▶️ Long lost La Pine cat – missing for 4 years – reunited with owner


It was an emotional reunion over the weekend for Theresa Blanco and her cat, who’d been missing more than four years.

Schrodinger – Shredder or Shred – was discovered living under a La Pine deck for a couple of weeks.

A Good Samaritan trapped the animal Friday and turned over to the Humane Society of Central Oregon.

“We scanned it, like we scan all animals that arrive at the shelter, for a microchip and it had three phone numbers attached to it,” said Lynne Ouchida with the Humane Society. “We left a message, and we called back again and were able to speak with her. And, the conversation literally brought our staff member to tears.”

Ouchida said Shredder’s story began in 2015 when he arrived at the Bend shelter from an overcrowded facility in Southern California.

At two months old, “Cole” – as he was called then – was adopted by Steve, Blanco’s husband.

Shred kept Steve company during chemotherapy. And when he passed away from cancer in 2016, the entire household was devastated.

A couple of months later, Shredder disappeared.

For more than a year, Blanco walked their La Pine neighborhood looking for the cat, but he was gone.

Fast forward to last Friday when that Good Samaritan rescued a dark grey cat wearing a faded collar and a bell and shelter staff called the number listed on the microchip

“She said it felt like she fell off a building. She said, ‘You are telling me that something that I have put away in my mind that is dead, is now alive?'” Ouchida said.

Theresa, now living in northern California,  reached out to a friend in Bend, who picked up Shred until Theresa could drive up.

On Sunday, the two long-lost friends were finally together.

Ouchida says Shredder’s appearance indicates he’s been cared for over the past four years.

“Sadly these two could have been reunited soon after he disappeared, or whenever somebody found the cat if they had checked for a microchip ID,” she said.

But, Ouchida says Blanco is focusing on the positive, thankful Shred is happy and healthy.

“It literally was a holiday miracle that just happened for her.”

La Pine man arrested on weapons, drug charges after short car chase through neighborhood

A car chase on neighborhood roads Sunday night west of La Pine led to the arrest of a man on drugs and weapon charges, according to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

The incident happened just before 10 p.m. when deputies patrolling the area saw a Subaru WRX speeding on Rainbow Drive.

Sgt. William Bailey said the deputy then saw the driver turn off the lights to the car to avoid detection.

The deputy alerted another deputy in the area who saw the Subaru pull out onto Sunrise Blvd. The second deputy tried to stop the Subaru, but it kept going, leading the deputy on a chase southbound on Sunrise at nearly 40 mph.

Bailey said the car hit an icy patch on the road near Pinetree Drive, left the road and hit a tree. Deputies then conducted a high-risk stop and arrested 37-year-old James W. Bruce of La Pine.

During a search, deputies discovered evidence that led deputies to believe Bruce could have a gun on him.

When they searched him, Bruce resisted and had to be further restrained, Bailey said.

No weapon was found, but additional evidence was found in the car suggesting Bruce had one.

DCSO K-9 Ezel and his partner Deputy Jeremiah Johnson searched the area near the car and found a small pistol in the snow that matched the evidence collected at the scene.

Additionally, deputies and Ezel found more than 10 grams of meth and evidence of the manufacture and delivery of meth.

Bruce was taken to St. Charles in Bend for injuries in the crash, then lodged at the Deschutes County Jail.

He was booked on several charges including felony attempting to elude, reckless driving, and possession/delivery/manufacture of meth.



‘This is not a hoax, this is not a scare tactic’: SCHS chief begs you to stay home and mask up

Saying COVID has “never been more of a threat to Central Oregonians,” St. Charles Health Systems’ CEO on Tuesday joined a chorus of health care officials statewide in urging people not to gather in groups this Thanksgiving.

Joe Sluka said in a somber new YouTube video there’s good news ahead as plans to distribute a vaccine will be made public in the coming weeks.

But right now, Deschutes County cases are as high as they’ve ever been and recent numbers show there’s no slowing down.

“So now is the time to double down on our efforts to finish strong,” he said. “Hospitals across the nation are being overwhelmed. And you have the power to stop that from happening here.”

Local cases hit a weekly high of 245 last week. Since Sunday, Deschutes County has already reported 126 more cases.

Updated figures show there are 1,118 active cases in Deschutes County.

“That means you and your loved ones have a higher likelihood of catching COVID-19 than at any other time during the pandemic,” he said. “This not a hoax. This is not a scare tactic. This is the truth.”

In an email to subscribers, Sluka revealed that during a St. Charles COVID-19 Incident Command call last week, the Bend hospital was the only hospital in the state with any available ICU beds.

“Suddenly, the refrain I’ve been hearing from colleagues throughout the nation hit incredibly close to home,” he said. “Our health care workers can no longer be considered the front line of this fight. We are now your last resort. You are on the front line.”

St. Charles has a total of 30 ICU beds in Bend and Redmond.

At one point last week, only one ICU bed was available at the Bend hospital. (Not all ICU beds are taken by COVID patients.)

On Tuesday, the hospital reported it had 14 COVID patients and one was in ICU.

“You can make a difference by choosing not to gather for Thanksgiving this year,” Sluka wrote. “Follow the advice and ideas we have received from several of our community members and have a virtual meal – share recipes with your loved ones and cook together from a distance. Make a new tradition by taking a piece of leftover pumpkin pie on a hike and eating it at the end of your climb. Take time to remember how much we still have to be grateful for – even in a year that has been fraught with challenges.”


La Pine man arrested on drug, weapon charges after investigation into illegal pot grow

A La Pine man was arrested Monday on multiple drugs and weapons charges after a six-month investigation into an illegal pot grow operation on his property, according to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

Sgt. Jayson Janes said Deschutes County Illegal Marijuana Enforcement detectives started an investigation into 27-year-old Dylan Stronks in April after receiving complaints from neighbors about the possible manufacturing of pot.

During the investigation, detectives were able to gain the information necessary for a search warrant of the property to look for evidence, Janes said.

Inside a detached shop, detectives located an active marijuana growing operation.

Detectives seized 506 growing marijuana plants and about 55 pounds of dried marijuana.

They also found a Butane Hash Oil (BHO) lab, which was a large open blasting system. BHO extraction is a highly volatile and dangerous process that has resulted in explosions that have injured and killed people in Oregon, Janes said.

Detectives seized about 40 pounds of BHO product, and about two ounces of cocaine. Detectives also found evidence the BHO product was being placed into vape pen cartridges.

During the search of the residence detectives located and seized 14 firearms including an AR pistol which was stored in the couch, and a short barrel sawed-off shotgun stored in the master bedroom as well as a handgun on the master bedroom’s nightstand.

They also located $7,920 in cash.

Stronks was cited for multiple charges including unlawful manufacturing, possession and delivery of marijuana, unlawful manufacture, possession and delivery of marijuana extract and unlawful possession of a short-barreled shotgun.

The Deschutes County Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Detectives (DCIMED’s) would like to thank the legal marijuana businesses within Deschutes County for their collaborative efforts in combating illegal marijuana operations.

The knowledge the DCIMED’s received from focus groups confirms that illegal marijuana within Deschutes County is a major concern for the legal marijuana market, residents, and businesses in our community.

DCIMED’s take illegal grow operations seriously due to the unregulated amounts of pesticides, fungicides and chemical solvents that can be used to manufacture marijuana products.

In addition, DCIMED’s have discovered illegal marijuana grows that contained mold, spider mites and toxic/harmful chemicals that are unsafe for human consumption, Janes said.

The DCIMED’s receive funding to support their positions from taxes that are collected from the recreational marijuana market. Marijuana tax can be used for schools, drug treatment centers, public health, and law enforcement.

The Deschutes County Board of Commissions approved the funding for the Deschutes County Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Detective positions.

▶️ A COVID Thanksgiving calls for smaller birds, take-out orders and drive-thru meals for the needy


With a statewide freeze in effect to limit the spread of COVID and limitations on the size of gatherings, many people will have small Thanksgiving events this year.

That is prompting demand for small turkeys and takeout holiday meals.

The La Pine Senior Center served up a traditional turkey meal today with mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, rolls and dessert.

It cost just $4 per person.

Diners stayed in their cars and took the meals to go.

“Normally, we have a congregate. We have Thanksgiving here at the center. It takes up almost all available space, wall to wall people,” said Jamie Donahue, La Pine Senior Center manager. “Since COVID, we’re not able to congregate and this is the only way we could do this.”

The La Pine Senior Center has been serving takeout meals this way since the pandemic began in March.

This was their first drive-through Thanksgiving.

They served or delivered more than 200 meals.

For those who still want to cook the traditional meal, it’s time to get organized.

Newport Avenue Market in Bend has taken orders for more than 700 turkeys.

“We have seen an increased demand for turkeys this year, particularly smaller turkeys because of the smaller gathering restrictions,” said Erika Malolely, Newport Avenue Market store manager. “Also with a lot of the local restaurants and resorts not being open, people are looking for alternatives, so they are cooking at home or seeking out pre-cooked turkeys, which we do offer a small selection of as well.

Many grocery stores and restaurants offer pre-cooked or you-cook holiday meals, but time is running out to order them.

For those who’ve never actually cooked a turkey, Whole Foods Market is teaming up with Progressive Insurance to offer turkey insurance in case somebody’s rookie turkey-cooking attempt fails.

To be eligible for turkey insurance, a turkey must be purchased from Whole Foods.

People who want to prove they failed will be required to upload a receipt, a picture and an explanation of what went wrong.

2 killed, 2 injured in head-on crash near La Pine

Two people were killed and two others were injured Wednesday when a pickup truck collided head-on with a rental moving van on Highway 97 near La Pine.

According to Oregon State Police, a Dodge D20 pickup being driven by a teenage boy,  was northbound when it side-swiped a Ford Explorer, driven by a Bend man turning onto Jack Pine Loop.

The Dodge then went into the southbound lane and collided with a Uhaul Econoline van driven by 35-year-old Jeffery Ferris of Fairview.

The teen and Ferris both suffered fatal injuries in the crash and were pronounced dead at the scene.

Another teen boy riding in the Dodge and a boy riding in the U-Haul were taken to St. Charles in Bend with injuries.

La Pine Fire Chief Mike Supkis said paramedics and firefighters were dispatched to the crash near the Jack Pine Loop Road intersection just before 1 p.m.

Both vehicles caught fire in the crash, Supkis said.

The highway was closed for several hours but reopened at 5 p.m.




▶️ Local resorts deal with cancelations, amenity restrictions amid new statewide shutdown


It is going to be a quiet holiday at area resorts.

Local resorts are adjusting services and amenities to comply with the two-week freeze to slow the coronavirus pandemic,  just in time for what should’ve been a busy holiday period.

Visitors will be cooking their own meals or ordering takeout. Many of the amenities that attract people to resorts such as pools and skating rinks are closed for two weeks.

And Mt. Bachelor won’t be open for skiers and snowboarders until Dec. 7th.

“People are coming to rent a home or stay at the lodge. All coming with expectations of celebration, going to brunch, having access to our facilities. Obviously, the governor’s orders change all that,” said Tom O’Shea, Sunriver Resort Managing Director. “People can still visit. We are open. We are a safe place to stay. On the restaurant side, it’s a pretty significant impact. We have to cancel all those reservations.”

Several resorts we checked with today, including Pronghorn, Seventh Mountain and Sunriver are planning take-out service only at their restaurants and closing amenities on the freeze list.

Others are still finalizing plans, making a big impact on workers and their paychecks.

“It will be a significant impact on employees. We are a seasonal facility as are most resorts,” O’Shea said. “To lose work a few days before Thanksgiving and just a month before Christmas, it’s a big challenge for them.”

O’Shea says reservations are down for this Thanksgiving compared to previous years, but last-second bookings are possible.

“Everything is so last minute now. We have people calling us on the same day to come and stay with us,” he said. “That was unheard of before. Used to be people making reservations six weeks and two months out. Now people are waiting to see what restrictions are in place, what can you offer, so it’s really a day-to-day situation.”

Job losses are anticipated during the freeze, especially in the food services industry.

The Oregon Employment Department plans to release predictions of the potential impact later this week.

▶️ Road conditions to worsen as bad weather continues


As the weather starts to get worse, so do the road conditions.

Areas south of Bend saw consistent snowfall on Thursday as a forecasted storm moved through.

ODOT’s Peter Murphy knew this was coming and crews were prepared.

“In certain areas it kind of gets affected before others,” Murphy said. “The Lava Butte area and south of there because it is higher than the rest of the area around here. So we knew that was coming and had people out there who took care of the plowing that needed to happen.”

Travelers like Jorge came over the mountain Friday morning. 

“We just went through the Santiam pass and it’s snowing a little bit on the higher elevations, But it’s drivable,” said Jorge, a Springfield resident. “People were driving. I didn’t see anyone using the chains on the vehicles yet. The snowplows were working and everything was pretty good.”

With mostly rain in Bend, Murphy warns more difficult conditions are ahead.

“Perhaps tomorrow morning is the time people need to be most cautious as we experience the cold temperature and ice forming,” Murphy said.

Six to 12 inches of snow was estimated to be at high elevations, while below 4500 feet received 1 to 2 inches.

La Pine man killed, 2 injured in HWY 97 crash near Sunriver

A La Pine man died Wednesday in a two-car crash on Highway 97 just south of Sunriver.

Oregon State Police said the crash happened around 7:45 a.m. when a northbound Mercury Grand Marquis driven by 31-year-old John Kerlin of La Pine, lost control on the icy roads collided with a Dodge Caravan.

Kerlin died at the scene.

A 70-year-old man driving the minivan and his passenger, a 44-year-old man, both of La Pine, were taken to St. Charles in Bend.

The highway was closed for about two hours while authorities investigated.

OSP was assisted by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Medical Services, Bend Police Department and ODOT.

Redmond man arrested after leading police, DCSO deputies on chase near Sunriver

A wanted Redmond man was arrested Sunday night after Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office deputies deployed spike strips to end a pursuit near Sunriver.

Sgt. Jayson Janes said the incident started around 10:23 when a Sunriver Police Officer tried to stop a southbound truck for failing to stay in its lane on Highway 97 near the Lava Land Visitor Center.

The driver refused to stop, heading toward the Lava River Cave area, where the officer stopped following and turned off his lights and sirens.

Janes said multiple agencies then set up a perimeter before a deputy spotted the truck on Forest Service Road 4001 near 700 Road.

The Deputy again attempted to stop the vehicle, but it kept going and a low speed chase again ensued.

The chase continued west on Cottonwood Rd. and into Sunriver where spike strips were deployed and stopped the truck.

The driver, 41-year-old Graham Scott Harvey, was arrested without further incident.

Harvey, who was wanted out of Klamath County, was issued a criminal citation to appear on several charges including felony attempt to elude, reckless endangering, misdemeanor possession of meth

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Sunriver Police Department, Oregon State Police, Bend Police Department K9 Officer Uballez and K9 Lil Kim.