▶️ 10 cars in 2 months stolen in Madras? Police say uptick is normal this time of year.

Ten cars have been stolen in Madras within the last two months. While this may sound like a lot, Sgt. Steve Webb with Madras Police Department says an increase of vehicle thefts is typical this time of year.

“We end up having that uptick in thefts because, a lot of times, the colder weather makes it so people want to go out and warm up their vehicles. They leave them unsecured. They leave keys in the vehicles and individuals are walking down the street, looking for opportunities,” Webb said.

Webb says five arrests have been made in connection with the thefts so far. 

“Since October, the City of Madras has had ten vehicles stolen, within our jurisdiction. Nine of those have been recovered. There’s still one that’s outstanding. There was an 11th vehicle that was recovered out of Deschutes County,” Webb said.

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Madras Police say they had eight vehicle thefts in October through November 2022.

Despite there being a few more thefts this year, police say with population growth, the trend is steady. But they would like that number to drop.

“As cold as it is, don’t give individuals opportunities. They’re going to come walking down the street or maybe be in another vehicle. They’re going to see the car running. Don’t let them come over and take what’s yours,” Webb said.

▶️ Freezing fog delays flights at Redmond Airport, leaves passengers stranded

Flights scheduled to arrive and depart at Redmond Municipal Airport were delayed Monday night and well into Tuesday morning due to freezing fog, stranding some travelers for hours. 

“I’m not real happy about it because I’m supposed to arrive home at 12:30 this afternoon, and I wont arrive until midnight,” traveler Franny Howard said.

Airport Director Zach Bass says while it doesn’t happen often, freezing fog delays flights at Redmond a few times every year.

“The airlines expected there to be fog based on what they saw in the weather. So they didn’t bring a lot of their aircraft in that they normally would, which of course meant that this morning, we didn’t have those aircraft to leave at their scheduled times,” Bass said.

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For many, it was a long night of traveling.

“It was like 15 hours in the flight before we got delayed over night. So going on 36 hours now that I haven’t been able to relax,” traveler Samuel Benson said.

Benson just returned from trip to Amsterdam. After taking a connecting flight from Heathrow Airport in England, he had a layover in Phoenix, Arizona. 

He was then supposed to embark on the final leg of his journey home to La Pine.

“They said there was a weather issue, so that got delayed and got pushed out to this morning,” Benson said. “The pilot showed up about an hour late. And then when we were on the tarmac to pull away from the plane, there was a leak on the plane so we had to switch to another plane.”

After his 15 hour flight, Benson had to stay the night in the Phoenix airport due mostly to the issues in Redmond.

“Very little sleep. They need to have fold up arm rests on the chairs so that when people do get stuck, they can lay down,” Benson said.

Redmond Airport recommends to always check with their airlines when inclement weather is expected in the forecast to avoid getting stranded.

▶️ Taller Christmas trees costing a little more than last year

Prices for taller Christmas trees have seen a bump compared to last year. Buyers looking for trees between 8-10 feet could expect to pay $10 more than the last holiday season.

“The taller trees are more expensive this year. The shorter trees haven’t been raised that much. It’s just that supply and demand of the taller tree,” Luke Buerger with Candy Cane Christmas Tree Company in Bend said. 

Shortages plus high demand have led to the increases. But for some, the price hike is barely noticeable.

“Prices may have gone up a little bit, maybe $10 at the most for this tree. Maybe a little bit of a rise but nothing exceptional,” Christmas tree buyer Dale Navish said.

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It seems the new prices haven’t driven away any customers, either. 

“I think that we’ve sold about 175 trees. We sold out almost a week’s worth of trees in two-and-a-half days,” Owner of T & T Christmas Trees in Bend Tina Russell said.  “I’d say we sold out five days faster than what we sold last year and we haven’t hit our busy streak. We’re also noticing that the last three years, because of shortages, people are coming earlier and earlier.”

Both tree lots recommend customers get their trees early this year as both have sold out nearly every weekend they’ve been open.

Another option is to purchase a Christmas tree permit from the Deschutes or Ochoco National Forests and cut one down yourself.

▶️ HSCO advises dog owners to avoid dog parks as unknown illness spreads

An unknown respiratory illness affecting dogs continues to stump veterinary experts. The Oregon Department of Agriculture says more than 200 hundred cases have been reported by veterinarians since it was first seen in the Willamette Valley and Portland metro area in August.

Some cases developed into acute severe pneumonia, killing some dogs within 36 hours.

The disease has spread to several states and temporarily shut down an animal shelter in Jackson County earlier this week. The shelter has halted adoptions until at least Dec. 5th. 

While the Humane Society of Central Oregon (HSCO) has not reported any cases of the illness, it is advising dog owners to avoid dog parks. 

“Find another way to exercise your dog. At a dog park, you don’t know the vaccination history or the health of any of the dogs in there,” Lynne Ouchida with HSCO said.

While this may seem alarming, some dog owner’s aren’t too worried.

“I was a vet tech for 22 years. Personally, I’m not super concerned. It seems like it’s another version of kennel cough and kennel cough doesn’t really kill dogs, it just lays them low for a few weeks,” dog owner David MacFarlane said.

Because of dryer climate, HSCO says it doesn’t see a lot of respiratory canine illness.

The shelter still recommends you keep your dogs distanced from unknown dogs, and communal water bowls. 

▶️ ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ actress meets with Warm Springs community

Members of the Warm Springs community had a chance Tuesday to meet Cara Jade Myers, a native actress who is having a breakout performance in “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Madras Cinema 5 held a special screening of the film.

“It’s indigenous representation,” movie fan Tashina Eastman said. “It’s really nice to have her come out here and come meet tribal youth and be someone to admire.”

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is acclaimed Hollywood director Martin Scorsese’s latest epic, portraying the true and tragic story of the mysterious killings of the Osage People in 1920s Oklahoma. 

Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro also star in the film.

“I have such an amazing relationship with the Warm Springs Community Action Team. I was really excited to come up and do this when the movie came out. Do an actual screening, talk to people and get the community here,” Myers said.

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Myers plays Anna Brown in the film, an Osage woman who uses alcohol to cope with the loss of her people and culture.

Her role is not only significant in the film, but also one that she holds a personal connection to.

“With Anna, the first thing I did is when I met with Marty, is I said  ‘I don’t want her to be just another drunk Indian, because it would be easy to make her that way,'” Myers said. “I come from a family of alcoholics who … I’ve had grandpa pass away and one of my uncles pass away from alcoholism. I didn’t want the alcoholism to be something that was just a personality trait. I wanted it to come from the fact that her family’s dying, her people are dying, her culture’s dying, and that causes so much pain she has to numb that.”

The film is heavy and portrays the horrors indigenous people suffered at the hands of the white man.

“It’s really heartbreaking. And something that I wish was taught in schools,” Eastman said.

“It’s definitely a triggering movie, especially for natives. We’ve all experienced some kind of genocide or a missing or murdered indigenous relative, so there’s a lot of theme in this that I think history has wanted to hide,” Myers said.

LaRonn Katchia is an independent filmmaker based in Warm Springs. After befriending Myers at Cannes film festival in 2017, the two have held several filmmaking workshops for Warm Springs youth.

“I told her ‘I do want to go back to my community and give back and teach them film making.’ I do feel like we’re on this rise of indigenous filmmakers where I feel the younger generation just needs to see they can do it, too. And that’s what Cara’s mission is as well,” Katchia said.

Since her performance, Myers has been listed as a favorite by “Variety” to be nominated for Best Supporting Actress at next year’s Academy Awards.

▶️ Redmond trucking company gives 100 Thanksgiving meals to people in need

Rizk Transportation Company in Redmond spent its Friday afternoon giving out 100 free Thanksgiving meals to people in need. 

“It means a lot. I get food stamps to live off of for my dinners and stuff. With my kids, it kind of goes pretty fast so this will help bridge the gap,” said Clinton Keller, who picked up a meal.

RTC staff members carried boxes filled with traditional Thanksgiving dinner items out to the cars of families and community members, who otherwise could not afford it. 

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For most of those who picked up a meal on Friday, it was a blessing. 

“I’m financially in a burden. I do have a roof over my head and I’m thankful. I am so thankful that they were giving out turkeys and food for the holidays that I normally at this point in my life would not be able to get,” Karen Humphrys said.

It was a successful year for the company, making it the perfect time to truck it forward.

“We’ve grown a lot in this past year so we decided ‘why not give back’ you know? No reason anyone should go hungry especially on Thanksgiving,” Fleet Services Manager for RTC Mason Engstrom said.

While this was RTC’s first year doing this give away as a company, owner Mike Rizk says he has been doing this independently for three years now and he has no plans of stopping any time soon.

Rise in animal intake calls forces Humane Society to change drop-off policy

A significant increase of intake calls at the Humane Society of Central Oregon has forced the shelter to change their process in how they accept animals.

People can no longer simply drop the animals off. They’ll have to call ahead and hope the shelter has enough space. 

“I schedule all the intake for the shelter. Over the last two months, I’ve fielded over 350 calls,” Animal Management Director for HSCO Karen Burns said. The average number of intake calls in that same timespan is 200. 

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HSCO has implemented a scheduling process for animal drop-offs. 

“We like to schedule appointments so we can best serve the animal that’s coming in,” Burns said. “Give them the best opportunity to have the resources available to them in our care, have the staffing available to take care of them and the kennel space to take care of them.”

Nine puppies were abandoned in the shelter’s parking lot on Thursday. While the Humane Society was happy to take them in, a phone call ahead of dropping them off could have prepared the shelter to make better arrangements. 

HSCO is also contractually obligated with the City of Bend and Deschutes County to take in any stray, neglected or hoarded animals found by the two agencies. 

“Usually I consider us completely full when we have eight-to-10 open kennels because we have to allow for room in that,” Burns said.

Burns says the main reasons for the increase are owners having to move or landlords banning pets, financial struggles and behavioral issues.

HSCO asks those who know they have to relinquish an animal to plan ahead and call well in advance. If HSCO can’t take the animal at that time, it will provide tips in how to keep the animal at home longer. Its goal is to divert animal intake and keep them home whenever possible.

▶️ This Thanksgiving projected to be one of the busiest ever for travel

Hopefully you have those flights and rental cars booked. This Thanksgiving is projected to be one of the busiest ever recorded for travel according to AAA.

“This is the third-busiest Thanksgiving ever since we’ve started recording in 2000. The only years that are busier than this one were 2005 and 2019 right before the pandemic,” AAA Government and Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds said.

While the heavy traffic implications may sound overwhelming, there is some good news for those planning to drive to their holiday destinations.

“Gas prices are quite a bit lower than they were a year ago for Thanksgiving. A year ago, over the Thanksgiving holiday, we paid the most expensive gas prices for a Thanksgiving holiday ever,” Dodds said.

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Dodds says 89% of travelers will be driving to their Thanksgiving destinations this season.

Andres Canada with Avis/Budget at Redmond Municipal Airport says to get those rental cars booked now if you haven’t yet.

“Definitely anticipating tons of people coming through here, upwards of thousands to hundreds of thousands,” Canada said. “Book online first. Booking anything larger would help in case of snow or ice. Just do your homework.”

Dodds asks drivers to travel with patience and to make sure your car is road trip ready, complete with an emergency kit.

Dodds says three Central Oregon cities made AAA’s Top 10 Regional Holiday Destinations list this year. Bend came in at No. 1 followed by Redmond at No. 4. La Pine made the list for the first time at No. 10.

▶️ ‘Explore Prinevelle’ billboard typo may be tourism blessing in disguise

Whether you’re sending a text or writing an email, typos can happen to anyone. You rarely see it on a billboard.

One along Highway 97 in near Empire Avenue in Bend caught plenty of attention Monday, encouraging people to “Explore Prinevelle.”

“You could give it a French accent if you wanted to, like ‘Prine-Vellay.’ It’s all where you put the accent, I suppose,” Prineville Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Jeff Fox said.

The typo is easy to miss if you’re not looking closely. There’s an “e” where the “i” should be.

The billboard was meant to generate tourism for the City of Prineville. It was removed Monday afternoon.

“We have that brand new [Prineville] mural that I came by and I thought, ‘I wonder if the artist actually made a mistake there. I had to do a second take to see how it was spelled,” Fox said.

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Boe Brodhun owns The Shop on Nels Anderson Road near the billboard. As a business owner, he understands accidents happen.

“There can be oversight in places, but even with oversight mistakes happen. To me, it’s not a big deal, I hope it gets resolved and it’s a beautiful photo up there. It makes me want to go to Prineville,” Brodhun said.

The City of Prineville partnered with Prineville businesses to buy the ad. A lot of people had to approve it before it was placed along the busy highway.

“It was approved and moved forward, but I think what happened when the company moved it forward to the printer they sent the wrong file that was of a previous one that had not been accepted. Therefore, the spelling mishap was overlooked completely,” Fox said.

Fox says the typo may be a blessing in disguise because of the attention it’s been getting online.

“I wish we could take credit for it being on purpose because sometimes, these are favorable mistakes to have,” Fox said.

Fox says that while it may have been fun to keep the billboard up a bit longer, the billboard company admitted to the mistake. They have replaced it with a Smokey Bear ad.

Suspicious letters to elections offices prompt Deschutes Co. to update safety

Deschutes County is exploring ways to keep their election staff safe after more than a dozen suspicious letters, some containing white powder, were sent to election workers across the country this week. 

“We have all options on the table. Reevaluating procedures and process are the biggest ones. And the work flow of how we open mail and who touches mail when and where,” Deschutes County Clerk Steve Dennison said.

The letters were sent to Washington state, Oregon, California, Nevada and Georgia. Initial tests show some of the letters contained trace amounts of fentanyl.

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While Deschutes County did not see anything suspicious in this week’s special election, Dennison says election workers will now be required to wear personal protective equipment, such as gloves, while counting ballots moving forward. The clerk’s office is also working with Deschutes County Health to procure and stock Narcan, the overdose-reversing drug. 

Although threats have increased in recent years to election workers nationwide, Dennison says there has not been a shortage of election workers in the county.

“I see the opposite. I see more people coming out and wanting to play a part. And that’s something I think comes along with this, too. These suspicious letters that are circulating. It solidifies what we do. It resonates with everybody,” Dennison said.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger called it an act of terror.

“This is domestic terrorism and it needs to be condemned by anyone that holds elected office and anyone that wants to hold elected office, anywhere in America,” Raffensperger said.