BLP to expand grab-and-go free meal service through summer

Bend-La Pine Schools’ Grab and Go free meals for children will be extended beyond the end of the school year and through summer months in order to continue to meet the needs of the local community, according to the district’s Nutrition Services dept.

“We are excited to be able to continue to serve free meals at our school sites throughout the summer months to create continuity for our families, many of whom have come to rely on these free meals,” said Garra Schluter, Nutrition Services Supervisor. “We are currently serving approximately 7,500 meals every day – way beyond our typical free summer meal program.”

Since the Grab and Go program began in mid-March, it has continued to expand, offering breakfast and lunch at all sites and takeaway weekend meals at some sites.

Through the end of May, Bend-La Pine Schools has served 283,000 free meals through this program.

The free meals are available to children age 0 to 18, Monday to Friday, from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

Visitors are asked to enter through designated doors, pick up a meal from the cafeteria and then take the meal to go. Gathering is discouraged.

Bend-La Pine Schools custodial staff will be cleaning before and after each meal. Adults can purchase a meal for $4.

Pick up sites are available:

Bear Creek Elementary School

51 NE 13th St, Bend

Elk Meadow Elementary School

60880 Brookswood Blvd., Bend

Ensworth Elementary School

2150 NE Dagget Lane, Bend

La Pine High School

51633 Coach Road, La Pine

Mountain View High School

2755 NE 27th St., Bend

Pilot Butte Middle School

1501 NE Neff Road, Bend

Silver Rail Elementary School*

61530 SE Stone Creek Lane, Bend

Three Rivers School

56900 Enterprise Drive, Sunriver

Westside Village Magnet at Kingston School

1101 NW 12th St, Bend

*This is a new location as of Monday, June 1, replacing R.E. Jewell Elementary School.

La Pine HS teacher arrested for alleged sex abuse of former student

A La Pine High School teacher was arrested Friday for the alleged sexual abuse of a former student, according to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

According to Detective Sgt. Jayson Janes, DCSO received a report from the University of Oregon in May from a person who wanted to report a teacher from La Pine High School for sexual abuse.

In an interview, the former student gave details of multiple incidents of sex abuse from 55-year-old Deborah Parker of Bend while he was a minor and attending La Pine High School during the 2010-11 school year, Janes said.

Based on the former student’s statements and witness information, detectives were given a search warrant for Parker and her residence. Detectives were able to collect evidence and statements that lined up with the former student’s testimony, Janes said.

Parker was arrested for eight counts of sex abuse in the second degree.

“The Sheriff’s Office would like to commend the reporting person and the former student for the courageous act of coming forward and sharing this information with law enforcement,” Janes said.


Shots fired during La Pine dispute; suspect punches K-9 before arrest

A La Pine man was arrested late Thursday night after a dispute with neighbors led to shots fired and the suspect punching a K-9 unit, according to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies responded to a report of multiple shots fired in the area of Jacinto Road and Solar Road south of Spring River Road around 9:00 p.m.

Lt. Mike Sundberg said residents in the area called 911 and said the gunshots were proceeded by a loud argument between a man and a woman.

Deputies along with Bend Police Department and Oregon State Police Troopers arrived in the area soon afterward including on-duty SWAT personnel.

Armored vehicles from the Sheriff’s Office and Bend Police Department responded due to the serious nature of the call and concerns that someone may have been injured by the roughly 10 shots reported to have been fired during the dispute, Sundberg said.

After officers arrived on the scene, dispatch continued to receive reports of a physical and verbal dispute happening near the shots fired location. Law Enforcement on scene established a containment perimeter near the location to protect nearby residents, Sundberg said.

The suspect, 39-year-old Jonathan Floyd Taft was spotted in the driveway of 17325 Jacinto Rd which was determined to be the location of the initial dispute and where he allegedly tried to assault a man and woman on the scene.

Taft was challenging deputies and refused to follow officers’ instructions, Sundberg said.

Deputies tried to negotiate with Taft, who continued to display combative and threatening behavior towards the deputies and police, Sundberg said.

Concerned that Taft was possibly armed and was threatening to assault law enforcement, Sheriff’s Office Patrol K-9 Ezel was deployed in order to get Taft into custody.

Sundberg said Taft resisted arrest, and in doing so punched K-9 Ezel multiple times. K-9 Ezel overpowered Taft who was then taken into custody.

It was determined the initial argument began as a disagreement when Taft trespassed in order to retrieve his property, Sundberg said.

During the dispute, Taft allegedly tried to assault a man and woman on the scene.

This resulted in the woman using her firearm for her own protection. This woman fired several warning shots to prevent the assault, Sundberg said.

A neighbor heard the argument and gunshots and perceived a threat to him and his family’s safety.

Believing the assault had moved to his property, the neighbor also fired several warning shots in the air. No injuries were sustained from the warning shots being fired, Sundberg said.

Sgt. Shawn Heierman said Friday Taft was drunk at the time of the incident.

“He stated he was there to get tire rims out of the garage, however, Taft had no vehicle around and he apparently arrived there on foot,” Heierman said.

Deputies weren’t able to confirm the tire rims component, but did say he didn’t have a vehicle in the area to pick up any rims.

Heierman said the two victims were living on the property in an RV, watching the property.

“It sounds like the property owner has been having problems with squatters and the victims were there to prevent further trespass issues,” Heierman said.

Taft was evaluated on scene by La Pine Fire Department medics. He was later taken to St. Charles in Bend for further evaluation due to minor injuries sustained from K-9 Ezel.

Sundberg said Taft was then taken to the Deschutes County Jail, booked on charges of second-degree criminal trespass, menacing, disorderly conduct, assault on a law enforcement animal and fourth-degree attempted assault.


▶️ St. Charles announces staffing plan to deal with $39M revenue loss


Now it’s St. Charles turn to recover.

The health system is hoping to regain financial footing and get back to normal operations. Implementing a yearlong goal to “break even” for two months by the end of 2020, without laying off or furloughing any employees.

CFO Jenn Welander says, “What we need to do now though, is the organization has to adapt to whatever its new normal is. Which is literally being redefined every day. But we have to start to be able to break even and make margin.”

Welander says the focus is on financial recovery. Which will start with a 10% pay cut through the end of the year for the health system’s Executive Care Team.

Additionally, St. Charles will:

  • Give caregivers who qualify the opportunity to participate in one or more of three voluntary programs including a temporary reduction in hours, unpaid time off or a summer sabbatical.
  • Require caregivers in nonpatient-facing areas to use earned time off or unpaid time off during extended closures around the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas holidays
  • By mid-June, return to its normal way of flexing staffing based on patient volumes, which means caregivers who are “called off” will no longer be paid for missed shifts

“We have to understand the demand for our services so we know what type of margin and cash flow we can generate,” Welander explained.

Between March and early May, St. Charles lost $39 million in patient revenue. All while spending $6.5 million more than usual to plan and prepare for the pandemic.

“We hit a low point around the third week in April where we were about 49% off of normal,” Welander said. “Which all businesses that experience that, it’s a severe financial impact.”

According to St. Charles, even if the health system is able to meet their goal, they may still lose over $50 million this year.

Welander says, “I’m not trying to re-coop that prior loss.”

DCSO shuts down 3 illegal pot grows; hundreds of plants seized

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday shut down three illegal marijuana operations stretching from La Pine to north of Bend.

Sgt. William Bailey said Marijuana Enforcement Detectives with the Sheriff’s Office, the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team (CODE) and Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team served three search warrants in relation to an ongoing investigation into illegal pot grows.

The investigation started after detectives received complaints from neighbors about the odor, validity of the grow operations, and unfamiliar/increased traffic in their neighborhood.

Bailey said the first search warrant was served at a property in the 51200 block of Festis Avenue, west of La Pine where investigators found 132 illegal marijuana plants and over 31 pounds of illegal processed marijuana at the site.

Detectives also found what appeared to be unpermitted structures and electrical work at the location that was being used to support the illegal grow operation.

This unpermitted electrical work presented a potential fire hazard, which threatened nearby public lands and the safety of homes and families in the area, Bailey said.

A second search warrant was served at a residence in the 18600 block of Riverwoods Drive, south of Bend.  A felony amount of BHO, or butane hash oil, and a firearm were seized there, Bailey said.

A third search warrant was served at a property in the 65100 block of N. Highway 97, between Bend and Redmond where 744 illegal marijuana plants were seized.

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

“The knowledge the MED’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,” Bailey said.

The MED’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.

Since July 2018, MED’s have been in operation and have encountered multiple unknown subjects and 43 firearms while serving marijuana search warrants.

Bailey said the investigation continues and he expects some arrests to be made in the near future.


▶️ Deschutes Co. proposes $500M budget


Deschutes County Administrator Tom Anderson says that while COVID-19 has had some effects, the county’s strong tax base and reserves have allowed it to remain in a strong financial position.

“Much of what we’ll be talking about this week with the budget committee is really the ongoing effects, and frankly we don’t know them all yet,” Anderson said.

Though Anderson says they’re still discussing what will happen if and when Deschutes county sees cuts in the future, the county is hoping to fund several projects with its proposed $500 million budget.

Projects include putting in roundabouts along Old-Bend Redmond Highway, reconstruction of 17th street in Redmond, and continue to help fund the county’s new Crisis Stabilization Center.

“We have enough funding from the county to operate Monday through Friday until 9 p.m.,” said Holly Harris, program manager for Deschutes County Health Services.

Funding from Central Oregon Health Council will allow the center to be open on the weekends through 9 p.m., and Harris says they are working on another grant that would allow them to stay open 24/7 by the fall.

“We’re doing a soft opening June 1st because COVID did set us back a little bit, not too bad considering what we’re dealing with,” said Harris. “But we were originally supposed to open May 1st.”

The immediate effects of COVID-19 have also been felt at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center, and event-related impacts will likely continue into next year.

The county also expects next year to see reductions in state and federal revenue which would affect health services and community justice.

“Certainly Fair and Expo was a department that got hit the soonest and the hardest by the pandemic,” Anderson said.

Anderson says that 80 to 90% of the fair and expo’s revenue comes from events.

With events canceled, the county is now hoping to avoid employee layoffs in the department.

“The budget committee will make a decision this week on if we’re able to subsidize that department and infuse reserve funds from elsewhere in order to keep the department whole,” Anderson said.

And if they can’t infuse those funds, Anderson says layoffs are possible.

“We’re hoping to avoid that, but we can never guarantee anything,” Anderson said.

The Budget Committee is expected to wrap up discussions by the end of the week with a new budget approved by mid-June.

Local schools to let students keep tablets, computers through summer

Hoping to stave off a summer slide that might have actually started this spring, local school districts are letting students keep their tablets and laptops until they return this fall.

Bend-La Pine Schools officials on Tuesday announced 3rd-5th graders could keep their tablets through the summer to promote social distancing and to let the kids continue their learning until they return in the fall.

“If you will be attending a different Bend-La Pine Schools program or school next year, keep the iPad you have and take it with you to your new site in September,” said Skip Offenhauser, executive director of teaching and learning at BLP schools. “Your student will continue to use their iPad as a tool in their education next school year.”

Kelly Jenkins, a spokeswoman with the Redmond School District, said students there will keep their Chromebooks for the summer.

The same thing is happening in Crook County.

“With Facebook’s large grant, we’re now 1-to-1 for technology – meaning every child has his/her own device,” said Spokesman Jason Carr. “We also paid for the license for their students to have access to Imagine Learning – the online curriculum we’ve been using for K-5 students. Basically, every single child enrolled within the Crook County School District has access to technology and resources all summer.”

Families are asked that the kids not take the tablets on any summer trips, camping outings or outdoor recreation activities.

In a letter to parents Bend-La Pine parents, Offenhauser said learning materials would be available on the district’s website throughout the summer.

Families not returning to BLP schools will need to return their tablets and power cords to their current schools. The district will send out information soon for the individual school return schedules.

If plans change and families end up moving out of the area, they’re asked to drop off the iPad and accessories Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon at the district administration center at 520 Wall St. – directly across from the downtown Bend library.

Missing cords are $5 and missing charging bricks are $20.

Summer learning activities are going to be available for students in the elementary and middle school levels. These activities will focus on creative projects that utilize common apps students are already familiar with.

K-5 students will also have access to the Lexia reading program and the Dreambox math program.  All students will have access to Sora, the online library.

“We want to thank our parents for all that you’ve done to partner in your student’s education during this challenging time,” Offenhauser said. “Our hope is that by providing access to your student’s iPad, we will encourage the continuation of learning over the summer months.”


▶️ Campers turn blind eye to closures; resorts welcome visitors


A lot of people went camping in Central Oregon this Memorial Day weekend.

In many areas, they camped in places that weren’t officially open.

Where campgrounds are locked and gated, no problem. But those left unlocked or where gates are open to provide access boat ramps, visitors just rolled in and camped without paying fees and without any kind of services.

Campers jammed into closed campgrounds at Crane Prairie Reservoir and Lava Lake.

It appeared the majority brought self-contained RVs and weren’t inconvenienced by closed restrooms, lack of drinking water or non-existent garbage service.

The Jenkins family from Bend enjoyed their weekend at Rock Creek Campground even though it was technically closed.

“We went fishing yesterday. We caught nothing. We had s’mores last night and told campfire stories,” said Rafael Jenkins.

“You can do things that you’re not always doing at your house like watching TV,” said Rafael’s brother. “You can go fishing. Jump into the lake.”

The forest service opened day-use areas, trailheads and boat ramps before Memorial Day weekend, which may have led some to believe everything was open.

Crews are working through procedures for opening Forest Service campgrounds for the season — such as testing water supplies and clearing hazard trees.

Meanwhile, private resorts are welcoming visitors. Crane Prairie Resort’s RV campground with its water, power and sewer hookups was completely sold out.

The resort says every fishing boat, canoe, kayak and stand up paddleboard in its fleet was rented over the weekend.

“We made sure everyone was wearing masks in the store, on the docks and whenever we were launching the boats,” said Dillon Burns, a Crane Prairie Resort employee.

In one closed campground, we found bags of trash piled up against a locked Dumpster.

The trash is already beginning to stink and there is no telling when it will be hauled away.

Sunriver man rescued on Mt. Hood after getting lost in whiteout

A Sunriver man was rescued early Saturday morning after getting lost in whiteout conditions on Mt. Hood, according to the Clackamas Co. Sheriff’s Office.

Clackamas County Search and Rescue Coordinators were notified by a friend of the lost climber just after 7:30 p.m. Friday.

A short time later, the lost climber, 31-year-old Nikolas David Larson called 911 and spoke with dispatch.

Larson told dispatchers he had summited Mt. Hood earlier in the day, but was now lost in whiteout conditions and needed help.

He had a few protein bars, but no water. Nick had been communicating with friends but told dispatch his cell-phone battery was now at 2%, authorities said.

SAR Coordinators called out Portland Mountain Rescue, the Hood River Crag Rats, and Mountain Wave to assist.

The first team of searchers assembled and left from Timberline Lodge at about 11 p.m Friday night via snowcat.

When they reached the top of the Palmer Lift, they set off on foot to find Larson.

The rescue team reached Larson around 2 a.m. Saturday morning at 6,200 feet on the west side of Mt. Hood, just above Split Rock (just south of Paradise Park).

Rescuers found Larson to be hypothermic.

Rescuers began to administer first aid and prepared Larson to be moved. A second mountain rescue team entered the field at 5 a.m. to help with this rescue.

Initially, a helicopter was requested from the Oregon Army National Guard through the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, but it was determined the helicopter would not be used — rescuers on scene had needed medical expertise.

American Medical Response’s Reach and Treat team and Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue were called in to assist with the evacuation.

Larson was taken down by rescuers to Kiwanis Camp Road near Government Camp. He was taken to an area hospital by American Medical Response.

All told, about 30 rescuers participated in this operation, as well as Sheriff’s Office detectives, who helped determine the subject’s location by analyzing phone data.

Authorities said there were more than 200 climbers on the mountain Friday into Saturday.

La Pine man injured after crashing into power pole

A La Pine man was injured after he crashed into a power pole on La Pine State Recreation Road Tuesday night, according to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

According to Sergeant Jason Wall, deputies were dispatched to a crash near 5th Street at 10:35 p.m. on Tuesday. Deputies found that a grey Volkswagen had driven off the road and hit a power pole, which caused a support cable to land in the road.

Wall said the car had sustained significant damage to its front. 50-year-old Jeffrey Lilley had non-life threatening injuries and was transported to St. Charles in Bend for treatment.

Lilley was issued citations for driving under the influence of an intoxicant and for reckless driving, Wall said. The cause of the crash is still being investigated as driver impairment along with a possible medical event.