▶️ 386 belt buckles adorn Bend barber shop’s wall, and each has a story

Debbie Bennett owns the L & K Barber Shop in downtown Bend. And there’s a question she gets from her customers a lot.

“So what’s the story? How did it start? The belt buckles?”

And no wonder. Across from the row of barber’s chairs is an entire wall of belt buckles, carefully framed and put under glass.

Bennett says there are 386 of them. I counted. She’s right: 386.

And how did the belt buckle wall get started? It started with a guy named Lou who had a friend named John.

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Lou Bankston owned the barbershop and was the “L” in L & K. John, is John Turner, a longtime L & K customer who lives in Sisters with his wife Barbara and, for many years, owned a gift shop there.

In 1983, John commissioned and helped design a belt buckle featuring the Sisters Rodeo. He brought one in to Lou as a gift and just kept bringing them in every year for the next 27 years. They all went up on the wall.

And soon they started having company.

Kathy Bankston is the “K” in L & K — Lou’s wife and a career barber herself.  She laughs about the response from other customers.

“It made for great conversation and that of course brought in more belt buckles,” Kathy says.

Lots more belt buckles. There are buckles from other rodeos, buckles from the military and law enforcement, buckles advertising whiskey and beer and cigarettes.

Debbie, who bought the shop in the 1990s, says the buckles are still coming in.
“People send them to us in the mail,” Debbie says. “They come here on vacation and say “‘Oh, I got a belt buckle i’ll send it to ya.’ They go ‘Oh, my father, my grandfather had this one. You guys might as well have it because i don’t know what to do with it.’

And many come with personal stories. Debbie says her favorites were brought in by a customer whose hair she has been cutting since he was in first grade.

“I cut his hair until he got out of high school. He went in to the Navy and on Christmas break he came home and he’s brought me two Navy belt buckles with his ship names. So those two have to be my favorite,” Debbie says.

There’s a Portland Trail Blazers 1977 NBA Championship buckle, an OSU Benny the Beaver buckle, smokejumper and logger buckles.

There’s one from a customer who worked on the cleanup crew in Alaska when the Exxon Valdez ran aground and dumped 10 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William sound.  

Debbie says there is still room on the wall for more.

“We could take all those pictures down make a big old long case going right there in front of the window,” Debbie says.

Why go to all that trouble to keep the buckle tradition alive? Kathy has a pretty good reason.

“You meet a lot of people in the barber shop, very interesting people and you kind of treasure all of them,” she says.

▶️ Spoken Moto building move keeps its history, opens door to expansion

It’s just a metal-skin pole barn, the kind you see on plenty of Central Oregon farms and rural properties. But it’s a building that means a lot to a lot of people.

Spoken Moto, the vintage motorcycle shop turned coffee-house and outdoor food and beverage joint has been a popular gathering spot in Bend’s Box Factory area for the last seven years. 

A residential and retail development will take over the property soon, so Spoken Moto has to go. And it’s going all the way across town to a new site at NE 2nd and Hawthorne Avenue, across from the Oregon BottleDrop.

RELATED: Spoken Moto holding weekend party before moving entire building

The old mechanic’s shed and warehouse will form the core of a new food truck lot, performance space and farmers market. The move is largely made possible because of a $450,000 grant from Visit Bend, supported by the city’s transient room taxes.

“It is a lot of money” says Serena Bishop Gordon of Visit Bend, “The Bend Sustainability fund is all about re-investing into our community and when this project was presented to us we looked at it as a fundamental necessity to the expansion, improvement and development of the Bend Central District.”

Architect Stacey Stemach, who designed the original Spoken Moto in what was known as “The Pine Shed,” is the architect for the new version of Spoken Moto and is the architect for the new site as well. She says it’s important to honor and preserve the city’s past and re-using the building is a way to do that.

“There are a lot of features with a building like Spoken Moto that you just can’t build today easily,” Stemach says. “There are things about the structure, about the skin, about the interior that you just can’t recreate with a new building whether it’s a building code issue or just the history, the patina that’s in the building, you know everything it has been in prior incarnations.”

For Moto manager Breezie Deese, it’s a chance to keep the good times rolling and maybe even make some improvements.

“We’re going to be able to improve on some stuff. We’re going to double our bathrooms. We’re going to have an event space, continue to build the music culture which is something we really leaned into this last year,” Deese says.

She’s hoping to be back in business by mid-June.

For developer Kurt Alexander with Petrich Properties, adding the old Spoken Moto building to plans for a new food truck lot, performance space and farmers market has been challenging. But he says the multi-partner collaboration and cooperation has made it possible.

Partners like Serena with Visit Bend agree.

“I think everyone has a common vision and a common goal and we’re in alignment,” says Gordon.

The overnight building move is currently scheduled for March 18.

▶️ Meet ‘Jim the Coffee Man,’ bringing java and joy to Hunnell Road residents

Every few days the darkness of Hunnell road is brightened up by “Jim the Coffee Man.”

Hunnell is a long-time homeless encampment on the north end of Bend, a couple hundred yards of tents, trashed vehicles, campsites and human misery.  Jim shows up in his hybrid Prius, fires up a generator, hooks up his espresso machine and serves coffee drinks to whoever wants one.

The Coffee Man is Jim Howard Tudor, a retired real-estate manager who came to Central Oregon ten years ago. “Retirement didn’t suit me” he says. One of the ways he stays busy is meeting, greeting and serving coffee to the people of Hunnell Road.

RELATED: Meet the city officials tasked with enforcing the Bend camping code

“He comes Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays.” says Michelle Hester, who has lived here for a year, “it’s awesome, because if it wasn’t for him caring we probably wouldn’t have anybody that cares. There’s not a lot of people out here who stop and take time to get to know us because we’re all different. We’re not all addicts out here, but Jim is awesome. We love our coffee, and we also love Jim.”

For Jim, the coffee is just an icebreaker. The personal connections and the conversations are what really count.

“You know what these homeless people want? More than anything they want acceptance; they want a relationship. And that’s what they get. I don’t care if you’re strung out on fentanyl or you’re not, I don’t care. You’re OK by me.”

Matthew Ebert smiles as he sips a caramel mocha. He doesn’t live on Hunnell anymore but drops by sometimes on coffee days. “It’s a relief because I have someone to talk to. Have that man-to-man conversation. He’s very genuine and you don’t get a lot of that out here. I let it all go, with him. It’s nice.”

The coffee man smiles too, he does that a lot. “I’m a little nutty, so I can relate to these folks. And I do. So, yeah, pretty cool, it’s pretty cool.”

Hunnell Road is going to be cleared out by mid-March according to the city. He worries about the next steps for people who have made this stretch of city street their homes. “And where are you going to go? Oxford hotel? I don’t think so. If you’re on third street you’re just going to go to 2nd street, and that game of whack-a-mole has been going on for 20 years.”

He says he’ll do this as long as he can.

“I get so much more out of this than I put into this, you would never imagine that. I feel accepted by them, they feel accepted by me and that’s tough to figure out in today’s world you know?”

First Coffee Then The World, Inc. Jim Tudor Head Barista

Tax I.D. 92-0548031. Firstcoffee11@gmail.com
“Many of you know that I arrive at the unhoused camp on Hunnel Road for a hour and a half session of providing folks in that community with free espresso drinks and morning goodies. I go Monday, Wednesday and Friday. No one gets paid and there are no salaries. I fund this myself but have started a nonprofit for those who want to support the effort. Extra monies support clothing and this year a Thanksgiving dinner or any real need. Many of you have expressed an interest to support this effort….if so feel free in any way you desire including joining us on Hunnel anytime. Thanks.”
Venmo. @COFFEE1234. Check to: First Coffee then the World
3485 NW Braid, Bend OR. 97703
Send your email address to FirstCoffee11.com so I can send you thanks and a donation confirmation.

▶️ Thornburgh Resort near finish line after 17-year fight?

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The first formal designs for the Thornburgh Resort near Redmond went into the planning pipeline in 2005. The opposition and the legal challenges started almost immediately and have never stopped.

Developer Kameron Delashmutt, whose family has owned the land since the 1950s, is blunt about the challenges of the last 17 years. During a recent extensive tour of the property, he put it this way.

We never would have embarked on this if we knew the hassle we’d go through.” 

The Thornburgh site is a spectacular piece of the High Desert: 1,900 acres of sagebrush and juniper draped over the slopes of the 20 million-year-old Cline Buttes.

RELATED: Thornburgh resort appeals heard by Deschutes County commissioners

RELATED: Water rights: Thornburgh resort applicants ask to amend final master plan

It’s an ancient landscape and a modern battleground.

“It’s the most litigious land use project that I’m aware of in Central Oregon and one of the most litigious in the state’s history,” said Deschutes County Community Development Director Peter Gutowski.

It is basically a two-person war — with various other parties lining up on both sides — over land and water.

A war between developer Delashmutt and a neighbor to the south of the Thornburgh property named Annunziata “Nunzie” Gould. She owns about 50 acres of land south of the development and has led this fight from the beginning.

“The issue has been about protecting fish and wildlife as a result of this mega-resort ” Gould said during testimony at a recent county hearing.


The non-profit Central Oregon Landwatch has backed Gould’s efforts. Thornburgh opponents turn out by the hundreds to comment and submit testimony at every every opportunity.

Most current objections focus on Thornburgh’s water rights and a proposal by the resort to cut water use to mitigate impacts on fish and wildlife. Opponents call it a substantial change that should force developers to start over at the beginning with a new master plan.

The two sides agree on little.

Delashmutt says he plans to build the most environmentally sensitive resort in the West.

“Our water mitigation plan here we think it benefits fishery habitat we think it benefits the rivers” he said. “And our goal is to blend everything back into what it looked originally as much as we can as fast as we can.”

Gould and her supporters just don’t buy it, commenting on the new water plans.

“It’s a strategy that the applicant has used with the notion of ‘Trust us. Trust us we’ll do it. Trust us the next process we’ll do it, trust us, blah blah blah,'” she said.

Gutowski notes the many hearings, rulings, appeals and reviews at the county level? They just get the legal process started.

“Then through the land use board of appeals, then the court of appeals and in a few cases the Oregon Supreme Court, it’s been appealed over 50 times,” said Gutowski.


And he points out that Thornburgh is currently taking shape.

“The developer has received local land use approval for a tentative subdivision platte, overnight lodging units, recreational amenities and infrastructure for its first phase. And those decisions, most if not all, have been acknowledged by the courts, they’re no longer subject to further appeal,” he said.

On a property tour, Delashmutt looks ahead and says likes what he sees: Roads being built, utility infrastructure going in, an 1,800-foot-long lake dug and nearly ready for filling — the first golf course shaped, graded and prepped for planting.

He also reports the website getting 95,000 hits in just a few months at the end of last year and hundreds of people showing serious interest in buying property.

“We’re in it now. We got a string of victories behind us and we’re close to coming across the finish line,” Delashmutt said.

Delashmutt says at this point, despite the constant public opposition and the certainty of future court challenges there is “not a chance” he will stop building.

“If I was going to do that, I would have done it in 2010,” he said.

His neighbor and protagonist, Nunzie Gould declined to comment directly on whether there was anything that would convince her to back off in her campaign against the development. She tells Central Oregon Daily news this isn’t about her, we’re all in this together. She doesn’t believe county code is being adhered to and she is exercising her right to comment publicly and participate in Oregon’s land-use approval process, and will continue to do that.

One thing both parties do seem to agree on: They will see each other in court.



▶️ Coyote hunt contests under fire. Many in Eastern Oregon say they’re needed.

Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Commission recently rejected a petition from animal welfare groups calling for a ban on coyote hunting contests. But the commission also directed staff to look for ways to get around current state law which defines coyotes as predator animals — providing vey little protection for them.

On a cold Friday in Burns, we found no obvious sign of what is called the “Coyote Classic.” Nothing in the weekly paper. No storefront signage. No posters, as in previous years. A Facebook site is quiet.

Nobody knows for sure how many coyotes live in Oregon. The Department of Fish and Wildlife won’t give us an estimate, but 300,000 is a commonly quoted figure.

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State law defines them as predators. They have virtually no legal protection. The hunting season is year-round — no tags required and no limit.

Organized hunts or derbies have become a flashpoint.

“It’s unethical to kill them just for sport and for blood.” says longtime hunter Adam Bronstein with the Western Watersheds Project.

“Most of us are one month away from calving and we welcome it,” counters Harney County Commissioner Kristen Shelman

Humane Society of the United States spokesperson Katie Stennes describes them this way

“They’re really more similar to a bloodsport like dogfighting or cockfighting which have been outlawed in every state,” said Stennes.


A rancher south of Burns speaks for many in Oregon’s southeast corner: “You can’t legislate in Salem what we do over here.”

Although we find no sign of a hunt in Burns, it is happening. At a store outside of town, owner Scott Davies explains the low profile.

“There’s been such a backlash with coyotes and coyote hunting and predator control that they don’t advertise as much as they used to. It’s kind of ‘If you know, you know’ kind of a deal,” Scott says. 

“You can shoot up to ten, whatever you want to shoot. But it’s the five you want to turn in,” said Merle Reid. He’s a former contest organizer who explains the basics and the economic benefits he sees.

“The Classic is an opportunity for hunting enthusiasts to come over and participate,” Reid said. “(We have) people from other states, from Nevada, Idaho and Washington come and participate in it.”


Reid owns the restaurant and a nearby market. He is openly wary of media “spin” on the subject and is also fed up with the judgements of outsiders.

He plays us a voicemail he has kept for six years.

“I’m calling all the way from Massachusetts. This is just wrong. I don’t see why people need to kill just for ****s and giggles.”

What can that woman in Massachusetts, he wonders, really know about life in this wide open corner of Oregon and the challenges sheep and cattle ranchers face?

“Are we being cruel to the animal or are we doing what needs to be done for the ranchers?” Reid asks.

“…they don’t advertise as much as they used to. It’s kind of ‘If you know, you know’ kind of a deal.” — Scott Davies


Eight other states have banned coyote hunts. The Washington, D.C.-based Humane Society of the United States was the lead signatory on the petition presented to the Fish and Wildlife Commission in December.

Stennes says the claim that killing lots of coyotes will protect livestock is “just a myth” perpetuated by hunt organizers and participants. 

“When you mass-kill coyotes it can actually increase their populations. It disrupts their pack structure and causes them to increase reproduction, so you have more coyotes,” said Stennes.

Bronstein calls the hunts brutal and inhumane.

“It’s a darker side of human nature that we really need to explore and confront,” he said.

He was one of the many who testified in support of the petition and says the hunts give true hunters a bad name.

“It’s time for an awakening and for a new way of living and being humans on this planet that we share with all of our living ancestors, including the coyote,” Bronstein said.


On the Friday we were in Burns, it was check-in day for the Coyote Classic. We were not welcomed. The organizer told us politely but clearly that he doesn’t want us anywhere near the buildings he has rented.

We took the hint and left, driving 30 miles southeast to the T.I. Ranch to meet Rusty Inglis. He’s the president of the county farm bureau.

“A rancher’s profit margin is so slim that you can’t afford any kind of loss,” Rusty said. “You’re never going to wipe coyotes out. And ranchers, that’s not their intention. The intention is to reduce numbers so they are not preying on our livestock, our livelihood. It’s that simple.”

“When you mass-kill coyotes it can actually increase their populations,” — Humane Society of the U.S. spokesperson Katie Stennes

He’s been running cattle here for decades and says, in recent years, predator control efforts at the federal, state and county levels have lessened.

“When we have something like a coyote contest, I am going to say ‘Hey, I need it! You won’t let me do it the other way.’ It’s just me and those type of things. And they’re not unethical, in my opinion. If I shoot a coyote or they shoot a coyote, what’s the difference?” Inglis said.

He tells us he never goes out on the ranch without a gun and if he sees a coyote anywhere in the calving area, he will shoot them.

“They’re a canine and they’re real smart and they’re going to figure out this is where we calve, this is where the babies will be,” Inglis said.

He’s killed five this winter, he says. Some years he shoots more, some years less.

“Now I don’t participate in the coyote contests, but I’ll say it again. It’s a great deal. It helps us a lot,” Rusty said. 


The T.I. Ranch is about 250 miles from Salem. People in this area see the latest push to outlaw events like the Coyote Classic as just the latest battle in Oregon’s long-running east-west, urban-rural culture war.

“What we’re all really afraid of is this is just an initial attempt to take more control,” said County Commissioner Shelman

She points out that three hunt-banning bills have failed in recent years in the Oregon legislature.

“If within that legislative process it could not get accomplished, what job is it of unelected officials taking that charge to themselves?” Shelman said.

Her family manages a cattle grazing cooperative. Killing coyotes is something that comes with the territory.

“As we fed this morning out here, we had five coyotes running across this back field.” Shelman said. “And we already called up one of the contestants to come take care of those tonight.”

“They’re a canine and they’re real smart and they’re going to figure out this is where we calve.” — Rancher Rusty Inglis


Contest opponents say they’re targeting just the organized hunts, not all culling of coyotes. They hope a new draft rule from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will do the job of their rejected petition.

“They’re cruel. They’re unsporting. They’re ecologically destructive” Stennes said.

As ranchers, hunters and hunt-haters wait and watch, ODFW tells us there is no timeline for a final decision from staff.

Inglis and Shelman argue ODFW just doesn’t have jurisdiction over predator control. That’s the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture.

Another thing that doesn’t sit very well with those who support these hunts is that eight of the 15 organizations signing that petition are from out of state.


▶️ 5 months later, what has Bend’s ‘Corky Lady’ made with those 20,000 corks?

The last time we saw Cyllene King of Bend in August 2022, she was building cork birdhouses as fast as she could and she had a lot of work left to do. Five months later, we decided it was time to pay the mad-crafter another visit and see if she has found a way to use up more than 20,000 corks.

First, a quick recap on how she ended up hip-deep in corks. Last year, she put out a notice in the Central Electric Co-Op monthly magazine Ruralite asking for people to send her corks so she could make cork birdhouses.

RELATED: ‘Corky lady’ receives more than 20,000 corks: What is she doing with them?

What she didn’t realize is that the magazine didn’t just go out to Central Oregon customers, but to hundreds of thousands of utility customers all over the West. And she ended up receiving thousands of corks in the mail.

“I got more help than I needed” she said with a somewhat giddy laugh. 


Five months later, she has built 37 birdhouses. At current rate of cork consumption, Cyllene would have to make 200 more to get down to zero-cork status.

So she is branching out, having gotten just a bit tired of building the same cork birdhouse over and over.

During the holidays she build cork wreaths and cork Christmas trees. She’s trying her hand at trivets, key-chains, mobiles, welcome mats, a cork wall-guard to surround her husband’s dartboard and even an ill-fated cork fruit bowl.

“I’ve done some tile work, so i thought maybe grouting would work. It really doesn’t!” said Cyllene.

She has written out basic cork birdhouse instructions in case she teaches crafting classes someday.

Sometime, she admits, the whole thing gets her down.

“I don’t even know why I started doing this!” she says. With a chuckle. Always with a chuckle. And she says she’s glad to be helping people who need help getting rid of their corks.

“I think I did them a favor getting them out of their garage,” said Cyllene.

And there just might be a light at the end of the cork-lined tunnel. She reads us this from the December issue of Ruralite magazine — a request from somebody in Eatonville, Washington.

“I’m looking for wine corks so I can make bulletin boards for seniors in nursing homes so they can pin their pictures with ease. I bet you she’ll get the same experience as me. People want to help! And they want to get rid of their corks,” said Cyllene.

And would she maybe package up her 20,000 corks and ship them off to Eatonville?

“Maybe! But i’m not sure i’m done playing yet!” said Cyllene.

She does a have a nice new glue gun after all and plenty of you-know-whats to work with. Maybe we’ll check back in June and see how she’s doing.

▶️ Inside look at the award-winning way Prineville stores, recovers its water

Prineville recently won an award from the League of Oregon Cities, recognizing the development of the “Aquifer Storage and Recovery System.”

It’s cool science: Hydrology, geology and engineering all mixed together. 

Here’s how the ASR works. During the winter when demand is low, they pump water out of their valley-floor aquifer which supplies the city’s drinking water. They purify that water and put it into the regular city system.

RELATED: Crook County declares drought emergency for 4th consecutive year

RELATED: Off-grid residents haul their own water to wash dishes, water gardens

Then they pump it up onto the rimrock above town near the airport, where an “injection” well is used to inject it back into the earth, into a different aquifer. That aquifer is a 5 million-year-old channel of the Crooked River.

The water can be stored there and then retrieved in the summer when the city needs it most.


▶️ Our favorite stories of 2022: Oregon’s only state-owned gravel highway

We at Central Oregon Daily News have been thrilled to bring you the stories of the High Desert and beyond these past 12 months. We wanted to look back and not only re-share with you some of our favorites, but tell you why we love them so much.

“I love this because it’s just so odd. We have the only state highway in Oregon that is a gravel road right here in our area? Is that news? I don’t know, but it sure is a quirky, fun little nugget.” — Allen Schauffler, Central Oregon Daily News anchor.


The Oregon Department Of Transportation owns and maintains about 8,000 miles of state highways

One small section of that 8,000 miles is unique. And it’s located in the High Desert.

Oregon Highway 27 starts as Main Street in Prineville.

On its entire 44.78-mile southbound route, there is only one sign telling you that you’re driving OR 27.

And that drive is spectacular — along the Crooked River through some of the wildest basalt cliffs in basalt cliff country. Up over the Bowman Dam that’s holding back the slim puddle that is the Prineville Reservoir these days.


Down to the south, through open range and the land of cows you’ll find an occasional mailbox and a dirt side road or two.

But this is where the story really starts.

And where the pavement ends.

RELATED: OSP shares adorable video of deer family properly using the crosswalk

“We are out here on Highway 27, which is the only gravel state-maintained through highway in the entire state,” said Kacey Davey of the Department of Transportation.

“I did the math and it’s 0.002% of the roads we maintain are gravel.”


Highway data shows OR 27 averages 17 vehicles per day.

How quiet is this road? Just ask Pam and J.W. Hart. They’re at the Sage Hollow Ranch — the only property that has a driveway off the gravel section of OR 27.

They bought the place 35 years ago.

“You’d go weeks without seeing a vehicle up and down the road. You might see a neighbors truck go by that you know but as far as anybody from the outside world. You just didn’t see that much,” J.W. said.


So what’s rush hour like there?

“I guess is when you got a bunch of cows that’s been stampeded by a mountain lion,” J.W. said.

RELATED: OSP catches driver doing 119 in a 55 and the fine is … WHOA!

They say you can probably go a half-day without ever seeing a car.

“And then there’s other days, holidays and stuff when the weather’s nice and you might have fifty cars in one day,” J.W. said.


In the three hours and 20 minutes we spent shooting this story, we saw three cars go by.

One of those was being driven by road warriors Steve and Lisa from Seattle. We met them where U.S. Highway 20 and OR 27 meet. They were considering what looked like a shortcut on the map.

“We found this road and it looked like something interesting. We have a vehicle that can handle it so we though, let’s give it a crack,” Steve said. 

But they didn’t know about the gravel thing.

After considering their options, Lisa makes the call.

“I was going to say no. I’ve been driving in the crosswinds all this way and I don’t think I want to do 25 miles of gravel,” Lisa said.

RELATED: ‘I got this’: Remembering the famed ‘Prineville Wheelie’ 40 years later

It’s a little shorter than that. ODOT says it’s 18.5 miles. Our odometer says 17. And it’s really good gravel.

Wikipedia says it’s also known as the “Les Schwab Highway.” It’s not. That’s Millican Road a few miles west.

A technicality here. There is one short stretch of pavement over a little bridge. 

You’ll pass under a Bonneville power high voltage line that’s electricity to Burns. And you’ll hit five cattle guards.


At the south end, you’ll see just one sign heading north that tells you what road you’re on.

And it turns out this stretched out gravel patch is useful.

“We use it to train our new employees on how to use our graders,” said Davey.”

Once or twice a year, it’s the grader driving school for ODOT rookies.

“We also use graders for things like blade-patching which is a type of pavement repair that we do. We use graders on the gravel shoulders and also to move snow in the wintertime. So our crews spend a lot more time on graders than just maintaining this one highway,” said Davey.

The road is nicely graded in places and looks like it will stay that way for awhile. ODOT says it has no current plans to pave this stretch of OR 27.

Highway 27 pavement ends

▶️ Our favorite stories of 2022: The Cork Lady

We at Central Oregon Daily News have been thrilled to bring you the stories of the High Desert and beyond these past 12 months. We wanted to look back and not only re-share with you some of our favorites, but tell you why we love them so much.

“I just love Cyllene’s attitude about the whole thing. She inadvertently makes a direct personal plea to hundreds of thousands of utility magazine readers all over the West. About corks. But the way she handles what happens is the real story.” — Allen Schauffler, Central Oregon Daily News Anchor


Corks, corks and more corks.

Be careful what you ask for! A Bend woman who is an avid crafter (“addicted to Pinterest” she says) is learning that age-old lesson and learning it with a smile and good cheer.

This story starts with Central Oregon Daily’s Allen Schauffler in his garage, pondering what to keep and what to jettison as he tries to declutter his life.

He runs across a bag of corks he and his wife have been keeping for many, many years and decides they are on the “jettison” list, but he just can’t bear to put them in the trash so he puts the bag back where he found it.

Within the hour, he opens his monthly issue of “Ruralite”, a magazine sent out by the electric utility co-op which provides his power in Powell Butte.

On the Reader Exchange page he finds this short letter: “I make birdhouses from repurposed wine corks. With boxed wine, screw-top bottles and rubber stoppers, natural cork is hard to come by. Thanks in advance for sending corks my way.”

It’s signed by Cyllene King and gives a Bend address.

Allen is knocking on her door within days and yes, Cyllene is home and Cyllene is a mad crafter and Cyllene has been nearly buried in corks.

Corks from Idaho, corks from Alaska, corks from Washington and California, corks dropped off by neighbors, Corks from all over the west.

“To be honest, I thought Central Electric Ruralite was a Central Oregon thing” she says, “so when I started getting them from North Pole and Arizona and Montana and California and Washington I went ‘oh my gosh it must be bigger than I thought'”
A lot bigger, it turns out.
Central Electric Coop sends the monthly magazine out in this area but so do 45 other similar utility co-ops.
The total circulation is 347,000.
Weeks after her letter was printed she is still getting corks in the mail. What used to be the family workout room is now hip deep in corks, mailed in envelopes, shoe boxes, wooden boxes and plastic jars.
She’s stunned by the response.
“I mean some of these postages are 22 dollars! It’s like wow, they’d send me the corks? Pay for the postage? There’s over 500 dollars in postage here!”
Many of the packages include hand-written notes. “My favorite one is the one from the lady who says ‘my husband used to make trivets for our table and he’s been gone for ten years but I still have the habit of saving these, so here you go.’ I want to send her a house.”
Then there’s this note from a guy who did not send any corks at all but wasn’t shy about sharing personal info.
“I am a large man with a large head and I use my cork stoppers as ear plugs because my wife, also large, snores in her sleep. Sorry I can’t be of more help.”
Cyllene is taking it all in stride and is busily gluing cork birdhouses together in her garage whenever she has a spare minute.
She and Allen figure she can get rid of all the corks and reclaim her workout room if she works forty-hour weeks for two straight months. Just making birdhouses..
If you want to buy one from her, forget it. She plans to give them away. The amazing response from well-meaning strangers all over the west coast has been pavement enough.
“There’s a lot of people out there who had an idea to do something but never did and they found someone who could and here we are.”
And here she is in her garage, surrounded by corks, armed with a red-hot glue-gun and making birdhouses just as fast as she can.
“It restored my faith in humanity, that people do care and they want to help.”

▶️ ODOT: Central Oregon snowplow was passed by van doing 70 mph during storm

The winter storm that paralyzed many roads in Oregon, including large stretches of Interstate 84, had moved away as of Monday. But not before it made Christmas travel unbearable and, for some, impossible.

The Portland area got hit first and the trouble moved east into the Columbia River Gorge.

“It started with a little bit of snow that quickly transitioned to freezing rain and extremely high winds,” said Oregon Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Kacey Davey. “That’s the reason the Gorge shut down in the first place. We had wind gusts that were about 80 mph around Cascade Locks. We ended up with about one to two inches accumulation of solid ice and some of the crews reported snow drifts up to 10 feet tall in that first closure section of I-84 between Troutdale and Hood River.

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Friday night and into Saturday, the closures stretched east of Pendleton and all the way to Baker City.

Davey said there was only so much ODOT could do.

“We don’t have a tool in our toolbox that will fight the amount of ice that was accumulating,” Davey said. “The de-icer we put down, that doesn’t work. That gets washed right away by the freezing rain. Trying to drop snow and cinders, they just blow right away in the wind. We were able to get some salt and cinders down when it finally started to melt it helped to break up break up and provide a little bit of traction on the driving surface,” said Davey.


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While those traveling by air struggled all weekend to get where they wanted to go, drivers clearly recognized the danger and stayed away from the Interstate. But Davey said that wasn’t necessarily the case in Central Oregon.

“They didn’t see as good of compliance down here,” said Davey. “One of our plow drivers reported a van that passed him going about 70 on Lava Butte even as our giant plows were struggling for traction. So just a reminder to folks that when we’re out there and we’re working hard and we’ve put the warnings out there, it really means you should take a look and be cautious when you’re on the ice and snow.”