▶️ Human foot found: Did someone dump medical waste at Knott Landfill?

A human foot was found by someone walking dogs near Knott Landfill earlier this month, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office said Monday. It’s sparking concern that someone dumped medical waste in the landfill, which is not allowed.

DCSO said the person was with several dogs on Jan. 21 in a field across SE 27th Street from the landfill, south of High Desert Middle School, when one of the dogs returned with the foot.

“This has not happened in the 16 1/2 years that I’ve been at the sheriff’s office. There are occasions where human remains are found, but generally speaking they’re highly decomposed,” Sgt. Jason Wall with Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office said. “Through the investigation, we were able to determine the partial foot was surgically amputated and possibly disposed of at the Knott Landfill.”

However, the landfill is not permitted to take medical waste.

“By our code, we’re not allowed to. It’s illegal to. All medical waste actually has to be handled outside of the landfill sector. Usually, they have to be sterilized and/or incinerated,” Director of Deschutes Solid Waste Tim Brownell said. “If we were to have any suspected concerns of body parts or any other biological waste we’re not aware of, we would actually cease operations and cordon off the area and call in the authorities.”

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Brownell says there are a strict set of protocols in disposing of medical waste.

“Body parts, for example, I believe are collected, gathered, and then shipped off to the mid-west for incineration,” Brownell said. “There’s quite a protocol around this. For medical waste to not go through that system and potentially end up at Knott Landfill, that would be of concern. We’ll be looking into where in the system that may have broken down.”

Sgt. Wall says the investigation is ongoing. He said DCSO, the State Medical Examiners Office, the Deschutes County Medical Examiner’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office will try to find the person who the foot belonged to.

As for how the foot ended up there, Brownell says Solid Waste will look at where the disposal protocol was broken. It could be as simple as someone carelessly throwing the material into a garbage container as opposed to a bio-hazard container.

▶️ Private Redmond dog park lets you rent it all to yourself

“Downtown Doggieville” is a new, privately owned dog park that has opened in Redmond. For $30, dog owners can book the park for themselves for 45 minutes.

Park co-owner Trudy Gardner says this is an alternative for dogs that don’t do well in public dog parks and for owners who are worried about the spread of disease.

“With other dog parks, sometimes you never know. Anyone can go into that park. There’s no proof of vaccinations. Whereas here we vet everybody. We meet every dog and every owner before they come onto our property and we ask for basic vaccinations,” Gardner said.

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Garnder is no stranger to providing dog services. She’s the co-owner of Doggievilla Dog Resort and Doggieville Ranch Dog Training in Redmond. She says privately owned dog parks have become increasingly popular throughout the country and hers is no exception. 

“There’s a lot of interest in the park. People are booking it,” Gardner said.

Downtown Doggieville sits on a fenced-in quarter acre of land where your dogs can roam free after passing a vetting process.

“We do a meet-and-greet with [the owners]. They sign some paperwork, show us proof of vaccinations and then they’ll get a code to the door. They can use our scheduling app and book time at the park,” Gardner said.

While Gardner says the business has been successful so far, there are some dog owners that are wary of the price.

“Everyone’s entitled to do whatever they like with their money. I personally like bringing my dog out to different dog parks. To each their own, but that’s kind of a lot of money,” dog owner Shannon O’Neill said.

The standard price is $30 for a party of up to three dogs. Every extra dog costs another $5 with a maximum of five dogs being allowed in the park at a time.

▶️ Grant to OSU-Cascades aims to diversify computer science in schools

Nearly every piece of technology you may use on any given day wouldn’t function without computer coding. While computer science has made incredible advances over the years, the issue of diversity looms.

“Traditionally, most computer scientists are white males. And that’s just one perspective in the world and we’d really like to expand that,” Ridgeview High School computer science teacher Josh Davis said.

A $628,000 grant awarded to OSU-Cascades from the Oregon Department of Education aims to address the issue. 

“We have had computer science education in our state for over 50 years. But when we took a look at who was actually in the classes, it was a small segment of the student population,” said Jill Hubbard, Professor of Practice in Computer Science at OSU-Cascades.

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According to OSU-Cascades’ website, 41% of Oregon high schools offer a foundational computer science course, but only 4% of the state’s high schoolers take those classes. Only 2% of those students are female. 

“My life is controlled by this thing,” Hubbard said while pointing at her phone. “How can I turn it off? What kind of data is it collecting about me as I stand here? How is it being used? It is important for our young people to think about those bigger problems, and to have diverse minds approach them.” 

The money will go toward recruiting, retaining and training new teachers to teach computer science courses in grade schools throughout the state — courses similar to the Girls Who Code club at Ridgeview High. 

“We have a different perspective on things. You can’t have just one demographic of people focusing on the entire industry of something. A lot of women are detail oriented and I think that’s super useful for coding in general,” Ridgeview freshman Willow Dice said.

Oregon is one of the last states in the country to not have computer science standards in schools. The state will roll out standards, equipping all Oregon public schools with computer science classes, in 2027 and 2028.

Jefferson Co. Schools: Make-up days not a sure thing despite 5 days of closures

The Jefferson County 509J School District closed for the fifth school day in a row on Tuesday due to icy road conditions. While some may think that’s nearing the threshold required to extend the school year through make-up days, the district says it has had more than enough required instructional hours to cover the missed week of school — and then some.

“Our district does a very good job in planning when we put out our school year calendar, we build in many days. So by instructional hours requirements, even though we’ve had five closure days, we wouldn’t be required to make up any of those five,” Superintendent Jay Mathisen said.

Although temperatures have increased throughout the High Desert the last few days, parent Desiree Ledwith says some of the back roads on the outskirts of Madras were still slick early Monday and Tuesday morning. 

“A lot of the side streets, the country roads and especially down in Warm Springs, which is considered the 509J District, they’re not as well maintained as the highways and city streets.” Ledwith said. “I think [the school closures] were needed for a lot of the people around.”

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Ledwith lives in the canyon on the outskirts of Madras. While some parents in the district may have been just fine to get their kids to school, for Ledwith, it would have been near impossible.

“We have had to stay home for those five days because of the snow and ice. We weren’t even able to get out of our house,” Ledwith said. 

Although the missed days are covered, the school district can still decide to add make-up days if they see fit.

“We may make up days, even if we are above the requirements for instructional hours, just because we start from a place of believing school is a place where learning can happen and we want students in school learning as many days as possible,” Mathisen said.

The school district says it has started conversations on weighing the pros and cons of adding make up days at the end of the year, but they say they want to wait for the inclement weather patterns to pass before making an official decision.  

▶️ Redmond Senior Center receives much-needed new kitchen

Hundreds of people rely on the Redmond Senior Center‘s kitchen for daily meals, but the deteriorating condition of the 35-year-old building had seriously hampered operations.

Through the support of community partners, the senior center has been able to completely remodel the kitchen. It’s a project that’s been years in the making.

“The senior center here has struggled for years, ever since I’ve been here, with an old kitchen that had equipment that was forever breaking down, needed to be fixed and then broke again. The cooks have always dealt with that and it’s been a total pain,” Redmond Senior Center member Tom McEneany said.

The kitchen hadn’t received an upgrade since 1990, the year it was built. The declining conditions of the kitchen made it difficult to serve Redmond’s seniors. 

“We have a small army of volunteer drivers that go out every day that feed a 150 people through Meals on Wheels. Then we feed another 30-50 people here at the center,” said Diana Barker, President of the Redmond Senior Center Board of Directors.

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For the members of the senior center, the kitchen means much more than just serving food.

“As you get older, people die. Friends die, families die. Isolation can really be terrible for seniors. It’s a place where people can just come and have company and talk. Quite frankly, in many ways it’s a life saver,” McEneany said. 

The remodel cost about $500,000. The kitchen is now completely upgraded, fully stocked with new and reliable equipment.

“What we have now is really going to serve the community a lot better,” Barker said.

The kitchen makes a large amount of meals for their Meals on Wheels program. The senior center says it costs about $25,000 a month to fund it. Hayden Homes committed to donate $75,000 through three years to help with those funds.

A grand re-opening event for the kitchen will be held Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at the Redmond Senior Center. The public is invited to attend. Food, beer and wine will be served.


▶️ Icy roads put strain on gas supplies in Central Oregon

The snowstorm followed by the ice storm that hit Central Oregon this week took a toll on gasoline supplies in the region. Some local stations had to shut down the pumps after running out of fuel.

Fortunately for some, their gas tankers finally managed to make it to their destinations on Friday.

“Running out of gas. The people down the street running out of gas. Everybody gets hit,” Mobil gas attendant Joe Boyd said. “We’re finally getting trucks over the pass, but everything is backlogged.”

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Four out of the six gas stations Central Oregon Daily spoke with on Friday said they ran out of gas at some point this week. 

“Freddy’s ran out yesterday and we were so busy yesterday because everybody kept calling, so they let everybody know that we had gas because we did have gas. But the trucker came and only gave us enough to get through the day,” Space Age gas attendant Lenny Ledlow said.

Space Age managed to get through Thursday with no issues, while several gas stations around them had to temporarily shut down. On Friday morning, Space Age ran out of their supply — but temporarily.

“We ran out of gas. I was just getting ready to put the signs up telling everyone we were out of gas then the truck showed up and we got gas. So now we’re OK,” Ledlow said.

With more freezing rain possible this weekend, some are taking advantage of the recent resupply of gas while they can.

“Just out getting gas, doing some running around, making sure we’re ahead of the frozen roads and the gas shortage with the trucks not being able to make it over the passes,” Chevron customer Ben Brown said.

▶️ Bend-La Pine shares measures it takes to keep school roofs snow safe

People living in Bend in 2017 may remember what happened at Highland Elementary School. The gymnasium roof collapsed due to a heavy load of snow.

No one was in the building at the time, but for some parents the memory is still fresh, especially as we experienced a huge snowstorm followed by freezing rain.

“We’re scheduled to get rain this week, so I think it’s going to get really icy and heavy,” Highland Elementary School parent Virginia Hermanssonn said. “I have been thinking about it, but I feel pretty confident. We have a new gym, new roof and this building went through the last big snowstorm, so I’m not too worried.”

A viewer emailed Central Oregon Daily News on Sunday asking if the Bend-La Pine School District has taken any measures since the incident. She added she was very concerned as a parent with a child in the school district.

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Becca Burda, Bend-La Pine Assistant Director of Communications, said the district has maintenance crews that regularly evaluate the structural integrity of all of their buildings. While the recent snow was dry and powdery, the district consults with a local engineering firm when it becomes heavier.

“They will come in and measure the weight of the snow and take all of those things into account to see if we need to make sure that all of those roofs are emptied of the snow, that all that snow is removed. Or if we can just make that the storm drains are clear and melting them is enough,” Burda said.

On days when the icy roads cause school closures, the district says those maintenance crews work around the clock to ensure our schools are safe.

“They’re working 24/7 in the schools to make sure that the school grounds are safe, cleared, sanded. Making sure that those eaves that hang over the school that they’re cleared of icicles that can be very dangerous. They’re hard at work at all the schools,” Burda said.

Burda says structural evaluations are performed by their crews all throughout the year and evaluations are on a priority basis. Older schools such as Bend High School and Bear Creek Elementary are inspected more often than newer schools such as Caldera High School.

▶️ St. Charles hosting 1st ‘Stop the Bleed’ classes since pandemic

St. Charles Health Center will begin hosting Stop the Bleed classes starting on Wednesday, teaching people how to stop life-threatening bleeding.

“That red stuff needs to stay in your body. So, we teach how to hold pressure on wounds, how to pack wounds and how to apply tourniquets,” St. Charles Trauma Program Coordinator Jeremy Buller.

St. Charles partners with Bend Fire and Rescue to aid in the training and they keep the curriculum simple.

“The biggest thing is learning what life-threatening bleeding is. Life-threatening bleeding can literally just be somebody bleeding,” Buller said. “Application of a tourniquet is really easy. Packing a wound and holding pressure on a wound is really easy, too. You can do that with the shirt off your back.”

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These are the first Stop the Bleed classes St. Charles has hosted since the beginning of the pandemic.

“We started the classes again because the classrooms have finally opened back up since COVID,” Buller said. “We’ve got multiple classes coming up that are filling up really quickly so this is probably gonna be a year-long thing and we’re gonna be offering the courses until the community doesn’t want them anymore.”

The classes are open to the public and are completely free. The two-hour courses will take place Wednesday, Jan. 17 at 10 a.m. and at noon; Saturday, Feb. 3 at 10 a.m.; and Saturday, March 23 at 10 a.m. at St. Charles Bend. You can register for them here.

Passenger: Alaska Airlines cancels RDM flight after running out of deicer fluid

(Story updated with response from Alaska about what happened, plus additional information from the passenger, saying more deicer was expected to arrive, but that the delay would take the crew out of its work hours.)

Jeanette Marker was supposed to fly out of Redmond Municipal Airport just after 6 p.m. on Sunday. After several delays, her flight was canceled.

“The pilot comes on and says they need to deice the plane. It was all kind of fun at that point because I’d never seen a plane be deiced before. I saw the deicer hitting his hose at one point, then they backed away and left. Sure enough the pilot comes back on and says they ran out of deicing fluid,” Marker said.

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Marker said that she was told more deicer would arrive in about 45 minutes, but that it would take the crew out of its scheduled work hours.

Alaska Airlines told Central Oregon Daily News Tuesday that the flight did not run out of deicer fluid. However, the airline did say there was a “challenge” refilling the deicer truck. Because of this, the flight crew “timed out” — meaning they ran up to their limit on how many hours they could work that day.

“If deicing is required due to weather conditions and, for some reason, we do not have deicing fluid on hand, we would not operate the flight until fluid is resupplied,” Alaska added in response to questions Central Oregon Daily News sent Monday.

Marker was stranded at the airport for seven hours. Two of those hours, she said she was stuck on a plane that would never take off.

“I do not want to fly if it’s not safe. I was very much like ‘it happens. It’s fine.’ But when I got off the plane, I never once saw a single employee to help us. We were left to fend for ourselves in Redmond,” Marker said. “There was no one to help you out with hotels. There were elderly that needed wheelchair assistance. There was a woman behind who was worried because she needed to pick up her cancer medication.”

Marker wishes Alaska Airlines communicated more with their passengers.  

“Just some sort of communication rather than a text,” she said. “It was so cold to only get a text message from Alaska Airlines as you’re sitting at an airport at midnight. Never once having an actual person tell you ‘I hear you. I see you. I understand you’re frustrated.'”

If you have any questions about flights or departures, contact your airline directly.

▶️Sisters opens last-minute, temporary warming weather shelter for the homeless

A temporary cold weather shelter is opening in Downtown Sisters Friday night. It comes after a last-minute approval by the city.

Volunteers with the Sisters Cold Weather Shelter said they received 24 hours notice to have it ready to go.

“Having been involved in the denial of the shelter last year, we were not prepared for this short of notice,”  Sisters Cold Weather Shelter Board President Louis Blanchard said. “We’ve been preparing all of our folks in the woods with blankets, heaters, tons of propane, campers, RVs, things of that nature to try to sustain themselves through the winter months.”

Sisters is the only city in Deschutes County that does not have a permanent place for the homeless to stay warm.

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The temporary shelter is opening near Fir Street Park at 291 E. Main Ave. It will open at 6 p.m. every night through Jan. 25. It’s approved to sleep up to 20 people. Anyone who plans to use it must follow a strict set of guidelines.

“One of the big things we expect is there is respect for all individuals. So when our guests come in, they need to be aware of the people around them and follow the rules,” shelter volunteer Diane Prichard said.

The shelter will have overnight monitors on site. Warm meals will be served and no alcohol or drugs will be permitted.

Businesses around the shelter’s location and other people voiced their support of the shelter.

Central Oregon Daily did reach out to several city officials including the mayor. None wanted to speak on camera.