▶️ Traffic light on US 20 at Robal shutting down; no left turns for now

Drivers used to turning onto or off of Highway 20 at Robal Lane in Bend are going to have to deal with detours. The signal at that intersection is shutting down permanently Tuesday night to make way for a new roundabout.

It’s a frequented route, often used to enter the Cascade Village Shopping Center from the highway. Shoppers coming in from the north will need to plan accordingly and possibly for longer travel times.

Oregon Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Kacey Davey says drivers will not be able to exit left off the highway or off Robal back onto the highway. 

“You’ll only be able to make right-in, right-out turns out of Robal,” Davey said. “If you need to make a different maneuver than that, use Hunnell to Cooley. Cooley now has a fully functioning roundabout.”

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The new Cooley roundabout opened last Friday. It’s eventually going to be a dual lane. For now, it’s one lane.

Drivers headed south into Bend on U.S. 20 will have to make a left at Cooley and then a right on Hunnell to get to Robal. Drivers headed north on Highway 20 will still be able to make a right onto Robal.

Drivers who are on Robal can take a right onto Highway 20, but will not be able to turn left. For those who want to head south on Highway 20 from Robal will either need to make a right then go around the Cooley roundabout and double back, or they can drive down Hunnell Road and then to Cooley to get back on U.S. 20 toward Bend.

These changes do not affect traffic to and from Robal Lane at Highway 97.

Davey says roundabouts are safer alternatives to traffic signals.

“They actually reduce serious injury and fatal crashes by 90% or more. It gives people from all directions good access to be going anywhere they need to go, and pedestrians and cyclists also have a safer time using those than traditional signalized intersections,” Davey said.

Davey says the Robal roundabout is expected to be complete by fall.

The new roundabouts are part of the Bend North Corridor Project. The Highway 20 segment is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The second part, which will shift part of Highway 97 to the east, is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2024.

▶️ Woman looking for artist: Sketchbook with Bend drawings found in Arlington

A sketchbook filled with drawings of Bend landmarks was found leaning against a post of a Free Little Library in Arlington, Oregon — 125 miles northeast of Bend. Illustrated locations include the Old Mill District, Drake Park and Smith Rock.

Lisa Riley found the book in April, exposed to the elements. She took the book and is now trying to find the artist.

“I would love to find the owner and know what they were thinking: if they left it there on purpose or if they’re looking for it,” Riley said.

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Riley is a board member of Hearts Unknown Education (HUE), a local non-profit in Bend that provides free art classes for at-risk kids and those who struggle with mental health.

She’s since scoured the sketchbook and has taken to social media, trying to draw out any clues of the artist’s identity.

Riley says there are numerous names in the sketchbook, making it difficult to track down which name, if any, had any part in the illustrations. 

“There’s no consistent pattern that makes me think it’s any one person’s name that signed it,” Riley said.

The best lead Riley has lies in her favorite drawing in the book: a sketch depicting a home in Drake Park. The sketch is titled “Yellow House, Red Door.”

Riley thinks the home or homeowners may hold clues as to who the book belongs to.

Executive Director of HUE Nicola Carpinelli says he hopes to connect with the artist, so they can be recognized for their work.

“Immediately when Lisa brought this to me, my eyes welled-up. It was, for one such beautiful work. And what an homage to our beautiful City of Bend,” Carpinelli said.

Riley does not believe the book was left intentionally as there are many unfinished sketches and blank pages, leaving one to wonder what could have filled the canvas. 

Riley says despite sharing on social media, no one has come to her with any leads about the artist.

— If you know anything you can send her an email here.

▶️ Forge School students building ‘mobile food prep trailer’ for the unhoused

Forge School is a small private institution southeast of Bend. Teacher at Forge, Todd Lafrenz says it takes a different approach to education, following the philosophy of teaching through “problem solving, story telling, and prototyping.” 

“We got this idea of a mobile food prep trailer to prepare meals for Central Oregon Villages. We’re going to donate it to them,” student and Chief Design Officer of the project Chance Helt said.

Central Oregon Villages is a local non-profit. Its website says it is focused on providing a safe and secure place to live for those who experience homelessness.

Student and chief marketing officer of the project Owen South says the construction process has been a fun way to learn.

“I learned a lot about building and working with a team. It’s just been a really cool experience,” South said.

Soon the trailer will be outfitted with plumbing, 2 refrigerators, 2 sinks, counters, flooring and hot plates for cooking. Wiring for the electrical has already been taken care of.

Lafrenz explains how the project came to be.

“We were originally going to build a small, tiny house, but we turned it into a specialty use trailer,” Lafrenz said. “We realized the residents were gonna be outside cooking at all times of the year. So we thought ‘let’s give them an indoor space to store and prepare food.'”

Lafrenz says the trailer shows the kind of impact children can have.

“Having students being on real life projects like this and seeing the effect they can have on the community- the things that they can change, that they have the power to do,” Lafrenz said. “Giving kids those opportunities. Who would have thought that a group of middle schoolers could do this?’

The school is taking donations to complete the interior. If interested, you can donate here.

The construction crew hopes to have the trailer complete by late June.

▶️ 210 baseball teams to compete in Bend Memorial Day Bash tournament

Memorial Day Weekend is one of Bend’s busiest of the year. The long weekend attracts both tourists and competitors. 

The Bend Memorial Day Bash is a major baseball tournament bringing 210 youth baseball teams from up and down the West Coast.

“It’s done as a fundraiser for the local Bend-LA Pine school District baseball and softball programs,” tournament organizer Drew Reiners of West Coast Premiere said. 

Reiners says 50% of all proceeds from the tournament are donated to the school district. West Coast Premiere pays the schools to use their baseball facilities. Some revenue is also raised from concession sales. 

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President and CEO of Visit Bend Kevney Dugan says these kind of events generate millions of dollars in revenue for the city.

“We know these events, these baseball tournaments,  will generate about $2-3 million over the course of the three day weekend, between hotel stays eating at restaurants, gas. All the things that come with travel,” Dugan said. 

Manager of Elly’s Ice Cream Jada Richwine says finding a seat in an establishment near any of the venues this weekend may be difficult.

“We’ll get the big rush of kids celebrating after their games. Locals and people from out of town build up the line and we get a bunch of business. You get one arm that’s stronger than the other one because some ice creams are harder than others,” Richwine said.

Reiners says the event has brought in between $35,000-$40,000 for the district in each of the last two years Bend has hosted the tournament. 

Director of communications for Bend-La Pine schools Scott Maben says the funds are divided between every school in the district. Bend High School, for example, claimed $7,000 out of last year’s earnings.

▶️ Four Rivers Vector Control getting ahead of big mosquito larval hatch

With warmer weather comes mosquito season. This season in Central Oregon is expected to have a larger larval hatch than usual.

“Along the little Deschutes River, the water got higher in the wetlands than it has in a few years and hatched out a lot of dormant eggs. So right now, we’re just busy mopping them up and controlling them to be the best of our ability,” manager of Four Rivers Vector Control District Chad Stubblefield said.

The team uses a naturally occurring bacteria called “bacillus thuringiensis israelensis” (BTI) to kill larvae before they develop into adults. BTI specifically targets and only affects mosquito, black fly, and fungus gnat larvae. It does not harm the environment or other wildlife.

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They use white cups on the end of sticks, called “dip cups,” to scoop samples out of wetlands and evaluate the mosquito larvae population before spraying BTI in the area.

Mosquito eggs can lay dormant for 10-15 years during dry periods, waiting for stagnant water to cover them, creating ideal conditions. Females can lay up to 1,000 eggs in a 7-10 day lifespan. 

“I know a lot of folks are concerned about the number of mosquitoes out here, but repellent makes all the difference in the world,” Stubblefield said. “DEET oil- lemon eucalyptus is a natural alternative. Picaridin is another good one. Just be patient with us because it’s just now getting warm enough at night for us to do our job.”

Four Rivers Vector Control District uses boats, helicopters, and drones to sweep larger mosquito breeding grounds if necessary. 

▶️ Vets warn of canine flu; some doggy daycares may not take unvaccinated dogs

A months-long canine influenza vaccine shortage is impacting local veterinary clinics — and possibly your Memorial Day weekend.

“The biggest concern for me as a practitioner is people that are potentially going down to California because that’s where they’ve had the most recent outbreak of the new strain,” medical director at Bend Veterinary Clinic Dr. Byron Mass said.

Canine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory virus among dogs. Symptoms of the virus are similar to that of human influenza, causing coughing, sneezing, runny nose and congestion. While it’s not believed to pose a threat to humans, it can also infect cats.

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Practices have had trouble vaccinating dogs that are due for their shots. For some vets, they haven’t had an order delivered for the canine influenza vaccine in months.

“We have a wait list right now. I think we might be close to 50 pets waiting to receive the vaccine, including pets that need to start their vaccine series,” Associate Veterinarian at Central Oregon Animal Hospital Chris Triola said.”The last order we had was in mid-February. It was a tray of 50 vaccines and we went through that in a month. Daily, we have a pet that needs or is due for the vaccine.”

If left untreated, the virus can develop into pneumonia, which can be fatal.

While canine influenza hasn’t been a problem in Central Oregon recently, Triola asks dog owners to be aware of the risks while traveling and to not be surprised if doggy daycares turn away your pet if it’s unvaccinated.

“It’s due diligence as far as increased risks: exposure to other dogs, most doggy daycares will require the vaccine. Candidates for the vaccine are going to be dogs going to dog parks, especially in our area,” Triola said.

The clinics say to keep any eye on dogs you are unfamiliar with if they are playing or interacting with your four-legged companion. If those dogs show any of the symptoms listed, remove yours from the situation.

▶️ Your dog could star in a worldwide photobook thanks to Bend photographer

Taneya Hayden of Bend has been taking pictures for 14 years. It wasn’t until 2021, that she realized her niche was in dog photography. 

“This is the one area that I truly like taking pictures of, over and over and over again,” Hayden said.

Hayden is now using her talents behind the lens to join a worldwide photography project.

“The ‘Tails of the World’ project is a worldwide collaborative fundraiser,” Hayden said. “We’ve got a group of 80 photographers from all over and each of us are doing our own individual fundraiser for our local rescue. One photo from each of those sessions will end up in a book.” 

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She says the project is a part of her philanthropic portfolio.

“It’s awesome to be involved in the community and to give back to the community through what is my job. This is just one of the many ways that I find to give back to local rescues around Bend and Central Oregon.”

Taneya says her shoots for the project will take place from May 31 through June 1. Her clients will have a choice between two locations for their furry friend’s photo shoots: Smith Rock and Dillon Falls.

If interested, you can contact Hayden at her social media accounts or her email.


▶️ Deaf poet from Bend makes debut at National Poetry Out Loud contest

A Bend poet who is deaf made her debut on the national stage Tuesday, representing the state of Oregon at the National Poetry Out Loud contest in Washington, D.C.

“I am so so nervous. I’m really nervous for tonight,” Kari Morgan said.

Kari, 16, went to D.C. in hopes of becoming the first deaf poet to ever win the national contest.

“In all 50 states, I’m the only one that’s deaf. I’m competing against all these hearing kids, so it feels like a big moment to get other deaf people involved and it’s really important,” Kari said.

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Kari says that’s a lot of pressure. 

“I want to show the deaf community all around the U.S. that I can win. If I can do it, so can you. Out of all of these hearing kids, there’s one deaf person. I just want them to know that they can do it,” Kari said.

One contestant from each of the 50 states compete at the national level. Only 24 of those 50 advance to the second round. After that, the top nine poets in the U.S. face off in the final round.

Kari unfortunately did not advance to the round of 24 on Tuesday night.

She hopes what she did accomplish inspires people in the deaf community. 

▶️ Deputies: Powell Butte homicide suspect caught after Highway 97 pursuit

A police chase on Highway 97 between Bend and Redmond Sunday night was related to a homicide investigation in the Powell Butte area earlier in the day. That suspect is now facing a potential murder charge.

Multiple people caught behind the areas that deputies blocked off have shared their videos of the chase.

The Crook County Sheriff’s Office said Monday that the investigation began at about 2:56 p.m. Sunday with a 911 call. The caller, who the sheriff’s office identified as Russell Votruba, 42, allegedly claimed he had killed the victim, identified as Christopher Hoffman, 41.

Powell Butte resident Randy Curths says the crime scene left him and other neighbors confused.

“I didn’t know what to think,” Curths said. “There was police tape across their driveway. Unbeknownst to us, a neighbor had left us a message saying ‘Do you guys have any information about this shooting last night?'”

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Deputies arrived at the residence to find the doors were open, the sheriff’s office said, and Hoffman was found deceased inside. Nobody else was home.

The sheriff’s office said Votruba, who is from Newport, had driven away in Hoffman’s black 2021 BMW.

Below is raw video from Highway 97 at Yew Avenue as the pursuit was headed toward a roadblock. It has been edited to remove profanities.


The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office said the SUV was spotted on Hunnell Road. DCSO said as deputies followed the SUV until other units arrived, the driver sped off at high speed. That launched the pursuit.

DCSO said all southbound traffic was stopped as precaution. Spike strips were set up near SW Tomahawk Avenue, but the driver was able to avoid them. 

Deputies finally stopped the vehicle new Yew Avenue on the south end of Redmond using what DCSO said was the Pursuit Immobilization Technique (PIT) maneuver.

DCSO said as deputies tried to capture Votruba, they heard multiple gunshots from inside the vehicle. The sheriff’s office said Votruba shot himself numerous times. 

A person posted video on the Central Oregon Daily News Facebook page of the chase. You can see the BMW drive off the road new Yew Avenue. with several police vehicles following it. The person who posted the silent video said he could hear about 10 gunshots afterward.

Below is raw video from someone caught in the northbound backup on Highway 97.


After deputies attempted lifesaving measures, Votruba was taken to St. Charles Hospital. He was released and booked into the Crook County Jail.

Per court docs, Crook County District Attorney Kari Hathorn is accusing Votruba of:

  • Second degree murder
  • First degree manslaughter
  • Felon in possession of a firearm
  • Unlawful use of a weapon
  • Unauthorized use of a vehicle

A possible motive for the homicide was not released.

The Crook County Sheriff’s Office is asking that anyone who had contact with Votruba or Hoffman between Friday, May 5, and Sunday, May 7, to contact the Crook County Sheriff’s Office.


▶️ Bend artist’s mural helps families feel at home at Ronald McDonald House

A newly installed mural by Central Oregon artist Megan Myers is now featured at the Ronald McDonald House in Bend. It’s a four-piece work canvasing the walls of the non-profit that houses families who have children staying in the hospital. 

“After deeply understanding the service that they provide to families and how important the work this house is, I really felt compelled to be part of it in some way,” Myers said.

The four pieces around the house tell an illustrative story of six woodland animal characters going on a camping trip. Three of those pieces span entire walls. 

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“They identified three places in the house that would have wall sized murals placed on them,” Myers said. “We all agreed it would be interesting to create characters and tell short story. , so that when people come to the house, they can follow a journey.”

The story concludes in the guest room corridor, where the animals gather around a campfire, wrapped in blankets and roasting marshmallows at their camping spot.

“This one’s really important because it wraps up the story,” Myers said. “This is where people come after a really hard day. We wanted them to feel safe and have a sense of respite, and calm.”

Chief Development Officer for the Ronald McDonald House Lauren Olander says Myers’ art has already helped a family experiencing complications with their child’s birth feel a bit more at home.

“The baby’s nursery was decorated with Megan’s art. So when this family couldn’t go home to their nursery with their baby and had to come to the Ronald McDonald House — when this mom came into the house and was surrounded by Megan’s art, that’s what comforted that mom.” 

Myers’ says she hopes to have a life-long partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities.