▶️ Look up tonight! Jupiter is the closest it’s been to Earth in 59 years

The largest planet in our solar system is making its presence known.

The gas giant Jupiter is normally 484 million miles away. At its furthest, it’s 601 million miles away.

As of Monday, it sits just around the relative celestial corner — a mere 367 million miles. 

“It takes the spacecraft like Juno and Gallileo that have orbited Jupiter about five years to get there,” Sunriver Observatory Manager Paul Poncy said.

RELATED: REPLAY: Watch NASA spacecraft crash into asteroid in effort to redirect it

It’s the closest it’s been to Earth since 1963. It wont be this close again for another 107 years.

It will be the brightest object in the eastern night sky Monday. Poncy recommends going out around 8 or 9 p.m. to view the planet.

Worthy Brewing is holding a viewing event in their “Hopservatory” on Monday starting at 8 p.m. They will direct their telescope toward Jupiter and its moons.

 

 

 

▶️ OSP: Suspect in Redmond shooting dies after self-inflicted gunshot wound

Oregon State Police say the suspect in Sunday’s fatal shooting outside of Redmond has died after a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Skyler Ray Myers, 32 was pronounced dead at St. Charles Medical Center, OSP said Monday.

“Mr. Meyers had died from an apparent self-inflicted gun shot wound,” said Sgt. Jayson Janes, DCSO public information officer.

Central Oregon Daily News then asked if there was still a threat in the area, and DCSO said “No there is not.”

OSP and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office were called to 5677 SW Young Avenue in Redmond at 8:28 a.m. Sunday, OSP said.

They found that Trevit C. Law, 45, of Redmond had been shot. Despite first aid from officers on the scene, Law was pronounced dead.

RELATED: DCSO: Man located in Redmond death investigation is ‘of no further interest’

During the investigation, DCSO had alerted neighbors to lock their homes, vehicles and outbuildings as they searched the area. 

DCSO later sent out an update saying Meyers was a person of interest. In that same alert, there was a flyer attached from Oregon State Police calling Meyers an “armed and dangerous” homicide suspect.

Then, around 5:15 p.m., DCSO put out another update saying Meyers was located and was “of no further interest” and that OSP was taking over the updates in the case.

It wasn’t until Monday morning that OSP said several police agencies had tracked down Myers Sunday and found him near Gift Road and the Deschutes Canal Sunday. OSP said Myers had a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

“We worked together with Oregon State Police throughout the day,” Janes said. “One to find the suspect in this case and two, to keep the public notified of what was going on. We sent out various alerts throughout the day through our dispatch system to let the public know we were going to be in the area and to lock their doors, as well as putting out press releases and information on social media just to keep the public informed of what we were doing and who we were looking for.”

OSP did not immediately release any more information in the case Monday, including a motive.

Skyler Ray Myers
Slyler Ray Myers (Credit: Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office)

 

▶️ Bend man catches cougar on Ring camera

A Ring doorbell camera at a home near Shevlin Park in Bend captured a cougar on the porch last week.

The camera shows the cougar walking onto the porch. A few seconds later, it walks away and down the path, back toward the street.

The owner of the video said it was at his house around 11:30 p.m. Thursday night. It was in the Skyline West neighborhood.

The homeowner said he hasn’t heard of any other recent sightings. He said neighbors have mentioned some in the past but he was unsure how how regular.

RELATED: Why three cougars were shot and killed instead of relocated

RELATED: 2 cited after shooting at cougar in Deschutes River Woods; animal euthanized

No. 15 Ducks come from behind in wild one against WSU, 44-41

The Oregon Ducks played from behind for most of the afternoon against a determined Washington State Cougars team. After taking the lead late in the fourth quarter, an interception return for a touchdown sealed the deal for No. 15 Oregon, 44-41.

Oregon quarterback Bo Nix was 33-of-44 for 428 yards and three touchdowns. He threw one interception in the first half that was returned for a score.

Cam Ward was nearly as impressive for WSU, going 37-of-48 for 375 yards and two touchdowns plus a number of Houdini moves to get out of trouble. But he also threw two interceptions including the one with just over a minute left in the game that put Oregon up by 10.

Oregon didn’t lead until 1:21 left in the fourth when Nix found Troy Franklin for a 50-yard touchdown.

Ward’s pick-six came two plays into the next series.

WSU was able to score again with two seconds left, but the ensuing onside kick went out of bounds.

Oregon improves to 3-1 while WSU takes its first loss of the season and is also 3-1.

The Ducks face Stanford next week while the Cougs get Cal.

Beavers nearly pull off huge upset of No. 7 USC

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Jordan Addison caught a go-ahead 21-yard touchdown pass with 1:13 left and No. 7 USC overcame a shaky performance for a 17-14 victory over Oregon State.

The Beavers, vying to start 4-0 for the first time since 2012, took the lead on Jam Griffin’s 18-yard touchdown run with 4:41 remaining.

But USC quarterback Caleb Williams led an 11-play, 84-yard drive that ended with Addison’s sixth touchdown catch of the season.

RELATED: No. 15 Ducks come from behind in wild one against WSU, 44-41

The Trojans put the game away on the ensuing drive when they picked off Beavers quarterback Chance Nolan for the fourth time.

USC Oregon State Sept 24 2022 scorecard

Central Oregon Daily News contributed to this report.

▶️ ‘I want my kids to enjoy the land’: Junked China Hat Road cars cleared out

Saturday is National Public Lands Day, celebrating the connection between people and the green space we’re surrounded by.

One way to celebrate is by helping restore public lands, which is happening with a clean up on China Hat Road.

Work was already happening Friday to clear the cars that have broken down or been abandoned along the road.

Central Oregon Daily News videographer Jarod Gatley, a new member of our team, went out to China Hat to learn more and to talk to the people working hard on the clean-up.

FROM JUNE: ‘Nowhere else for us to go’: China Hat Road campers told to vacate

 

 

▶️ Welcome to the High Desert highway that is one-of-a-kind in Oregon

The Oregon Department Of Transportation owns and maintains about 8,000 miles of state highways

One small section of that 8,000 miles is unique. And it’s located in the High Desert.

Oregon Highway 27 starts as Main Street in Prineville.

On its entire 44.78-mile southbound route, there is only one sign telling you that you’re driving OR 27.

And that drive is spectacular — along the Crooked River through some of the wildest basalt cliffs in basalt cliff country. Up over the Bowman Dam that’s holding back the slim puddle that is the Prineville Reservoir these days.

 

Down to the south, through open range and the land of cows you’ll find an occasional mailbox and a dirt side road or two.

But this is where the story really starts.

And where the pavement ends.

RELATED: OSP shares adorable video of deer family properly using the crosswalk

“We are out here on Highway 27, which is the only gravel state-maintained through highway in the entire state,” said Kacey Davey of the Department of Transportation.

“I did the math and it’s 0.002% of the roads we maintain are gravel.”

 

Highway data shows OR 27 averages 17 vehicles per day.

How quiet is this road? Just ask Pam and J.W. Hart. They’re at the Sage Hollow Ranch — the only property that has a driveway off the gravel section of OR 27.

They bought the place 35 years ago.

“You’d go weeks without seeing a vehicle up and down the road. You might see a neighbors truck go by that you know but as far as anybody from the outside world. You just didn’t see that much,” J.W. said.

 

So what’s rush hour like there?

“I guess is when you got a bunch of cows that’s been stampeded by a mountain lion,” J.W. said.

RELATED: OSP catches driver doing 119 in a 55 and the fine is … WHOA!

They say you can probably go a half-day without ever seeing a car.

“And then there’s other days, holidays and stuff when the weather’s nice and you might have fifty cars in one day,” J.W. said.

 

In the three hours and 20 minutes we spent shooting this story, we saw three cars go by.

One of those was being driven by road warriors Steve and Lisa from Seattle. We met them where U.S. Highway 20 and OR 27 meet. They were considering what looked like a shortcut on the map.

“We found this road and it looked like something interesting. We have a vehicle that can handle it so we though, let’s give it a crack,” Steve said. 

But they didn’t know about the gravel thing.

After considering their options, Lisa makes the call.

“I was going to say no. I’ve been driving in the crosswinds all this way and I don’t think I want to do 25 miles of gravel,” Lisa said.

RELATED: ‘I got this’: Remembering the famed ‘Prineville Wheelie’ 40 years later

It’s a little shorter than that. ODOT says it’s 18.5 miles. Our odometer says 17. And it’s really good gravel.

Wikipedia says it’s also known as the “Les Schwab Highway.” It’s not. That’s Millican Road a few miles west.

A technicality here. There is one short stretch of pavement over a little bridge. 

You’ll pass under a Bonneville power high voltage line that’s electricity to Burns. And you’ll hit five cattle guards.

 

At the south end, you’ll see just one sign heading north that tells you what road you’re on.

And it turns out this stretched out gravel patch is useful.

“We use it to train our new employees on how to use our graders,” said Davey.”

Once or twice a year, it’s the grader driving school for ODOT rookies.

“We also use graders for things like blade-patching which is a type of pavement repair that we do. We use graders on the gravel shoulders and also to move snow in the wintertime. So our crews spend a lot more time on graders than just maintaining this one highway,” said Davey.

The road is nicely graded in places and looks like it will stay that way for awhile. ODOT says it has no current plans to pave this stretch of OR 27.

Highway 27 pavement ends

▶️ Crook County’s Sara Johnson named Oregon Superintendent of the Year

Crook County School District Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson was named Oregon’s Superintendent of the Year Wednesday.

Johnson was presented the honor at the Crook County High School library by representatives from the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators (COSA).

And they kept it a big secret from her. She walked into the building to thunderous applause, unaware of what was coming next.

 

“Super grateful and overwhelmed and surprised. Just thinking about how amazing our staff … our staff is incredible. It’s just remarkable to work with such an amazing district,” Johnson said.

The award highlights what is described as four essential areas:

  • Leadership for Learning
  • Communication
  • Professionalism
  • Community Involvement

“Dr. Johnson was recognized for many successes, including safely reopening schools during the pandemic before most other schools in Oregon, increasing the graduation rate at Crook County High School to 98%, successfully opening Steins Pillar Elementary School, creating a new hybrid learning program called Grizzly Mountain HomeLink, prioritizing improved school culture, and giving more voice to students and staff through yearly surveys and initiatives,” the district said in a statement announcing the award. “Those results have also led to consecutive years of enrollment growth when many districts face declines.”

RELATED: Central Oregon school districts see slight increase in student enrollment

RELATED: Oregon’s tuition-free preschool program hits major delays

Johnson will now be in the running for national superintendent of the year.

Johnson’s award continues a string of achievements for the school district.

Crook County High School Principal Michelle Jonas was named Principal of the Year in 2021.

Rob Bonner, Crook County H.S. athletic director, was named 5A Athletic Director of the Year last year.

The district says Johnson was born and raised in Burns. Most of her career has been mostly in rural Oregon schools. She has made helping young students overcome the mental health challenges following the COVID-19 pandemic one of her priorities.

And her own education isn’t done. She’s pursuing a degree in child psychology at George Fox University.

▶️ Rescued baby river otter makes High Desert Museum public debut Wednesday

The yet-to-be-named otter pup was found on a golf course near Sunriver in May. 

“Then believed to be about 8 weeks old, he was emaciated and severely dehydrated, and after multiple wildlife professionals attempted to locate his mother over nearly a week, the state determined he should remain at the Museum,” High Desert Museum said in a statement. The otter weighed 2.4 pounds at the time.

“Without his parents he wouldn’t have survived in the wild,” Museum Curator of Wildlife Jon Nelson said in a statement. “This was a unique situation where this otter pup does appear to have been legitimately orphaned.”

RELATED: High Desert Museum adopts orphaned river otter found on Sunriver golf course

RELATED: The Great Outdoors: Don’t ‘rescue’ baby animals you see alone in the wild

The otter is now approximately 5 1/2 months old and weighs about 15 pounds.

“North American river otters are so playful and engaging, and they have so much to teach us about riparian ecosystems,” said Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw in a statement. “We’re excited for the public to share the excitement of welcoming this new addition to the Museum.

Baby Otter High Desert Museum
(CREDIT: High Desert Museum)

Wednesday is also Senior Day at the Museum. Those age 65 and older get free admission.

The opportunity to name the new otter was auctioned off in August at the High Desert Rendezvous fundraiser. The museum says the winning bidder has yet to determine the name.

▶️Bend teacher assigned to multiple schools arrested over explicit child images

A music teacher from Bend who was assigned to multiple schools in the Bend-La Pine School District has been arrested on suspicion of possessing explicit images of children. A letter sent to parents indicates the children in the images are not believed to be from the local area.

The Bend Police Department says Erik Duane Ekstrom, 35, was arrested Thursday morning. He is facing two counts of first-degree encouraging child sexual abuse. 

The district confirmed Thursday afternoon that Ekstrom was hired in August 2021 to work at Highland Magnet School. For the 2022-23 school year, he was assigned to Cascade Middle School, Pacific Crest Middle School and Summit High School.

Police say they received a report on Aug. 11 from the Department of Justice’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program that video showing child sexual abuse had been uploaded and linked to Ekstrom’s digital devices. Other tips came that also directed police to Ekstrom’s digital devices.

SEE ALSO: Bend La-Pine Schools: ‘SeeSaw’ security breach led to app removal from iPads

SEE ALSO: Bend Police posing as minors arrest 28 in four-month sex crimes sting

Police executed a search warrant Thursday morning at a location on NE Viking Avenue in Bend. Bend Police said multiple digital devices were seized and Ekstrom was arrested.

In a letter to parents, Cascade Middle School Principal Gabe Pagano said the images allegedly in Ekstrom’s possession are not believed to be of local children.

“We take threats to the safety and well-being of our community very seriously and are working collaboratively with law enforcement as they continue this investigation,” the letter reads. “While there is no current indication that Ekstrom’s crimes have a nexus to our students, staff, or schools, we are encouraging anyone with information to contact Detective Ian Macdonell at the non-emergency dispatch line, 541-693-6911.”

According to a welcome letter from the principal of Highland Magnet School posted in Aug. 2021, Ekstrom was identified a Bend native who had spent the previous decade as K-8 teacher in Minnesota.