Bend Park and Rec website crashes as fall registration opens

People struggled to log on to the Bend Park and Recreation website Tuesday as registration opened for fall activities. Some noted that it was a repeat of their experience from previous years.

Registration opened at 6:00 a.m. for many activities that both children and adults look forward to. Registering for fall activities is also something many parents rely on as they plan activities during the school year and for school breaks.

But as early as 5:45 a.m., people said they were having difficulty logging on, as noted by their comments to BPRD on Facebook.

A visit to the BPRD website as late as 7:00 a.m. showed a spinning wheel and a “500 Internal Service Error” message. Others said they were able to log into their account only to get kicked back out.

By 7:30 a.m., people reported they had finally gotten through, but said that “everything is almost full.” 

RELATED: Bend Park and Rec fall program registration Tuesday

BPRD acknowledged the issue on Facebook.

“The registration website is bogged down and we’re working to resolve it,” BPRD said in a Facebook post. “Sorry for the inconvenience. This is an unfortunate result of thousands of users trying to access it simultaneously.”

Here are just some of the comments left to BPRD on Facebook:

“Just a thought… why don’t … they have sign ups for different activities at diferent times or days so it doesn’t crash?”

“… I need to get going to work. Been trying since 5:50. So frustrating.”

“… I was logged in and got kicked out and now it says I’ve got an active sesion each time but kicks me back to login… usually once logged in it’s just slow.”

“… should we just plan on taking the day off next time.”

“There has to be a better way!!!”

 

▶️ Bend firefighter dies in small plane crash

Bend Fire and Rescue announced Monday that one of its firefighters was killed in the crash of a small plane in Idaho.

Engineer Daniel Harro, 38, died in the crash Monday morning near Yellow Pine, Idaho, Bend Fire said. Harro was piloting the plane and was traveling with his twin brother, Mark, from a back-country camping trip near McCall, Idaho.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation, Bend Fire said.

“This is a devastating loss for our family.” said Bend Fire Chief Todd Riley in a statement. “Daniel was well-loved and well-respected by everyone who worked with him. We will miss his presence every day.” 

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Daniel Harro is survived buy his wife, Elisif.

Bend Fire and Rescue said Harro began working in Bend in 2014 and quickly became a leader. He was heavily involved in Bend Fire and Rescue’s specialty Rescue Team and served on Bend’s Professional Firefighter’s Local 227 Executive Board.

As a paramedic, Harro also worked with department administrators and physician advisors to assist in the updating of Emergency Medical Service protocols, Bend Fire said.

He previously worked for the Scappoose Fire Department.

 

 

▶️ Bend Park and Rec fall program registration Tuesday; You need to move fast

Registration for fall recreation programs at Bend Park and Recreation District opens Tuesday morning.

Fall programs run from September through December. BPRD said programs “include youth and adult activities, no-school day programs, arts, outdoors, swimming, sports and ice season favorites including skating, hockey and curling.” The full schedule can be found in the Fall 2022 Online Playbook.

Registration opens Tuesday at 6:00 a.m. and spots are expected to fill up quickly.

RELATED: Bend’s Kids’ Corner childcare program back after 2-year hiatus

Those interested are encouraged to register online or in person at the Juniper Swim & Fitness Center, Larkspur Community Center or the District Office during regular business hours.

But note that if you don’t already have a household account, setting one up can take up to 24 hours. Everyone is encouraged to verify their account details before registration opens.

 

▶️ 1st Balanced Bend Mental Health Festival takes over Drake Park

With the stress of planning summer vacations and the start of the school year around the corner, it’s more important than ever to take care of your mental health. 

An event in Drake Park on Sunday looked to spread that message. 

The first ever Balanced Bend Mental Health Festival gave visitors a chance to learn about healing and the resources available in Deschutes County. 

24 vendors offered various services, including the Deschutes County Stabilization Center, Blissful Heart Wellness Center, Deschutes Wilderness Therapy and Wildflower Wellness Massage. 

It was organized by Savanna DeLuca, the founder of Wild Heart Therapy and Consulting, who viewed the event as her ‘gift to Bend’, and a way of introducing herself and her company. 

“It’s not a fair, it’s not an expo, it’s a mental health festival,” she said. “Which I think is unique, and I chose festival because it’s a really playful and joyful experience. I didn’t want people to think they were going to come and be sold a lot of products. I want people to really come and benefit from today if nothing else, and hopefully build relationships with practitioners so hopefully moving forward they can continue to have healing in their lives.”

The event also saw classes for things like yoga, dance, and trauma-releasing exercises. 

Four different local bands took to the stage to provide a calming background to the event. 

“I hope that people come today and have a little bit of fun and a little bit of healing, and I hope they learn about a resource in our community they didn’t know existed, or they learn that there’s a way to heal outside of traditional therapy that they might not have considered before,” DeLuca added. 

All of the proceeds from the festival are going toward providing family therapy scholarships for local families. 

Fire northeast of Cultus Lake caught fast, kept small

Fire crews responded to a new start about a mile west of Lucky Lake, and about 4.5 mi northeast of Cultus Lake on Saturday morning.

The blaze was caught fast and kept small according to a Tweet from Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch.

 

The fire is was initially sized up at 1.5 acres, but that number was later reduced to a half acre.

The blaze was reported to be in timber and brush on the Deschutes National Forest west of the Cascade Lakes Highway.

Air resources, including single engine air tankers were dispatched, but later released.

Due to the location, engine crews had to hike into the fire.

 

A fire official with Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch told Central Oregon Daily News there were no evacuations of campgrounds or resorts in the area at this time.

Firefighters have been busy after multiple rounds of lightning storms moved through the state earlier in the week.

Overnight Tuesday, the Oregon Department of Forestry’s multi-mission aircraft used to detect fires spotted 21 new starts.

▶️ Red-eye: Oregon fire detection plane looks for new starts in dead of night

Fire officials say currently no large fires are burning in Central Oregon.

 

▶️ St. Charles says it overpaid workers $2 million, wants the money back

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) has sent a cease and desist letter to St. Charles Health System on Friday after it was reported the hospital seeks to receive back payment from its employees. It all stems from the hacking of a payroll management provider that affected companies nationwide.

The letter alleges the demands by St. Charles for repayment by employees is illegal.

The workforce management company Kronos was hacked late last year. It forced the hospital to conduct its payroll method by hand.

Errors were made in the process, leading to underpaid and overpaid workers. St. Charles says the overpayment totals reach about $2 million. 

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St. Charles nurse Megan Bovi says she was handed a sticky note, without warning, detailing an amount of $2,900 that she owed. Bovi says there is no proof she was overpaid or how the amount was calculated.

“I’m not just going to take their word for it,” Bovi said. “I need evidence and why has this been rolled out so unprofessionally and disrespectfully and without tact?”

In a statement sent to Central Oregon Daily News, St. Charles spokesperson Lisa Goodman says the hospital believes employee time card entries show fewer hours than what employees are claiming to have worked.

ONA claims the Oregon Bureau of Labor Institute is clear on the issue.

“Paycheck deductions going to the employer to pay for an alleged ‘overpayment’ or loan are not for the employee’s benefit and are therefore unlawful,” the cease and desist letter reads.

Goodman responded to the letter on Friday.

“We strongly believe that we’ve complied with the law and with our contractual obligations in every respect as we’ve paid our employees and as we now look at how to make payroll corrections that are needed because of the ransomware attack on UKG,” Goodman said in an email.

▶️ International gangs, trafficked labor behind many local illegal pot grows

Recreational marijuana is legal in Oregon, of course. But the illegal pot business hasn’t gone away.

In fact, it’s a growth industry.

And we’re not talking about your neighbor growing a few dozen plants in his barn for personal consumption. We’re talking about international criminal gangs using trafficked labor in major marijuana growing operations.

And they’re keeping local drug teams busy.

Deschutes County Detective Dustin Miller walked us through what’s left of a major illegal grow that was busted on July 6, 2022.

“These are designed to go up, be one season and be done,” said Miller. “This is a large operation.”

Just east of the Bend Airport, in a neighborhood of small farms and private homes and hiding in plain sight, they found 25 flimsy greenhouses.

“Counting this large one back here, the large one we found here just had starters and growing materials different things probably for the original stages before they planted the real greenhouses,” said Miller.

Bend pot bust greenhouses

The same bust involved another property. Together, more than 6,000 plants were confiscated. Estimated street value: $3.5 million.

RELATED: 2 Bend locations raided in marijuana bust; $3.5M in street value pot seized

“What we have become is the criminal breeding ground for this criminal activity as it’s spread across the states,” said Miller.

And this is just the most recent. 

The biggest bust in county history came in September 2021 in Alfalfa. Nine thousand plants and more than a ton of processed pot. Detectives say it was run by a Mexican cartel. The workers were brought into the country illegally, working off debt and living in terrible conditions.

RELATED: Arrests in Mexican drug cartel bust could take months, detectives say

Alfalfa pot bust 2021

This past April, 2,800 plants were seized. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and more than a dozen firearms.

On June 14, Jefferson County busted a record haul of 17,000 plants and eight tons of processed pot. Another foreign-run operation, this one tied to a cartel in China. Mostly Chinese workers living in the same conditions as the other grows.

RELATED: Jefferson County drug bust: 5 arrests, 8 tons of marijuana, links to China

“Very little money. Very little food. Very little water. Very little shelter. Essentially no bathrooms,” said Miller. “The filth that they are being forced to live in is not anyplace any of us like to spend an evening much less send a full growing season.”

Jefferson County pot bust

Grow sites like this are dangerous fire hazards.

“A lot of them are run off extension cords, overloading breakers and circuits, said Miller.

And there are health hazards. The products are completely unregulated.

“We’re seeing hard fertilizers. We’re seeing pesticides and we’re seeing chemicals being placed on these plants and around these greenhouses to deter the rodents that are not intended for human consumption,” said Miller.

It’s happening because there’s money to be made — big money — in illegal marijuana.

“California, Washington,  Oregon is known for having some of the best marijuana in the United States,” said Miller.

It’s a classic case of buy low, sell high.

“You can buy bulk — $900 dollars a pound, $1,000 a pound, $1,200 a pound — and you can take it back to the other side of the country and you can triple that,” said Miller.

Or just grow your own and ship it out of state by truck, by the U.S. mail or package delivery services, detectives say.

The state’s hemp industry — often providing camouflage for illegal grows.

“It’s become fairly socially accepted to see large hemp farms being grown,” said Miller. It’s harder for law enforcement to discover them. It’s harder for us to see them, identify them and process them when they are in fact an illegal grow when there are so many of them.”

Marijuana

This metaphorical swamp was supposed to dry up with legalization.

Here’s one of the stated purposes of Ballot Measure 91.

 “Prevent revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels.”

Statements in support:

“Measure 91 fights back against drug cartels so that they face competition with the regulated market and go out of business.” — Volunteer firefighter and EMT

“We can cut off the unlawful drug trafficking with a smart approach at home.” — Former Supreme Court Justice

“Cut off the black market and send the cartels packing.” — Vote Yes on 91 campaign

“Get rid of violent drug cartel grow operations.” — Council for Retired Citizens

Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson calls that reasoning a farce.

“What we’re seeing is an increase in the cartel operations,” said Nelson.

“The argument that it would get rid of the black market industry, that argument hasn’t held up,” he continued. “We’re not seeing that. As a matter of fact, I believe we’re seeing an increase in the black market industry because marijuana from Oregon has probably by now been found in all 50 states and maybe other countries.”

Nelson is adding personnel to the county’s Illegal Marijuana Market Enforcement Team, hoping to avoid what’s happened in Douglas, Josephine and Jackson counties. Leaders there have declared states of emergency with law enforcement overwhelmed.

It’s led to legislative approval of $25 million in anti-drug funding and prompted a moratorium on licenses for hemp farms.

“They’ve made a dent by having the state of emergency and putting the licenses on a moratorium,” said Miller. “We’re seeing those particular type of grows start to squirt out to the community and they’re squirting out to Klamath County, Lake County, Deschutes County.”

That means more work for local drug teams who could use more resources.

“We probably have 25-30 active cases right now that we’re working on,” said Miller.

So do the math. How many more plants; how many more guns; how many more trafficked workers are out there right now, right here at home?

In most cases, it is tips from suspicious neighbors which lead to investigations and eventual busts. Central Oregon Daily News spoke with neighbors at several Bend-area grow sites and they were willing to talk to us, but not on camera. They admit they’re scared off by that word “cartels” and the serious criminal element involved.

▶️ ‘Pre-positioned’ firefighters from Salem in Central Oregon to help crews

Recent lightning storms and the elevated threat of wildfires have prompted the Oregon State Fire Marshal to pre-position firefighting task forces in Deschutes and Klamath counties this week.

A task force from the valley arrived Thursday. Central Oregon Daily News caught up with them at the Redmond Air Base.

Thirteen firefighters, four engines and one water tender from the Marion County are here to help if fires break loose during the hot streak of weather we are expecting.

“The Ideal result would be an incident starts and the incident commander will realize its growing too fast for their resources and mutual aid resources,” said David Call, Regional Mobilization Coordinator for Office of State Fire Marshal, Central Oregon region. “They will reach out to me and talking through partners, we’ll try to get this task force to deploy as either immediate response or as backfill to make sure that if they are out on an incident, there is coverage in their district.”

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The firefighters from Salem, Aumsville, Hubbard and Keizer are staying in Redmond hotels.

Until there is need for their services, they are familiarizing themselves with Central Oregon area, training with local fire departments and taking tours of facilities such as the Redmond Air Center.

“This was a very good learning experience for me to see how the Redmond Air Base runs. I’ve called for and seen retardant dropped multiple times. Now getting to see how they load the planes and how they operate is a true treat,” said Michael Berger, Marion County Fire Department

On Saturday, another task force from Benton County will be mobilize and pre-position in Klamath County.

These are this second and third task forces re-assigned this way this year.

“We had a prepositioned task force two weeks ago from Lane County during the Fly Creek Fire at Lake Billy Chinook. We had them prepositioned here in case there were more lightning strikes that turned into fires. I had them here three or four days, then they got tapped to go up to the Miller Road Fire. They were in the perfect location to head up Highway 97 past Maupin and jump on that fire. They were part of the immediate response,” Call said.

Cost of the pre-positioned task forces are covered by the State of Oregon.

▶️ ‘It was gnar’: Another Central Oregon thunderstorm rolls through

Summer thunderstorms in Central Oregon are nothing new. But even ones like those that rolled through Tuesday can manage to grab your attention.

“It was pretty gnar,” said Paul Streichan, manager of Whappos at the Silvermon Food Truck Court.

“It was so loud that the whole building shook,” said Jenna Wazny, Manager of Avid Cider Company in Bend.

The storm didn’t just shake Avid Cider, it also flooded it. 

“The hail started pretty soon after that and then it flooded in here and that is where my focus was,” said Wazny.

RELATED: Your Central Oregon thunderstorm photos

Silvermoon’s Food Truck Court also felt the storm’s wrath. 

“We definitely lost power for a brief couple of seconds and my ears are still kinda ringing to be honest. We felt a little strange being in a metal box around all of this,” said Streichan.

In other areas, the damage was much more severe. Downed power lines blocked roads in La Pine near Quail Run Golf Course. 

And Central Oregon Fire Information reported 800 lighting strikes and 70 new fire starts Tuesday. A Red Flag or Fire Weather Warning was in place for Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook counties through the end of Tuesday due to the risk of lightning starting a fire.
 
One lightning strike Tuesday morning knocked out power to 34,000 Pacific Power customers.
 
 
 
 

▶️ Nearly $50 million lawsuit filed against Mt. Bachelor in death of 9-year-old

A Tacoma family has filed a nearly $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against Mount Bachelor Ski and Summer Resort following the death of a 9-year-old boy in 2021.

Brecken Boice and his family were skiing at Mount Bachelor in January 2021. Brecken took the summit express ski lift with his father Brian. On his way down, Brecken, crashed down the slope. He was taken to the hospital where he died hours later. 

RELATED: Tacoma boy dies from injuries after Mt. Bachelor ski crash

The lawsuit from the Boice family names the resort and its parent company, Powdr Corp. It claims that “Conditions at the summit at this time had been described by Mt. Bachelor employees, working at the bottom of the Summit Express Lift, as good with minimal ice build-up making the runs compatible with the Brian and Brecken Boice’s abilities and experience.”

The lawsuit claims the Boices experienced “unexpected and severe icy conditions” shortly after unloading from the lift.

Before they had time to evaluate, Brecken fell and started sliding down the mountain, hitting rocks and other obstacles along the way, the lawsuit claims. It goes on to say Brecken’s skis, helmet and some of his clothing were ripped off on his way down the run.

Among the multiple claims made, the lawsuit alleges that the resort failed to:

  • adequately educate and inform their customers about the dangers of the ice conditions
  • employ enough properly trained, knowledgeable, and equipped staff to safely monitor for hazardous ice conditions
  • develop and implement a systematic method for regularly monitoring, inspecting and evaluating the safety of runs

You can read the full lawsuit below:

Boice-lawsuit-against-Mt.-Bachelor

Mount Bachelor released this statement in reaction to the lawsuit.

“Everyone at Mt Bachelor continues to convey our deepest condolences to Brecken’s family. While we cannot comment on the specifics of this incident due to pending litigation, this is a tragedy which affected our whole mountain community. Our thoughts are with everyone who was impacted by the events on that day.”