Brown orders new gym restrictions after two-week freeze


Gyms just want to help people stay healthy.

They also want to survive.

“I am trying to stay full of hope that this is not a long term thing and will continue to fight with all I can to make sure people have the ability to have health and wellness as a priority so they can battle diseases and this virus,” said Melissa Smith owner of 3 Peaks Crossfit in Madras.

3 Peaks is one of several small gyms around the state worried about not only its clients’ physical and mental health but also how gyms can stay in business.

“Gyms can’t continue to shut down,” Smith said. “We can’t. I know for a fact a good handful of my friends that are affiliate owners throughout the state who aren’t going to make it through another four-week shutdown.”

Governor Kate Brown announced Wednesday that indoor gym activity will remain closed after the two-week freeze ends on December 3rd.

Outdoor gym activity can happen with a max of 50 people.

Shandi Taylor, a Certified Medical Assistant with St. Charles, at the Madras Family Care Clinic has been a part of 3 Peaks for almost four years.

“When we were able to come back to class, I felt very safe,” Taylor said. “Obviously I have been around tons of COVID, working at the clinic and the hospital, but (at the gym) we are able to stay six feet apart, washing our hands before entering the building.”

Even while working 10-hour shifts, swabbing patients who might have COVID-19, she still keeps an active lifestyle, working out five days a week.

Smith feels like gyms have no voice when it comes to state COVID restrictions.

“When it comes to being able to have advocates for us as a fitness industry in the state, most of us feel like we don’t have that,” she said.

After the announcement was made, Smith said she will have outdoor and online classes, but is worried for bigger gyms not being able to bring equipment outside.

▶️ New Madras trails ready to ride; Race for Rudolph Thanksgiving morning

Central Oregon is one of the mountain biking capitals of the world.

But there’s a new trail system in Madras few have heard about.

The grand opening and rescheduled grand opening were canceled due to the pandemic.

But as Central Oregon Daily’s Steele Haugen shows us, the trails are open and riding perfectly this fall.


‘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.”


Culver man sentenced for poaching bull trout on Metolius River

A Culver man was sentenced Monday to five years probation and banned from hunting and fishing for “flagrant and repeated” poaching of bull trout, a protected and Tribally significant fish species.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Eugene announced the sentencing for 29-year-old Thomas R. Campbell

“One of the most solemn duties of the U.S. Attorney’s office is enforcing the laws for the protection of our threatened wildlife and upholding our special trust relationship with our tribal partners,” said U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams. “This case demonstrates our priorities in exercising those duties and holding accountable those who would flagrantly disregard our nation’s laws that protect threatened species.”

According to court documents, on multiple occasions in 2017 and 2018, Campbell poached bull trout from the Metolius River, fishing from both U.S. Forest Service lands and while trespassing on the “Eyerly Property,” which was held in trust by the United States for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

Campbell also encouraged others to do the same, Williams said.

The Metolius River requires catch-and-release for all species of fish, including bull trout.

Although one can legally angle for bull trout on the Metolius River and in Lake Billy Chinook, bull trout are not legal to target elsewhere in Oregon.  This makes the Metolius River one of the Oregon’s crown gems of angling.

Campbell targeted, kept, and grossly mishandled bull trout despite admittedly knowing the laws protecting the species and how to properly handle fish to immediately release unharmed, Williams said.

He also committed these crimes despite numerous warnings from public viewers of his social media boasts about his poaching.

Campbell repeatedly posted photos of his bull trout poaching exploits to his social media platforms where he had more than 1,000 followers.

“Bull trout are an iconic species of the Pacific Northwest whose populations are suffering from habitat degradation, and are protected by Tribal, State and Federal laws,” said James Ashburner, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The defendants in this case caused great harm to the recovery efforts of all of the government and non-government groups who have invested in the recovery of this species.”

Bull trout are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The species has been depleted by a range of factors, including overfishing.  Today, bull trout inhabit less than half of their historic range.

Central Oregon’s Metolius River helps serve as a prized spawning ground, and it is used to help repopulate other waters where bull trout numbers have dwindled even lower.

These magnificent fish are revered by anglers and are a cherished Tribal resource.

Poaching represents a lethal threat to their recovery.

In August, Campbell pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges related to knowingly acquiring and transporting bull trout from the Metolius River in the Deschutes National Forest and from Warm Springs’ Tribal land.

U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken sentenced Campbell to five years of federal probation and banned him from angling or hunting anywhere in the United States as a condition of probation.

In addition, Aiken ordered Campbell to pay a $6,000 criminal fine to the Lacey Act Reward Fund and $649.95 in restitution to the Oregon State Police for his destruction of a trail camera designed to catch poachers.

Campbell was also ordered to perform 300 hours of community service with a non-profit focused on conservation or with a collaborative relationship with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

City of Madras asks for input on 2 new park proposals

The City of Madras is asking the public to provide comment on the design plans of two new parks.

The Hoffman Park site will be near the Strawberry Heights subdivision on the south end of town.

Public Works Director Jeff Hurd said, right now, there isn’t good access to a larger park in that area, so Hoffman would be a destination park.

“We’re proposing to have a pump park in there, for kids to bicycle and do that sort of thing,” Hurd said. “And we’re proposing to have restrooms, and we’re proposing to have soccer fields and playgrounds and picnic areas.”

Hurd said Willowbrook Park would be more of a neighborhood park on the north end, near the golf course.

The city is collecting feedback on the proposed designs in an online survey through the end of the year.

The survey is available here.

Federal grant to pay for new transit vehicles in Warm Springs

Warm Springs will receive a $350,000 federal grant to buy two transit vehicles to service that will provide service to work, schools, health care and other services.

U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley announced the Federal Transit Administration grant on Thursday.

“The economic impact from COVID-19 has landed hard on Oregon’s tribes, making it more crucial than ever to continue investments that provide infrastructure support during this crisis and afterward,” Wyden said. “I’m glad the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs secured these federal transportation resources, and I’ll keep working on additional help with another key challenge facing this community — dependable water infrastructure.”

The new vehicles will replace aging vehicles that are no longer useful.

“Good public transportation is critical to put within reach of families all kinds of essential resources they need to stay healthy and thrive, from grocery stores and pharmacies to schools and jobs,” said Merkley. “I’m pleased that this funding is headed to the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs to support the strengthening of the community’s transit fleet, and I will continue fighting for the resources, including water infrastructure investments and coronavirus support, to help tribal members not just get through these challenging times, but thrive.”


▶️ Local athletes, coaches concerned with COVID impacts on scholarship efforts


COVID-19 put most high school sports on hold, which is now causing problems for seniors hoping for college athletic scholarships. 

“People might think that it will be harder to get a scholarship or to go to college for a sport they want to go for, but I  think everyone should just go still try,” said Olivia Symons, a senior athlete at Madras High School.

Symons recently committed to run track for Lane Community College, in Eugene.

The virus took away her junior track season and this spring is still filled with uncertainty.

For coaches like Bill Steyer, who are watching senior runners, sophomore times are more important than ever.

“It’s not ideal, but what COVID-19 has done is brought out the true motivated athletes,” said Lane Community College track and field coach Steyer.

He looks for athletes running with clubs or other non-school programs. 

Symon’s current coach, Madras high’s Kip Briggs says he’s trying to help however he can.

“We will keep on training, keeping grades up, lifting weights. If worse comes to worst I will send individual kids on the track, set clocks up, set times, send digital resumes and see if we can get kids into school that way,” Briggs said.

He’s concerned the class of 2022 will also be impacted.

“It’s unfortunate for really the juniors,” Briggs said. “The freshman last year are now sophomores, so they have never competed. The sophomores, hopefully will have their sophomore year. It’s really the juniors because if it doesn’t happen this year. They are missing two years of time.”

For the class of 2021, Steyer recommends athletes reach out to collegiate coaches now.

“I would encourage them to do it sooner rather than later because there is always and it’s not just my school. Colleges across the board, there are limited athletic scholarships,” said Steyer.

Symons is already excited to start her track career as a Lane Titan.

“Everybody is so committed to the sport and it is a great team and they also talked about family and it just seemed very cool and very nice,” said Symons.

Federal grant to allow Mosaic Medical to build new Madras health clinic

Mosaic Medical, Central Oregon’s largest community health center, has received a $954,000 federal grant to build a new clinic in Madras.

Mosaic was one of 165 Community Health Centers across the nation to recently receive a grant award through the Capital Assistance for Disaster Response and Recovery Efforts (CADRE) opportunity from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

The clinic will be co-located with the Jefferson County Public Health Department on the St. Charles Madras campus.

The intention is to create the foundation of a community health and wellness campus in Madras; the new building is set to open in spring 2022.

“The CADRE funding will ensure that Mosaic Medical is able to increase access to high quality medical, dental, behavioral health and pharmacy services for everyone while increasing the community’s capacity to respond to and recover from future emergencies,” said Elaine Knobbs-Seasholtz, Director of Strategy and Development at Mosaic.

The purpose of the CADRE supplemental funding is to provide one-time support for health centers in areas that were impacted by emergencies/disasters in 2018-2019.

Madras was impacted by a severe winter storm in 2018 and qualified for these funds as declared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

▶️ Friday Night Lights in 2020 teaching kids to deal with a new kind of adversity

Pac-12 football returns on Saturday, joining the rest of the college football world that kicked things off in October.

High school football is back on the High Desert too…well, kind of.

There are no fans, no pads and no helmets.

But there’s still competition – and for athletes and coaches, anything is better than nothing this year.

Central Oregon Daily’s Eric Lindstrom has more.