▶️ ODOT meets with Madras community on Earl Street-Colfax Lane project

The Oregon Department of Transportation began a series of presentations in Madras Monday to share details of a new project with residents.

The $21.5 million project between Earl Street and Colfax Lane will repave portions of Highway 97, build ADA curb ramps, finish sidewalks and upgrade signals.

Additional project components include upgrades and repairs to three bridges within the project area, installation of an enhanced activated bicycle and pedestrian crossing on 4th Street.

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ODOT says Monday’s meeting was to gauge how businesses in the areas work so they can plan the construction accordingly.

“So construction on this project really won’t start until the winter of 2025, 2026. But we’re starting the design now and so that’s why we’re reaching out to folks and really hearing what they want for this area and how we can make safety improvements and make it easier to get around it,” said ODOT spokesperson Kacey Davey.

ODOTt plans to meet with the rest of the Madras community to discuss the project before construction begins in the next few years.

▶️ CET buses now have free internet

Cascades East Transit now has free internet. The feature is available on most fixed routes.

“So this is a great opportunity for our residents and visitors to be able to ride our fixed routes as well as our recreation routes, be able to surf the web, stream some music with your headphones, check your emails on your way to work or school, and sit back and enjoy the ride,” said Derek Hofbauer, CET Outreach and Engagement Administrator.

CET also upgraded its automatic vehicle locator systems. This means you can get real-time updates on bus arrivals through their Passio Go! app.

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▶️ Museum at Warm Springs opening ‘Eye for the Rez’ photo exhibit

A new exhibition is opening at The Museum at Warm Springs to celebrate its 30-year anniversary.

“An Eye for the Rez: Edward Heath Photography” will be open April 6 – May 27.

The museum says Heath was born in Madras and grew up in the Simnasho area. He is the nephew of Warm Springs Chief Delvis Heath.

After a solo exhibit at the museum in 2016, Heath he has become known for his portraits, nature and wildlife photography. 

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▶️ Madras High School breaks ground on new soccer complex

Parents, athletes, coaches and school board members gathered at the Madras High soccer fields on Wednesday evening. With shovels in hand and some symbolic scoops of dirt, celebrations for a long waited groundbreaking were happening.

The soccer field will soon turn into an improved soccer complex thanks to a bond passed in 2021.

“Much needed with the amount of kids that we have and the amount of soccer players that there are,” said head Madras boys soccer coach Clark Jones. “Now, it’s it’s been a while coming, and it’s going to be nice to see it.”

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A new 2,000-square-foot field house with concession space, restrooms, locker rooms and a coach’s office is in the works.

“Before we had had to, like, change outside and like, we’re just like dressed down and pull our trousers down and stuff,” said junior David Diaz. “Now it’s just better because they’re building us locker rooms.”

“Our equipment shed leaked, and we had to end up getting rid of a bunch of soccer balls, and we had mold on stuff, and it took hours and hours of cleaning that stuff and having to purchase new stuff and so I’m really looking forward to not having to deal with that,” said head Madras girls coach Shawn Darrow.

The complex will also add something the facility has never had before, field lights. A win for parents who spectate and students who play.

“Most of the time our games have gotten postponed because football is taking up the field or something else is going on over there because of lights,” said junior Idaly Romero. “And it’s going to be too dark to play here. So I think that’s going to be really cool and I think it’s going to bring more attention to our program.”

The school district is hoping the complex will be complete by the start of the soccer season this fall.

Even seniors who won’t be able to use the new amenities are happy for the next generation of White Buffalo athletes.

“It hasn’t happened in a while. like nothing big has happened here,” said senior Diamond Amiya. “There’s been so many holes, like been a lot of twisting ankles. So it’s going to be cool to see that none of that happens anymore. And it’s going to be cool just to see what it does for the future players that come next.”

The $24 million bond also goes towards several updates and upgrades for other schools around the district.

If you ask anyone whose been involved in the program throughout the years, these soccer upgrades are a major score and a long time coming.

“That’s a bond that lasts for quite a while, and people are going to be paying for this for a while,” said Jones. “So hopefully they’ll get something that looks relatively good, and hopefully we can come in and showcase our kids, and hopefully we get crowds that night that we have not had before. So I’m excited about that.”

▶️ Madras hires goats to clear fire fuels along trails

The City of Madras will have some new employees going to work this week to reduce the risk of fire along city trails.

The city announced it has hired Martin Boer Goats from Terrebonne to clear overgrown grasses and brush along city trails naturally. It’s a pilot program that will start with portions of the Willow Creek Trail and the M Hill Trail.

About 150 goats will get things rolling Wednesday on a section of Willow Creek Trail east of 1st Street, north of “B” Street. The city said electric fencing will be put up around the area and there will be 24-hour-a-day monitoring of the herd by a goat herder and guard dogs.

During the clearing, that section of the trail will be closed and the public is asked to stay away.

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When the herd is finished with that section, the city says they will be moved to the south side of Canyon Road/”C” Street along the north side of the “M” Hill trail where it connects to the Willow Creek Canyon Trail.

Each section is anticipated to take one week to clear, the city said.

“We’re really looking forward to this pilot project,” stated Public Works Coordinator Michel Quinn. “This type of program has been highly successful in other areas and if it works well for us, it’s something all of us on the team are willing to utilize for future projects.”

In addition, Jefferson County Fire & EMS will be doing tree removal and tree limbing to further reduce fuels and enhance training opportunities for their staff. The city said a work crew from Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council will also be reducing fire fuels by removing dead brush material not edible by the herd.

Once the goats have cleared the areas, Public Works crews will administer treatments for noxious weeds and cheat grass to encourage regrowth of native and perennial grasses, the city said.

Jefferson County Fire & EMS and the Oregon Department of Forestry helped develop the pilot program.

▶️ Wyden takes questions from high schoolers at Madras town hall

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., was in Madras Friday on a two-stop Central Oregon town hall swing.

Wyden took questions from community members and Madras High School students on topics ranging from the drought to abortion access.

“We were really concerned and we’re at least my friend group were very aware of the things that are happening, like in politics and environment, and we definitely care about those things for the future,” said Madras High School Senior Venessa Young.

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“You can’t do your job well sitting behind your desk in Washington, D.C., trying to guess what people are thinking about. And it’s particularly valuable to have the thoughts of young people,” said Wyden.

Wyden will hold another town hall Saturday in Bend. It will be at Central Oregon Community College’s Wille Hall at 11:00 a.m.

Sen. Wyden appearing at 2 Central Oregon town halls this week

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., will hold town halls in Jefferson and Deschutes counties this weekend.

Jefferson County: 1 pm, Friday, Madras Performing Arts Center, 412 SE Buff St., Madras

Deschutes County, 11 am Saturday, Central Oregon Community College, Wille Hall, 2600 NW College Way, Bend

Wyden says these town halls are made for everybody to ask questions and share ideas.

▶️ Summit, Redmond to face-off for shot at 5A Boys Basketball title

The Summit Storm and Redmond Panthers advanced to Thursday’s Oregon 5A Boys Basketball semifinal, guaranteeing that someone from the High Desert will play for the title.

The top-seeded Storm easily dispatched North Eugene 75-53 in their quarterfinal game at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis. The Storm outscored the Highlanders in each of the four quarters.

In the next game, Redmond got out to a fast start against Mountain View, taking a 35-13 lead into halftime. The Cougars outscored the Panthers in the second half, but could not make up the deficit. Redmond won 62-49.

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Summit and Redmond will play at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The winner heads to Friday’s championship game.

The 4A brackets get going on Thursday with three Central Oregon teams in action.

The Crook County boys face Philomath and the girls take on Astoria. The Madras girls go up against Baker.

Crook County and Madras are on opposite sides of the girls bracket, so there’s a chance they could play for the title Saturday.

In other action Wednesday, the Mountain View girls lost to Putnam in a consolation game, 54-37. 

▶️ Crooked River Ranch Water Company asking for 36.5% rate increase

A rate increase may be in store for water ratepayers in Crooked River Ranch.

A after eight years without asking for an increase, Crooked River Ranch Water Company Is asking the Public Utilities Commission for a 36.5% rate increase.

General Manager Frank Day says that along with inflation, they have had to increase staff and equipment.

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“But at the same time, we’ve had over a 50% increase in part costs for repairs and things. And it’s just it’s been eight years. It’s been eight years since our last rate increase. So. And that makes a big difference, too. And so it’s been a number of things that that made us request this large increase,” said Day.

The request would raise about $370,000 annually.

There is no final answer yet. The company is still in the process of requesting the increase. 

▶️ Downtown Madras amphitheater, restaurant expected to open next year

When you think of Madras, live music isn’t typically what comes to mind. But that might just change in the next year with the opening of a new amphitheater and restaurant. 

It’s the brainchild of Portland developer Andre Jackson, who believes investing in Madras means investing in all of Central Oregon. 

“As I began to do my research, I realized Bend is starting to bust at the seams in a number of ways. And then most people are moving to Redmond and I believe the next city will be Madras,” Jackson said. 

The $2 million project will be constructed on the site of the old Wild Bleu boutique building on SW 5th Street, partially funded through a grant from the City of Madras. 

The event center known as “The Spot” will feature a restaurant with a two-story seating area, food trucks and fire pits.

The amphitheater portion will be able to seat 300 people for outdoor concerts. When poor weather hits, a tent will cover the space to seat 200 underneath it. 

Jackson hopes to bring in not just local artists, but potentially the opening acts from performances at Hayden Homes Amphitheater in Bend. 

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The “John Brown Amphitheater” will carry not just music, but history as well. 

“John Brown was the first African-American to live in this particular part of Central Oregon, in Madras,” Jackson said. “He homesteaded in the 1880s, about 20 miles just north of here in the canyon.”

Brown farmed on a 160-acre allotment, which he partially sold off in 1891 to move to Prineville. 

In the 1960s, Jackson said, certain locals starting referring to Brown’s former farmland with a name that included a racial epithet.

“John Ramsey, one of our members on the naming committee, and his kids decided to take action and get that officially renamed,” Jackson said. “So they worked for about a year with the USDA Geographical Department and the State of Oregon Geographical Department to officially get a change back to John Brown Canyon. So I felt that that was significant enough to represent and honor someone that gave so much to this particular part of the country.” 

The town of 8,000 is the final city before you head north to Portland — a stop Jackson thinks is worth a second look. 

“The big piece for me was about having a space where you can operate different types of events, that was kind of fluid in its ability to meet the desires and the needs of the larger community,” he said. “Not just Madras, but I’m really looking to connect with not only the Portland market, but also central Oregon and eastern Oregon as well.” 

It’s the first of a few Madras projects Jackson has in mind, including an apartment triplex and a steakhouse. 

“The city has been very diligent and where it has worked really hard to understand what are those things they need to do in order to attract developers like myself and others to come invest in the city,” Jackson added. 

The groundbreaking for The Spot will be sometime this month, and it’s likely to open in April 2024.