▶️ 386 belt buckles adorn Bend barber shop’s wall, and each has a story

Debbie Bennett owns the L & K Barber Shop in downtown Bend. And there’s a question she gets from her customers a lot.

“So what’s the story? How did it start? The belt buckles?”

And no wonder. Across from the row of barber’s chairs is an entire wall of belt buckles, carefully framed and put under glass.

Bennett says there are 386 of them. I counted. She’s right: 386.

And how did the belt buckle wall get started? It started with a guy named Lou who had a friend named John.

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Lou Bankston owned the barbershop and was the “L” in L & K. John, is John Turner, a longtime L & K customer who lives in Sisters with his wife Barbara and, for many years, owned a gift shop there.

In 1983, John commissioned and helped design a belt buckle featuring the Sisters Rodeo. He brought one in to Lou as a gift and just kept bringing them in every year for the next 27 years. They all went up on the wall.

And soon they started having company.

Kathy Bankston is the “K” in L & K — Lou’s wife and a career barber herself.  She laughs about the response from other customers.

“It made for great conversation and that of course brought in more belt buckles,” Kathy says.

Lots more belt buckles. There are buckles from other rodeos, buckles from the military and law enforcement, buckles advertising whiskey and beer and cigarettes.

Debbie, who bought the shop in the 1990s, says the buckles are still coming in.
“People send them to us in the mail,” Debbie says. “They come here on vacation and say “‘Oh, I got a belt buckle i’ll send it to ya.’ They go ‘Oh, my father, my grandfather had this one. You guys might as well have it because i don’t know what to do with it.’

And many come with personal stories. Debbie says her favorites were brought in by a customer whose hair she has been cutting since he was in first grade.

“I cut his hair until he got out of high school. He went in to the Navy and on Christmas break he came home and he’s brought me two Navy belt buckles with his ship names. So those two have to be my favorite,” Debbie says.

There’s a Portland Trail Blazers 1977 NBA Championship buckle, an OSU Benny the Beaver buckle, smokejumper and logger buckles.

There’s one from a customer who worked on the cleanup crew in Alaska when the Exxon Valdez ran aground and dumped 10 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William sound.  

Debbie says there is still room on the wall for more.

“We could take all those pictures down make a big old long case going right there in front of the window,” Debbie says.

Why go to all that trouble to keep the buckle tradition alive? Kathy has a pretty good reason.

“You meet a lot of people in the barber shop, very interesting people and you kind of treasure all of them,” she says.

▶️ Meet the 18-year-old Redmond boxing phenom who’s taking on the Golden Gloves

He’s been in the gym since he was six years old, and he’s won pretty much everything you can as a young boxer. State titles, regional titles, and even a Silver Gloves National title at the age of 13.

But now the boxing phenom from Redmond, Kevin Ochoa-Limbeck, is 18, and there are new challenges ahead.

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Last month, he entered his first Golden Gloves tournament in Eugene, competing for an Oregon state title.

“To get into the Golden Gloves, you have to be 18 years old. It’s 18 to 40. So, he got in. And the tournament was on his 18th birthday. He was by far the youngest in the tournament,” said his coach and trainer, Richard Miller.

Kevin won both fights, punching a ticket to the Western Regionals in Las Vegas, and was named the most outstanding boxer for the tournament.

For Miller, it’s hard to believe that the tiny kid who walked into his gym 12 years ago isn’t so little anymore.

A GoFundMe has been created to help get Kevin to the national Golden Gloves. You can donate at this link.

▶️ Taste This! Cascade Culinary Institute’s Bakery Kiosk

It’s a combination that sets future bakers up for success: hands-on training while earning a college degree.

The folks who know about the Bakery Kiosk on Friday mornings know it well; it’s student-run and student-led, which draws a crowd to the Cascade Culinary Institute.

Emily Kirk got to visit with the students & staff in this year’s Baking and Pastry program’s winter term course to learn more about what goes into a career in culinary.

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▶️ Bend family looks to start chess club for 8-year-old son

Kirsten Madsen reached out to the Bend community on Facebook asking if families with children have interest in starting a chess club.

Madsen is looking for a community for her son, Levi, who loves chess, and she got a lot of responses (50 comments by the time this story aired). 

“I would say the main age group is probably 6-10, but we’ve got an 18 year old, 14 year old interested,” said Kirsten. “I also heard of a mom who was essentially volunteering her husband who used to be a chess champion and so I’m really hoping he comes out.”

Eight-year-old Levi has been playing for half of his life.

“It’s not about luck. It’s about skill. Like if someone makes a move, you have to figure out how to respond,” said Levi.

He’s already giving his dad, Andreas Madsen, a run for his money.

“I think at about six years old he started to beat me and I had to figure that out quickly,” said Andreas.

From playing online to driving to Portland, the Madsen’s have found ways to give Levi chances to play chess with others, but they want to be able to start a group closer to home.

“I would love to get him to playing in-person with friends,” said Kirsten.

Levi has a few trophies to show off, and he is quite confident in his strategy.

For a young guy, he knows a lot about the game and told us it would be so exciting to be able to play more of it in town. 

▶️ Stuck in deep snow? Here’s how much towing companies might charge you

The winter weather has been keeping local towing businesses busy, with vehicles getting stuck in the deep snow pack on remote roads in Deschutes County and the Ochocos. At least 17 motorists have gotten stuck in just this month alone, and those numbers only account for those who needed Search and Rescue (SAR) teams to get them out.

SAR teams routinely reach out to local towing businesses for assistance in recovering vehicles, such as Bend Towing & Recovery.

“Typically when we come out here, the roads are icy, snowy, and a little bit tricky,” owner of Bend Towing & Recovery Mike Leech said.

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With recent weather, the company has been busier than usual, with an overall uptick in tows this year compared to last.

“This year has been a bit busier because our first snow came around the first week of November, and we’ve had several storms since then,” Leech said. “The trails get covered very quickly, and freeze over night, and it’s difficult to get in and out.” 

While Search and Rescue teams focus on getting the people out, companies like Leech’s get to work on recovering the vehicles.

“From the time that you call, it will take us about 60 minutes to get out here,” Leech said. “The cost of recoveries to get vehicles out of the snow can run anywhere from $500 to $700. If you see anything like this deep snow, and you don’t think your vehicle is suited, just stop and back on out.”

Bend Towing & Recovery says to always bring essentials before off-roading or traveling to remote areas, such as snacks and bottled water, warm clothing and blankets, and always make sure you have cell service.

▶️ Dill update: Learns to walk again, is adopted by local family

Do you remember Dill, the puppy who nearly lost one of his legs after being injured in a collision last month in Bend?

The lovable pup has been adopted. Not only that, he’s walking again but he still has many hurdles to clear before he’s 100%.

We caught up with Dill and his new family, Evan, Mary Jane and his new brother River, over the weekend to see how the pup is doing so far. 

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“All she wants to do is play with him, which makes it a little difficult because the P.T. or the physical therapist wants us to try and not have him play so much right now,” said Evan.

“Dill has made progress every single day that we’ve noticed starting to run, giving him lots of treat, toys and food puzzles, but the two of them love to play together, said Mary Jane. “It’s been a perfect addition to our little family.”

If you want to keep up with Dill’s progress, the family has an Instagram page: @RivysRoad.

Ownership of Dill was transferred to Bend Animal Emergency last month after his owner was arrested following the collision outside the Bend Factory Stores. Two people in the other vehicle involved ended up in the hospital.

Donations from the public helped to pay for surgery that saved Dill from having one of his legs amputated.

▶️ Little Did I Know: Using Dolly Parton & monster trucks to explain wind chill

We’ve all heard the term wind chill.

And we’ve definitely all felt what it means.

But do you really know all there is to know about wind chill? Prior to meteorology school, I certainly didn’t.

Little Did I Know, there’s a big difference in the way objects encounter wind chill.

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And to demonstrate this, I present to you the Dolly Parton vs. Monster Truck Wind Chill Smackdown!

Dolly Parton is a national treasure. And let’s face it, she’s hot.

And so am I, and so are you!

In fact, all humans burn so much energy that their body maintains a nearly consistent, almost 100-degree temperature. Hotter than most summer days in Central Oregon!

A monster truck, when not in use, is whatever temperature it is where it’s sitting.

When in use, they can run hotter than 250 degrees.


Because Dolly burns a fairly consistent 98 degrees, her skin builds a small layer of protective warm air around her body that slowly loses heat to the cooler air outside in an attempt to equalize the environment.

It’s one of the laws of thermodynamics. But I digress.

If we put Dolly Parton into a zero degrees Fahrenheit environment and add wind to the mix, Dolly’s protective heat begins to blow off her body much more quickly. Making her feel cold very rapidly.

Her body starts to lose heat, which isn’t good because the human body slides into hypothermia when it reaches just 95 degrees.

That’s just three degrees of loss from normal!

And for the record, you don’t want to become hypothermic. A Boy Scout trip to the Cascade mountains in Washington gave me the experience to vouch for this fact.

If the monster truck gets put into a zero-degree environment, it slowly sheds the heat from its original location until it reaches zero degrees.

Since it doesn’t have a protective heat layer and isn’t subject to hypothermia, even when the wind chill is -50 degrees, it will never get colder than zero degrees.

So when it comes to who wins in the wind chill smackdown? Well, Dolly wins at feeling wind chill. But the monster truck wins at not potentially succumbing to hypothermia and dying.

But before you start thinking that the monster truck doesn’t encounter any effects from wind chill, consider this. If the monster truck is running at 250 degrees and it’s zero degrees outside and it’s driving at 60 miles per hour, that means it is shedding an enormous amount of heat due to the wind.

That’s why you see some people putting protection over the front grills of their cars and trucks in order to keep the wind chill from stealing too much heat and causing the engine to fall apart.

But Dolly Parton will never fall apart. Because she’s a national treasure.

In the end, like always, the winner in this smackdown is Dolly Parton.

▶️ Sisters’ homeless go without warming shelter, must find one elsewhere

In potentially dangerous temperatures like we are experiencing this week, the City of Sisters continues to operate without a warming shelter for the unhoused population. 

“The reason why I’m here in Redmond, Oregon is because, in Sisters, there is no warming shelter,” said George Discullio, a Sisters man who has been taking the bus to Redmond to take refuge in the warming shelter at Mountainview Fellowship Church.

According to shelter managers, Discullio is the only Sisters resident consistently at the shelter. But the reality remains — it’s the closest shelter to Sisters. 

This winter, the city has yet to open a space for the unhoused to get out of the cold.

“It’s ridiculous,” Discullio said.

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Central Oregon Daily’s Brooke Snavely reached out to the Sisters Cold Weather Shelter Organization on February 1, 2023. The organization declined his interview request more than two weeks later.

I tried reaching city councilors and the mayor, but I did not get an answer to why the city has not opened a shelter space. 

“It’s really hard because you can’t go out and find a job, get a shower, be civilized because of the cold,” said Discullio. “There’s nothing there to provide for that.”

The Sisters city manager declined to do an interview but said the cold weather shelter organization is focusing on helping individuals who request assistance.

When I asked Discullio if he has requested assistance, he said, “People don’t know about it. People don’t know how to find that help.”

He added that without the shelter in Redmond, he probably would not survive. 


▶️ Bend-La Pine schools highlight career technical ed classes to freshmen

More than 1,500 Bend-La Pine high school students participate in Career Technical Education classes each year. Many of them go on to trade schools or begin working straight out high school.

One of those paths is through the La Pine High School metal and welding class. Here, the students get personal instruction and hands on experience in several types of welding.

“It has my last name on it and my brand and bunch of farm animals,” said Jadia Kemnitz, a metal shop student showing us the plaque she made. “I started it from scratch. I made the whole border. I believe this is 8 inches by 12 inches. I typed that out. Chose my font and then I cut it out with the plasma cutter.”

Within the next three weeks, every eighth-grade student in Bend-La Pine Schools will have an opportunity to experience high school Career Technical Education courses.

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It’s part of a district-wide initiative to drive enrollment to these hands-on, high-skill programs in automotive, business, graphic design, health, construction, manufacturing, computer science, forestry and agriculture.

“There’s so many things that involve welding. There’s pipe welding. There’s vehicles and all this kind of stuff,” said Nikaijh Irving, a metal shop student. 

Bend-La Pine’s seven high schools offer 33 Career Technical Education course. Some CTE pathways lead directly to college while others help students discover high-demand, high-wage career options.

“I’ve got a couple of students that are already signed up for some welding colleges. They can go into trade school right out of high school,” said Matt Zimmerman, Metals & Welding Instructor.

“We are having a CTE Fly Up Day for all our 8th grade students before they forecast for high school on March 2nd,” said Stephen DuVal, Bend La Pine School Director of College and Career Readiness. “Students will come into these spaces and learn about these programs from the teachers. See the tools. Participate in some hands on learning before they forecast. They will be aware of what options they have in high school before they show up in the fall.”

The public can help celebrate Career Technical Education Month by following features on different CTE classes posted on Bend La Pine School’s social media channels.

▶️ The Great Outdoors: Free snowshoe tours at Mt. Bachelor

If you don’t know how to ski or snowboard but still want to get out on the slopes, try snowshoeing. Brooke Snavely takes us on a free, guided snowshoe tour on Mt. Bachelor.

The tours depart twice daily at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on weekends, holidays and school vacations. They leave from the Forest Service Hut at Mt. Bachelors West Village. Group sizes are limited and participation is first come, first served.

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