▶️ Back to the drawing board as Bend looks for new spot for homeless shelter


The Bend City Council will go back to the drawing board after canceling plans to turn a local motel into a homeless shelter.

The proposal was part of Project Turnkey, a state funded-grant program to help communities address homeless situation. 

After the termination of a purchase and sale agreement with Old Mill and Suites, the council directed staff to begin pursuing and evaluating other hotel properties that meet the criteria for Project Turnkey.

“The city’s commitment to establishing more shelter beds in the city of Bend has not changed,” said Economic Development Director for the City of Bend, Carolyn Eagan. “All seven councilors support that, the city manager and the executive management team of the city support that endeavor. So, we are not taking our foot off the gas.”

The city’s goal is to enter into a new agreement by the end of April, whether it is at the Old Mill and Suites or a different location.

“We are absolutely committed to finding a property for the Turnkey grant funds and we will pursue that to the last day it is available to us.”

The deadline to apply for Turnkey funding is June 30.

▶️ Grant money to help City of Bend buy motel for future homeless shelter

Riese Sullivan’s job with COVO is to get veterans off the street and into houses.

“Any way to get more individuals off the street and into somewhere stable, where they can continue to recover and have a spot they can call their own,” said Sullivan. “Any base landing point that can have is going to be an assistance or help to them.” 

Sullivan said new homeless faces and new homeless camps are popping up every day.

“This isn’t a problem that is going away soon,” he added. “This is the time to come together as a community.”

In the meantime, the City of Bend will move quickly to find the right property for a temporary homeless shelter.

“We want to make sure the property we do acquire for this purpose first and foremost, meets the needs of the humans in the community that will want to use it for housing and also meets our obligations to our taxpayers of the City of Bend that we buy a good property,” said Eagan.

▶️ Precious materials: Bend Police see uptick in catalytic converter thefts


Cameron Ruddell, the co-owner of Good Guys Muffler Service in Bend, has been bombarded with calls recently about catalytic converters. 

“We’ve actually replaced a bunch of them that have been stolen,” Ruddell said.

A catalytic converter is an exhaust emission auto part that reduces toxic gas from cars.

From February 24 to April 6, Bend Police have taken seven reports of catalytic converter thefts.

“And last year we didn’t have any reports on the catalytic converters,” Lt. Juli McConkey with Bend Police said. “it is definitely an uptick in the thefts of them.”

There’s been an uptick nationally as well.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau Operations, Intelligence and Analytics study of reported thefts, there were 108 catalytic converter thefts per month on average in 2018, 282 average monthly thefts in 2019, and 1,203 average thefts per month in 2020.

Why steal an auto part that reduces toxic gases?

“They are full of precious materials,” added Ruddell. “Palladium and the cost of scrap right now is really high.”

Along with its value, these parts are also targeted for other reasons.

“It’s not difficult to steal them at all,” said Ruddell. “It takes less than a minute if you have a battery-powered sawzall. You are under the car, cut it out and it is gone.”

Ruddell says the only thing easier than stealing them might be selling them.

“A scrap buyer, a lot of them will buy catalytic converters and you get easy money right there,” he added. “There is no process for the person that steals it. It is basically steal it, take it and they hand you cash.”

Thieves are getting up to $500 for the part at scrap yards, but it’ll cost you more than $1000 to get it fixed if you’re a theft victim.

“Toyota Prius is the worst,” Ruddell said. “It is easy to steal and the amount of money in the catalytic converter is real high.

All seven stolen converter reports to Bend Police have been from Prius owners.

“Any time things are reported to the steel companies here, they do collect information and give it to the police department,” Lt. McConkey said. “We do use a lot of other investigative tools as well to find out who has been stealing some things and then put the pieces together.”

So how do you stop it from happening to you? 

Park your car in the garage if you can or under a light. 

Insurance companies also say to put your vin number on it or buy a protective guard.

▶️ Bend City Council to discuss keeping downtown outdoor dining tents permanent


Sarah Worley, the owner of The Good Drop Wine Shoppe in downtown Bend says says she’ll gladly give up a handful of front door parking stalls to offer outdoor dining all summer.

Outdoor dining tents, or “parklets” as they are being called, saved some businesses downtown, especially during those winter months.

“I can honestly say I would have had to have laid both of my employees off truly honestly because there wouldn’t have been any work for them,” said Worley.

Worley says the outdoor tents kept her business open during the pandemic.

Now, she wants them to stay.

“For me I would like to see them continue, quite frankly, permanently,” said Worley.

On April 7, the Bend City Council has a work session to discuss just that.

“Once this emergency order elapses, we need to make sure we have the next structure in place to ensure businesses that if they choose and if we agree they can continue to use outdoor space,” said Councilor Anthony Broadman.

Broadman says the city needs to put businesses in a position where they can succeed after the pandemic ends.

“We still have an economic crisis where we need to support businesses, workers, and you know make sure we are putting people in situations where they feel safe and part of that is continuing to allow people to operate outside,” Broadman added.

Deschutes Brewery also said it would like the parklets to be up as long as possible, even after the restrictions are lifted, but Worley knows not all downtown businesses want the parklets to be permanent.

“There is actually a mixture of some people that want to stay and some people that are upset because it takes away parking on the street,” said Worley.

The City of Bend had eight businesses with an active parklet in the last year and over the summer it was below 1% of total available parking spaces in downtown.

“I hope that City Council sees that there is a way to work through this work through this where everybody can meet in the middle and be happy,” Worley said.

▶️ DNF conducts prescribed burns for first time since fall 2019


During the pandemic, prescribed burns weren’t happening through the Deschutes National Forest.

Deschutes National Forest Service said one reason they weren’t burning is to prevent the spread of COVID among firefighters.

The other reason: air quality.

“Lots of concern with putting smoke in the air during a pandemic that could have respiratory consequences for some folks,” said Alex Enna, prescribed fire program manager.

That pause caused a backlog in needed prescribed burns.

“We are not going to be able to catch up entirely, but if the weather windows line up and we don’t have an early start to the fire season, hopefully we will get those higher priority units done,” said Enna.

Wednesday was their first prescribed burn since fall 2019.

The agency has several burns scheduled.

“Those cross boundary burns in Shevlin Park, near the High Desert Museum, some burning in the Highway 97 corridor, near Sunriver and the westside of Bend,” said Enna.

Enna said when smoke is in the air, it means restoration and fire prevention are taking place.

“We need to make sure we are having that opportunity and taking that opportunity to conduct those prescribed burns so that we can do that good work on the ground and hopefully mediate those large fires that do happen,” Rob Newery, assistant fire management officer, said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, they burned 3,000 of the planned 1,000 acres of forest.

“It’s really essential for the health of the overall ecosystem that we are applying fire back in the landscape,” Newery said.

Weather permitted the burning will be completed by Friday.

Prescribed burning will continue through the spring.

▶️ Crowd rallies for Madras bakery after online rumors


A popular Madras bakery found itself at the center of online rumors, Friday.

Eagle Bakery was packed with people that morning who wanted to stop OSHA from taking action against the business.

A Facebook posted Thursday night said, “the owner has been informed OSHA will attempt to serve the business at 9:30. We are calling for a show of support so that OSHA knows we have the backs of our local businesses.”

“We’re here today to support him,” said Scott Stuart with “We the People.” “We are not here to physically stop anybody, but we are here to peacefully non-comply with these illegally mandates and unconstitutional laws.”

Friday morning, inside and outside the building filled with people in anticipation of the rumored OSHA visit.

“I am here to support the bakery because I do not believe in all this nonsense our fine governor is doing to us,” said Prineville resident Pete Sharpe.

At about 9:30 a.m., someone did show up with a paper in hand and he was driven off by the crowd.

Aaron Corvin, with Oregon OSHA said that person was not with his agency.

“It was absolutely not Oregon OSHA,” said Corvin. “Not at all. That is wrong. Incorrect.”

Corvin says OSHA launched an investigation in January, following COVID-related complaints, but would not provide specifics due to the ongoing case.

“We have not issued any citations with respect to this employer,” said Corvin. “There is a lot of speculation and rumor these days including on social media.”

Corvin notes, the business owner would not get advance notice of an OSHA visit.

“If we are going to open an inspection, we are going to do that unannounced,” added Corvin.

“Rumor or not we are here to support the local businesses that want to be open, and don’t want to be forced to give up their rights, and so we’re here in support of that effort,” said Prineville resident Jack Rabenberg.

Friday morning’s crowd dispersed after about an hour.

Eagle Bakery refused our request for comment.

▶️ Deschutes County spring road preservation projects underway


Spring road construction is kicking off and summer construction will soon follow.

The City of Bend’s 2021 season street preservation work begins March 29 with the reconstruction of a roundabout on Skyliners Road and Mount Washington Drive.

“The roundabout is definitely going to have the most impact because of the detours and actual closers,” said Operations Manager for Streets and Operations with the City of Bend Charles Swann.

Bend is preparing to do about $2.8 million worth of street preservation work this summer that will improve about 74.5 of lane miles.

“We have kind of ramped down from our last few years with different council goals and things in place,” Swann said.

“This year is roughly about half of what we have done in the last few years,” he added.

Deschutes County has several current projects underway.

Including paving in Sisters, a canal project in Redmond and improvements at a roundabout in Tumalo.

“Work will be ongoing for that project for the next couple months,” Deschutes County Road Department Engineer Cody Smith said about the Tumalo roundabout.

Upcoming projects include reconstruction work in Redmond, paving in Sunriver and chip sealing around Deschutes County.

“Every one of those projects will certainly will be impactful to traffic, and we will have notice out through media releases or signs on the road for those impacts for those projects,” Smith said.

▶️ Redirect the Check: Family Access Network


Another round of stimulus checks means the relaunch of Central Oregon Daily’s “Redirect the Check” program.

We are asking you, if you’re in a position to do so, consider donating part or all of your stimulus check to local nonprofits.

One of those nonprofits is Family Access Network or FAN, which is a network that partners with social service agencies to support disadvantaged families.

To offer assistance, possibility, and hope to Central Oregon families in need by connecting them with crucial resources that will help children flourish in school and in life.

That is the mission statement for FAN.

“We have seen an increase in FAN services need and that intensity increase as well,” said Donor Relations Events and Marketing Coordinator for FAN Jen Enna. “We are seeing the focus be more so on access to food, eviction prevention and the utility assistance.”

Enna says those impacted the most by this network are students in Central Oregon and their families.

During the first two quarters of the 2020-21 school year FAN served 500 more students than last year.

Students are connected through advocates who work directly with schools.

“The idea is helping reduce the barriers so students can stay in school, thrive and continue to learn,” Enna said.

It takes about $100 a year to provide a student with FAN advocate services.

“It is directly going to assisting these students and navigating these social services they need to thrive,” she said.

All of the money raised will be distributed evenly to the FAN, Shepherd’s House and the Giving Plate.

You can see more on our Redirect the Check program and learn about all the nonprofits at centraloregondaily.com/redirectthecheck

▶️ Redmond Chamber of Commerce puts on St. Paddy’s Day pub crawl

Local businesses plan to take advantage of eased COVID-19 restrictions, this St. Patrick’s Day.

In Redmond, revelers are encouraged to move from bar to bar, during the city’s first “St. Paddy’s Day Pub Crawl”. 

The Redmond Chamber of Commerce is putting on the pub crawl, which starts at Wild Ride Brewing or at Grace and Hammer, from 2-6 p.m.

Ten different Redmond businesses are participating in the crawl from pubs, to breweries, wine bars and taphouses.

“So far there is a lot of chatter, so I think there is going to be a pretty good turn out,” said owner of The Vault Tap House, Steve Anderson.

Redmond’s Chamber of Commerce created the event to increase revenue as the pandemic continues.

“It honestly stems from supporting our local businesses now more than ever,” said Redmond Chamber of Commerce Events Coordinator, Kara Roatch.

Participants buy a 15-dollar passport and receive discount drink tokens as well as entry into a drawing.

“We are selling very limited passports,” Roatch said. “We are only doing 225 because we didn’t want to overload the already popular business.”

The event is also a fundraiser for Redmond’s Downtown Business Association.

Masks are required unless eating or drinking, and are available at registration.

The event does make some businesses nervous.

“As long as we are enforcing the guidelines, we are hoping everywhere else will as well,” said Wild Ride Brewing Staff Leader, Cassidy McCombs.

“In the past year after most holidays we have seen an increase in cases, so as we are in moderate risk and want to stay there, we encourage everyone to stay safe this St. Patrick’s Day,” said Morgan Emerson with Deschutes County Public Health.

You can buy passports online until 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

“Just come out and have fun in Redmond,” Anderson said. “This town is completely revitalized and there is a lot of great places here now, so come and enjoy it.”

At sundown Grace and Hammer will have a St. Patrick’s Day light show.

Paint-by-number mural project available for community participation

The Bend Church of Nazarene has created a large paint-by-number mural highlighting several Bend landmarks.

People can sign-up to paint a designated area, and will receive a paint kit.

Register here to participate.

Once the panels are completed, the mural will be put together and on display for the community on Easter Sunday, April 4.

The painting will be 28 feet wide by eight feet tall located in the parking lot of the church on 27th street in Bend.

▶️ Jefferson Co. businesses welcome reduced restrictions


Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday Jefferson County will finally be able to move out of extreme risk and into high risk.

With improving COVID case numbers, facilities like the Madras Aquatic Center can start reopening with a limited capacity of 25%.

It has been closed since November.

“We had to lay off our entire staff of lifeguards and recreation assistants,” said Madras Aquatic Center board of secretary Jinnell Lewis.

The pool will welcome back the swim team and patients who use the pool for physical therapy.

Opening back up allows them to hire two lifeguards.

COVID restrictions to relax across Central Oregon Friday as case numbers drop

The Aquatic Center’s goal is to have the facility fully open to the open when the county reaches the lower level risk.

Tuesday’s announcement was also good news for bars and restaurants that can now open to indoor dining.

“It helps us out a lot because we struggled a lot with having no persons inside,” said Erika Montano, daughter of the owner of the restaurant Salvador Montano.

Joe Krenowicz at the Madras Chamber of Commerce said restaurants being open helps the entire community.

“Hopefully we get a lot more traffic going through the town,” Krenowicz said. “On our streets as well as visit other businesses that have been open because they are not under restrictions like restaurants.”

Jefferson County Commissioner Kelly Simmelink says other counties moving to lower risk levels hurt the restaurant business in Jefferson County.

“People were simply driving to get the restaurant experience in Deschutes and Crook and so this is a big step forward and certainly waiting for it for a long, long time,” Simmelink said.

He hopes this is the start of something bigger.

“I am hopeful that this will provide a little bit of ability to heal as a community,” he said. “It has just been rotten and I am so sad about what has been going on. Neighbor versus neighbor. Friend versus friend, with something we didn’t cause.”

The risk level category will go into effect Friday.