▶️ Skeleton racer from Caldera HS ranked 8th in world in her age group

15-year-old Biancha Emery stood in a back room of her Bend home on Tuesday. Her hand passed over a jacket with “Team USA” embroidered on the back, before gesturing to a sled leaning against the wall. 

“I still have my competition sticker on it,” she said. It’s a skeleton sled, one Biancha has had to assemble and re-assemble multiple times to take overseas. 

Most recently, it was in Pyeongchang, South Korea for the qualifying competition for the 2024 Youth Olympic Games. There, Biancha placed 15th, earning her a spot in the Games next January.  

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So far, her averaged scores across competitions has placed her 8th in the world in her age group (14-19) in a sport focused on steering and balance. 

Biancha Emery 1  

She is currently the youngest female skeleton competitor in the United States- a feat made even more impressive by the fact that her first skeleton run was just a year ago. 

Before that, trying the sport had never crossed Biancha’s mind. 

“My dad used to be a bobsledder so he was like ‘you should try skeleton.’ So I tried it and I hated it,” Biancha chuckled. “And then I went down again, and I got better. And I started liking it more as I started doing it more.”

There aren’t any skeleton training areas in Central Oregon, so she’s had to travel to places like the Olympic Park in Utah and Lake Placid, New York, in order to get her runs in. That means a lot of online school and determination. 

At home in Bend, she is able to work out and undergo sprint training — preparing for the initial sprint before the race begins. 

“It’s the feeling of just going fast, and it’s also the risk of, like, if you make a wrong turn, then you will get hurt. But it’s also feels good when you make the right steering,” Biancha told Central Oregon Daily News. 

Biancha Emery 2

 

Her international success after just a year has shocked both her and her family, including mom Michele. 

“I love to see her personal and sportsmanship growth over the past year,” she said. “Bianca loves this sport, which I find absolutely crazy and terrifying. I love watching her compete and she’s just grown so much as a young lady and a competitor and having fun doing something that’s really unique to most people.”

She said people often don’t know what skeleton is when they talk about it. 

“People are just kind of either in horror, or in awe of how someone can, you know, go down the mountain so quickly, so fast,” Michele said. 

Around 80 miles per hour, to be exact. That speed is definitely a cause for some nerves. 

When asked whether the sport scares her at all, Biancha laughed “yes!” 

She said mindset is everything when it comes to that fear. 

“It’s really easy to flip off your sled, I’ve done that quite a few times. It doesn’t feel great,” Biancha said. “Normally when you hit a wall, you can’t really tense up. You have to just like let it happen so you can keep going, and it hurts. So having just the mindset of if you’re going to hit a wall, you’re going to get bruised, but you have to just like let it go.”

Biancha Emery 3

 

It’s not always just a bruise. Last year, it was a sprained neck. 

“As a parent, you hold your breath for a long time,” Michele said. “You hold your breath when you watch everyone go down the mountain. You want everyone just to be safe and, you know, have a great competition. You don’t like to see people get hurt. But it’s the reality of the sport, sadly.” 

It’s a reality, Biancha is more than willing to face for the foreseeable future. After the Youth Olympics, she’ll aim for a spot with a World Cup team or North American cup team. The long-term goal is to make it to qualifying races for the Olympics. 

The Youth Olympic Games take place in January and February 2024 in Gangwon, South Korea. 

▶️ Self-serve gas bill passes Oregon House. Locals have mixed reactions.

If you want to pump your own gas in Oregon, you may soon have a chance.

The State House passed House Bill 2426 to expand access to self-service at gas stations. It moved to the Senate where it had its first reading Tuesday.

Customers at the Arco on Third Street in Bend had mixed feelings on the legislature.

“Being from Indiana originally, I’m pretty used to pumping my own gas,” says Clay. “I thought it was a little weird to have someone pump my gas for me.”

Steven Heddleston, a longtime resident, says “I’m opposed to it. Weather stuff like that, I’m 67 years old. It’s not getting any easier. I have to do it when I go out of state and I don’t see any benefits for me.”

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The bill also has some gas attendants worried their job may be on the line.

“We’re out here every day. We hustle, we bustle. Like I run around like a chicken with my head cut off out here,” says Heather Silbaugh, a gas attendant at Arco. “It would just suck if, you know, if my jobs and everybody else’s jobs were taken.”

HB 2426 is focused on making sure the state’s gas laws are on the same page.

For 16 counties, it would be a 50-50 split between self-serve and full serve. An attendant would still need to be present in some form.

“You could either self-serve or you could have somebody in attendance or for you,” said Alison Green, Public Affairs Director with the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office (OSFM). Gas pumping and gas regulations fall under OSFM’s authority.

“There will be 20 counties in Oregon where self-serve can happen 100% of the time,” Green added. Many of those 20 counties are in rural areas where self-serve gas pumping is already allowed.

OSFM is keeping a close eye and says this bill gives their office more flexibility compared to last year’s version.

“It would’ve been much harsher enforcement, so there were definitely significant impacts that we assessed,” says Green.

HB 2426 also gives the Fire Marshal’s Office a grace period to enforce regulations and penalties if it passes.  That date won’t be set until March 2024.

 

▶️ Traeger Grills closing Redmond wood pellet manufacturing plant

After five years, the Traeger Redmond wood pellet manufacturing facility is ceasing operations at the end of the month. 

“For these people, I’d just like to see them land somewhere where they have a family-wage job with good quality benefits so they don’t have to worry about it at the end of the day,” plant manager Rich Evans said.

Evans oversees nine employees, all of whom are now looking for jobs. 

“I would like to get the word out to all of the manufacturing plants in the Central Oregon area,” Evans said. “Especially the Redmond-Prineville area because that’s where most of them are from. There will be nine good employees looking for work.” 

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Steve Curley, Director of Redmond Economic Development Inc (REDI), says the plant is closing due to efficiency and excess production. Traeger already has two other plants located in the valley, closer to the fir product the company is using to make wood pellets. 

“It’s going to be much more efficient for them not to have to bring their raw materials over to Central Oregon and then back as a finished product,” Curley said.

Curley says REDI is working on softening the landing for Evans’ employees. 

“We have been connecting them to other businesses and manufacturers in the area, that could utilize those talents of those folks,” Curley said.

Evans says his workers have a multitude of skill sets manufacturers could benefit from.

Skillsets from loader operator, to machines operators, to forklift drivers, to shipping and receiving people- all types of skills for a manufacturing environment,” Evans said.

The Redmond plant will officially shut down on March 31.

 

▶️ Why did promoter pick Redmond for FairWell Festival?

What put Central Oregon on the radar for this summer’s inaugural FairWell Festival in Redmond?

More than 30 acts including Zach Bryan, Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson will be performing July 21-23 at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center.

With so many names, including some pretty big ones, why Redmond?

“Portland and Oregon is a great market. Bend is really one of those markets that a lot of people are moving to and traveling to and does not really have, you know, a tier one,” said Sophie Lobl, Global Festival Promoter for C3 Presents.

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Based on how the festival goes, C3 says it could become an annual event.

Tickets are still on sale for any one of the days or all three. But if you just want to go on Saturday, when Crow and Bryan are playing, you have to go on a waitlist unless you’re willing to spend $650 for the Platinum level ticket.

On Friday, July 21, the Turnpike Troubadours kick off the weekend with Gary Clark Jr; Morgan Wade; The Infamous Stringdusters; Charles Wesley Godwin; The Brook & The Bluff; and Wyatt Flores.

On Saturday, July 22, it’s Zach Bryan, Sheryl Crow; Trampled By Turtles; Charley Crockett; Band of Horses; Lucius; Rayland Baxter; Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway; Amigo the Devil; Stephen Wilson Jr.; and Trousdale.

Then on Sunday, July 23, Willie Nelson & Family take the stage with Mt. Joy; Yola; Luke Grimes; Shane Smith & The Saints; Abraham Alexander; 49 Winchester; Bella White; Calder Allen; Y La Bamba; Drayton Farley; Abby Anderson; Haley Heynderickx; AJ Lee & Blue Summit; and Caitlin Rose.

▶️ Bend Park & Rec seeks dog/owner volunteers to for Canada Goose hazing

Bend Park and Recreation District says it’s looking for well-trained dogs and their owners to help out with Canada Goose hazing. BPRD says hazing means chasing geese out of the parks.

Dogs must be able to reliably respond to voice commands and have excellent recall when working off-leash.

BPRD says dog-owner teams will participate with a trainer before being accepted to volunteer.

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Those who are interested are asked to contact Kim Johnson at kim@bendparksandrec.org.

According to the BPRD website, the district’s Canada Goose Management plan is aimed at reducing damage in parks. 

The district urges the public not to feed geese or ducks, let BPRD know if you spot a goose nest. 

The goal of the District’s Canada Goose Management Plan is to reduce the damage in the parks.  Resident Canada geese spend considerable time in the parks year round and are most associated with park damage.

 

▶️ Terrebonne approves forming sanitary district, 1st step to sewer switch

The measure on whether to form a new sanitary district that could move Terrebonne from septic to sewer appears to have passed.

Updated numbers Tuesday show the measure passing 24-16. One additional ballot didn’t mark yes or no.

Deschutes County Clerk Steve Dennison told Central Oregon Daily News that there are no outstanding ballots. Tuesday was the deadline for postmarked ballots to arrive.

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Dennison also said there were no issues with any of the ballots that were turned in.

Official certification may take a couple more weeks as the county prepares for the May 16 election.

Once a district is formed, conversation would continue regarding the development of the wastewater system.

 

▶️ Taste This! BOSA Food & Drink

It’s a newer Italian food restaurant in Bend owned and operated by chefs Bill Dockter and Nate King.

BOSA Food & Drink is located on Galveston Avenue and is a great option for a date night with authentic cuisine.

Emily Kirk recently sat down with the owners to get a closer look.

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▶️ Bend’s A.J. Tucker building to be torn down, but nobody stepping up to buy

A historic Bend building is being torn down — and built back up in a new location. But where the A.J. Tucker building will sit next remains a mystery.

One of the hurdles in finding a new location? Nobody has stepped up to buy the building.

Built in 1919, the A.J. Tucker building in downtown Bend started off as a successful blacksmith shop, according to Kelly Cannon-Miller, the executive director of the Deschutes Historical Museum. 

“Amos Jackson (A.J.) Tucker came to Bend and Central Oregon already an established carpenter around 1916,” said Cannon-Miller. “At some point he picked up this piece of property on Greenwood.”

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It took a year to cut and form the lava stone around the structure. 

“Unfortunately for Amos, in June of 1921 he fell ill and died from pneumonia,” said Cannon-Miller.

The current owner, Deschutes County, picked it up in the 1960s.

“In anticipation of the courthouse expansion project, this footprint will be utilized for that project, so we’re looking to move the building,” said Deschutes County Facilities Director Lee Randall.

What does it take to move a building?

“It involves de-constructing the building and then we’ll look at various options of reusing portions of it,” said Randall.

While the county owns it, they are willing to give it to the highest bidder — or any bidder.

“We have not received any sealed bids to this point,” said Randall.

As long as the next owner takes it apart and puts it back together elsewhere, they can have it.

“Even the smallest little historic building can go on to have an impact somewhere else,” said Cannon-Miller.

She added that if there’s a creative builder who wants to take on the project, “the historical community would be in your debt.”

The deadline to bid on this building is this Thursday by 2:00 p.m.

▶️ New Crook Country Parks director bringing over 30 years of experience

Crook County has a new Parks and Recreation Executive Director, Steve Waring.

“When the community works together, when the board, the volunteers, all the different stakeholders and the organizations in the community value their parks and recreation, amenities and their programs, you usually see the best results. And I wouldn’t have moved from Central Florida to Central Oregon, if I didn’t see that here,” said Waring.

Waring says he has over 30 years of experience both in the public and private sectors in parks and recreation, starting his career in Florida as a YMCA camp counselor in 1994.

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Waring started the job this month.

“Any time you start a new position, it’s a lot of learning, assessing, absorbing,” he said. So just trying to figure things out here and how things are run here and bring my expertise in the industry into this community.”

One of the big projects he’s working on is the Stryker Park playground. The community has raised over $50,000 through grants and donations with a $200,000 goal for an initial first phase.

“It’s a really exciting project that has a 2 to a 5-year-old playground, has an inclusive playground, and some future phases,” Waring said. “We’re also working on putting some musical instruments in that should be in very shortly.”

Waring says the parks district board is working on prioritizing a parks master plan.

“So I’ll be working very hard with the team here to make sure all those best practices are in place, all the policies and plans and procedures that we need, and we’re going to get the master plan implemented moving forward. So you’ll see some improvement to some of the parks, and you’ll see some new growth,” he said.

▶️ Bend teacher nominated for national award develops students’ research skills

After years of collegiate study and teaching that has taken her from prestigious Cornell University to the Cascades, Megan Kruer found her calling at a local middle school. And now she is reaping the rewards with a state nomination for a national award for her work at Seven Peaks School in Bend.

Walk inside Kruer’s 7th-8th grade classroom and you’d see things you might expect: Desks and laptops — and even a fluffy class pet bunny. But Kruer’s style as a language and literature teacher is anything but average.

“I am a researcher at heart. I think that that factors in a lot,” Kruer said.

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The Oregon Historical Society honored Kruer last week with a nomination for the Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Award — the result of her work with students for the Oregon History Day contest. It’s a chance for students to submit papers, exhibits, documentaries and more about a historical event.

“I really emphasize in independent research skills for my students and learning how to navigate databases is how to find primary sources. Those are things that I think my expertise and experience just make me really comfortable doing,” Kruer said.

Research has been a theme throughout her education from an undergraduate degree in comparative literature and French to a doctorate in romance studies and French literature at Cornell.

Seven Peaks School’s international baccalaureate status drew her to the middle school classroom after 10 years teaching college.

“So really, you know, taking away some of the expectations around the things that are supposed to be taught in school and just leaning in a little bit more, especially in middle school, with what the students are excited to learn about,” Kruer said.

The age group might be different, but the essentials are the same.

“I think post-COVID resilience is something students really need and projects like National History Day and Oregon History History Day teach that. So they learn that even though they hit a hurdle and they can’t find a source if they keep pushing or seek help, they can probably get there. So that experience, for me, is way more important than all the things they learn about inoculation or the westward expansion,” Kruer said.

Kruer will be put against nominees from other states in June for a chance at the top prize and $10,000.

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