▶️ Caterers, event planners bustling with the return of holiday parties

Holiday parties are making a comeback a year after most people and businesses kept gatherings small due to concerns about COVID.

Central Oregon Daily News spoke with caterers and event organizers about the resurgence of holiday parties.

“This is our December calendar. These two weeks are all holiday parties.”

Cerstin Cheatham and her staff at Bleu Bite are catering dozens of events the next two weeks.

“Just solid holiday parties. Saturday is multiple events. That’s six to eight parties every day. Same with Friday. Sundays are a little bit slower,” Cheatham said.

Demand for Bleu Bite’s Catering services is more than double what it was last December.

It’s also above pre-pandemic levels.

“Definitely better. We are probably up from 2019 about 15%. We do usually grow about 10% a year so it’s a little bit more than that,” she said.

“It’s been a strong holiday season thus far,” said Carrie Ramoz, Tetherow marketing manager.

Several local companies have held or scheduled holiday parties in Tetherow’s event center.

“With these nice doors we have that open, especially with the nice weather we’ve been having, a lot of parties have been indoor-outdoor hybrid,” Ramoz said. “They’ll do s’mores or whiskey by the fire. They’ll enjoy the view. That’s been a nice option to offer them.”

Events in other popular spots like Bend Park and Recreation’s Aspen Hall and Hollinshead Barn are running about half of pre-pandemic levels, but demand is rising.

“The parties we are seeing this year, the companies that are able to come together, they are tending to go a little bigger than they did before. They are looking to celebrate their teams,” said Ramoz.

Holiday party goers still need to wear masks indoors, except when they are eating or drinking, and maintain social distance.

But the tradition of gathering to celebrate the holidays appears to be coming back strong.

▶️ Green light nears for several Bend transportation bond projects

On Wednesday night, a complex plan took center stage at the Bend City Council work session.

The Transportation Bond Oversight Committee (TBOC) presented a 5-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to use money from the $190 million transportation general obligation (GO) bond approved by Bend voters last November. 

The list of 21 projects was selected after extensive community feedback through the Transportation Plan Update.

“This is a really long time coming where we’re actually going to get started on some of these much-needed transportation projects,” Councilor Melanie Kebler said.

One of the projects slated first is improving the Wilson Avenue corridor.  

“Which projects were sequenced first was where we saw the greatest need,” Councilor Anthony Broadman said. “So far we’ve accepted all of the staff and TBOC recommendations about which projects our community members need the most.”

The Reed Market railroad overcrossing is the most expensive item on the list, set to take up $40 million, but not scheduled for completion until after the 5-year window.


“I think there was a little confusion about what the timing was going to be on actually finishing that very large project, and as staff told us last night, there was never any intention that that would be able to be finished in the next five years,” Kebler said.

“We have to do some other projects in order to make sure we’re not cutting off the entire southeast corner of Bend,” Broadman added. “That Reed Market work is going to take probably two construction years, two seasons.

“It’ll be closed for some time, so we need to make sure we have other routes, other detours in place, to make sure that it’s a successful construction project.” 

The plan is just a couple of weeks out from potential approval. 

“On December 15th, our next meeting, our staff will bring back that full package to us as an official Capital Improvement Plan for the next five years,” Kebler said.

“They will make the one change we requested to move some money up into those first five years to accelerate planning for the Reed Market overcrossing, and then we’ll have any further deliberation we want to have at that meeting and then we’ll take a vote to approve that project list.”

Plans for the following five years aren’t in the works just yet.

“I would expect that the planning process for the second five years…will start relatively soon, certainly well before the end of the first five-year period,” Broadman said.

“It’s going to be a work in progress moving forward,” Kebler said. “This was just the way to get started and say ‘here’s right now what we think we can do in the next five years, let’s get moving, and we can always adjust as we go and make any changes we need to.'”

Broadman said the money from the bond is a relatively small part of the amounts they will need for transportation over the next couple of decades.

“We fully expect to use federal dollars and ODOT dollars through the state,” he said. “The bond source of revenue can’t be used for maintenance, so it’s important as we develop the infrastructure that we continue to maintain it at a world-class level, and that’s going to be from other funding sources.”

Some other key priority projects include the Midtown Pedestrian and Bike Crossings, and Butler Market Road and Boyd Acres Road Improvements.

They also include better east-west connections that will reduce drivers’ time behind the wheel and improve Bend’s livability and safety.

Other priority routes targeted for traffic flow improvements include U.S. 97/Parkway, Third Street intersections, Empire Avenue near U.S. Highway 97, Butler Market Road and other key routes.

The committee’s full recommended timeline and list of projects can be found at bendoregon.gov/tboc.

▶️ Beloved Bend Little League leader remembered for passion, kindness

Sam Palermo, a former president and umpire for Bend North Little League, an avid San Francisco Giants fan, and friend, left behind a legacy of hard work and kindness.

“I loved what he stood for. I loved how he made me feel like family, how he encouraged us all to treat each other like a family,” said Shelley Scarborough the Fundraising Chair for Bend North Little League.

“He was just like a grandfather amongst 12 or 13 grandchildren,” said Steve Mora a Former Coach for Bend North Little League.

Palermo passed almost two weeks ago, leaving an impact on those he spent time with enjoying the game of baseball.

Whether he was keeping score, helping beautify the fields, or taking kids on rides in his golf cart, Palermo did his best to do whatever Bend North Little League needed to succeed.

“Sam never shied away from taking on responsibility and he was really great at encouraging others to help out,” Scarborough said.

After volunteering for the league while his grandson played, Palermo quickly became the BNLL’s president.

Palermo was a pillar of support for when the League’s 12-year-old team reached the Little League World Series in 2016.

Steve Mora was one of the coaches for that team and said Palermo would do just about anything for the team without hesitation.

He shared a story about Palermo securing a cage for batting practice and getting the kids pizza during the tournament.

Palermo even approved of the bronze plaque memorializing the Little League World Series team, which you see when you enter BNLL’s field.

“And he was always about doing whatever he could to make sure that the players and the team had success,” Mora said.

Even after his grandson grew out of the league, Palermo continued to serve as an umpire and volunteer.

“We’re all so thankful for the time we were able to spend with Sam. We’re so thankful for what he brought Bend North Little League, and I think, from here on out, we’re all just trying to do better and be better just like Sam encouraged us to do,” Scarborough said.

In a message from the league about Palermo’s passing, Sam’s lively personality and passion for the game were praised. 

“Thank you, Sam, you have been an inspiration for so many of us.  We wish you Godspeed on your new journey and know you are smiling down on us from the great diamond in the sky.”

Smiling down on the league and all the hard work that will never be forgotten.

In lieu of flowers, Sam’s family encourages people to donate to Little League International and Bend North Little League to continue his legacy of giving back and encouraging kids to get out there and play some ball.

OHA reports 42 new COVID deaths, 1,046 cases statewide

There are 42 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,228 the Oregon Health Authority reported Thursday.

Note: More information about the cases and deaths will be provided in an updated news release.

The OHA reported 1,046 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 393,232.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (7), Benton (19), Clackamas (84), Clatsop (2), Columbia (26), Coos (36), Crook (22), Curry (7), Deschutes (83), Douglas (41), Harney (6), Hood River (6), Jackson (86), Jefferson (17), Josephine (43), Klamath (18), Lane (70), Lincoln (6), Linn (64), Malheur (3), Marion (62), Multnomah (157), Polk (22), Tillamook (5), Umatilla (7), Union (3), Wallowa (2), Wasco (8), Washington (117), and Yamhill (17).

OHA releases new COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough report

OHA’s most recent update on COVID-19 breakthrough cases, released today, found that 71.3% of the 4,134 reported COVID-19 cases between Nov. 21 and Nov. 27 occurred in unvaccinated people.

There were 1,186 breakthrough cases, accounting for 28.7% of all cases.

The average age of the breakthrough cases during that period was 45.

Twenty-eight breakthrough cases involved residents of care facilities, senior living communities or other congregate care settings. There were 45 cases in people aged 12 to 17.

To date, there have been 45,545 COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases in Oregon. The average age of all cases is 47. Breakthrough cases have been reported in all 36 counties.

Cases of COVID-19 are far more common in unvaccinated people. The report shows that the rate of COVID-19 in unvaccinated people is four times higher than in vaccinated people.

To date, 4.4% of all vaccine breakthrough cases have been hospitalized and 1.2% have died. The average age of vaccinated people who died was 81.

Vaccination remains the most effective tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The latest breakthrough report can be found here.

COVID-19 hospitalizations

St. Charles on Thursday reported it had 26 COVID patients; six are in the ICU and on ventilators.

Of those 26 patients, 20 are not fully vaccinated.

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 384, which is 20 fewer than yesterday. There are 90 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is two fewer than yesterday.

There are 49 available adult ICU beds out of 691 total (7% availability) and 312 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,078 (8% availability).

12/2/2021 Available Beds (and Percentage of Staffed Beds Available)
  Statewide Region 1 Region 2 Region 3 Region 5 Region 6 Region 7 Region 9
Adult ICU beds available 49
















Adult non-ICU beds available 312
















The total number of patients in hospital beds may fluctuate between report times. The numbers do not reflect admissions per day, nor the length of hospital stay. Staffing limitations are not captured in this data and may further limit bed capacity.

Note: Please do not visit an emergency department for COVID-19 testing, unless you require emergency care for your symptoms.

Emergency departments in Oregon are under significant strain. You can find a test here.

If you have a medical condition that doesn’t require emergency care, contact your provider. An urgent care center may also help you get the care you need and will save emergency departments from added strain.

More information about hospital capacity can be found here.

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 26,172 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry on Dec. 1. Of that total, 2,278 were initial doses, 4,024 were second doses and 10,485 were third doses and booster doses. The remaining 9,295 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on Dec. 1.

The seven-day running average is now 11,810 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered 3,530,606 doses of Pfizer Comirnaty, 75,802 doses of Pfizer pediatric, 2,275,997 doses of Moderna and 244,417 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

Note: Today’s cumulative total doses of Pfizer Comirnaty vaccine is lower than yesterday’s total. This is due to the removal of duplicate doses found during data reconciliation.

As of today, 2,955,159 people have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 2,667,597 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series.

These data are preliminary and subject to change.

Updated vaccination data are provided on Oregon’s COVID-19 data dashboards and have been updated today.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations  

To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine situation in Oregon, visit our web page (English or Spanish), which has a breakdown of distribution and other information.

Shop with a Cop program gears up for the holidays; donations accepted

Planning and preparations are underway for the 2021 Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Shop with a Cop program.

Shop with a Cop is a joint venture between local law enforcement agencies throughout Central Oregon, local Walmart stores, and McDonald’s.

The primary focus is to help make the holidays a little brighter for less-fortunate families, and provide an opportunity for children to engage in positive police interaction.This year, Shop with a Cop will be similar to 2020. Last year our volunteers shopped for 75 school-aged children and their families.

Law enforcement then made deliveries to their houses dropping off the gifts and McDonalds meal vouchers.

Although it is not how we envision Shop with a Cop to take place, we are grateful that we are still able to make this event happen.

Gifts are often essential items such as; shoes, clothing, personal hygiene items, household items and other needed supplies.

The program also assists children and families throughout the year with basic needs during emergencies.Shop with a Cop is completely funded by donations from our community. Many businesses, organizations, and individual citizens give money to the program.

No tax dollars are spent on this program. In addition to shopping for the students, Shop with a Cop also partners with Walmart to help provide a Christmas meal for some families.  We apply 100% of community donations to this local program.Participating students are referred primarily by a community based advocacy group that works directly with school-aged children at most schools throughout Deschutes County.

Additional students are referred via the Central Oregon Partnership for Youth (COPY) program, which provides positive mentoring for children of incarcerated parents.. Shop with a Cop is overseen and coordinated by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, however, its continued success stems from the participation of deputies from the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, officers and deputies from agencies throughout Central Oregon, the Oregon State Police, and law enforcement from the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and the Bureau of Land Management.

Shop with a Cop has also been overwhelmingly successful in past years because of the outstanding generosity, in the form of monetary support, from local citizens and businesses. Volunteer support for the program has always been a critical part of the program’s success as well.For businesses and citizens who would like to make a monetary contribution towards this year’s program, donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the main Sheriff’s Office in Bend, or at the Sheriff’s Office’s substations in La Pine and Sisters. Checks, made out to “DCSO SWAC”, can also be mailed to:Deschutes County Sheriff’s OfficeAttn: Shop with a Cop Program63333 West Highway 20Bend, OR 97703We again would like to thank the many Central Oregon businesses and community members that make Shop with a Cop possible…together, we CAN again make a big difference in the lives of many individuals and families!

Warm Springs burglary suspect faces federal charges after arrest

A wanted Warm Springs man was arrested Tuesday and faces federal charges stemming from a burglary at the Tribal Utilities Department earlier this year.

Levi Joshline Jim was wanted on two tribal warrants, a Jefferson County felony warrant and a Washington State warrant in addition to being the primary suspect in a breaking and entering/theft case involving a stolen Ford F350 pickup, a utility detector, security system and tools.

Warm Springs Tribal Police Chief Bill Elliott said detectives were in the Upper Dry Creek area on Tuesday and saw a man who was identified as Jim.

When the detectives attempted to contact Jim, he ran but was captured after a brief chase.

Based on the follow-up interview Jim, and other evidence, the WSTPD detectives determined they had enough probable cause to charge him with the theft at Tribal Utilities, theft of the tribal pick-up and other break-ins that had been occurring around the reservation.

Jim’s Jefferson County felony warrant was the result of an indictment for multiple burglaries that occurred at businesses in Madras during the month of October.

He was jailed on the outstanding warrants until formal charges can be made in Tribal Court, and as the theft from Tribal Utilities qualifies as Theft or Embezzlement from a Tribal Organization, a federal offense, this case will be forwarded to the United States Attorney’s Office for review of charges.


Deschutes Land Trust, Deschutes River Conservancy boost Wychus Creek flows

The Deschutes River Conservancy and Deschutes Land Trust announced Thursday a water rights transfer that will help return more water to a local stream providing a buffer for future drought years.

They recently completed a transfer to move 40.2 acres of irrigation water rights (up to 0.59 cfs or 214 acre-feet) to instream use in Whychus Creek.

This transfer will add over 69 million gallons of water to Whychus Creek from April-October, according to the two groups.

An acre-foot is the amount of water that would cover one acre to a depth of one foot.The water rights are from two Land Trust protected properties, Whychus Canyon Preserve and Rimrock Ranch, and will help protect instream flows for native fish and wildlife, including reintroduced salmon and steelhead.

The transfer coincides with major stream restoration efforts taking place at both properties to improve the health, water quality, and water quantity of Whychus Creek. Funding for this water conservation project was provided by the Pelton Round Butte Water Fund.“This has been a record drought year for Central Oregon, underlining the critical need for continued water stewardship and flow restoration efforts,” said Kate Fitzpatrick, Deschutes River Conservancy Executive Director. “Every little bit helps in terms of improving the overall health of our rivers and creeks for the future of Central Oregon. Our partnerships with the Land Trust and the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council have been instrumental in the Whychus Creek restoration progress made to date,”

The Deschutes River Conservancy and Deschutes Land Trust have been collaborating for more than 15 years to restore flows and protect land along Whychus Creek.

Together with a wide variety of local partners they’ve returned up to 20,000 acre-feet of water to Whychus Creek and conserved more than 3,226 acres of land and nine miles of Whychus Creek for clean water and fish and wildlife habitat.“The Land Trust is committed to building healthy natural systems for our region in the face of a changing climate,” said Natasha Bellis, Deschutes Land Trust Conservation Director. “This water transfer will help make our protected lands on Whychus Creek more sustainable in the long-term, improve water quality and quantity, and create healthier habitat for fish and wildlife in Central Oregon. We’re very grateful to our partners and funders who made this transfer possible.”

Bend Park and Recreation winter program registration begins Dec. 7

With the New Year around the corner, Bend Park and Recreation District is opening registration for winter recreation programs beginning Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 8 a.m.

Winter programs run from January through March and include youth and adult activities, no school day and Spring Break programs, arts, sports, swim lessons and ice season favorites including skating, hockey and curling.

Program descriptions and schedules are available for preview in the Winter 2022 Online Playbook or at the registration website.

Beginning Dec. 7 at 8 a.m., patrons are encouraged to register online or in person at the Juniper Swim & Fitness Center, Bend Senior Center, District Office and The Pavilion during regular business hours.

Spanish language assistance will be available on Tuesday, Dec. 7, at Juniper Swim & Fitness Center to help with registration.

For additional information, contact the BRPD Customer Service Team at (541) 389-7275 or visit www.bendparksandrec.org.

$185K grant to bolster COCC equity efforts, expand diversity programs

Central Oregon Community College’s office of diversity and inclusion was recently awarded a $184,902 grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust’s equitable education portfolio that will support, expand and implement a range of equity and diversity programs at the college.

The majority of the award will be applied to COCC’s college preparatory programs designed for underserved district high schoolers, aimed at specific operational costs and the funding of a Native American program staff member’s salary.

The funds will also help underwrite a similar program for Black high school students that is currently in development.

Other dollars will enhance equity-centered professional development at COCC, bringing more training offerings to faculty and staff.

“This incredible aid will directly benefit the futures of many youth in our underserved communities, offering them educational direction and access to technology and resources that they wouldn’t otherwise have,” said Christy Walker, the college’s director of diversity and inclusion.

More than 80 student participants of the college’s Latinx, Native American and Afrocentric college preparatory programs will receive a complementary laptop to empower their educations thanks to this and other funding.

The college preparatory programs feature two components: an embedded high school classroom during the school year and an on-campus, weeklong symposium in the summer.

Free to participants, these college-credit-earning programs celebrate culture and foster leadership while spotlighting college offerings and wraparound services through academic encouragement.

The programs are currently embedded in Redmond High School, Ridgeview High School, the Redmond Proficiency Academy, Culver High School, Crook County High School, Madras High School, Bridges Career and Technical High School in Madras, the Roots Alternative Education Program at Warm Springs, Bend High School, Mountain View High School and Summit High School.

While geared toward specific cultural identity groups, the programs are open to all students.

Measuring high school graduation and college enrollment rates is essential to assessing the programs’ success.

Data from recent years shows that 85% of participants in these programs are graduating high school, while 75% are enrolling at COCC or another college; in comparison, Oregon’s 2020 four-year high school graduation rate was 82.6%.

“With this key investment from Meyer Memorial Trust, we are building upon our dedication to equity and diversity at COCC and throughout the district,” said Dr. Laurie Chesley, president of COCC. “The funding will make a lasting impact on so many levels, from supporting minority students as they broaden their educations, to growing our equity-based educational outreach efforts, to reinforcing the college’s commitment to serving all.”

Bend City Council extends Old Bend Neighborhood parking program

The Bend City Council voted to continue the Old Bend Neighborhood Parking District Wednesday night.

Residents living in the neighborhood pay $25 per year to keep parking available on the streets and to prevent potential campers from staying overnight.

The original one-year pilot program is set to expire at the end of the year.

After discussions about the program earlier in the month .. city council decided to continue with the program

Four councilors and mayor Sally Russell votes yes, while council Barb Campbell was the lone opposer.

This was only the first reading to change city code and continue the parking program.