▶️ Prineville man uses stimulus money to buy Nintendo Switches for sick kids

Ethan Schumacher, like many people, received two large stimulus checks this year.

His first stimulus check he used to invest, but he had a different idea on how to use his second check.

“So, I bought three Nintendo Switches and $250 worth of eshop cards for those Switches, and donated them to the pediatrics unit in Bend,” said Schumacher, who works as a cashier and in the kitchen at St. Charles in Prineville.

Never really considering the money his own, Schumacher wanted to do something good.

“The money was meant to help people and I was in a really strong spot for myself to where it would just be compounding on, which would be nice, but I kind of wanted to give back,” Schumacher said. “Who really needs help more than sick children.”

Schumacher’s donation did not surprise St. Charles, Prineville, Chief Medical Officer Maggie King one bit.

“This is just an extension of who Ethan is and I think it is fantastic and we should all learn from him,” King said.

About a week ago Schumacher hand delivered those game consoles to the pediatric unit in Bend.

“If there is a way you can find to help, then I think it is great,” Schumacher said. “I don’t want people to feel pressured to. A lot of people were saying ‘oh you are a lot better person than I am,’ but that is not the intent. I know a lot of people that if given the opportunity that would have donated, but it is just not the first thing that crosses their mind.”

Schumacher says he wants to continue helping with donations, but now in the Prineville community.

▶️ Arena football arrives in RDM; home opener set for Oregon High Desert Storm

The turf is laid out, the field is getting set up and players and coaches are ready for the Oregon High Desert Storm arena football team’s home opener at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center Saturday night.

“It’s just a faster game,” said Head Coach and GM Keith Evans. “You hear the hits, you hear the collisions, you hear the players talking.”

Arena football here in Redmond.

“It’s a historic moment here in Central Oregon, a pro football team, but we’re ready to go, we have a couple games under our belt and I feel I have the right players in there to be successful tomorrow night,” Evans said.

The Oregon High Desert Storm was supposed to make its home debut on May 22, but due to COVID concerns, it was postponed.

“But it did work out,” Evans said. “I think everything was in timing. I think the timing was right, the timing was right for us to get our field here and to just get things in order. it gave us more time to prepare for this moment.”

The team is currently 1-1 and earned its first victory against the Yakima Canines 40-22 last week.

The Storm lost its season opener in a nail-biter 44-42 to last year’s champions the Idaho Horseman.

“Come on out early, it is going to be a lot of fun,” Evans added. “You will get a really good idea of what this is here. We need that community presence, that community support for our pro football team in the area like this to survive, so come out, tell a friend and let’s fill this place up.”

The Storm has another chance to beat the Horseman on Saturday and get revenge in a rematch

Masks are required for unvaccinated spectators and seating will be limited to about half (2,000) of normal capacity (4,000).

▶️ Most Central Oregon towns plan for Fourth of July Parade

Redmond’s Fourth of July parade is on!

The Redmond Chamber of Commerce said Tuesday it is moving forward with plans for its July 4th parade downtown.

In addition, the chamber said it will bring back the Porch Parade and Mini Parade “so the entire community can be involved in celebrating Independence Day!”

Despite the cancellation of Bend’s iconic pet parade, other cities are bringing back traditional events for the upcoming holiday.

The Redmond parade was canceled last year due to COVID concerns, but now the celebrations are back.

“It wasn’t any easy decision there’s a lot of factors we had to consider,” said Redmond Chamber of Commerce Events Coordinator Kara Roatch.

This year’s edition will feature an extended route on 6th Street from Greenwood To Forest.

“Of course, current COVID guidelines will still apply for our Fourth of July Parade, but we figured we would do our best to create as much distancing opportunities for the community,” Roatch said.

Roatch expects between 3,000-5,000 people this year.

“We are hoping it just kind of brings the community back together,” Roatch added. “It’s been a very long year and a half of social distancing and just everyone keeping to themselves for the most part.”

Adults and kids are equally excited about the return of the parade.

“I understand the pandemic is going on, but I also think it is important for people, especially on the Fourth of July, which celebrates our freedom, to actually be out and about and actually celebrate our freedom,” said Redmond resident Kyler Christiansen.

“I’m gonna go,” said young Rowan Bell. “Are you excited for it? Uh Huh! What’s your favorite part about a parade? The candy!”

Some downtown stores joined that excitement.

“I think it is going to be really good for businesses and we encourage everyone to wear masks,” said cupcake connoisseur at Ida’s Cupcakes Jessalyn Loza.

The Redmond Parade starts and 10 a.m. and fireworks will start at 10 p.m. at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds.

“It’s going to be awesome,” Bell said.

Madras and La Pine will also hold annual Fourth of July parades and Prineville plans a cruise through the city, which is similar to a parade.

The Band of Brothers, who usually put on the Prineville Parade, said in 2020 they could not get a permit for a parade, so they decided to try the cruise through the city.

They say it was such a hit last year, they did not even try to get a permit this year and decided to have the cruise again.

Bend Parks and Recreation said they considered a scaled-down version of the pet parade, but the option was not feasible.

For more information on the Redmond Parade visit: www.visitredmondoregon.com

▶️ Central Oregonians gather in remembrance of fallen veterans

On Memorial Day, many Central Oregonians took time to honor the men and women who gave their lives while serving in the nation’s military.

Redmond Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4108 and American Legion Post 44 held a Memorial Day observance at the Redmond Memorial Cemetery Monday.

Hundreds of people gathered at the cemetery and placed flags on graves to honor fallen veterans.

“This is one thing we can certainly as a nation come together on and just celebrate the fact that there is so many people that did the ultimate sacrifice and we should honor them,” Mike LaRue, a Vietnam veteran, said. “We should as a nation just honor the people that came before, saw a cause that was greater than themselves to preserve the freedom that we have today.”

Hannah Grandey was at the cemetery in honor of her father. 

“He flew B501’s over Germany and their plane was shot down and all the people on board survived, parachuted and were in a German prison camp for a time,” Grandey said. “When the allies came in he was released. He was a very honorable and great father, so that is why I am here today.”

Joel S. Taylor, too, was there to remember family and lost loved ones.

“My mother and father and several brothers and my daughter are buried here at the Redmond cemetery and it is a lovely place and certainly a fine day to be out celebrating our lost ones and also in remembrance of our veterans, which is so important to all of us,” Taylor said.

 

▶️ Officials have mixed reactions about Jefferson Co. vaccine lottery plan

Across the country lotteries have become a popular way to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but some local elected officials are skeptical the incentive will work to increase vaccination rates here. 

Jefferson County announced Thursday it would use federal cares act money to fund a local lottery, drawing criticism on social media.

“We looked at the best possible outcomes for county residents using that money and part of that being to reward some of the folks that have followed through with getting the vaccines,” said Jefferson County Commissioner Kelly Simmelink.

That funding can only be spent to provide vaccination clinics, incentivize getting the shot, or provide transportation to a clinic.

“I think we stepped outside the box in looking at a way to keep the money local and to me that is very important,” Simmelink said.

The county will give away $10,000 to 11 lucky winners. Three of those $10,000 prizes will come in the form of Oregon College Savings Plan accounts for winners 18 and under.

Madras Mayor Richard Ladeby isn’t sure the incentive will work.

“I am skeptical of throwing money at this, people that are going to get the shot are going to get it,” he said.

As of Friday, the Oregon Health Authority reported about 49% of Jefferson County residents over 16 have been vaccinated.

“I am encouraged that we are trying to do everything we can, but I don’t know if that is going to convince everybody to get the shot. It’s been available now for quite a few months and I think those who are able and wanting to get it will go get it,” Ladeby said.

Ladeby says he has not received the COVID vaccine and does not plan to because of medical reasons.

“That is my personal choice and those who want it, by all means, please get it and if you have some reasons that you don’t want to get it or you can’t take it then that is between you and your physician,” he said.

Oregon’s million dollar giveaway is a month away.

In Ohio, a vaccine lottery appears to have increased that state’s vaccination rate by 28%.

Deschutes County received over $1 million from the CARES Act, Crook County received just over $218,000.

Officials in those counties tell me they haven’t decided how they’ll spend the money.

To be eligible for Oregon’s $1 million giveaway or any of the county’s $10,000 prizes you need to have at least one dose of the shot by midnight on June 27th.

▶️ MHS girls basketball raising awareness for missing Native American women

The Madras girls basketball team has a different look this season.

The team is wearing black warm up shirts with a red handprint and the letters MMIW.

It’s not a fashion trend, it’s a call to awareness.

“It means a lot because a lot of our teammates have family members or women who have gone missing or murdered,” said Madras senior Taya Holliday. “I have an aunt that was murdered and another aunt that has been missing for 20 years.”

Red handprints can symbolize a lack of interest given to victimized Indigenous women, many of whom end up missing or murdered.

“My friend’s mother went missing and was murdered and was found and we were out searching and stuff, trying to spread the word,” said MHS sophomore Alexa Martinez.

MMIW, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

The goal is to get people’s attention.

“This is what we are wearing for warm-ups, on game days, so when we travel to different places people see the shirts and start asking questions like what is that and what does it represent,” said Madras head girls basketball coach Jerin Say.

In 2019, the Oregon State Legislature passed House Bill 2625, which directed the Oregon State Police to conduct a study involving Missing and Murdered Native American Women.

“It goes unnoticed a lot so that is why we wear the handprints and the words,” said Holliday.

That study found as of September 2020, there were 13 Native American women reported missing, nearly 70% were under 18 years old.

In addition, there were 22 additional entries for missing females that have “unknown” listed as the race and the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office had 33 unidentified female human remains, 20 are listed with an ethnicity of “American Indian.”

“There are still Native American women out there that are still missing or that have been murdered and are still missing,” said Martinez.

On the back of the girls’ shirts is the word Naimu, which means family.

“As a team you grow a bond overtime,” said Martinez. “Our team is majority Native American women and so being able to have our language on the back is something that kind of goes with the shirt also being indigenous and being able to have the word family on the back really means a lot for our team.”

▶️ Fire near Deschutes River sparks transient camp concerns

A fire at a Bend transient camp along the Deschutes River on Monday has prompted neighbors to voice concerns about their safety.

“The police and fire were lining the canyons here next to these homes behind me, looking over the edge because they were so concerned about having to repel down the rocks to try and put out these fires where these transient camps have basically kind of nudged themselves in these hidden areas where they can’t be contacted by law enforcement or city officials,” said Matt Shea, who lives in the area.

Some neighbors reported hearing several loud explosions before the fire.

Shea watched helplessly as smoke climbed into the air near his house on the cliffs below Sunshine Way in Southwest Bend.

“It doesn’t take much for the fires to grow with wind and the right conditions and a lot of the neighbors were down here as well extremely concerned and nervous, elderly people worried and I don’t think it’s fair that people have to put up with this,” said Shea.

Bend Fire & Rescue says some of the materials in the camp burned and the fire spread to only about 500 square feet.

Shea says neighbors have contacted the City of Bend and police about the camp recently.

Bend Police confirmed the calls but said none of the transients were contacted or trespassed as officers, along with HOA’s, try to determine property rights.

“We’re just hoping that the city or the county can listen to our needs and get it addressed,” Shea added.

The City of Bend recently announced it will reopen its winter warming shelter to serve as a year-round low-barrier shelter. It’s expected to open on June 1st.

Warming shelter to reopen in June as low-barrier option for Bend’s homeless

“That fire is the perfect example of why we all need to be doing everything we can as a community to make sure that we house as many people as possible,” said Bend City Councilor Meghan Perkins.

The city is also looking at purchasing a motel to serve as a temporary homeless shelter.

Shea believes these shelters will only make things worse.

“When you are feeding them and taking care of them, then it escalates the problem and it’s never going to get better,” said Shea.

“The only way you can really get this resolved is you got to put pressure on them and you got to keep them moving,” he added. “Either offer them jobs where they can live life and sustain their own lifestyle by working and contributing to society.”

Perkins disagrees.

“When you have managed camps, when you have low-barrier shelters and you have wraparound services and supportive services, things like fires, violence, trash, that is not an issue because these facilities are being managed by community organizations, so things will get better if we have more shelters and camps that are managed rather than get worse,” said Perkins.

No one was injured or on the scene when the fire broke out and an investigation is ongoing.

▶️ Small health clinics, pharmacies work to combat vaccine waste

The Mass Vaccination Clinic at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds will close at the end of the month and the effort to vaccinate Central Oregonians shifts to smaller health clinics and pharmacies.

But they are now faced with some unique challenges.

“When you get this order of COVID vaccines it’s frozen and they have defrosted it and then you have one month to use them,” said co-owner of Your Care Urgent Care Debora Wattenburg. “So, you are dealing with that one-month time frame, plus once you pop open a vile you only have 12 hours that you have to use it or you have to discard it.”

Your Care Urgent Care in Redmond received 100 doses of the COVID vaccine and plans to start administering them Monday.

“The big goal is to make sure we have enough people ready to go for the vaccine, so that we have zero to minimal waste,” said Wattenburg.

Wattenburg is brainstorming the best way to give out a full vial, which holds 10 to 11 doses.

“The big consensus has been to set up clinics where you are scheduling groups of ten people and then go out to businesses where you have hopefully a group of ten or multiple businesses where it will be up to ten or more,” added Wattenburg.

Once they have enough interested patients, they will hold their own vaccine clinic a few days a week.

So far, they have one scheduled for Wednesday.

“The best way for our community, clinics, pharmacies, county, etc. to get doses into arms is to have the least barriers as possible,” said Deschutes County Incident Commander Molly Wells-Darling.

The mass vaccination clinic at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds closes May 28th and is now only taking second-dose appointments.

Fairgrounds vaccination clinic to offer expanded second-dose walk-in opportunities

As of Friday afternoon, the clinic has administered 113,000 doses.

Wells-Darling Says first dose appointments are available at area health clinics.

“Having the different avenues of the vaccine through pharmacies and clinics and then of course the pop-up clinics we will be doing, the mobile clinics as well, this is the best way as an overall community to get that vaccine to our community members,” said Wells-Darling.

Westside Pharmacy in Bend is setting up an online sign-up and waitlist system.

Family Choice Urgent Care says they have had no problem filling walk-in appointments at their Bend location, but the Redmond clinic is a different story.

They’re now shifting to a one-day vaccination clinic in Redmond to avoid vaccine waste.

St. Charles Health System, in partnership with community providers and pharmacies, has updated www.centraloregoncovidvaccine.com to highlight a variety of local primary care providers, urgent cares, pharmacies and community pop-up clinics offering vaccinations.

Appointments may also be available by visiting https://vaccinefinder.org.

▶️ Unmasking vaccinated athletes; school districts deciding how to move forward

Fully vaccinated athletes can now compete indoors without a mask and spectators can get rid of them too, in some cases.

If players and fans can prove vaccination status, they can ditch those masks for practices and games.

Every school district is now tasked with deciding if and how to manage the new guidelines released by the Oregon Schools Activities Association.

“How do we check to make sure we have accurate information on athletes that are vaccinated,” asked Madras High Athletic Director Mark Stewart.” “Probably a small number is vaccinated, so how does that affect the team, the opposing team, there is a lot at play here and we just need to sit down and talk about it.”

Stewart says his district is still reviewing the new rules and hasn’t decided how it will move forward.

“We just need to make sure we are doing our due diligence that they are vaccinated and we are protecting everyone and keeping them safe at the same time,” said Stewart.

At least two athletes on the Madras boys basketball team are fully vaccinated and are now waiting to see what the school decides.

“The reason we got vaccinated was to not wear masks during sports and to be safe and we still have to wear masks,” said Madras senior Dylan Heath. “It’s just a weird experience.”

Districts pushed for rule changes after two central Oregon athletes reportedly collapsed after wearing a mask during competition.

▶️ A week after Summit runner collapses, OHA relaxes mask rules for athletes

Heidi Boyle’s 16-year-old son is a three-sport athlete at Madras High.

“We were definitely planning on getting our kids vaccinated before school started in the fall, but with this news we are planning on moving forward with that sooner,” said Boyle.

 “It makes me kind of regret that we didn’t move forward with this sooner,” she added.

Boyle has seen mixed reactions from the community about the new mask guidance.

While most high school athletes aren’t or won’t be fully vaccinated until the end of the season, Dylan Heath and Derrek Main have been fully vaccinated since early April.

“It will be nice to not have to wear a mask in the gym again because the only thing I actually look forward to is things going back to normal,” said Heath.

Bend-La Pine Schools is also still considering its policy.

Redmond Schools and the Crook County School District will allow athletes and spectators to take off their mask if they can prove they’re fully vaccinated.

This new mask guidance by the OSAA goes into effect Friday.

▶️ Local health officials come together for PSAs to combat COVID vaccine rumors

There are plenty of rumors about the fight against the Coronavirus spreading online.

The Central Oregon Health Council issued a PSA Wednesday specifically about the fertility rumors.

Dr. Julie Ansbaugh with the Central Oregon Pediatrics Associates says it’s just one of several false rumors about COVID and the vaccine.

“Fertility is a very emotional subject, no one wants to affect their health and the health of their future family and with that being such a sensitive topic for so many people we wanted to make sure we could quell those fears right off the bat,” said Ansbaugh.

Several different health officials from several different areas launched their own campaign to set the record straight.

“As providers, we want to be a resource to the general population so that they know they are able to get information that is helpful, not just rumors off the internet, which can be a scary place right now,” said Ansbaugh.

Dr. Matt Ashley, a urologist with Summit Medical Group says this video specifically tries to reach younger, lower-risk people who are interested in conception.

“Because in this pool of people transmitting back and forth, they may not be getting critically ill with it, but every time that virus gets transmitted from one person to another that is another chance for a mutation,” said Ashley.

Battling social media rumors, with social media.

“This is something that has to be addressed to the broader public with this means like social media to get the information out as efficiently and effectively as possible,” said Ashley.