▶️ 2022 Oregon graduation rates 2nd highest ever; Central OR exceeding state

The statewide graduation rate in Oregon in 2022 marked the second-highest rate ever in the state, the Oregon Department of Education announced Thursday. And the graduation rates at all Central Oregon school districts were even higher.

The 81.3% graduation rate was 0.7% higher than the 2021 rate as the country was still working to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are the increases across various demographics from 2021 to 2022. An asterisk indicates a record high.

Student group

Class of 2021

Class of 2022










Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander




American Indian/Alaska Native




Black/African American








Former English Learners (proficient prior to high school)




English Learners in High School




Special Education












In Foster Care





In Central Oregon, the Crook County School District touted a graduation rate of 91.95%. That number was nearly 100% at Crook County High School.

“We’re so pleased to see these results because it shows the dedication of our staff and the extra support they give students who need a boost to get across the finish line,” Crook County Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson said in a statement. “This district is about raising the bar around student achievement through intentional systems that work, and it’s paying off.”

Crook County noted that since 2014, when the graduation rate was 30.51%, the rate has steadily increased over the past decade with the exception of 2019. 

RELATED: Oregon math, reading scores drop during COVID; Local schools find positives

RELATED: Crook County’s Sara Johnson named Oregon Superintendent of the Year

Bend-La Pine’s graduation rate in 2022 was 83.54%. The district said the rate has gone up every year for the past decade with the exception of 2021, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s heartening to see our schools continue to show steady gains in graduation rates over the past decade-plus,” said Superintendent Steven Cook in a statement. “These rates reflect the hard work of our dedicated staff and students, however, we will not be satisfied until every student graduates from our schools with a passion, purpose and plan for the future.”

Redmond’s was 87.8%.

“Our successful graduation rates are reflective of a culmination of all of the hard work that teachers are doing from kindergarten through high school,” said Dr. Charan Cline, Redmond School District superintendent in a statement. “Every involved teacher, staff, family, and community member who has made an impact and enriched a graduate’s educational path contributes to our success.” 

Culver’s rate was 94.34%, followed by Sisters at 90.27% and Jefferson County 509J at 88.617%.

It’s important to note that the numbers come four months after a DOE report, citing state assessment results, that english, science and math proficiency scores across the state had dropped dramatically since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Statewide, English Language Arts proficiency dropped from 53.4% in the 2018-19 school year to 43.6% in 2021-22. Math fell from 39.4% to 30.4% and science dropped from 36.9% to 29.5%.

School districts in Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook counties did not buck that trend. But they were able to note achievements in specific categories and even, in some cases, finishing above state averages.

DOE officials said at that time that 2022 testing shows students who were already behind before the pandemic had the most learning loss but all children overall lost ground when compared to 2019 test scores.

▶️ Crook County School District holding job fair Thursday

The Crook County School District will hold its annual job fair Thursday from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. at their district office in Prineville.

The job fair features on-the-spot interviews and representatives from the district.

Jobs range from inside the classroom, maintenance and bus drivers — various roles that help the schools function.

RELATED: Inside look at the award-winning way Prineville stores, recovers its water

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Some of these jobs will have a higher wage thanks to a decision by the school board last year.

“The school board has recognized that we need to be competitive with other districts in the region and that 5% increase, you know, really will help or we hope it’ll help somebody to make that decision to come work for our district,” said Crook County School District Communications Director Jason Carr.

If you can’t make it to the job fair, you can check out available jobs on the school district’s website and apply online as well.


▶️ ‘Point in Time’ homeless count kicks off in Central OR, increases expected

The homeless crisis is visibly worsening, but what do the numbers show? It will all be revealed in the annual Point in Time homeless count, which began on Tuesday.

The count, run by the Central Oregon Homeless Leadership Coalition, is a chance for a check-in on the state of homelessness in our region and a reflection on the work left to be done. 

Last year’s data revealed a 17% increase in homeless community members between 2021 and 2022.

RELATED: Homeless Leadership Coalition releases 2022 Point In-Time Count results

RELATED: Redmond community holds ‘Let’s talk about Homelessness’ forum

“I foresee that we are probably going to see another increase again this year,” said Colleen Thomas, the Supervisor for the Deschutes County Health Services Homeless Outreach Services Team. “Part of that is because we have better ability to count folks, and we know we have more staff that know more folks and where they’re at and located. But it’s also just the result of the rising housing costs in our community.” 

It’s the first year the Shepherd’s House Lighthouse Navigation Center in Bend is participating under its current name, after its change from the Bend Emergency Shelter. 


Director of Emergency Services John Lodise said the shelter has been at full capacity for “quite some time now.” 

He said he already has an idea of how this year’s count will go. 

“We expect to see an increase,” Lodise said. “So when we first opened the shelter as a permanent shelter, we were experiencing between 60 to 70 people. With the winter cold weather, we’ve been seeing numbers of 100, 110. And then we’ve been letting extra people in to warm, so that sometimes we’ve had 130 to 135 people.” 

Volunteers will help count data until January 31, all the way from Warm Springs to La Pine. It’s a process those involved know is not airtight. 

“The Point in Time count I always say, is just a snapshot of our overall population,” Thomas said. “The survey that is used during the Point in Time count is completely voluntary, and so folks can choose not to participate.”


That snapshot is a crucial step for the future of homelessness advocacy. 

“The really important part of the Point in Time count is that those numbers that we report back to the federal government through HUD [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] is how they allocate funding for our region. So the better data that we have, the more resources we can allocate to our community,” Thomas said. “It’s a formula-based thing that the government does, and so that by having that data, it allows us to be receive more funding.” 

Despite the numbers from the past several years, these advocates told Central Oregon Daily News that they have to hold on to hope. 

“I think we always have hope that the numbers are going to go down,” Thomas said. “We want to work ourselves out of jobs in regards to homeless outreach. There will always be people that are going to live unsheltered, but we want to see that rate go down.”

“You have to have faith that, yes, that is going to make a difference,” Lodise said. “People are going to be helped. Maybe the phenomenon will ripple, right? We help a group of people who then become motivated to help others, and eventually we have more people trying to help those who need it than we have folks who need the help.” 

The results from the count are expected to be released in the next couple of months. 

This comes after Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek signed an executive order on Jan. 10, declaring a homelessness state of emergency in certain parts of the state that have seen a 50% or more increase in the unsheltered homeless population between 2017 and 2022. 

Central Oregon is one of the regions included on that list. 

▶️ Inside look at the award-winning way Prineville stores, recovers its water

Prineville recently won an award from the League of Oregon Cities, recognizing the development of the “Aquifer Storage and Recovery System.”

It’s cool science: Hydrology, geology and engineering all mixed together. 

Here’s how the ASR works. During the winter when demand is low, they pump water out of their valley-floor aquifer which supplies the city’s drinking water. They purify that water and put it into the regular city system.

RELATED: Crook County declares drought emergency for 4th consecutive year

RELATED: Off-grid residents haul their own water to wash dishes, water gardens

Then they pump it up onto the rimrock above town near the airport, where an “injection” well is used to inject it back into the earth, into a different aquifer. That aquifer is a 5 million-year-old channel of the Crooked River.

The water can be stored there and then retrieved in the summer when the city needs it most.


▶️ Father & son / coach & player on navigating unique basketball bond

Fathers and sons. Those relationships can truly be something special.

Father as coach and son as athlete? Well those relationships can often be tricky.

Central Oregon Daily’s Eric Lindstrom sat down with dad / basketball coach and Crook County Cowboys announcer Jason Carr and son, player Cameron Carr.

RELATED: Behind the scenes: Wheeler County Rattlers 6-player football title repeat

RELATED: Central Oregon high school football participation up, bucking national trend

▶️ Ribbon-cutting welcomes new Pioneer High School in Prineville

Students and staff gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony at a new high school in Prineville Wednesday.

It was the formal grand opening of Pioneer High School. It’s the first time the alternative school will have a permanent location.

The brand new building is located next to Crook County High and was opened to students last month.

“That’s the right size and it has the right services here and quality building and just a special it’s a special time to be able to offer that to students as they’re on their journey to completing school,” said Crook County Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson.

Pioneer High School is a smaller facility with 76 students enrolled this school year.

RELATED: Father & son / coach & player on navigating unique basketball bond

RELATED: Crook County’s Sara Johnson named Oregon Superintendent of the Year

▶️ Driver rescued from heavy snow east of Prineville by Crook Co. SAR

Crook County Search and Rescue helped rescue a Redmond-area man Tuesday whose vehicle was trapped in heavy snow. They say it’s a reminder to know the conditions and to be prepared.

Here is the release from the Crook County Sheriff’s Office. 

On January 17th, 2023, Crook County Search and Rescue (SAR) responded to a 911 call of a stranded motorist in the area of Big Summit Prairie.

Due to limited cell service, the stranded motorist was able to text 911 with a generalized location.

Utilizing GPS data, SAR members determined a possible location as Ochocos National Forest in the area of United Sates Forest Service Road (USFR) 42 and USFR Spur Road 4215 a rural area Northeast of Prineville.

RELATED: Deschutes County Search and Rescue assist stranded backcountry skiers

RELATED: Hiker goes off course prompting rescue on South Sister

Due to the known snowpack in the area ten total SAR personnel responded to the call.

Utilizing specialized vehicles to include snowmobiles and a specialized tracked side by side.

The male subject was located with his vehicle uninjured. It was determined the male subject had become stuck in the heavy snow accumulation.

The male subject was provided transport back to the Prineville area and then was transported back to his residence in the Redmond area. 

Crook County SAR would like to remind everyone that whenever you are traveling, especially in the mountains, to let someone know where you are going, when you will be back, and stick to your plan. Please take adequate food, water and warm clothing in case you get stuck, regardless of the road conditions.

4 St. Charles nurses honored with DAISY Award for compassionate care

St. Charles Health System announced Friday that four nurses have received The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses, recognizing the outstanding, compassionate nursing care they provide patients and families every day.

St. Charles says the nurses — which represent all four hospitals in Central Oregon — are nominated by patients, families and colleagues. A committee at St. Charles determines the recipients.

  • Bend: Kirsten Chavez, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
  • Madras: Labree Tolman, Emergency Department
  • Prineville: Samantha Martin, Medical Services
  • Redmond: Hillary Dunbar, Medical Services

Here is more from St. Charles

The nurses—who represent all four St. Charles hospitals in Bend, Redmond, Madras and Prineville—were recognized with a ceremony on their respective units and presented with a certificate, a pin and a “healer’s touch” sculpture by their hospital’s chief nursing officer. The DAISY honorees will also receive ongoing benefits, such as special rates for tuition and ANCC certification.

The DAISY Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that was established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes by members of his family. Patrick died at the age of 33 in late 1999 from complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), a little known but not uncommon auto-immune disease. (DAISY is an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System.) The care Patrick and his family received from nurses while he was ill inspired this unique means of thanking nurses for making a profound difference in the lives of their patients and patient families.

“When Patrick was critically ill, our family experienced first-hand the remarkable skill and care nurses provide patients every day and night,” said Bonnie Barnes, FAAN, president and co-founder of The DAISY Foundation. “Yet these unsung heroes are seldom recognized for the super-human, extraordinary, compassionate work they do. The kind of work the nurses at St. Charles are called on to do every day epitomizes the purpose of The DAISY Award.”

This is one initiative of The DAISY Foundation to express gratitude to the nursing profession. Additionally, DAISY offers J. Patrick Barnes Grants for Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice Projects, The DAISY Faculty Award to honor inspiring faculty members in schools and colleges of nursing and The DAISY in Training Award for nursing students. More information is available at http://DAISYfoundation.org.

▶️ Crook County declares drought emergency for 4th consecutive year

Crook County is declaring a drought emergency in the middle of winter. Despite near normal snowpack in the Ochocos, streamflows and reservoir storage levels are at record lows due to persistent drought conditions.

Crook County officials are seeking a drought declaration, possibly the earliest on record, because of record low levels in reservoirs and streams that should be refilling them at this time.

Prineville Reservoir sits at just 11% capacity. Ochoco Reservoir is at 10% of capacity.

RELATED: Crook County still in ‘exceptional drought,’ new snow and water report says

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The low water levels means less water for farmers who will grow less crops and make less money.

On Thursday, the Crook County Court declared a drought emergency for the fourth consecutive year due to widespread and severe economic damage to the agriculture and livestock industries, as well as recreation and related economies.

“Today, even though it’s been raining, there’s one group of cattle I had to haul water to them for drinking water because the springs haven’t returned yet,” said Wade Flegel, Crook County farmer.

The U.S. Drought Monitor confirms what the locals are saying: All of Crook County is and has been in extreme or exceptional drought for the past three years.

Unless the atmospheric river pummeling California shifts north, Crook County likely will remain in drought even with normal winter precipitation.

“We live in a desert. Sometimes there’s water. Sometimes not. When we don’t have it we need to make sure we make those declarations to take care of our farmers, our ranchers and our domestic water users,” said Seth Crawford, Crook County Judge. “We have a lot of citizens out there on wells.”

The drought declaration, when accepted by the state, gives Crook County residents access to loans and grants to help compensate for losses due to drought conditions.