▶️ COCC hosts early childhood education job fair amid daycare drought

Central Oregon Community College held a job fair Friday for Early Childhood Education opportunities. 

As the need for childcare grows in the region, creating opportunities for interested students to get into the industry is a huge focus for the college.

“Regionally, we are having somewhat of a workforce crisis in early learning,” said Amy Howell, a professor of Early Childhood Education at COCC.

A 2019 OSU report showed Deschutes and Crook counties were considered a “child care desert” for children 5 and under – meaning there were more than three children for every child care slot. 

With the current lack of childhood education workers in the region, Central Oregon Community College is hoping to get its students to work.

“One of the problems is just starting to look,” said Lydia Lee Studds, an early childhood education student at COCC, “Knowing where to look, knowing what to ask.”

At its Early Learning Educators Job Fair, the community college welcomed several local childcare businesses to connect students with career opportunities and professional advice.

The Oregon State University Little Beavs, The Children’s Learning Center of Madras, The Boys and Girls Club of Bend, and many more were on hand eagerly looking for applicants.

“I think a lot of these are just things I really wouldn’t know and a lot of them have higher positions that I would be able to come back to later on in my educational career,” said COCC early childhood education student Sidnie Adams.

Adams said she’s eyeing a lifeguard position to continue her work with kids, something she’s wanted to do her whole life.

“And seeing how pay has increased in different positions like this is nice to see so I’m hoping to get more experience like this working with the early learners,” Adams said.

While students connect with potential employers, more families are searching for childcare.

KIDS INC, the popular before and after-school childcare provider from Bend Park and Recreation, has a waitlist of over 70 kids and hopes hiring 10 to 12 employees will give more opportunities to families.

“This is a huge effort to support children, families, and the whole system that support children and families. So being a part of it, in any capacity, I think is monumental and makes a big difference,” Howell said.

To find out more about the Early Childhood Education program at COCC and upcoming events, visit their website here.

 

▶️ Redmond Proficiency Academy students hold walk-out over gun violence

Gun violence – and gun control laws – are a tricky topic in our nation, but for some students at the Redmond Proficiency Academy, it’s a clear cut issue.

They want the violence to end.

That’s why several students, led by four girl student activists, staged a walkout from the school to the nearby Centennial Park.

“I have a right to an education. I have a right to be safe in a place of learning. I have a right to go to school and not be scared of my life being taken from me,” event organizer and RPA Sophomore Juniper Rook said into her megaphone.

The walk-out at Redmond Proficiency Academy began as a response to the anxieties of students around the community, with the mass shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan and the lockdown at Ridgeview High School a month prior.

“When I see shootings happening in schools,” said Nora McBride, an RPA student at the walk-out, “it’s really nerve wracking to come into school and maybe see someone who is just wearing a long jacket and being like, kind of skeptical in some way, shape, or form.”

A group of around forty, students and adults alike, showed up for the walk-out, which included speeches from student organizers Juniper Rook and Isabelle Richards.

“And so it is very important to us that we are bringing awareness to the issue and that we are all here to support the victims,” said Isabelle Richards, another organizer of the walk-out.

“The kids are amazing. They work hard,” said Paula, an event attendee.

After the speeches, everyone was encouraged to sign petitions and letters supporting current gun-control legislation under consideration in Washington.

Two of the bills they encouraged supporting were bill H.R. 4271 Keeping Gun Dealers Honest Act of 2021 and H.R. 1642 Prosecuting Gun Crimes Saves Lives Act.

The students organizing the walk-out, hope their voices can be heard to keep lawmakers accountable and inspire other students of all backgrounds.

“If you have an issue and you’re passionate about it, then you can bring it to other people that are passionate about this and you can create a movement with it,” Rook said.

In a letter sent to students and families addressing the walkout, Executive Director of the Redmond Proficiency Academy Jon Bullock supported his students’ right to free speech.

He also stressed that students attending the event will be marked absent.

“Civil disobedience has a long and rich history in our country, and students who engage in protests or walkouts should understand the impact and consequences of their actions,” said Bullock in his letter.

“It shouldn’t be up to a ton of students to have to do this,” said McBride.

“No one wants to be here walking out for something that’s basic,” said Rook.

▶️ Calling all subs; HDESD says now’s your chance to get into a classroom

If you’ve heard about the need for substitute teachers in Central Oregon and want to take on a substitute teaching job, the training process may be easier than you think.

“We’re always excited to have as many subs available as possible,” said Sheila Miller, the Public Information Officer for the Redmond School District.

The High Desert Education Service District places substitute teachers for every school district in the region

“We need about 60 to 70 subs a day,” said Jayel Hayden, the Director of Human Resources at High Desert Education Service District, “When I say that, I’m thinking about Bend La Pine, our largest school district. So we’re really closer to about 100 subs a day.”

For example, at Redmond High School this past week, 142 class periods needed substitutes due to COVID and other factors.

Due to a lack of staffing, only 56 class periods were covered by substitute teachers.

86 periods were covered by Redmond High teachers on top of their own classes.

▶️ Bend-La Pine Schools scrambles for subs to avoid return to remote learning

“They’re working so hard and they’re giving up their prep periods to make sure that students stay in their in-person learning,” Miller said, “We could not do that without the extra work that these staff members and teachers are doing.”

The HDESD is trying to fill that gap by letting people know just how easy it is for someone with a Bachelor’s degree, or someone that already has a teaching license, to make some extra income as a substitute teacher.

“It’s really that desire to be with kids and work with kids. One of the things that we like to see is subs that have good classroom management,” Hayden said.

If you have a teaching license, applying and scheduling an orientation is all that’s needed.

If you have a bachelor’s degree, you need to…

  1. Fill out the HDESD application to be a substitute teacher.
  2. Apply for a restricted substitute license with the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission.
  3. Send an email to HDESD (kristen.johns@hdesd.org) confirming you applied for the license to schedule an orientation.

The license processing takes up to 60 days.

While there’s an immediate need for subs…it won’t go away after COVID.

“It’s never going to be zero. People have reasons why they can’t come to work all the time,” Miller said.

▶️ ‘Dry January’ trend encourages sobriety through the month

If you’re hoping to be healthier into the new year, going sober for a month, or as the trend calls it, “Dry January,” might be the idea for you.

Dry January started in 2013 as a campaign created by Alcohol Change UK to empower people to take a break from drinking for the month.

A poll by Morning Consult saw interest in the trend go up from 13% to 15% in 2021, and is predicted to be 19% in 2022.

Glenn Deveney of Serenity Lane, a non-profit substance abuse treatment center, thinks the increase of popularity in the trend is a net positive.

“Wonderful to hear healthy lifestyle change trends that give an individual the opportunity for healing, saving money, finding new hobbies,” said Deveney the Bend Office Program Manager for Serenity Lane.

The trend can be documented on social media through the hashtag #dryjanuary, but is also meant to be completed more privately.

Last year, the American Addiction Centers found 43% of Oregonians quit their Dry January before passing the month milestone.

 

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Though not finishing the month can be the result of many reasons, one is the stigma around sobriety being “not fun” or facing assumptions.

According to Alcohol Change UK, some of the best ways to block out that stigma is checking the venue you’re attending to find their non-alcoholic selection, not questioning people when they don’t wish to drink, and being aware of your own comments around drinking and sobriety.

“I think the big thing is communication and being around people that you can discuss this with,” Deveney said.

Another way to help complete a Dry January, is with non-alcoholic beverages that taste similar to the real thing.

Several breweries in Central Oregon offer non-alcoholic beers.

CRUX Fermentation Project released its first non-alcoholic beer, NØ MØ, last spring.

“I think the big thing is, when you go over to Europe, probably 10% of the malt beverages people consume are non-alcoholic and America kind of has, we’ve been in that half percent, 1% range, and I think we’re just starting to socially catch up to Europe and kind of healthfully catch up to them too,” said Larry Sidor the Master Brewer and Founder of the CRUX Fermentation Project.

“Even if something does begin as a trend or a fad, the opportunity still exists for healthy change and gaining an awareness of a deeper issue,” Deveney said.

As the trend inspires people to make a healthy change, know that some strategies to stay sober don’t work for everyone.

Everyone is different, and if you have any questions beyond the trend, here’s some confidential help lines to contact:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Oregon Youthline: 877-968-8491

Delphi Health Group: (866)-520-2708

▶️ Space heater fires like fatal NY blaze are common – but avoidable

On Sunday, a fire caused by a broken space heater in the Bronx, New York, killed 17 people including 8 children.

It was an avoidable tragedy, with a devastating outcome.

“Actually they are fairly common,” said Cindy Kettering the Public Information Officer for Bend Fire and Rescue regarding space heater fires.

Each year.  local fire departments respond to 48,530 fires on average started by space heater-related issues, according to the National Fire Protection Association

The NFPA says portable heaters also count for 2 in 5 heating-related deaths.

Just a week and a half ago, an RV caught fire at Crown Villa RV Resort after the owner tried thawing sewer pipes with two space heaters. 

 

“But the heater was put way too close to the plastic RV sewer line,” Kettering said, “which led to that line melting and igniting and ultimately destroyed that RV.”

And also this month, a family of five and two dogs escaped a La Pine mobile home that caught fire due to similar circumstances. 

According to the NFPA, 54% of home heating fire deaths were caused by placing a portable heater too close to household objects.

Not cleaning your heater and continuing to use a malfunctioning heater, like the cause in New York, are other causes of portable heater fires.

“We recommend having 3 feet of space around anything that produces heat,” Kettering said.

Bend Fire also recommends checking your smoke alarms and installing carbon monoxide alarms just in case.

No matter how cold it gets, do not bring in your grill, portable generator, or any other outdoor heating tool into the house.

“Any solid fuel-burning appliance whether it burns wood, it burns pellets, it burns charcoal, it burns propane or butane,” Kettering said, “all of those are designed to be used outdoors, never indoors because they produce carbon monoxide.”

If you want to learn more about tips to keep yourself and your house safe and warm this winter season, you can check out the Bend Fire and Rescue tip page here.

 

▶️ U of O, Boise State men’s hockey face off at The Pavilion in Bend

The Pavilion in Bend was packed Friday night as fans from all over came to watch the Oregon Ducks hockey team take on the Boise State Broncos.

“I’m going to come back. I wish we had more games here, to be honest,” said Dominik Estrada, a forward for the Ducks.

All 576 seats in The Pavilion sold out for both weekend games – the first college hockey games for the venue.

“Knowing that we’ve sold it out and just the support that we’ve got is refreshing,” said Rylee Orr, the Ducks head coach.

Playing in Bend has been a goal of the program for about two years.

The team hopes to show more Oregon fans what they can do, as the back-to-back reigning PAC 8 champions move from club level to the ACHA D-1 level next year.

“And we stopped in here and it just, I mean clicked, that it would be huge here,” Orr said.

During the game, fans decked out in Oregon gear were on their feet cheering, yelling the fight songs, and even greeting players between periods thanks to the unique setting.

“I’m loving it, the crowd’s awesome,” said Austin Pultz, a Ducks defenseman.

Even the opposing team enjoyed the atmosphere.

“Haven’t played an outdoor game in a long time. This entire atmosphere is just unreal,” said Matthew Johnson, a right-winger for Boise State.

As for the game itself, fans were treated to a back-and-forth affair. The Ducks tied it at 4 with 12 minutes to go in the 3rd period and pulled away to win 7-4 thanks to forward Connor Rendell’s hat trick.

According to fans, the Ducks won them over as well.

“Yeah, definitely, they’re really fun to watch,” said hockey fan Caden McCough

“Yes, yes, yes. Definitely,” said hockey fan Brady Colt when asked if the Ducks should return.

“That’s just exciting, knowing that, again, in a non-traditional hockey state like Oregon there are a lot of passionate hockey fans out there,” Orr said.

The Ducks and Broncos play again on Saturday at 4 p.m.

▶️ Winter storm, snowy passes lead to gas shortage across Central Oregon

If you’re hoping to get a full tank of gas in Central Oregon, you might be looking for a while.

“I’ve checked two places so far today,” said Henry Weiss, a customer at the Space Age in Redmond.

At the Space Age, filling up on regular gas is not possible.

“I was trying to get regular, and she said they didn’t have regular, so I got midgrade,” said Jim Brooks, another customer.

The station’s owners told me that they haven’t seen a shortage of gas like this in years.

This lack of fuel is directly caused by the dangerous conditions on the passes, leading to road closures and many freight trucks getting caught in the snow.

Bend gas stations are also feeling the drought.

“When I got here this morning, we only had about 1,200 gallons of premium, and we’re getting down to our nitty-gritty on that,” said Heather Silbaugh, a gas attendant at ARCO in Bend.

Silbaugh told me that amount is far less than their average supply.

The ARCO on Greenwood ran out of gas minutes after I showed up.

“We’re doing what we can,” Silbaugh said.

As customers were turned away from the station, station managers were worried about getting more supply.

“I have no idea at all. It depends on the mountains and when they’re able to get them through,” Silbaugh said.

The situation caught many customers by surprise.

But for many long-time residents, this is just another day on the east side of the mountains.

“I’m a big skier, and one of the things I try to do is not let the tank get below a half a gallon, or half a tank, when we have all of this kind of weather,” said Bo Williams, a customer at ARCO.

“A bunch of years ago, there were lines around the block for gasoline so it was way worse than today,” Brooks said.

▶️ Bend artist honors memory of star Betty White with portrait donations

As the world mourns the death of Emmy winning actress and philanthropist Betty White, 99, acts of kindness are sparking up in her memory.

Social media trends such as the #BettyWhiteChallenge encourage donations to her favorite charities.

One artist in Bend, is hoping to continue spreading that positivity in honor of White.

“This is all about Betty,” said the artist Karen Ruane, “She was a true philanthropist and I just want her spirit to live on.”

Ruane painted a portrait of White back in 2020 as a part of her painting collection, “Remarkable Women.”

After White’s death on New Year’s Eve, prints of the portrait gradually sold more and more.

“And the prints were selling, and I really didn’t feel good about not doing something or paying it forward in some way,” said Ruane.

So what better way to honor Betty White, than to give back to the animals she loved.

White was a passionate advocate for several animal welfare charities, and after doing some research, Ruane made an Instagram post announcing that 30% of the proceeds from the portrait, her profits, would be donated.

Ruane, also a volunteer at the Humane Society of Central Oregon, donated ten of the prints to the shelter so when sold, all the money would go back to some furry friends.

“Betty White also let everybody know that anyone can make a difference in the life of an animal. And the art that Karen is doing is also another way,” said Lynne Ouchida of the Humane Society of Central Oregon.

A donation of one’s talent to preserve the memory of Betty White, and continue to spread the joy she so wonderfully gave to the world.

“It’s a big hole that is needing to be filled and I think that’s our job as animal welfare people and individuals that can make a difference,” said Ouchida.

If you’d like to make a donation and pick up one of the ten prints of Betty’s portrait, you can find them here, at the Humane Society of Central Oregon.

All other prints are available on Ruane’s website, with the proceeds benefiting American Humane, one of White’s favorite animal charities.

▶️ City form allows Bend residents to request snow assitance

If your neighborhood street is a little snowier than you’d like it to be, the City of Bend has a form for you to request a snowplow to visit your area.

“Well, it’s more than just a snowplow form,” said David Abbas, the Transportation and Mobility Department Manager for the City of Bend.

A citizen service request, or CSR, is an online form the City of Bend uses to cover potholes, clear blocking vegetation, and yes, to call snow plows.

The form is quick to fill out; just enter your name, the area with the road problem, how the city can contact you, and select “Snow Removal Issues” from the list of available services.

“We’ve had over a hundred entries to CSR that were snow-related. About 101 to be exact,” Abbas said.

The city doesn’t guarantee a time for when the plows will get to your snowy street, but they are currently focused on managing the snow covering high traveled roads and downtown areas.

“Well that depends on the priority level and the conditions and what’s going on,” Abbas said.

A CSR regarding snow is for non-emergencies only, and calling the fire department or police is the best way to handle a snowed-in crisis.

According to the City of Bend, “Anytime there is an emergency that requires snow control assistance, one of the plowing crews are pulled from their regular route to respond as quickly as possible.”

Another concern is city snow-plows plowing ice into driveways. 

To prevent that from occurring, the city suggests shoveling out a large circle directly next to your driveway so when a plow comes through to help, the icy obstacle piles into the open space instead of in your way.

The link to the form is here and you can call to report icy roads at (541) 317-3000 extension 3.

 

▶️ Getting a COVID test before the holidays is still possible

As people travel to see loved ones this holiday season, spreading holiday cheer is far better than spreading COVID.

Deschutes County Health encourages taking a COVID test if you are planning to travel and visit people outside of your immediate family.

We set out Thursday to find an at-home test and we went through the drive-thru at St. Charles. 

For more info on testing sites: https://www.deschutes.org/health/page/covid-19-testing