▶️ Drought impacts trickling down to small-acreage land owners

The drought is coming home to roost for people who depend on surface water to irrigate their crops and feed their animals.

We visited a small, family-owned farm near Tumalo that is trying to figure out how to get by with half their usual water.

“These are my oldest son’s 4-H goats: Pistol and Rosie, and here comes Bomber….”

Shan Rae Hawkins and her family own a 7-acre property near Tumalo.

Three acres of the property are irrigated pasture, which is where they feed their goats, mule and horses.

“Water is everything,” Hawkins said. “When you have property you rely on it to raise pasture, feed animals, grow crops. It’s liquid gold. Without it, everything dries up.”

The Hawkins are currently receiving about 2/3rds the amount of water they usually get this time of year.

Sometime soon, the Hawkins and and 600 other customers of the Tumalo Irrigation District will begin a 7 day water on and 7 day water off rotation.

“We really don’t know what’s going to happen with the pasture. We will do our best to be as efficient as possible which we always try to be anyway with our water. Until we get into it and see what that rotation is like, I think we are going to have to play around with it and see how often we can move our sprinklers to try and keep it from burning up.”

Without productive pasture to feed their animals, the Hawkins are looking for hay to feed their animals at the same time as everybody else so hay prices are up.

Simultaneously, the drought is reducing hay production, further fueling demand and forcing farmers to get creative.

One of the ways the Hawkins have identified to become more efficient is to line their irrigation pond so the water doesn’t seep into the soil before they can spray it on their pasture.

Variations of this scenario are playing out for more than 9,000 farmers and ranchers in Central Oregon who are seeing reductions in their irrigation water.

“We are going to do the best we can not only to get ourselves through the season, but to help our neighbors who need maybe more than we do for an even more essential use that we do,” Hawkins said.

Irrigation districts are trying to figure out ways to share water while operating within the constraints of the recently adopted Habitat Conservation Plan that requires water stays in rivers and reservoirs for endangered species.

Details on those plans are forthcoming.

Downtown Bend Business Association unveils plans for Minnesota Ave. promenade

The Downtown Bend Business Association on Wednesday officially unveiled new details on a plan to turn Minnesota Avenue between Bond and Wall streets into a pedestrian-only promenade.

Mindy Aisling, Executive Director with the DBBA, presented the plan to the Bend City Council Wednesday night, sharing their findings from two years of studying the plan.

Aisling said the DBBA recommends funding a “comprehensive planning effort to develop a future vision for Downtown Bend,” which includes the Minnesota Ave. project as well as connecting downtown with the Bend Central District and adding bike and pedestrian access.

According to Wednesday afternoon’s statement, the DBBA Board of Directors created a committee, hired SZABO Landscape Architecture to design renderings, research promenade history and talk with peer cities that have developed similar successful promenades.

The DBBA then brought that information to a meeting with Minnesota Ave. businesses and building owners to get their feedback, Aisling said.

“We appreciate the thoughtfulness and insight that our stakeholders have supplied,” Mindy Aisling, Executive Director of the DBBA said in a press release. “And all of it lines up with the data we have collected from our research and conversations with peer cities. It is clear that the development of public space, such as a pedestrian promenade, takes significant research and development and ongoing sustainable funding sources.”

The proposal also calls for new parking facilities, more public art and more.

Additionally, the agency will ask the City Council to commit to partnering with the DBBA to prioritize building public restrooms in the downtown core – a necessary first step to be able to accommodate more people.

Aisling told councilors that stakeholders said downtown public restrooms were a top priority for the project and for downtown in general.

Renderings of the project show a tree-lined promenade with abundant seating areas in front of the restaurants and businesses that currently make up Minnesota Ave.

As Aisling outlined the project, she talked about all the opportunities and challenges, but hoped the city would get on board with the project.

She said the plaza could be an economic driver and enhance the vibe downtown.

“They create this culture that’s a little bit slower where people are spending more time downtown…they pop into one extra store, they gaze into a window,” she said. “And I love the idea of slowing traffic down in downtown and having people stroll a little bit more. It’s such a beautiful experience.”

At the City Council meeting Wednesday night, councilor Barb Campbell raised concerns about parking throughout the downtown area.

Downtown has about 2,500 total spaces; 1,800 of which are “on-street parking” stalls.

Minnesota Ave. has about 20 parking stalls along both sides of the street, but six of those currently are already out of service due to the new outdoor dining “parklets” that have extended into the street.

Businesses have had mixed opinions on the idea – some are wholeheartedly for it, saying it will only enhance the vibe of downtown and attract more foot traffic outside their doorsteps.

Others, like Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe, aren’t thrilled saying the plan could spell doom for his little shop.

Mayor Sally Russel told Central Oregon Daily News this week that it was too early in the process to form any opinions about the plan.

More information on this project can be found on the DBBA’s website, www.downtownbend.org.

The new website includes testimonials – and concerns – and gives the public a form to complete to offer its feedback.

Chris Piper, a former Bend City Councilor who helped draft plans for the current restaurant “parklets” that line Minnesota Ave. now, supports the idea.

“This project will provide the much-needed investment and improvement to the heart of Bend’s Downtown, creating and sustaining jobs, tourism and public safety which is a trifecta not only for downtown but the entire Bend community,” Piper said on the DBBA’s website. “This promenade will increase the amount of public pedestrian space in Bend’s Downtown Core and become a destination for both local Bendites and tourists to the area. I look forward to lending my support helping pursue this vision, and I stand ready to help.”

New building at Bend High to be named after local Medal of Honor recipient

The Bend-La Pine Schools’ Board of Directors voted to approve naming the new building at Bend Senior High School after Robert D. Maxwell, a Medal of Honor recipient and longtime automotive teacher at Bend High.

“He is a man who made great contributions to not only our school system, but to our country and our world and its an honor to be able to name a building after him,” said board member Amy Tatom.

The district said Tuesday night in a Facebook post that the building is slated to open in the fall of 2021.

The new building will sit on the same site where Maxwell taught automotive classes for decades.

In its post, the district said BSHS Principal Christopher Reese wanted to honor Maxwell, who was an integral part of the school’s Veterans Day celebration and was the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient in Oregon at the time of his death.

“His character withstands the test of time. He was a phenomenal teacher; he was a phenomenal human. It was truly an honor to get to know Bob Maxwell and all he represented,” said Reese.

The building will include a large multi-purpose room and four new classrooms and is part of the 2017 construction bond.

Central Oregon Daily News previewed the school board’s decision Monday evening:

▶️ School board to consider naming new Bend High building after Robert Maxwell

▶️ Bend skydiver breaks state record for most skydive jumps in one day

Dan Horne has been skydiving for 20 years, and for his 40th birthday he wanted to do something that’s never been done before.

“It started because I wanted to do 40 jumps for my 40th birthday because I am 39,” said Bend skydiver Dan Horne.

The idea stemmed from trying to break the state record of more than 40 skydiving jumps in one day.

The record attempt began right after sunrise at the Madras Municipal Airport on Tuesday, with Horne hoping to get four to five jumps per hour.

“The first few I was definitely real excited, but then the pace slows down a bit, but they are all fun,” Horne said.

A small crowd, including skydiving adventure buddy, Gary Chavez, gathered at Skydive Awesome!, a skydiving company in Madras, to watch Horne try and break the record.

“He has a lot of really good people around him, everyone is checking out his gear,” said Chavez. “Everyone is checking in with him and making sure he has good energy, eating and drinking water and so it’s really that accumulation of effort that really makes it more risky than taking a couple skydive jumps on a Saturday afternoon.”

There’s always risk when jumping out of an airplane, but to help get to the record faster, Horne added another risk: jumping from just 2,500 feet instead of the usual 10,000.

Horne says he practiced the smaller jumps for weeks, to be prepared for the big day.

“I get out and I have to open right away cause I only have time to open the parachute and fix the problem real quick if there is one, which there hasn’t been one, find a landing pattern and land,” Horne said.

Even with a few rain showers, lowers cloud levels and wind delays, each landing brought him closer and closer to the record; until that last jump arrived, and who would join him in his last jump?

Previous state record holder, Rodney Holberton.

The long-standing current record of 40 jumps held by Holberton was performed at Beagle Sky Ranch in southern Oregon on March 16, 1986.

“Having Rodney there to watch me break his record and jump with me for it was amazing,” Horne added. “It was a really fun jump, best jump of the day.”

Horne landed his 41st jump to break the record and the crowd cheered loud.

“I am feeling great,” Horne said. “It is a really great day! I have spent the last several hours more in the sky than on the ground. It is exactly what I wanted.”

Horne says he really wanted to break the record so he could bring more attention to the sport of skydiving.

▶️ Bend tattoo parlors see surprising surge in business during the pandemic

We have seen the struggle restaurants and retail stores have endured since the beginning of the pandemic, but there are other businesses around Central Oregon that had to push through it all as well.

Including tattoo shops.

Bend Tattoo Company owner Seth Rowan says his shop went from being out of work to having more clients than they can handle, some using their stimulus checks for fresh ink.

“We thought people maybe wouldn’t be spending money on tattoos,” Rowan said. “Because it was a rough time for everybody.”

Business was not bad for Bend Tattoo even throughout 2020, but naturally, it came with its share of challenges.

Including PPE availability and costs, Rowan says disposable gloves jumped from a few cents to around 30 cents each.

“The first month or two was pretty sketchy,” Rowan said. “My mom was making masks for us because we couldn’t get masks anywhere and we just kind of had to make it work. Thankfully we have a good glove distributor that’s kept us going the whole time, but it’s probably four times as much as it used to be now.”

Monolith Tattoo Studio manager Delaney Vecqueray says it’s not just price, she has seen the quality of gloves go down.

“A lot of trial and error to make sure that we’re able to keep everybody safe, it is a very sterile environment that we do take super seriously,” Vecqueray said. “Just kind of navigating that has been difficult, but thankfully we have a super rad crew and everything is smooth sailing.”

Not the easiest year for anyone, but business seems to be buzzing for these shops.

“I feel blessed that business is still good,” Rowan said.

If you are looking to get a tattoo sometime soon, keep in mind, many local shops are still going the appointment-only route.

Police identify pedestrian killed in 3rd St. accident; drivers not cited

Bend Police have identified the man hit and killed by two cars as he crossed NE 3rd St. earlier this month and announced no citations were given to the drivers involved.

The accident happened around 9:22 p.m. on June 7th at the corner of Mervin Samples Road and NE 3rd St. on Bend’s north side.

Lt. Juli McConkey said 23-year-old Derek Reed was in the northbound lane of 3rd Street when he struck by a Bend woman driving a Honda Civic and then by a 39-year-old Bend man driving a motorhome.

Reed was pronounced dead at the scene.

The two drivers remained on the scene and cooperated with police, McConkey said.

Drugs and alcohol were not factors in the crash, and it remains under investigation.

Neither driver was cited in the crash.

Bend Police want to remind pedestrians to wear clothing that is contrasting or reflective to be easily seen by drivers, especially at dusk and during the night hours, McConkey said.

 

▶️ Sound and Feeling: Bend piano savant forms unlikely bond with student

It’s no secret Bend is home to some incredibly talented people – from professional athletes to undiscovered artists and inspiring musicians.

Tonight, we bring you the story of Tony Lu.

He recently earned his Master’s in Piano Performance and his repertoire is impressive.

But this story is about much more than that.

It’s about his unique musical journey, the hurdles along the way and an unlikely friendship that brought him to Bend.

 

Oregon adds 6,900 jobs in May; hiring slows for leisure, hospitality gigs

Oregon’s unemployment rate was 5.9% in May, the same as the revised rate in April, according to new data from the state.

This was the first time Oregon’s rate was below 6% since March 2020 when the state’s rate was 3.6%.

Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 5.8% in May from 6.1% in April.

In Oregon, nonfarm payroll employment grew by 6,900 in May, following monthly gains averaging 11,400 in the prior four months.

Monthly gains in May were largest in private education (+3,400 jobs); professional and business services (+2,900); construction (+900); and financial activities (+900). Only one major industry shed more than 500 jobs in May: transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-800 jobs).

In May, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment totaled 1,864,000, a drop of 109,000 jobs, or 5.5% from the pre-recession peak in February 2020. Oregon’s employment dropped to a low of 1,687,500 by April 2020.

Since then, Oregon has recovered 176,500 jobs, or 62% of the jobs lost between February and April 2020.

Leisure and hospitality accounts for the bulk of Oregon’s jobs not recovered since early 2020. It employed 169,600 in May, and added only 1,600 jobs in the most recent two months.

The industry is still 46,700 jobs below its peak month of February 2020, so it accounts for 43% of overall nonfarm payroll jobs lost since Oregon’s pre-recession peak.

The restaurants, bars, and hotels that make up accommodation and food services have shown flat hiring trends over the most recent three months; the employment level in this component industry has been close to 150,000 in March, April, and May.

Local government is another industry that has a long way to go to get back to normal.

Employment averaged 207,400 in the past 12 months, compared with an average of 229,000 during the most recent pre-recession year of 2019.

In May, local government employed 207,800.

Local government education—including K-12 schools, community colleges, and public universities—accounts for over half of all local government employment.

A return to pre-pandemic employment is closer at hand for several major industries that were less impacted by the COVID recession.

Although the following industries still haven’t surpassed their pre-recession peak, each is within 3% of attaining that milestone: trade, transportation, and utilities; financial activities; information; construction; and professional and business services.

▶️ Man arrested after sexual assault of teen in fitness center parking lot

A Bend man was arrested Monday night after police say he sexually assaulted a teenager in the parking lot of Juniper Swim & Fitness.

Sgt. Wes Murphy said John T. Maguire Jr. 56, was charged with four counts of third-degree sex abuse of someone under 18 and four counts of harassment.

He was wanted in Douglas County for a felony driving offense as well.

Murphy said the incident happened around 8:30 p.m. when a Juniper employee called 911 saying a 16-year-old girl reported she had been assaulted outside in the parking lot on the south side of the facility off Franklin Ave.

Officers arrived to learn the victim had been walking to her car when Maguire Jr. approached her.

Murphy said Maguire Jr. started talking to the victim, sharing personal information and tried to hug her.

The girl fought back and tried to push Maguire Jr. away but he then touched her and kissed her.

Murphy said the girl continued to fight back until Maguire Jr. stopped the assault and left the area.

The girl was able to recall very specific details of the suspect’s clothing and statements he made to her, which allowed officers to find and arrest Maguire Jr. at his home near the facility.

The Bend Police Department would like to thank the staff at Juniper Swim and Fitness and the employees of the Bend Parks and Recreation District for their assistance and their commitment to the safety of their patrons and community members of Bend.

“We don’t see these type of things, thankfully, in our city,” said Bend Police Lt. Juli McConkey. “But if somebody does become a victim of such a crime like this, report it right away. Oftentimes we see people not reporting crimes and putting crimes and putting it on social media, and we’re playing catch up. It’s not helpful at all.”

Later Tuesday, Bend Parks and Recreation Executive Director Don Horton issued a statement saying, in part, security changes will be made at the facility.

“The bravery, clarity of thinking and courage to report was extraordinary, allowing a quick response that led to the apprehension of the person responsible. We appreciate the Bend Police Department action and partnership to make our community safer,” he said.

“In response to the incident, we are increasing our security presence at Juniper Park while patrons and staff are on-site at Juniper Swim & Fitness Center in evening hours. We are also working closely with partners to encourage safety protocols such as walking together to the parking areas.

“This is an unfortunate incident that does not reflect the typical experience in our parks or recreation facilities.”

Bend pedestrian seriously injured after truck hits him on Parkway

An 18-year-old Bend man was seriously injured late Monday afternoon when a pickup truck hit him while crossing the Parkway on the south end of town, police said.

Bend Police arrived at the intersection of the Parkway and Pinebrook Boulevard around 4:30 p.m. to find a man lying in the road near the crosswalk after reports of a vehicle versus pedestrian crash.

Lt. Clint Burleigh said several community members stopped to help the victim, identified Tuesday as Mason Briley.

A Hood River man driving north in a white 2001 Dodge Ram apparently hit the pedestrian on the Bend parkway, Burleigh said.

The driver and his passenger were not injured during the crash; the driver has been cooperative with the investigation.

At this time, investigators have ruled out alcohol and drug impairments as factors in the crash.

Bend Fire and Rescue arrived and provided medical aid to the victim before taking him to St. Charles in Bend with life-threatening injuries.

On Tuesday, Briley’s sister Lexi posted on a Facebook fundraising page that Mason was still unresponsive and on a breathing tube.

She wrote that had a fracture to his upper left eye socket, a cracked skull and broken leg among other injuries.

You can visit the fundraising page here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/163072849134400/

During the investigation, the Oregon Department of Transportation responded to help with detouring traffic around the crash area on the Parkway.

Both northbound lanes of the Parkway were closed for more than three hours.

Bend Police are working with the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office in the investigation of this crash.