▶️ Prineville man uses stimulus money to buy Nintendo Switches for sick kids

Ethan Schumacher, like many people, received two large stimulus checks this year.

His first stimulus check he used to invest, but he had a different idea on how to use his second check.

“So, I bought three Nintendo Switches and $250 worth of eshop cards for those Switches, and donated them to the pediatrics unit in Bend,” said Schumacher, who works as a cashier and in the kitchen at St. Charles in Prineville.

Never really considering the money his own, Schumacher wanted to do something good.

“The money was meant to help people and I was in a really strong spot for myself to where it would just be compounding on, which would be nice, but I kind of wanted to give back,” Schumacher said. “Who really needs help more than sick children.”

Schumacher’s donation did not surprise St. Charles, Prineville, Chief Medical Officer Maggie King one bit.

“This is just an extension of who Ethan is and I think it is fantastic and we should all learn from him,” King said.

About a week ago Schumacher hand delivered those game consoles to the pediatric unit in Bend.

“If there is a way you can find to help, then I think it is great,” Schumacher said. “I don’t want people to feel pressured to. A lot of people were saying ‘oh you are a lot better person than I am,’ but that is not the intent. I know a lot of people that if given the opportunity that would have donated, but it is just not the first thing that crosses their mind.”

Schumacher says he wants to continue helping with donations, but now in the Prineville community.

DCSO deputy accused of inappropriate comments retires before investigation ends

A Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office deputy under internal investigation retired in February, ending an inquiry into his actions, according to new documents reported on by the Associated Press.

The now former deputy Grant Johnstone was accused of making inappropriate comments.

According to AP, Johnstone worked for DCSO from July 2013 until February. In April 2020, a sheriff’s office employee complained that Johnstone made inappropriate statements.

Johnstone took a leave of absence in June 2020 and retired before the investigation was finished, according to AP.

He is the third DCSO employee to resign or retire while still under investigation since 2016 when Sheriff Shane Nelson took office.

Sgt. Deke Demars was on leave for alleged policy violations when he resigned this April.

And in 2020, deputy Joseph DeLance resigned after facing allegations of misconduct, ending an investigation into the role he played in the serious injury of another student at the state’s basic training academy.

Sgt. Jayson Janes, a spokesperson for Sheriff Nelson, declined to comment about Johnstone.

In an email asking about the retirements and resignations by deputies under investigation, Janes said: “The Sheriff has said before we want people that are in line with our mission and values.”


▶️ Prices of local rental cars skyrocket as production of new vehicles slows

Yesterday Central Oregon Daily reported on the shortage of new cars locally.  Today we checked out the shortage of available rental cars.

Some of the same factors—new car production slowdowns due to COVID and lack of computer chips—that are impacting car dealerships are impacting the rental car market.

Also at play are basic economics: low supply and high demand means not many rental cars are available, and they cost more.

If it’s been a year or more since you rented a car, prepare for sticker shock.

Rental cars at the Redmond Airport for the week of June 20 — which is the first week schools are out — are quoted at a price of $500 a week for a compact. That’s about $70 a day.

During the week of the 4th of July, compact rental cars cost $630 a week from National car rental. That’s about $90 a day.

Larger cars, vans and luxury vehicles rent for twice and three times that amount.

“We are seeing some sky-high rates and double is where the rates start these days,” Jonathan Weinberg, CEO of AutoSlash, said. “In some cases, and in some areas like Hawaii, Alaska, and Montana we are seeing rates two to five times what we would normally see.”

One couple at the airport said they paid $1,400 for a one-week car rental.

They said that was the most they had paid anywhere they’ve traveled.

“It’s kind of a perfect storm,” Weinberg said. “A supply-demand imbalance between the amount of people that are looking to travel, and the cars that the rental cars companies can get a hold of to make those available.”

However, several people at the airport said they had no trouble reserving rental cars and didn’t think the rental rates were out of line.

“The lady at the desk was great. She gave us recommendations on which one we should select,” said Sean Catron of Houston, Texas. “It was quick, easy, efficient. She told us which way to go. Now we have the exact car that we reserved online.”

Travel experts recommend reserving a rental car as early as possible to ensure something is available.

If no rentals are available, consider other travel dates and keep checking because about 20% of people who reserve rental cars don’t show up.

Police officer’s son dies in Crook Co. crash; Prineville PD asks for donations

The 19-year-old who died and the 16-year-old who was badly injured in a car crash south of Prineville Wednesday were both the sons of a Prineville police officer, according to Police Chief Dale Cummins.

A post on the Prineville Police Department’s Facebook page said Sergeant Rob Gray responded to the single-vehicle accident Wednesday night and learned his sons were involved in the crash.

The 19-year-old, Clayton Gray, died at the scene. The 16-year-old was flown to St. Charles with serious injuries and is now in recovery.

“Tragedy has struck our small family,” Cummins wrote in the post.

Prineville Police are asking for donations to the family via GoFundMe, which will go toward the costs of Life Flight, hospital bills and the funeral, Cummins said.

“So often we are asked how you can show support for your officers,” Cummins said. “This is a chance to do just that. Anything you’re comfortable with giving, whether it’s a nice comment to this post, a card, or a prayer, all would be appreciated by the family.”

As of Friday afternoon, the GoFundMe had already raised more than $15,000 with more than 170 donors.

Police said Clayton Gray was driving north when his car crossed the southbound lane, left the road and rolled.

The Crook County School District released a statement Thursday saying the 16-year-old is a student of Crook County High School.

▶️ Little Did I Know: Oregon’s Blue Basin

Many of us have heard of the Painted Hills located east of Madras and known as one of the seven wonders of Oregon.

But not as many people have heard of the similarly beautiful Blue Basin, located 45 minutes east of the Painted Hills in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

Meteorologist Scott Elnes takes us to the Blue Basin in this week’s episode of his series, “Little Did I Know.”

You can find more episodes of “Little Did I Know” with Scott Elnes here.

▶️ ‘We exist:’ New underpass mural sheds light on Latinx Bend community

A key piece of Bend that’s often overlooked.

That could be a way to describe the Franklin underpass tunnel in Bend.

But it also could be a way to describe the local Latinx community.

Photojournalist Steve Kaufmann shows us how two sometimes overlooked yet critical parts of our community are coming together to create a display no one can miss.

You can find more information about Proyecto Mural here.

▶️ Local dealerships struggle with low inventory of new cars

If you’ve tried to buy a new car recently, then you know there is a shortage of new vehicles.

Production slowdowns due to COVID and a lack of computer chips are contributing factors.

The new car shortage is effecting dealerships here in Central Oregon.

Normally there’d be 280 new vehicles on the Robberson Ford lot available for purchase. Right now, there are less than 40.

“It’s like the housing market. I feel like you want to sell but then you don’t want to buy because everything is so expensive or there’s not a lot of options,” Abby Christiansen, a shopper at Robberson Ford, said.

Shoppers like Christiansen are the most impacted, and sometimes have to sacrifice what they want for what they can get.

“We can get them but not to the degree in the past,” Jeff Robberson, a dealer at Robberson Ford, said.

Robberson says most of his cars right now are pre-orders, purchased before they even arrive on the lot.

The few delivered without a deposit are often purchased literally as they are unloaded.

“You have to think a little further ahead,” Robberson said. “You are either going to buy an inbound unit and we are taking a lot of orders. Those are going to take anywhere for 60 to 90 to 120 days to get and in some cases even longer.”

“There’s just a limited selection,” Robberson said. “It makes it harder to want to buy because there’s only a few options.”

Christiansen did a little shopping Thursday as she waited for her vehicle to be serviced.

“I want to be able to trade my truck in, but I don’t want to get rid of my truck and then not have an option to purchase another vehicle,” she said.

Both domestic and foreign car dealerships Central Oregon Daily News talked to said their new car inventories are low.

The lack of inventory is putting a dent in the tradition of kicking tires and taking test drives.

“Most people kick things on the internet anyway,” Robberson said. “We have some representative models of most everything. It’s not like what we are used to for sure. It’s a shock for me when I drive in here in the morning. Where did all the cars go?”

Robberson says Ford plans to ramp up production this summer and begin delivering larger volumes of cars and trucks to dealerships this fall.

Outdoor movies start playing in Bend this weekend

Bend outdoor movies are back!

Cascade Relays, Flip Flop Sounds and Hand in Hand Productions are bringing drive-in outdoor movie experiences to various locations in Bend throughout the summer. You can check bendoutdoormovies.com for upcoming films and dates.

Outdoor moving showings start this upcoming weekend at the Healing Reins Pasture in Bend. Food and snacks will be available for purchase. Bring cash or card for Deschutes beer, Avid cider, 7 Peaks hard seltzer and non-alcoholic drinks.

Details for this weekend:

Location: HEALING REINS PASTURE, 60575 Billadeau Road, Bend, Oregon 97702
Gates open at 3:30 (both days)

Friday, June 18, 2021
All proceeds support Healing Reins’ 2021-2022 2nd Indoor Arena Build and New On-Site Mental Health Clinic
Ticket purchase: https://www.healingreins.org/events/carpool-cinema-campaigns
Price: $35 per movie donation / $55 for both movies
Gates open at 3:30p
4:30p-6:15p -SPIRIT: Stallion of the Cimarron
7:30p-9:30p -JUMANJI: Welcome to the Jungle

Saturday, June 19, 2021
Ticket purchase: https://cascaderelays.com/events/bendoutdoormovies
Price: $35 per Vehicle Ticket -OR- $15 Individual Seat Ticket (We provide the chair & upfront seating)
4:30p-6:15p – Shrek
7:30p-9:30p – Raiders of the Lost Ark

▶️ 19-year-old man killed in Crook County crash; CCHS student seriously injured

Update: This story has been updated to include a statement from the Crook County School District.

A Halfway man is dead after rolling his car on Highway 27 Wednesday night, according to police.

At 8:10 p.m., Oregon State Police and first responders arrived at the single-vehicle crash around five miles south of Prineville.

Investigation showed a Kia Spectra driven by 19-year-old Clayton Gray was traveling north when it crossed the southbound lane and left the road.

Gray was pronounced dead at the scene. A juvenile passenger was taken via Airlink to St. Charles with serious injuries.

According to the Crook County School District, the juvenile passenger was a student of Crook County High School and Gray was the student’s older brother. On Thursday, the district released a statement expressing condolences for the family.

“Our hearts are broken for the family and we are ready to provide whatever support is needed. We’re a small, close-knit community so tragedies like this affect all of us deeply. We’re praying the student makes a full recovery,” Michelle Jonas, Crook County High School Principal, said.

The district’s full statement is available below.

Crook County School District learned this morning that one of our students who attends Crook County High School was involved in a single-vehicle rollover crash last night and was airlifted to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend. Unfortunately, the student’s older sibling died at the scene.

“Our hearts are broken for the family and we are ready to provide whatever support is needed. We’re a small, close-knit community so tragedies like this affect all of us deeply. We’re praying the student makes a full recovery,” said Michelle Jonas, Crook County High School Principal.

“Schools are like family and when one of our own is hurt, or tragedy strikes, we all feel that. Crook County School District is committed to supporting the family and providing all the resources we can to help our students and staff,” expressed Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson.

These are always difficult and emotional events that affect staff and students in different ways. Counselors at Crook County High School have been meeting with students and will be available all day to answer questions and provide support through this difficult time. We are not releasing the name of the juvenile student out of respect for the family.

▶️ Water War: Long-running battle over irrigation heats up in Klamath Basin

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – It’s fish versus farms, irrigators versus the Federal Government in the Klamath basin, where our Western drought is hitting hard and drawing attention from outside the state.

The water allotment for 200,000 acres of irrigated agricultural land in Southern Oregon and Northern California has been cut to zero this season.

Mike Mckoen sees the wreckage all around him and says it’s sickening to watch his fields dry up and watch topsoil blow away.

His frustration and sadness are palpable as he digs dead plants out of a bone-dry field that should be planted with a healthy mint crop.

“This is particularly tough,” he said. “This is a third-year mint field, it should be at peak production.”

And it should be at the point where the crop can pay for the initial planting and the care and feeding over the previous two years.

Mckoen planted just 15% of his available acreage this year, seeing that water allotments would be low. He didn’t expect that allotment would be cut to nothing.

Now he’ll get by on whatever private well-water he can access and just hope he survives and the bank stays patient.

His mint-distilling operation is silent and likely to stay that way, a loss that reaches beyond his bottom line and into the community.

“The payroll here was over a quarter million, that’s in a two-month time period,” he said.

But the bottom line suffers too.

“Just because you don’t have water doesn’t mean you get to turn off the expenses,” said. “I went to the insurance company and said ‘look, we don’t have water this year so there’s not much going on and what can you do?’ They said don’t you remember in 2018 when we had this conversation and we lowered your premiums? There’s no more room to reduce.”

He shakes his head about the state of the Klamath basin.

“Some of the most productive farmland in the world,” he said. “It just has a little bit of water.”

The water allotment for more than 1,000 irrigators has been cut because of two species of fish, native to Upper Klamath Lake and its tributaries. (Considerations for salmon downstream on the Klamath River also factor in.)

“Why keep doing the same thing over and over again with no positive results? It makes no sense.”

The Bureau of Reclamation wants to keep lake levels high to support those fish and try to meet the requirements of the Endangered Species Act.

Don Gentry, Chairman of the Klamath Tribes, tells us the fish are on the brink.

“We refer to them as the canary in the coal mine,” he said. “They are so hardy and tough and if they’re about to go extinct then there is something really wrong.”

In fact, he says more needs to be done, that water quality is just as important as water quantity.

He’d like to see more emphasis put on dealing with upstream pollution and riparian degradation issues on the rivers and streams that flow into the lake.

He is gently, but fiercely protective of the tribes’ ancient treaty rights and how they figure into the current stalemate.

“To me, the rights that we have are inherent inalienable rights that we have as being the first people of the land,” he said. “You know that whole concept of first in time, first in right is a pretty recognized universal.”

At the south end of Upper Klamath Lake is a piece of property where all of this is now coming to a head.

Property and water rights advocates have set up a big red and white tent and labeled it the “Water Crisis Information Center.”

It’s on land right next to the headgates that hold back the water from the main delivery artery, the “A” Canal.

Dan Nielsen and Grant Knoll bought the shy acre with a specific purpose in mind.

“It’s close to where we need to be,” Nielsen said. “So we can have these protests and rallies and nobody can kick us off.”

They and their supporters say this water war is less about farms and fish and more about Federal Government over-reach.

“Our big brother the Federal Government is saying ‘hey, we distribute the water we do it how we want, we don’t have to abide by state law. We think we have supremacy over state law'” said Knoll, who sits on the board of the Klamath Irrigation District. “And we’re saying ‘no.’”

It’s a familiar fight for the two men.

“Damaging it is not going to do any good.
We’re trying to protect it, protect our water and the project.”

During a similar water shut-down 20 years ago they were on the front lines, taking direct action, helping open the headgates to the canal.

And they say openly they will do it again, claiming the plan to cut through the headgate fence, bring in a crane to remove some itens blocking the gates, and carefull let the water flow in the “A” canal .

Nielsen took issue when we described it as vandalism.

“Damaging it is not going to do any good. We’re trying to protect it, protect our water and the project,” he said.

When pushed on their plans he confirms there’s no question they’ll open the gates.

That attitude has drawn the attention and the support of Ammon Bundy, the man who led the takeover at the Malheur wildlife refuge offices five years ago.

Knoll shows off a picture of the three of them when Bundy paid a visit last year to the site where the tent now stands.

“Oh yeah, we’re in contact with him. He’ll support us. He won’t come start the fight but he’ll support us,” Nielsen said. “He made a promise he’ll be here when and if he needs to be here.”

There are a few things the farmer and the tribal leader agree on.

One is that Amon Bundy should just stay away.

Gentry: “We have our own issues our own agendas, things we have to work out here locally, somebody coming from a distance maybe connecting with some in the community, I just don’t see how that’s going to help us. I don’t see it as a positive thing.”

Mckoen: “I hope Mr. Bundy keeps doing whatever he’s doing in Idaho. I support that. I just don’t support him coming here.”

Another agreement is that the fish are important, although Mckoen expresses some frustration that decades of fish protection measures don’t seemed to have produced the expected results.

“I don’t know a farmer who isn’t a conservationist,” Mckoen said. “There is nobody I know that wants to see those species in peril, let alone going extinct.”

But even so, here we stand, after 20 years of doing the same thing, ‘more water for fish’.

“And we haven’t saved one fish, not one sucker, not one salmon,” he said. “Why keep doing the same thing over and over again with no positive results? It makes no sense.”

For Don Gentry it’s a simple choice; keep helping the two species of endangered suckers.

“Are we going to lose these fish forever? The fish our creation story tells us the Creator put here for us?”

And while both men talk optimistically about the need for all sides to stay connected and continue working through the problems, down at the info tent the talk is more about action.

“It takes people to stand up,” Nielsen said. “The only way you can beat the government is you gotta stand up.”