COCC awarded federal grant to bolster manufacturing technology program

COCC is among a consortium of Oregon community colleges recently awarded a $5 million federal grant from the U.S. Dept. of Labor

The college will get $80,000 per year for four years, which it will use to support advanced manufacturing workforce development in Central Oregon.

COCC is the Central Oregon resource for the skills and knowledge employees need to succeed in a career in manufacturing,” said Michael Fisher, Dean of Instruction.

“Students learn in several key areas,” added Joe Huddleston, Manufacturing Technology Program Director. “These include welding, machine tool, CNC, metal fabrication, automation, machine learning, and real-time data.”

Late last year, Central Oregon Community College partnered with Mt. Hood Community College, the Higher Education Coordinating Commission and seven other Oregon community colleges to apply for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Strengthening Community College Training Grant.

This funding helps institutions address the skill development needs of employers and support workers in gaining skills to transition quickly from unemployment to employment.

“As the nation recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, community colleges are critical partners to train the American workforce and build a pipeline of workers in critical industries,” said Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training John Pallasch. “The Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants will play an important role in helping workers to reskill as quickly as possible with industry-recognized credentials and accelerated pathways to degrees.”

Advanced manufacturing is a dynamic industry in Oregon that relies on community colleges to produce a skilled workforce.

Graduates from these program areas are employed in sectors ranging from renewable energy to aviation.

To meet the region’s workforce demands, COCC will invest its award funding in equipment and facilities on the College’s Redmond campus.

COCC will also work with regional manufacturing partners including the Bend-based CV International to provide integrated education and training (IET), short-term certifications and stackable credentials, as well as hands-on training including internships and apprenticeships.

“We fully support the core elements of this project and look forward to launching this initiative,” said Dale Riggs, Director of Engineering at CV International. “As an employer partner for this project, we will endeavor to provide paid internships and cooperative work experiences to COCC students and graduates. We will offer students exposure to and hands-on time with manufacturing. And qualified trainees will be interviewed as potential employees.”

“This award showcases community colleges’ unique ability to collaborate and forge key industry partnerships,” noted Dr. Laurie Chesley, President of COCC. “We’re committed to building the workforce Central Oregon needs, and to doing so quickly, affordably and effectively.”

Learn more about COCC’s Manufacturing Technology program.

19-year-old arrested in Sunriver after Bend robbery, attempted robbery

Bend Police arrested a 19-year-old on Saturday after he allegedly robbed a convenience store and tried to rob a check-cashing business.

Sgt. Tommy Russell said employees at Cash Connection in Bend called 911 around 3:15 p.m. to report a suspicious man had come into the store and asked the cashier for money.

The man left without any money.

The employee gave police a partial license plate and full description of the man and his vehicle – a silver Dodge van. Police were able to identify the suspect as Levi Church.

About an hour later, a clerk from the Expressway Market & Gas Station on Reed Market Road called 911 to report a robbery.

The clerk said he knew the suspect as Levi Church and he had left with an undisclosed amount of money.

Russell said no weapons were seen during either incident.

An APB was issued for Church and a Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office deputy spotted the van in the Sunriver Circle K parking lot around 5 p.m.

The deputy, along with Sunriver Police, contacted Church outside the van and arrested him.

A search of the van revealed cash believed to be from the previous robbery, Russell said.

Church was taken to the Deschutes County Jail booked on multiple charges, including first-degree theft and menacing and attempted robbery.



▶️ Taste This: Luckey’s Woodsman


Jackson Higdon grew up snowboarding at Mount Bachelor.

Now he’s got his own food cart at the base of Sunrise Lodge, Luckey’s Woodsman.

On this episode of Taste This, sponsored by Newport Avenue Market, Meghan Glova dives into some elevated backcountry cuisine.

Some of it’s healthy, some of it’s hearty, but Higdon guarantees every item will satisfy any outdoor enthusiast.

Luckey’s Woodsman can be found at two Central Oregon locations:

Sunrise Lodge at Mount Bachelor
Bend, OR 97701

Silver Moon Brewing
24 NW Greenwood Ave
Bend, OR 97703

Learn more at

▶️ Madras High holds senior celebration, preparing for return of class of 2021


Students coming back to in-person learning is a cause for celebration.

That celebration made its way to Madras High School Friday.

It’s been 10 months since the pandemic closed schools in Jefferson County.

Today Madras High seniors stepped back into the building.

“It was so good to see them and they were really excited to see staff and be back in this environment,” said Madras High Principal Brian Crook.

MHS took several COVID-19 protocols including, temperature checks, masks, social distancing, as well as having students in pods of 20 per area.

Two pods were in the gym.

“One session they went to was a celebration of what you would see in a classic pep assembly,” Crook said. “A staff dance, skits and motivational speaker.”

During the assembly another two pods were in informational meetings.

“What it is going to look like when they return to school and about graduation requirements and staying on track for graduation,” Crook added.

After an hour, the two pods switched places.

MHS saw 80 of their 130 seniors show up to the celebration.

Crook added, it was an emotional moment for both students and staff.

“One of our secretaries was in the gym watching the kids and she got emotional and teary eyed, just finally having kids back in the building,” Crook said.

The idea behind the event was more than a celebration.

“I think it was really important to let those seniors know how much we care about them,” Crook said.

Madras High School set a goal to have limited in-person learning back with a staggered start by February 1.

2 injured in afternoon crash on HWY 97 near Redmond

Highway 97 just south of Redmond was partially closed Friday around 2 p.m. after a crash involving two vehicles.

Redmond Fire & Rescue said two people were removed from the cars and taken to St. Charles in Bend.

One patient sustained life-threatening injuries.

Captain Bill Welch said when firefighters and paramedics arrived they found the vehicles with extensive damage.

The highway reopened around 4:30.

Road and weather conditions slowed response times.

Bend Fire & Rescue, Oregon State Police, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and the Oregon Department of Transportation assisted Redmond Fire & Rescue at the scene.

▶️ Tow companies, ODOT plows busy as snowy roads cause problems across region


Tow companies were busy Friday as snow fell across the High Desert, which created difficult conditions on the roads at times.

Three lanes of Highway 97 closed between Redmond and Bend at 2:30 p.m. due to a crossover crash.

Redmond Fire & Rescue said two people were removed from the cars and taken to St. Charles in Bend.

One patient sustained life-threatening injuries.

There were also long backups on Highway 97 after a crash two miles north of Terrebonne.

Highway 20 was closed in both directions around 10:20 a.m. after a multi-vehicle crash.

“The snow is causing some problem for folks out there,” said Peter Murphy, public information officer with the Oregon Department of Transportation. “We recognize it and we have as many crews out as we can.”

ODOT crews were working to clear the roads with plows since 4 a.m. Friday morning.

“This is probably the most snow we’ve had in the winter season at any point in time,” Murphy said.

Consolidated Towing in Bend has worked to tow cars that had slid off the road since early Friday morning.

Lori Anton, Consolidated Towing’s general manager, was so busy, she could only speak with us briefly on the phone.

“Seriously, we have so many customers that are sliding off the road, sliding into other cars, semi-trucks and trailers that are stuck.”

When asked if she sees any patterns in who or what kind of car is sliding off, she said, “We see a lot of people who think they’re invincible because they have an all-wheel-drive vehicle, and they’re just not. Days where it’s icy under a layer of snow, everyone is at risk.”

Murphy recommends checking Trip Check before you head out on the roads.

He also recommends leaving ample space between your car and the car in front of you.

▶️ Local businesses wonder if weather, no indoor seating will work against them


With no indoor seating and snowy weather ahead, could this be a tough season for local businesses?

Caleb Trowbridge, owner of The Podski, said the Bend food cart lot has been surprisingly busy.

“You know the people in Bend, and or people visiting, still want to go do things,” Trowbridge said. “They want to do it safely, they want to do it outside, and so they’ve been showing the support. It’s been pretty amazing actutally.”

Trowbridge shifted any indoor seating at the Podski outside, in line with state mandate.

Now that snow is picking up and his only choice is outdoor seating, Trowbridge said he’s just hoping for the best.

“Thankfully we’ve had a very mild winter so far,” Trowbridge said. “So, we did better in December and January than we thought, up to this point. So, now we can just roll with the punches, have a snow day, and I think people are still going to be out. Snow is better than rain.”

Other local businesses are also doing what they can to stay open.

Bevel Craft Brewing in Bend has added more outdoor seating and a tented area, and Crosscut Tap House is relying on their multiple fire pits.

Each of these businesses, including The Podski, have something in common – lots of outdoor space.

However, not every business is so lucky.

Jason Camberg co-owns The Point Pub and Grill in downtown Bend.

Camberg said they are limited on outdoor seating and likely can’t add more than what’s already there.

“It’s definitely a bit of a concern,” Camberg said. “I mean the snow is nice, I’m hoping that people will get out and want to enjoy it, but I think having the nicer weather that we’ve had has allowed people to sit more at the tables that we have. Rather than trying to just migrate right at the fire pit.”

Every business we spoke with is hopeful that Bendites will pull through, bundle up and make their way outside.

▶️ BLP schools, students make final preparations for Monday return to class


Kindergarten through 3rd-grade students return to in person classes next week in Bend-La Pine Schools.

This week those students spent a day in their schools orienting to new operating and safety protocols.

We spoke with one principal about how preparations for Monday are going.

“At Bend-La Pine Schools we are excited to welcome students back into classrooms,” according to a video posted on Bend-La Pine Schools’ social media platforms.

Since early September, Bend-La Pine teachers, office staff, custodians, and nutrition service workers have been preparing for when students would return.

For Kindergarten through 3rd-grade students, that day is Monday.

“As students arrive by bus, car, foot, or bike, they will follow new protocols and safety practices.”

This week, K-3 students spent a day in school learning about precautions they must take to resume in-person instruction during the pandemic.

Lava Ridge Elementary Principal Gary DeFrang says orientation has gone well.

“Kids are quick to learn. We have a wonderful teaching staff here who have right away helped them understand the importance of wearing masks, social distancing,” said Gary DeFrang, Principal at Lava Ridge Elementary. “Things have gone really well. The spirit and the energy of the kids have been fantastic and it’s wonderful to have them back in school.”

As students arrive, staff will direct them where to go, either heading to class through the main entrance or straight to their classroom through exterior doors.

A staff member will greet students and do visual checks for wellness.

Remember to keep students home who are ill or have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.4 or higher/chills
  • Coughing or shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

Visitors and volunteers may not enter school buildings at this time. Families who make prior arrangements may enter the main office.

Some school times have been adjusted to accommodate transportation requirements. Check with your school to find out if it has adjusted its start and dismissal times.

Once inside, students and staff will follow arrows to keep distanced as they walk the halls.

Every classroom has been measured and desks have been placed to ensure physical distancing between students.

Sharing of materials is discouraged.

“We have increased cleaning throughout the day and are instituting deep cleaning at the end of each day for all high touch surfaces. Additionally, maintenance teams have worked to increase ventilation throughout school buildings. School HVAC system bring in fresh air an hour before school starts and throughout the day. Classroom air is filtered through medical-grade MERV – 13 filters 6 to 7 times hourly.”

Meals continue at school. Students can receive free breakfast and lunch every day or can bring their food to school.

Students will eat outside whenever the weather permits.

Each school has a plan for eating. In some schools, students will eat on a rotating schedule in the cafeteria. In other schools, students will eat in the classroom.

Water fountains have been turned off, but students can refill their water bottles at filling stations.

Students will continue to enjoy outdoor recess and play time throughout the day. Students will stay in their cohort groups and the playground areas will be split into zones.

“Starting Monday, all K-3 students will be here 5 days a week for full schools,” DeFrang said. “Next week then starts an orientation for our 4th and 5th graders where they’ll come back to school one of four days.”

4th and 5th graders return to full-time instruction on Feb. 1st in a hybrid learning arrangement of 2 days in-person and 3 days remote.

6th through 12 graders will also learn through a hybrid model… returning full-time Feb 8th.

“Masks will be worn indoors and out. Families are encouraged to practice wearing masks at home so students feel comfortable and confident wearing them throughout the day.”

Principal Defang says most Lava Ridge students plan to resume in-person instruction.

Some are opting for Comprehensive Distance Learning but he doesn’t know how many.

Redmond St. Charles staff outbreak linked to COVID-positive patient exposure

An outbreak among staff at St. Charles in Redmond originated from prolonged exposure to a COVID-positive patient who initially tested negative twice, according to a statement from the hospital.

“The patient—who had underlying health conditions that at times made it difficult to wear a mask—was admitted to St. Charles Redmond on Dec. 31 and was initially tested twice for COVID-19,” according to a statement late Friday. “Because both tests resulted negative, St. Charles caregivers continued to wear droplet precaution personal protective equipment (PPE).”

“Droplet precaution PPE” is a traditional surgical mask and protective eyewear.

A third test on the patient Jan. 6th revealed the positive result.

To date, one patient and 33 St. Charles caregivers at the Redmond hospital have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Because the health system began its vaccination campaign Dec. 21, none of the 33 caregivers at the Redmond hospital were fully vaccinated, according to the release.

An investigation with Deschutes County Health Services and the hospital’s Infection Prevention team revealed the caregivers’ PPE was “overwhelmed by prolonged exposure to the highly-symptomatic COVID-positive patient.”

“The important learning from this outbreak is that negative COVID-19 test results are not foolproof,” said Dr. Jeff Absalon, St. Charles’ chief physician executive. “In spite of negative test results, if a patient is highly symptomatic, we will need to treat them as if they are COVID-19 positive and aerosolizing, in which case the higher level of PPE is required.” 

Evidence suggests that COVID-19 tests are most accurate five to seven days after exposure. 

The virus incubates up to 14 days, taking time to build up in a person’s system, according to the statement.

The St. Charles Infection Prevention team on Friday expected to complete its outreach to patients who may have been at risk of exposure due to the timing of their stay at the Redmond hospital.

All current inpatients at the Redmond hospital have been informed that none of them were exposed. 

“We have a strong contact tracing system in place for caregivers that is working to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Absalon said. “In the meantime, it’s important to stress that we feel confident our Redmond hospital is a safe place to receive care.” 

 The health system has also instituted some changes at the Redmond hospital, including: 

·         Offering COVID-19 testing to all St. Charles Redmond hospital-based caregivers  

·         Asking caregivers to stay home and get tested if they have any symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how mild 

·         Increasing air exchanges to six times per hour 

·         Increasing air filtration to more than the CDC recommendation (+90% filtration at .3 microns) 

·         Instructing caregivers in direct patient care roles to use N95 respirators and eye protection throughout their shift while the outbreak is ongoing 

·         Adding hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies to more locations throughout the facility 

·         Asking caregivers to eat in the cafeteria or on the outside patio rather than in break rooms 

·         Adding maximum capacity signage to all break rooms and conference rooms to ensure physical distancing can be maintained 

·         Temporarily limiting visitors to a higher degree than before  

 “This sort of situation isn’t any one person’s fault,” Absalon said. “Everyone is working hard to maintain a safe environment, and as an organization we continue to learn and adjust to improve safety for all.” 

OHA reports 22 new COVID deaths; 877 cases statewide

There are 22 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 1,865, the Oregon Health Authority reported Friday.

Oregon Health Authority reported 877 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 136,839.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (1), Benton (24), Clackamas (71), Clatsop (8), Columbia (15), Coos (10), Crook (14), Curry (1), Deschutes (28), Douglas (18), Grant (4), Hood River (5), Jackson (33), Jefferson (9), Josephine (15), Klamath (17), Lake (3), Lane (90), Lincoln (5), Linn (9), Malheur (11), Marion (101), Morrow (7), Multnomah (136), Polk (24), Umatilla (52), Union (9), Wallowa (1), Wasco (3), Washington (138) and Yamhill (15).

Deschutes County has reported 5,131 cases and 40 deaths.

The county currently has 2,880 active cases – that’s one in 68 residents; 2,190 patients have recovered as of Thursday, the latest data available.

Crook County has reported 645 cases and 11 deaths.

Jefferson County has reported 1,727 and 25 deaths.

St. Charles on Thursday reported 18 COVID patients; two in the ICU and one on a ventilator.

The hospital reported it has administered 8,942 COVID vaccines.

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 16,763 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry.

Of this total, 12,341 vaccine doses were administered on Jan. 21 and 4,422 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on Jan. 21.

Cumulative daily totals can take several days to finalize because providers have 72 hours to report doses administered and technical challenges have caused many providers to lag in their reporting. OHA has been providing technical support to vaccination sites to improve the timeliness of their data entry into the state’s ALERT Immunization Information System (IIS).

Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 270,453 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

All vaccinations were administered by Oregon hospitals, long-term care facilities, emergency medical service (EMS) agencies, urgent care facilities and Local Public Health Authorities (LPHAs).

To date, 487,700 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon.

These data are preliminary and subject to change. OHA’s dashboards provide regularly updated vaccination data and Oregon’s dashboard has been updated today.

COVID-19 hospitalizations

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 317, which is 12 fewer than yesterday. There are 79 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is eight fewer than yesterday.

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.

More information about hospital capacity can be found here.

New quarantine guidelines for fully immunized people

People who have been fully immunized and have let at least 14 days pass following their last dose of the vaccine are no longer required to quarantine if they have had close contact with someone with COVID-19.

Those who are fully immunized should still monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 during the 14 days after exposure, and if symptoms develop, they should isolate and seek testing.

Persons who have been fully vaccinated should continue to follow measures to protect themselves and others, including maintaining six feet of physical distance, avoiding crowds, washing hands often and wearing a mask.

Please see OHA’s updated COVID-19 Investigative Guidelines.