed about a year ago; she is running for the first time. Chuck Ryan, who serves on several city committees, and local photographer and event promoter Richard Esterman are running for the other two positions.
In the past year, the city lost its Mayor, City Manager and a number of Councilors. Mayor Chris Frye moved outside the city limits at the end of August, forcing his resignation and leaving the city with a vacancy on Council and without a Mayor. Allen says - like in Bend - the Mayor is selected by Council, and business is moving forward despite the open seat. "We have four councilman [remaining] and one presides at the meeting. And, the plan is, we are going to appoint one of the two people running to fill the fifth position in the next few weeks, because we know they’re going to get elected because there’s no competition. Now, I qualify that: if someone were to mount a write-in campaign to beat one of those two; you know, you can always do a write-in campaign."
Allen says he understands why more people aren’t willing to serve. "These are volunteer jobs and people have to want to do it, they have like doing it, they have to enjoy doing it. And, if you build an environment or if you have an environment that’s too cantankerous, people just kind of go away. So, they get elected and after a year or two, they just resign."
BEND, OR -- Monday night's Bend Chamber of Commerce debate between incumbent City Councilor Doug Knight (left) and opponent businessman Bill Moseley (right) touched on a number of issues, including how to fund ongoing maintenance of the iconic Mirror Pond.
At the Deschutes Brewery forum, Knight said he would like to see the formation of a local improvement district. He told the crowd, "That would mean that anyone who was within the overlay zone - the 100' within the high-water mark of the river - that you would then contribute to a fund since you derive a direct benefit from being sited on the pond."
Moseley responded with an idea to get the Bend Parks and Recreation board to step up. "We have some of the nicest parks, anywhere. I think they can help contribute to some of these problems. I see, too often, where the Parks District shoves their parking, streets and trash issues onto the city budget that's already strained, while we have gold-plated parks. I think they can contribute."
The two got heated when discussing the incivility noted by many on the current Council. Moseley accused Knight of behaving unprofessionally, telling the crowd, "My opponent worked behind closed doors with special interest groups to try and slip in a gas tax on voters; he belittled and demeaned city employees to the point that the city had to hire a consultant to work on employee morale issues; my opponent privately wrote to me about the lack of intelligence of a fellow City Councilor, while claiming to be her friend and her teammate."
But, Knight fired back, "It's amazing to me how you count yourself as a centrist who wants to bring the Council together; yet, you come in from the periphery, outside of the organization, and you tell us what we've done wrong and how you're going to correct it? I'm blown away by that. When you want to talk about civility and decorum, you've just exemplified exactly what we don't want on Council."
Moseley claims the lack of civility is one of the main reasons he decided to run for City Council. Knight says he's always been professional and refutes Moseley's claims.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond officials, along with the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Oregon Department of Forestry celebrated the groundbreaking of the new Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center at Roberts Field, Monday afternoon.
Officials announced plans for the Redmond facility December.
Moving from the Prineville Airport to Redmond is expected to increase efficiency, because dispatchers will be on-site with the pilots and equipment they send to wildfires. Currently, eight people work at the facility year-round, but that number grows to 25 to 30 during the heart of fire season.
Click Photo to Enlarge: (L-R) Alex Robertson, COFMS Fire & Aviation Staff Officer; Jeff Kitchens, Field Manager-Prineville BLM; Travis Medema, Oregon Department of Forestry’s Eastern Oregon Area Director; Stacey Forson, Forest Supervisor-Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland; Redmond City Councilor Joe Centanni; City Councilor Anne Graham; Maurice Evans, Manager-Redmond Air Center; John Allen, Forest Supervisor-Deschutes National Forest; Redmond Mayor George Endicott; Zachary Bass, Manager-Redmond Airport; Samuel Griffin, Owner-Griffin Construction, LLC.
BEND, OR -- A Sherwood, Oregon man was indicted by a Deschutes County Grand Jury, this week, on manslaughter and drunk driving charges, in connection with a fatal crash near Tumalo.
Investigators say 46-year-old David Fincher was under the influence of alcohol September 11, when he crossed into oncoming traffic on Highway 20 and struck a car, killing a two-year-old inside. He then struck another car. In total, five people were injured.
Fincher was arraigned Monday and remains at the Deschutes County Jail on $500,000 bail. His next court hearing is October 10.
LA PINE, OR -- La Pine firefighters responded to a fire inside woodpile fire Monday that threatened nearby buildings. The fire broke out just after 2 p.m. and involved 12-16 cords of stacked firewood next to a shop.
Firefighters were able to stop the fire’s advance within 20 minutes, protecting homes in the Deer Road-Pine Loop area. But, the fire within the woodpile took a couple hours to control. The cause has not yet been determined.
BEND, OR -- The former Central Oregon Community College public safety officer accused of killing a woman on campus, earlier this summer, is due back in Deschutes County court, next week. Classes begin at COCC Monday, and school officials say they will provide additional security measures. "As we get ready to welcome back students, one of the things we’re talking about is how do we make students feel comfortable that they are safe on campus," Director of College Relations Ron Paradis says. "One of it is to stress the unusual incident that it was. It’s not something that there’s any reason to think it would reoccur in any way."
Paradis acknowledges some students may be wary of calling the Public Safety Department for help. "We’re going to make sure that, when students get out of class – we’ve always had an opportunity for them to call someone and have somebody walk them from their class to their car or back to the residence hall – we’re going to expand that and get some faculty and staff involved in that, as well." He adds, that person "Might be the faculty member they’ve had earlier in the day; might be somebody that’s helped them out in the Admissions Office. We’ll have other folks on campus, and have more than one person there so they don’t have to wonder ‘can I trust this one person?’ But, instead, there’s more than one person. We’re going to do that as the school year starts and see how that goes, and continue that as long as we feel it’s necessary."
Paradis says students will also be encouraged to walk in groups, especially at night. "We’re also going to talk to the students about them taking ownership of their personal safety, too."
No major changes are expected in officer hiring or training. Paradis says, "Strange as this might sound, we really feel like we’ve really put a lot into place in the last couple of years, as well. There were a lot of things we did after the Umpqua situation, as well. We feel like we’ve got a lot of good things in place; of course we’re reviewing all of those, right now. We’d done background checks on the person who is now in jail. There was nothing in his background to indicate this was a possibility of happening. It was a highly unusual and isolated incident. But, of course, we’re checking and double checking and triple checking in all those areas."
Edwin Lara is charged with Aggravated Murder. Investigators believe he tried to sexually assault Kaylee Sawyer on July 24, while he was on patrol. They say he then killed the 23-year-old woman to conceal his crime, and went on a crime spree stretching into northern California, while on the run. Her body was found in a dry canyon between Redmond and Sisters, two days after her disappearance. Lara is scheduled to appear in court again September 28.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A 63-year-old Prineville man faces 150 charges relating to sexual abuse that investigators say occurred over the course of several years. Frank Villastrigo was arrested Saturday after two victims came forward.
Villastrigo is a registered sex offender for rape. New charges range from first-degree rape to contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor. Bail was initially set at more than $9 million, but was lowered by the court; he remains at the Crook County Jail.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact Prineville Police.
BEND, OR -- Bend residents have an opportunity, Tuesday night, to weigh-in on whether changes should be made to the city's charter. Bend 2030, the City Club of Central Oregon and Bend Chamber of Commerce are hosting two meetings focused on things like whether the Mayor should be elected by voters instead of chosen by sitting Councilors, and how much City Councilors are paid.
Erin Foote-Morgan, with Bend 2030, tells KBND News the forums are designed to help shape recommendations that will eventually be sent to the City Council. "We, in our conversations with the community, heard a lot of interest in Charter review, but not a lot of folks really understanding the pros and cons involved. We wanted to learn more about them ourselves, as organizations, and really come to understand where people are leaning on this before any of our organizations really looked more deeply at what our positions might be."
Mayor Jim Clinton and Councilor Victor Chudowsky often disagreed during their time on Council, but as both face the end of their terms, they are strongly advocating for a new look. Foote-Morgan says Clinton and Chudowsky will talk at Tuesday's forum. "We don’t know yet whether having an elected mayor would mean stronger leadership. But, we could kind of see how, yeah, it might. If we had someone who was kind of the champion of the community’s hopes and desires, if we had a community electing that person as our mayor, we might be more effective in accomplishing the agenda of the community." Chudowsky has been a strong supporter of the "ward system," which would create districts within the city from which Councilors would be elected.
Bend’s charter was last reviewed in 2011, but Councilors chose then not to advocate for any changes. "I think that one of our hopes, this time around, is to make sure there’s enough input from the entire community that we’re really taking a hard look at it," says Foote-Morgan. "As of about, I believe, eight or nine months ago, six of our City Councilors lived on the west side of Third Street. If we were to ask the neighborhoods in southeast Bend, northeast Bend, ‘do you feel represented by the City Council elections structure?’ The answer is unequivocally, ‘no I don’t.’" Any charter revisions would have to be approved by City Councilors then sent to voters.
Tuesday's forum begins at 5 p.m. at the Central Oregon Collective at 27th Street and Highway 20. A second forum is scheduled for November first. Click HERE for more information.
SALEM, OR -- Bend-La Pine and Redmond schools are bucking a statewide trend; an increasing number of Oregon districts are cutting their school nurses. Nina Fekaris, Chair of the Task Force on School Nurses, says the problems started in the 1980s when property tax measures reduced money for schools. "The crisis is kind of happening now, in that we have more and more students in school with chronic and acute medical and mental health conditions." She says 79 out of 179 districts don't have a school nurse, which affects about 30,000 students.
According to Fekaris, not having a nurse could cost districts, if a student suffers a medial emergency while at school. "It puts the school district at great liability if there’s nobody there able to train and delegate some of the nursing tasks."
The Bend-La Pine School District has 16 nurses with an opening for one more. In Redmond, each high school has its own medical staff, with other nurses caring for two schools each, on average. RSD has a total of 17 full and part-time RNs and CNAs on staff. Both districts tell KBND News they have increased the number of nurses on staff, year over year.
BEND, OR -- The County Assessor’s office is conducting reappraisals, this week, in the Deschutes River Woods area. Appraisers will drive through the area in county-issued vehicles and may knock on doors to talk to residents to verify property features like square footage and room count.
County Assessor Scot Langton says the work is part of the routine cycle required by the state to ensure accurate property values used to calculate property taxes. Similar appraisals were conducted last year in Sunriver, and in portions of Redmond in 2014. The work in Deschutes River Woods could last through fall of 2017.
BEND, OR -- During recent testing, Bend Parks and Recreation District found higher than acceptable lead levels in a small number of water fixtures at its facilities. Tests were ordered due to publicity around high lead levels at a number of Portland-area schools.
Click HERE to read more on Bend-La Pine Schools testing.
Bend Parks and Rec tested more than 150 water fixtures for the presence of lead and copper and found most facilities had results under the EPA and Oregon Health Authority’s recommended levels. Seven fixtures tested above that level for lead, but the district says none are primary drinking water sources and are infrequently used.
Those sites include several exterior hose bibs, an umpire shower at Genna Stadium and a janitor sink inside the former district administration building. Officials say follow-up testing shows the lead is within the fixture, not the infrastructure.
Those working in affected buildings have been notified and the district is working to replace all seven fixtures.
BEND, OR -- Fall doesn’t officially start until Thursday, however flu season is already underway in Central Oregon. Heather Kaisner, with Deschutes County Public Health tells KBND News, "Flu is not reportable to us, however we did hear from a couple of labs that they’ve had just a handful of positive cases. That can be pretty common, to get a handful of cases September, October. It’s a really small amount. Our flu season tends to peak around January."
While we're still months away from the worst of it, Kaisner says, "It’s an important reminder to everybody that we are entering flu season and some of the best defenses are the flu vaccine and the good old washing your hands and covering your cough – which is so important, especially with kids going back to school, now." And, of course, stay home if you’re sick.
"The flu shot lasts through the season; they’ve done lots of studies on that," says Kaisner. "The other important thing to know is that it can take up to two weeks, once you get the vaccine, for your body to build an immune response. Don’t go get your vaccine and the next day, hop on an airplane and think that’s going to protect you."
To hear our full conversation with Heather Kaisner, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.
REDMOND, OR -- City governments are meeting this week with lawmakers and candidates to share ideas and priorities for the 2017 legislative session. The forums take place in 17 locations, hosted by the League of Oregon Cities. Bend and Redmond officials meet with local legislators, Friday afternoon.
Redmond City Councilor Camden King is on the League of Oregon Cities Board and tells KBND News there are four main important topics. "Our job is to kind of share with the state elective how those are impacting us individually. So, the focus areas are transportation, property taxes, recreational immunity and good ol’ PERS." He says those four areas have big local implications, "If we look at transportation and infrastructure: We have $155 million in projects that we could put to use, right here in Redmond."
King also hopes lawmakers will clarify whether municipalities can be sued by someone injured at a free recreational feature. Concerns over so-called "recreational immunity" led to the closure of Redmond's new Maple Bridge climbing wall in the Dry Canyon, just months after it opened. "It was on Climbing Magazine’s cover entitled ‘The World’s Coolest Climbing Structures.’ And, we had to shut that down because of the shadow that’s hanging on recreational immunity. We could’ve gone ahead and insured it, but our insurance rates would’ve gone up 3,000% and our deductible would have doubled; and that just doesn’t make sense."
King hopes lawmakers will use feedback from the forums to help shape the legislative agenda for the upcoming session. Friday's meeting begins at 1 p.m. at Redmond City Hall. The public is welcome to observe.
PORTLAND, OR -- In the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation trial, the refuge manager testified Thursday about how he feared for his employees' safety. Chad Karges said he became concerned for himself and his 16 part time employees after the New Year, when he heard about demonstrations in Burns against the arson sentence for local ranchers Steve and Dwight Hammond.
He ordered the headquarters building shut down. Shortly after that, Ammon Bundy and several demonstrators took over the refuge. The protest grew to eventually include government overreach, where farm land was taken to create the refuge. Prosecutors are trying to prove the seven defendants conspired to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs at the facility.
As the trial continues inside the Federal Courthouse in Portland, demonstrations are taking place outside. Jason Patrick is one of the occupiers who faces a separate trial. "There’s a lot at stake. Your rights are at stake; public land issues are at stake; federal overreach is at stake."
Steve Putnam traveled from Pasco, WA to watch the trial. "I think it’s going to start making people think about what is the government actually doing to the people. The people are losing their rights and they do not understand that yet, until it happens to them."
BEND, OR -- Improvements made earlier this summer to the "floater" channel at Bend's Whitewater Park made the ride much better for most people. Bend Parks and Recreation closed the Passageway Channel for several weeks in June and reduced water flows through the channel, in an effort to make it safer.
Parks and Rec Executive Director Don Horton tells KBND News more improvements are planned for this winter. "We are going to make some minor modifications to the Passageway Channel. There are 11 drops total, and two of those drops are flipping people a little more often than we'd like to see those waves flip people. So, we are going to make some minor improvements to those to help improve their function."
Horton says work is also planned on the center Whitewater Channel. "I think the tricky thing about designing a Whitewater Park is that it's half science and half art. We kind of have the science portion of it down, and the art piece of it is just making some tweaks to it to help improve its performance; so that's what we're doing. This winter, we're working with the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance engineering team and our own staff and we've all come up with some solutions on how we think we can improve that center channel."
LA PINE, OR -- A Deschutes County Grand Jury has indicted a Tillamook man for his part in a fatal hunting accident near La Pine. Investigators say 53-year-old Michael Pekarek was prepared to shoot a deer Monday morning, when the animal moved. He turned to tell 45-year-old Jeffrey Cummings, and shot the arrow, killing Cummings. District Attorney John Hummel says Pekarek didn’t intend to shoot his hunting partner with a bow and arrow, but the Grand Jury found his actions were reckless and/or criminally negligent.
KBND News Outdoor Expert Gary Lewis says the incident raises a lot of red flags because the circumstances appear to go against what hunters are taught about safety. "This is very rare in archery; it’s rare in gun hunting too, but it does happen. It proves the basic rules still apply: never point a gun at something you don’t want to kill. And, we’re saying ‘gun’ but in this case it was a bow and arrow." Lewis suspects Pekarek was using a wrist apparatus that could have factored into the accident. "It holds on to the string – so it’s a mechanical release – and I’m guessing that’s what he was using. And, if you’ve got your finger close to that, or the release fails – which I’ve seen them do – then it’ll release the arrow without you wanting it released. Unfortunately, he broke the very basic rule of pointing a loaded weapon at a person."
Pekarek is charged with Criminally Negligent Homicide and Manslaughter in the Second Degree. He remains in the Deschutes County jail on $500,000 bail, and is scheduled to appear in court next Tuesday.
LA PINE, OR -- A Deschutes County deputy is recovering from multiple dog bites suffered during an attack outside of a La Pine-area home.
Law Enforcement Technician Laura Conard responded to the Golden Astor Road location, Tuesday, following reports that several dogs had been aggressive to pedestrians, including children walking from a school bus stop. While standing in the driveway, five adult pit bulls attacked Conard, biting her several times in the leg and wrist. She was able to fight them off and was treated by medics, later receiving stitches.
Charles and Tonya Williams were cited Thursday on five counts of Maintaining a Dangerous dog. Charles was also arrested on an unrelated warrant.
The animals are now in quarantine at the Humane Society shelter in Bend.
BEND, OR -- Three men face drug-related charges following a long-term, interstate investigation into trafficking cocaine in the Bend area. The Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) team arrested 40-year-old Devin Pohl, last week, after they say he picked up a shipment of cocaine in a west Bend parking lot.
Detectives then executed search warrants at a commercial space in downtown Bend, two Bend homes and one in Long Beach, California where they seized more evidence of the operation, including cash, cocaine and other drugs.
Pohl (right) and 45-year-old Clinton Cooper were arrested in Bend; Michel Henriquez-Veloz was arrested in California. Detectives say, the two Bend men regularly received drugs in shipping containers sent by Henriquez-Veloz.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a person found slumped over inside a vehicle in the Ochoco National Forest. The body was discovered on a remote Forest Service Road near Walton Lake, south of Mitchell, late Tuesday afternoon.
Deputies worked through the night to process the scene, with help from the State Police Crime Lab and the District Attorney’s Office. An autopsy was conducted Wednesday.
The Sheriff’s Office says this is an active ongoing investigation and is not releasing any other information at this time.
THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE: The Crook County Sheriff's Office says a woman found dead inside a car in the Ochoco National Forest died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the autopsy performed at the State Medical Examiner's Office.
BEND, OR -- County officials may never know whether a Bend resident contracted West Nile Virus from a local mosquito. Heather Kaisner, with Deschutes County Public Health, was not surprised by the case confirmed last week. "We have always been concerned about the possibility of West Nile Virus hitting our county, and we did have a positive horse a couple weeks ago. So, there’s definitely high suspicion that it could’ve been in the mosquito population. We don’t know for sure because the case had also traveled outside of our state."
Kaisner tells KBND News the department worked with Vector Control in South County to test the local mosquito population for West Nile. "Vector Control has put out traps all summer long, and we haven’t had a single positive mosquito. And, as of last week, he says there’s just not enough mosquitoes to trap. So, we’re done trapping for the season. And, with this cold weather, I think we’re coming near the end of the mosquito season." But, she says it's never too late to make sure your property doesn't have standing water where mosquitoes can breed, next season.
There could be more local cases of West Nile Virus, but Kaisner says many infected people don't know they have it. "When it comes to West Nile Virus, 80% of people don’t even show symptoms. So, you may have gotten it and never known and you’re fine. Similar to Zika – same thing, about 80% show no symptoms. And, less than 1% actually get really difficult symptoms such as paralysis, meningitis, things like that; but it’s very rare." She says West Nile is not passed from person to person. There is an equine vaccine because it can be much more dangerous for horses.
BEND, OR -- The day before the deadly encounter between police and an armed Redmond man, his neighbors reported he was acting “odd.” District Attorney John Hummel says 63-year-old Michael Gaskill was experiencing a mental crisis. Neighbors called police on August 24 to report Gaskill was yelling and lying down in the street. Officers responded and talked with him, but determined he was not a danger and Hummel says he didn’t meet the criteria to be taken into custody against his will.
Sheriff Shane Nelson says the Redmond incident highlights the need for a local Crisis center. "Right now, the way that we serve this vulnerable population is in our jail, and that’s a lot of times not the appropriate facility to do that. It’s in partnership with local law enforcement agencies, Deschutes County Behavioral Health, our private medical agencies that are out in the community and nonprofits. And, we’re trying to move forward with logistics and planning and make this facility a reality." The idea was first announced in April.
At Wednesday's press conference regarding the Gaskill case
, Sheriff Nelson said, "What we’re looking at here is a combination center. We want a sober station and crisis stabilization center because on any given day, they might have a vulnerable citizen who’s experiencing one or the other and they’re interchangeable. Sometimes you don’t know what is actually affecting the person at the time." He added, "We’re looking at some funding sources; I’m continuing to work with the Oregon Legislature; I’ve been in contact with Rep. Dr. Buehler, who’s helping us work through that; as well as the state Sheriff’s Association lobbyist Kevin Campbell."
Nelson and D.A. Hummel say it can be difficult for officers to balance the rights and liberties of a person in mental crisis with the desire to get them help.
BEND, OR -- The Redmond officer, who struck an armed suspect with his patrol car last month, has been cleared of any wrongdoing. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says Officer Cory Buckley was justified in his use of force on August 25, because he reasonably believed Sgt. Curtis Chambers was in danger. "Officer Buckley pulled up in his patrol car; he observed Gaskill pointing the gun at Chambers. Officer Buckley saw Gaskill approaching Chambers with his gun extended. Buckley saw Chambers using his car for cover; and Buckley heard Chambers warn over the radio of the risk of crossfire. Buckley accelerated his patrol car, and he intentionally struck Gaskill." Gaskill died of his injuries two days later, at St. Charles Bend.
Prior to the deadly encounter, Hummel says Gaskill had been seen pointing a gun at vehicles, pedestrians and officers. At a Wednesday press conference, Hummel called Sgt. Chambers' response to Gaskill's actions heroic. "Chambers raised his handgun, prepared to shoot Gaskill from behind his car, using it as cover; but Chambers held his fire. He determined the risk to his fellow officers, who were behind Gaskill, and to patients and staff at the St. Charles Hospital building was too great. Instead, he waited. His plan was to wait until Gaskill was closer to him, thus increasing the risk to himself, but lessening the risk of missing Gaskill with a shot and endangering other people."
Police dash-cam video shows Gaskill pointing his weapon at Sgt. Chambers, and Chambers can be heard ordering Gaskill to put down the gun. When Gaskill continued to approach the Sergeant, Officer Buckley accelerated, striking the suspect with his vehicle. Officers immediately called for medics and the man was taken inside St. Charles Redmond. Hummel says the use of a patrol car as a defensive weapon was unusual but warranted, in this case, due to the threat posed to the public by potential crossfire. "Officer Buckley, with events moving quickly and the stress level high, he assessed the situation, he considered his options, he concerned himself with the safety of bystanders, he relied on his training, then he acted with laser-like focus. His actions saved the life of Sgt. Chambers." All of the officers involved have returned to duty.
Click HERE to access the D.A.'s YouTube channel and view all released video related to the case.
Hummel says investigators don't know the true motive behind Gaskill's behavior, but he was in mental crisis. "He had recently received an eviction notice from his landlord, his neighbors report he was suffering from a physical illness that they believed contributed to a mental health illness, Gaskill’s former wife reports that he was struggling with addictions to drugs and alcohol, and that he thought he was being secretly monitored by the police." Hummel adds, "In the day before this incident, one of Gaskill’s neighbors called the police to report he was acting oddly." Police responded to that report but did not have enough evidence to take Gaskill into custody at the time.
REDMOND, OR -- Beginning next month, it will cost more to rent a car at the Redmond Airport.
City Councilors approved the fee Tuesday night, to charge $3 per day, up to seven days, as part of a new five-year contract with four car rental companies.
The additional city revenue will be used for construction of a new rental car facility at Roberts Field, which is expected within the next two years.
BEND, OR -- With overnight temperatures dropping below freezing, this week, local homeless shelters are quickly filling up. The Shepherds House reports they’ve had a number of men sleep on emergency mats as overflow, this week. That means many are forced to remain outside.
Bend Police Chief Jim Porter says officers are often called to check on those without shelter from the cold. "That’s part of our job; to make sure the populace is safe, no matter what condition, no matter the economic background." Chief Porter tells KBND News, "Our mental health unit is in contact with these camps where these people have chosen to live, or are forced to live. We try to hook them up with social services, when available. There’s also some very strong groups within Central Oregon, like COVO – Central Oregon Veterans Outreach. We’ve also got other groups that reach out to them to provide water, fuel and warm bedding."
He says those concerned about the safety of someone living outside can call local law enforcement and request an officer check out the situation.
BEND, OR -- The opening of Oregon's first new public university in 50 years is the culmination of decades of work. But, the new four-year OSU-Cascades campus in Bend is now a reality. Oregon State University officials, local dignitaries, even the Governor joined Tuesday's celebration at the westside campus.
Governor Kate Brown told the crowd, "This has been a long-time coming for Central Oregon. Many people, over several decades, have had a part in setting this plan in motion. Today, we see their tireless efforts come to fruition." She noted the importance of having a four-year university in the region, "Students who love this place will now be able to stay here and invest in the region's future and continue to ski Mt. Bachelor, flyfish on the Deschutes or rock climb at Smith Rock. You being here is a boon to businesses and industries in Central Oregon who want to maintain highly-trained, qualified workers to keep the economy here humming."
In recent years, the Bend campus of OSU has gone from at risk of closing to expanding to its own stand-alone location. OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson is credited with that success. She fought for state funding for the campus, and reached out to the community to address concerns about building a university on the west side of Bend. At Tuesday's ceremony she admitted it's been a long ride. "So, we arrive here today, on the verge of making history for Central Oregon, and on the shoulders of all those who helped us along the way. I wish I could recognize each and every one of you by name but time won't allow that. All of you are here because you support OSU-Cascades."
The school's first new academic building is named for the Tykeson Family. The former owners of Bend Broadband provided a million dollars to the initial fundraising campaign for the campus. Amy Tykeson told the crowd she's proud to have had a hand in the process. "People often ask why a family of University of Oregon Ducks is such an ardent supporter of an Oregon State University outpost. Green, yellow, orange and black aside, all colors lead to a brighter future with more educational opportunity for our local students. We believe there is no better investment in education than in the education of our youth."
Classes begin at Tykeson Hall on Wednesday, September 21. OSU-Cascades offers 18 undergraduate and graduate degrees, including energy systems engineering, hospitality management and tourism and outdoor leadership. Officials expect to add 10 more programs in the next two to five years, including nursing, outdoor products and software development.
PORTLAND, OR -- The prosecution begins presenting evidence Wednesday in the trial of seven people accused of conspiracy in the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Federal prosecutors plan to present the case as four chapters: the events and planning that led up to the takeover, the actual takeover of the facility, the arrests and the aftermath.
The seven defendants are trying to separate themselves. Ammon Bundy's attorney says his client was a peaceful rancher who started the demonstration to protest the arson convictions of Steve and Dwight Hammond - two local ranchers sentenced to five years in prison. The protest turned into a demonstration against government over-reach. The defense contends their protest was allowed by the Constitution.
Opening statements took place Tuesday at the Federal Courthouse in Portland. The first witness scheduled to take the stand Wednesday is Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward. He's expected to testify that he feared for his life because of the things said by the defendants. The prosecution also plans to call employees of the refuge, who will offer similar testimony.
Defense attorneys plan to call several of the occupiers and a Harney County Commissioner, as they lay out their case.
BEND, OR -- Investigators say they have not been able to determine the specific cause of a brush fire that scorched 1.5 acres near Neff and Hamby roads, Sunday night. The vacant lot is known to be frequented by transients and Bend Fire says the brush fire was likely human caused, but they don't know whether it was unintentional or intentionally set.
Several trees were involved, contributing to 50-to-75-foot flames, but no structures were lost in that blaze.
BEND, OR -- Oregon State University celebrates the grand opening of Tykeson Hall in Bend, on Tuesday. OSU President Ed Ray tells KBND News the university’s move away from the Central Oregon Community College campus is the beginning of a new era for the region. "This has been a 30-year effort. There are people who have just made incredible sacrifices and efforts to be able to provide four-year and advanced higher education opportunities there. And, here’s the physical evidence. We’re past the talking stage; it’s happening."
Faculty and staff moved offices and classrooms from COCC’s Cascades Hall
over the past 10 days. Interim Dean of Academic Programs Julie Gess-Newsome says everyone is settling in. "We’re just at the edge of getting all of those fine details done, making sure that our technology works, faculty have moved into their offices so the books are going up on the shelves. People are learning how to live in this new space and it’s an absolutely exciting time."
She tells KBND News the new Tykeson Hall is much different than the old facility. "The classroom spaces are primarily on the first and second floors; they’re absolutely beautiful and arranged in ways that are very different than what we’ve seen in the past. Our third floor has our new laboratories. Where, in the past, we were in two different buildings on the COCC campus, we now have all three of our labs on the same corridor with windows into them so people can actually see into the rooms and see what’s going on."
To hear our full conversation with President Ed Ray and Julie Gess-Newsome, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.
The public celebration begins at 11 a.m. with remarks by President Ray, followed by an open house until 2 p.m. Governor Kate Brown is also expected to attend. Fall term begins September 21. Residence and Dining halls are slated to be completed at the Chandler Avenue campus in January.
BEND, OR -- After introducing online sales, this year, the 27th annual Great Drake Park Duck Race shattered previous records, Sunday, bringing in more than $110,000 for local charities. The four Rotary Clubs in Bend sponsor the Duck Race, which sends thousands of rubber ducks floating down the Deschutes River, in partnership with local Credit Unions.
Kyle Frick, with Mid-Oregon Credit Union, tells KBND News, "Over the past three years, our sales have been $85,000, $89,000 and I think last year we were at $92,400. So, we didn’t just go through $100,000, we busted through $100,000 in ticket sales. It’s just a great tribute to the community and how generous people are. That’s a big number to go over $100,000 in one year."
For the first time, participants were allowed to purchase a duck online. Frick says about $6,000 in tickets were sold through the new website
. Another $3,000 came in at Sunday's event in Bend. "We’re really excited with the results this year. And, really had a good showing in the park, as well; lots of people showed up this year, so it was a great event. And, we had record sales, so that’s going to benefit a lot of local nonprofits in the community."
Proceeds from this year’s Duck Race will be divided among eight local nonprofits, including Mountain Star Family Relief Nursery, the Bethlehem Inn, Abilitree and CASA. "There’s a formula based on the club sales- because each [Rotary] club chooses their own charities. And each club has a different level of giving – like the Greater Bend Club gives to three different charities; another club might give to one. So, it depends on how many people, and then the divided split of the proceeds," says Frick.
Click HERE for a list of the 2016 Duck Race winners.
BEND, OR -- A hiker missing since Saturday evening has been found safe near South Sister. Deschutes County Search and Rescue teams returned to the area, Monday morning, to resume efforts to find 38-year-old Gerald Derrickson.
Just after 11:30 a.m., trail runners reported seeing Derrickson on the Wickiup Plains Trail, about a mile and a half from the Devil’s Lake Trailhead. They told DCSO they recognized him from flyers posted in the area. The runners said he was cold and thirsty but otherwise OK, and provided him with water and a sweatshirt. SAR volunteers met up with Derrickson and helped guide him out under his own power.
They believe he mistakenly left the climbers trail during his descent, going farther into the Three Sisters Wilderness. Derrickson, who recently moved to Portland from Delaware, did not have a light or GPS device with him during his hike.
LA PINE, OR -- A Tillamook man faces charges after a fatal hunting accident near Paulina Lake.
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office says 52-year-old Michael Pekarek was bow hunting with 45-year-old Jeffrey Cummings, of Wood Village, Monday morning. Pekarek spotted a deer and was ready to fire when the animal moved. Investigators believe he turned to tell Cummings the deer was moving toward him when he released the arrow, shooting Cummings in the stomach.
Pekarek called 911 and performed CPR, but the victim was pronounced dead by first responders. Pekarek is charged with Criminally Negligent Homicide.
BEND, OR -- A Sherwood, Oregon man is accused of Manslaughter, following a deadly crash west of Tumalo, Sunday morning. Investigators say 45-year-old David Fincher lost control of his pickup on a corner and collided with two separate vehicles in the oncoming lane.
The crash occurred on Highway 20, near milepost 12, at about 9:30 Sunday morning. Oregon State Police say a Bend woman driving a Volkswagen Jetta and a seven-year-old boy were taken to the hospital; a two-year-old girl was killed. Two adults in the second vehicle were also treated for their injuries.
OSP believes a bicyclist was nearly struck by Fincher just before the crash. Anyone with information on the identity of that bicyclist, or who has any other information relating to the incident, is asked to call Senior Trooper Jason Hanson at 541-388-6213.
Fincher was arrested for Manslaughter in the second degree, he's scheduled to be arraigned Monday afternoon.
SPRINGFIELD, OR -- A Bend man is accused of Driving Under the Influence and crashing into a 12-year-old bicyclist in Springfield, over the weekend. According to police, 40-year-old Jeffery Kent Cantrall hit the boy with his pickup at about 6:45 Saturday night.
The victim was taken to a hospital for treatment of severe head trauma. Cantrall was arrested following the crash and faces multiple charges, including Assault and DUII.
Photo Courtesy Springfield Police
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man is accused of assaulting a young girl over several years. Police arrested 33-year-old Timothy Gassner last week, following a two-month investigation.
A warrant for his arrest was issued while Gassner was in the Deschutes County Jail on an unrelated issue. He was extradited to Crook County, where he’s charged with 13 total counts of Rape and other sexual assault-related crimes.
No other victims have been reported.
BEND, OR -- Bend fire is looking into a small brush fire discovered Sunday night, in northeast Bend. Crews report the blaze in a vacant lot at NE Neff and Hamby Road was difficult to access, and it burned 1.5 acres before they stopped its forward progress.
Several trees caught fire, contributing to 50-to-75-foot flames seen in the area. Transients are known to frequent the area, and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
EUGENE, OR -- A former Deschutes County Sheriff’s Captain has been sentenced to five years in prison for stealing more than $200,000 in public funds. Federal prosecutors say Scott Beard falsified records at least 63 times over two years, in order to steal money designated for use in drug investigations.
At Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Sheriff Shane Nelson testified to the damage Beard’s abuse of trust caused on the community and his profession. Beard pleaded guilty in May
to two counts of theft, after a department audit uncovered his crimes.
During the investigation, Beard told agents he donated $10,000 of stolen money to a South African orphanage. However, orphanage records indicate the actual donation was around $90 Investigators say the rest of the money was laundered through the bank account of his mistress, Krista Mudrick. She also faces federal charges relating to the investigation.
Photo courtesy of the Lane County Jail
LA PINE, OR -- More than a dozen firefighters responded to a structure fire on Skidgel Road, in La Pine, early Sunday morning. They found a metal shop fully engulfed, with flames extending to nearby vehicles and a home, just 10-feet away. The shop was the location of the residents' RV repair business.
One person living in an RV inside the shop awoke just before 5:30 a.m. to heavy smoke. The couple was able to escape unharmed and no injuries were reported.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
SISTERS, OR -- Deschutes County Search and Rescue resume efforts, Monday morning, to find a hiker missing on South Sister. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office says 38-year-old Gerald Derrickson reportedly reached the summit Saturday evening. He separated from his hiking partner during his ascent and failed to return to the trailhead as planned.
DCSO deployed more than 20 volunteers to the mountain, Sunday, along with deputies, US Forest Service Officers, Air Link and a National Guard Blackhawk helicopter. Searchers spoke with numerous other hikers, but no one reported seeing Derrickson.
Due to hazardous conditions, the search effort was suspended until 6:30 a.m., Monday.
BEND, OR -- Bend Fire will soon have a new mobile unit to help educate the community on how to properly respond to cooking fires, thanks to a nearly $32,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The money will be used to purchase a 16' trailer.
Battalion Chief Dave Howe says the idea is to take fire prevention efforts on the road. "There will be a cooking fire demonstration, where we actually get a fire going and put it out. And, the instructor will talk about prevention of cooking fires and how to deal with them if you do happen to have one. There’s also going to be a smoke alarm component, where the smoke alarm will go off, you’ll know what it sounds like and we’ll talk about what to do. There’s also going to be a residential sprinkler burn room, where we actually will set a fire and the residential sprinklers will kick on."
The primary focus will be outdoor festivals and retirement communities. Howe tells KBND News, "Older people, as they get older, are much, much more likely to have a cooking fire; and they’re much more likely to die in a cooking fire for many reasons: Their lack of mobility, their sensory perception’s gone down, they’re confused and don’t know what to do."
He hopes the agency will have its new trailer by the end of the year. "When we do get it, we want to use some of our fire prevention people; but also we really, really want to use volunteers. We’re looking for support-type volunteers who are willing to learn how to use the trailer, learn how to teach – maybe people who are retired teachers who want to prevent burn injuries. It’s an awesome way to help the community." Those interested in the volunteer program are asked to call 541-322-6300 to get more information.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man faces Attempted Rape and other charges, following an incident at a home south of Sunriver, Sunday evening. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, 47-year-old David Sigel was drinking with 43-year-old Matthew Coats and a 40-year-old woman at Coats' home on Lazy River Drive. Investigators believe Coats passed out and Sigel attempted to rape the woman. She yelled for help and Coats awoke. The men got into a physical altercation and Sigel left the house on foot.
Coats then allegedly drove to Sigel's home on Whittier Drive, firing half a dozen shots into the air from a .40 caliber handgun. Deputies say he then entered the home and fired three more shots into a wall and ceiling. Several witnesses called 911 to report the gunfire, just before 7 p.m., Sunday. Coats was later contacted back at his Lazy River Drive house by Deputies.
A search warrant was executed at Coats' home, where investigators found a gun that matched the one fired inside Sigel's home and evidence related to the attempted rape.
Sigel is charged with Sexual Abuse I, Coercion, Strangulation and Assault IV, on top of the Attempted Rape. Coats faces Burglary I, DUII, Menacing and other charges.
BEND, OR -- The Bend Chamber will host a series of candidate forums this fall, to help educate people on different races they'll vote on in November. The first is Tuesday evening, with three Bend City Council candidates: Sally Russell, Bruce Abernethy and Justin Livingston.
Jamie Christman, with the Chamber, says they'll tackle a variety of topics. "Of course, we have everything from workforce housing and clearly roads; there are components around charter review, of course. And, big issues that I think they're having are even just on civility, on Council discourse and how they're handling that."
She tells KBND News, "Local elections impact us the most because decisions made at the local level are what actually change our life overnight; it's what shapes our community immediately. So, we feel it's critical and significant to get any kind of election at a local level up on the table for people to be educated and ask questions."
KBND's Kelly Bleyer will serve on the panel, along with Christman and Aaron Swietzer of The Source Weekly. Tuesday's debate is 5:30-7 p.m. at Deschutes Brewery. Click HERE for details.
BEND, OR -- OSU-Cascades reopens Tuesday after staff spent the long weekend moving. Christine Coffin, with the university, says packing up Cascades Hall at the COCC campus and moving into OSU’s new independent campus in Bend, was no simple task. "It was the planning that was really key because we want that transition to be seamless, particularly for our students. We want to make sure when students arrive, all of the staff are ready to serve them and get them ready for their classes."
Coffin tells KBND News the new Tykeson Hall features modern labs, various classrooms and offices, "And, there is a learning common space, which is the beginning of what will eventually be a library. It’s a place where students can gather, study and perhaps work in teams." Residential students move in the weekend of September 17, and for now, they’ll remain at Central Oregon Community College. Coffin says OSU-Cascades’ residence and dining halls won’t be ready until at least January.
While registration and many fall activities will remain similar to past years, Coffin says students should be excited about the changes to come. "Their entire experience will feel different. There will be an opportunity to build school spirit and pride, a little more flexibility in how we use the building and how the students and faculty use the grounds surrounding the building, too."
A grand opening celebration is planned for September 13; fall term begins on September 21.
PACIFIC CITY, OR -- The Duckbill Rock at Cape Kiwanda, near Pacific City, was a popular tourist attraction. Video shows vandals pushing the rock over, last week. Chris Havel, with Oregon State Parks, says they're investigating who did it. "We don’t know all of the facts yet, but we’re going to be doing a pretty intense review of this and make some decisions quickly, here, as the week goes on." State Police are also looking into the vandalism.
The rock stood on a pedestal of sandstone. Officials initially thought nature was responsible for its destruction, until video surfaced over the weekend showing people pushing on the rock until it toppled over.
Photo courtesy Chelsea Rutherford, KATU News
BEND, OR -- The first day of school promises to be a crowded event at a number of Bend schools, Wednesday. Bend-La Pine Schools Deputy Superintendent Jay Mathisen says the district expected 350 new students, this fall, but they’ve already beat that number. "We’re still seeing students register and enroll in school at rates that we just haven’t seen before," he tells KBND News. "We believe we’ll have more than 18,000 students in the school district, this year, which will be a first for us. We’ll continue to be the 5th largest district in the state. The challenging part of that is that’s 500 more students than were in our school district last year. When you think about 500, that scale of growth is massive."
Assistant Superintendent Lora Nordquist adds, "We have 11 of our 31 schools that are at or over capacity, right now." She tells KBND News administrators are making sure every student has a desk, "We’re ordering a couple of modular classrooms; we have some schools doing some very creative things about where classrooms are located. We’re going to have homes for all our students, but we’re creative at this point."
Mathisen says the Sites and Facilities Committee is already evaluating over-crowding. "All signs, right now in their work, point to a need for a new high school as soon as the fall of 2018. We know right now that Bend High School has more students – they’re over capacity this fall, as we look at their numbers; we know that Summit High School is over capacity, for the first time in their history, as we look at their numbers; and Mt. View High School is just a handful of students away from having 1500 kids, which is at their capacity." He says a number of grade schools are also at or near capacity. Last year’s opening of Pacific Crest eased enrollment at Bend middle schools.
To hear our full conversation with Dep. Superintendent Jay Mathisen and Asst. Superintendent Lora Nordquist, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.
BEND, OR -- Another Deschutes County Sheriff’s Department employee is on administrative leave, following allegations of misconduct. Lt. Robert Trono was placed on leave Friday, after new information was discovered during an ongoing internal investigation.
According to a statement from Sheriff Shane Nelson
, the ATF investigated complaints that Trono was not licensed to build a firearm for a co-worker while off-duty. The ATF advised in June it was not a prosecutable offense and did not open a case.
Sheriff Nelson says the internal investigation is ongoing and did not elaborate on the new information that led to Trono’s administrative leave. This is the fourth commander to be placed on leave
in the past year.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel was involved in a crash, Thursday evening, at NW 11th and Portland Ave. According to Bend Police, Hummel was northbound on 11th when an eastbound SUV failed to stop at a stop sign, and the two vehicles collided, at about 6:30 p.m.
Jeffrey Hewes, of Battle Ground, Washington, told officers he was using his navigation system to find a house and didn't see the stop sign. Hewes was cited for his role in the crash.
An adult passenger in Hewes' vehicle was taken by ambulance to St. Charles Bend with non-life threatening injuries. Four children and Hewes were unhurt. Hummel was treated at the scene and released, although sources tell KBND News he was later treated at the hospital for injuries he sustained in the crash.
Both vehicles were severely damaged and were towed from the scene.
BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools are nearly ready for kids to head back to class, next week. But, Assistant Superintendent Lora Nordquist tells KBND News they’re missing key pieces of information from some families that help the district prepare for the first day. "If you’re new to the district and you haven’t registered your child for school, please do so. Our offices are open all day Friday and Tuesday; we start school Wednesday, September seventh." The district expects enrollment to top 18,000 for the 2016-17 school year.
Nordquist also says now is the time for parents to work with kids so they get used to going to bed earlier, so they’re ready for the rigors of the school schedule. "Adjusting to those early morning times, I think, is a several day process."
Bend and La Pine elementary schools start at 9 a.m.; Bend middle and high schools start at 7:45 a.m.; except Marshall HS, which starts at 8:30 a.m.
La Pine Middle School begins at 7:40 a.m.; the high school begins at 7:30 a.m.
And, Three Rivers Elementary starts at 8:20 a.m.; the middle school starts at 8 a.m.
BEND, OR -- A Deschutes County Sheriff’s K-9 deputy is credited with the arrest of two burglary suspects northeast of Bend.
Deputies responded to an audible burglary alarm at a home under construction on Old Deschutes Road, just before 1 a.m., Thursday. They found the house empty, but after hearing someone in the bushes, K-9 “Ezel” searched the area and found 19-year-old Ty Warfield (left) and 24-year-old Dylan Snyder in a nearby wooded area.
While tracking the men, deputies found evidence left behind, including a flat screen TV and tools. Both men face burglary and other charges.
REDMOND, OR -- The Boys and Girls Clubs of Redmond/Terrebonne is pulling its affiliation with the national organization. Executive Director Jenny O’Keefe tells KBND News the move is necessary to maintain current service levels. "The business model of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America really requires a significant investment from the local community; it equates to close to $250,000 a year, is what we would have to come up with from our local community. We’re a small town and we receive a lot of generosity and a lot of support, but that kind of business model just isn’t sustainable in a small town like ours." Although she points out, "Right now, funding is as stable as it’s ever been. We have 45-days cash in the bank, which is very solid for a nonprofit; it’s where we’ve been for two years."
O’Keefe says the nonprofit has evolved in the last two years, since its split from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Oregon. "There will be very little change in the day to day operations, aside from the name. We are going to be expanding our mission to include more entrepreneurial and experiential learning activities, more time in the community, more volunteer work." She adds, "Boys and Girls Clubs of America is traditionally an after-school club, and we will continue to be that for families; we just want to be more."
After contacting donors and others involved in their programs for decades, O'Keefe says she's received positive support from everyone, including former board members and the United Way. The new independent organization plans a celebration in early October to announce a new name and expanded programs.
27th Street Bear Creek Road and Forum Dr. down to a single lane 6a – 10p Signal light at 27th and Forum will be disabled and only right turns off 27th will be allowed.
Road closures along Roosevelt Ave >< Silver Lake Blvd -Chamberlain St. 7a-5p (9/6-11/20)
Lane closures and detours Mt. WA Dr at Shevlin Park Road North to Regency (7/11-11/30)