Dog causes 3-vehicle crash near Prineville

Three vehicles were involved in a crash Saturday afternoon near Prineville when a loose dog ran through the middle of the road, according to the Crook County Sheriff’s Office.

Kimberly Fisher, 58, of Prineville was driving south on SE Juniper Canyon Road around 4:30 P.M. when she spotted the dog and stopped to avoid a collision.

A young woman was driving a 2005 Chevy Suburban close behind, and she stopped behind Fisher’s Ford Focus.

A third vehicle, a 2011 GMC Terrain driven by Patricia Wegener, 78, of Prineville, rear-ended the Chevy Suburban, forcing it to collide with the Ford Focus.

Medics from Crook County Fire & Rescue evaluated the drivers and passengers, and no one needed to go to the hospital.

The area around milepost one on SE Juniper Canyon Road was limited to one lane of traffic for around 40 minutes.

The Crook County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Prineville Police Department, Crook County Fire & Rescue, and STAR Towing.

No citations were issued.

CCSD urges state to end mask policy for student-athletes after girl collapses

Three days after a high school basketball player collapsed at practice, the Crook County School District wants the state to revise its mask policy for student-athletes “and consider the dangers of wearing them during competitions and practices.”

In a letter to Gov. Kate Brown, ODE Director Colt Gill and officials with OSAA and the Oregon Health Authority, Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson said the girl was revived by a coach and taken to the hospital after the incident.

“Thankfully, she is OK and has made a full recovery,” Johnson said. “Security footage of practice confirms (the girl) was wearing a mask when she started having trouble catching her breath and then passed out a short time later in the locker room.”

District spokesman Jason Carr told Central Oregon Daily News earlier this week that the incident was under investigation by an outside agency.

On Thursday, the CDC relaxed its guidance on masks saying they did not need to be worn indoors or outdoors by those who were fully vaccinated.

Brown announced Oregon would follow the CDC’s lead but masks still would be worn by students for the rest of the school year or until the ODE changed its guidance.

Johnson referred to an incident at Summit High School in Bend last month where a track athlete wearing a mask collapsed just before finishing an 800-meter race.

Her coaches and others immediately called for a change in the state’s rules for high school athletes – and less than a week later the Oregon School Activities Association did just that after new guidance from the state.

The changes allowed athletes to take off face coverings when competing in non-contact sports outdoors and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from others.

Non-contact sports include but are not limited to tennis, swimming, cross-country, track and field, sideline/no-contact cheer and dance.

Johnson said it was time to revise the current policy to include all athletes.

“With support from the Crook County School Board, I’m asking Governor Kate Brown, the Oregon Health Authority, the Oregon Department of Education, and the Oregon Schools Activities Association to revise the mask policy for athletes and consider the dangers of wearing them during competitions and practices,” she said. “The evidence is growing that wearing masks impacts the flow of oxygen when students are exerting themselves and has the potential to cause serious harm.”

OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber said he’s waiting on new guidance as well.

“The OSAA has been in communication with the Governor’s Office and OHA seeking changes to the mask requirements and will continue that advocacy,” he said.

▶️ Little Did I Know: The history of Billy Chinook Pt. 3

For the past few weeks, Central Oregon Daily’s Scott Elnes has been sharing the story of the man Billy Chinook – also known by his native name Guygo.

In this final chapter, Scott takes us to the lake itself for a look at some things you may not know about one of Oregon’s most famous aquatic destinations.

Previous Coverage:

▶️ Little Did I Know: The history of Billy Chinook Pt. 1

▶️ Little Did I Know: The history of Billy Chinook Pt. 2

▶️ ODF declares earliest fire season in over 40 years

It’s dry here in Central Oregon.

So dry in fact, as far the state is concerned our region’s fire season will start earlier than ever this year.

The Oregon Department of Forestry says fire season in certain areas officially begins this weekend.

A fire season hasn’t been declared this early in more than 40 years.

“What we’re seeing right now we typically see, we’re seeing about a month early,” said Oregon Department of Forestry Central Oregon District Public Information Officer Christie Shaw. “This is actually the early declaration of fire season.”

For much of Central Oregon ODF’s fire season starts this Saturday.

Basically, the fire calendar moves forward a month and fire managers are on guard early with last year’s disastrous wildfires fresh in their memory.

“For these conditions right now, each day we are setting daily maximums in those areas,” said Shaw.

BLM announces fire prevention orders to decrease human-caused wildfires

The ODF’s Crook County unit consists of parts of Jefferson, Crook, and Deschutes County; the Dalles unit, which stretches through Hood River and Wasco Counties to the Columbia.

Fire season starts over the weekend for both units.

“I think the entire state of Oregon is in some sort of drought,” said Fire Weather Program Manager for the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center John Saltenberger.

“We’re also seeing not only the entire state of Oregon being in some form of drought, but the areas that have severe and exceptional drought are expanding week by week,” he added. “So drought is here and it is worsening.”

RV campers on the shores of the Haystack Reservoir know campers will have to be extra careful.

“I think this is going to be a very, very bad one,” said camper Rodney Wight.

“Fire is unforgiving … period,” added Jim Williams.

“If we don’t see a change in the weather that is not in the projections I see, we’re going to see increased restrictions pretty quickly,” said Shaw.

For now, those restrictions prohibit smoking and ban the use of certain types of explosives and ammunition.

2 Central Oregonians among 14 new COVID deaths statewide; 733 cases added

Two local residents are among 14 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,572, the Oregon Health Authority reported Thursday.

Oregon’s 2,561st COVID-19 death is an 80-year-old man from Crook County who tested positive on May 4 and died on May 12 at St. Charles in Bend. He had underlying conditions.

Oregon’s 2,564th COVID-19 death is a 65-year-old man from Jefferson County who tested positive on Feb. 26 and died on March 30 at St. Charles in Bend. He had underlying conditions.

Oregon Health Authority reported 733 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 193,732.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (5), Benton (14), Clackamas (35), Clatsop (6), Columbia (10), Coos (7), Crook (16), Deschutes (80), Douglas (14), Harney (1), Hood River (1), Jackson (40), Jefferson (9), Josephine (11), Klamath (23), Lake (1), Lane (49), Lincoln (6), Linn (35), Malheur (4), Marion (60), Morrow (3), Multnomah (156), Polk (23), Tillamook (2), Umatilla (17), Wallowa (1), Wasco (3), Washington (94) and Yamhill (7).

Total Central Oregon COVID-19 Cases by County:
  • 1,113 in Crook County
  • 8,962 in Deschutes County
  • 2,198 in Jefferson County
Total Central Oregon COVID-19 Deaths by County:
  • 22 in Crook County
  • 74 in Deschutes County
  • 37 in Jefferson County
Total Central Oregon COVID-19 Vaccination data by County:
  • 8,412 people fully vaccinated or vaccines in-progress in Crook County.
  • 98,849 people fully vaccinated or vaccines in-progress in Deschutes County.
  • 9,127 people fully vaccinated or vaccines in-progress in Jefferson County.

COVID-19 vaccinations to anyone 12 years of age and above begin in Oregon

Late yesterday, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup convened to review the federal government’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) that extended COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to individuals ages 12 and older.

The workgroup found that expanding COVID-19 vaccination to anyone 12 years of age and above will protect those who are vaccinated and contribute to the control of COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is great news for Oregon children, parents and families. Vaccination is the best tool we have to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown.

Read more about the workgroup’s decision on the Oregon Health Authority blog in both English and Spanish.

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 30,037 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry.

Of this total, 18,733 doses were administered on May 12 and 11,304 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on May 12. The seven day running average is now 32,922 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered a total of 1,881,250 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,437,343 first and second doses of Moderna and 116,551 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

Cumulative daily totals can take several days to finalize because providers have 72 hours to report doses administered and technical challenges have caused many providers to lag in their reporting. OHA has been providing technical support to vaccination sites to improve the timeliness of their data entry into the state’s ALERT Immunization Information System (IIS).

To date, 2,242,305 doses of Pfizer, 1,827,840 doses of Moderna and 260,300 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered to sites across Oregon.

These data are preliminary and subject to change.

COVID-19 hospitalizations

St. Charles on Thursday reported it had 38 COVID patients; eight are in the ICU and three are on ventilators.

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 351, which is five more than yesterday. There are 88 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is the same as yesterday’s total.

The total number of COVID-19 positive patient bed-days in the most recent seven days is 2,339, which is a 1.1% decrease from the previous seven days. The peak daily number of beds occupied by COVID-19 positive patients in the most recent seven days is 351.

The total number of patients in hospital beds may fluctuate between report times. The numbers do not reflect admissions per day, nor the length of hospital stay. Staffing limitations are not captured in this data and may further limit bed capacity.

More information about hospital capacity can be found here


Crooked River experiencing near record low levels

PRINEVILLE, Ore. – The Bureau of Reclamation says the public should expect lower than normal water levels in Crooked River this spring and summer.

Flows will be lowest near Prineville and Smith Rock State Park, and could potentially impact recreational activities.

Multiple years of drought conditions and low snowpack runoff into the reservoirs are contributing factors.

“Record dry conditions have caused increased irrigation demand from the reservoir much earlier than usual,” said Gregg Garnett, Bend Field Office manager.

Prineville Reservoir has not been this low since 1974, with inflows into the reservoir at only 37% of normal.

Reclamation, in consultation with federal, state, and local agencies, is implementing flow measures intended to balance the multiple needs on the Crooked River using the available stored water supply in Prineville Reservoir.

A limited amount of storage will be held in Prineville Reservoir and released this winter to support fish and wildlife needs as described in the Deschutes River Basin Habitat Conservation Plan.

For current water storage information, please visit

Crooked River Roundup gets OK to return in June with limited online ticket sales

The Crooked River Roundup will return to Prineville in June after taking a year off due to COVID concerns.

The Roundup is scheduled June 24-26.

Last year marked the first time since the inaugural Crooked River Roundup in 1945 the rodeo was canceled.

“We are excited to celebrate a milestone anniversary and ‘Reride 75’,” said Crooked River Roundup president Jason Snider. “Our rodeo committee has spent the last year planning precautionary measures to ensure the safety of rodeo participants and attendees.”

Rodeo officials have received approval from the Crook County Commissioners and the Crook County Health Department to hold the event.

“On behalf of the Crook County Health Department and the Crook County Environmental Health Department, we fully support the actions and precautions of Covid safety that the Crooked River Roundup is taking to keep the public safe during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Crook County Health Department Public Information Officer, Vicky Ryan.

The plan includes limited online ticket sales and special zones with services that meet safety guidelines in accordance with COVID-19 regulations.

Following Oregon State Health requirements, parking, seating, and services have been established to create an excellent rodeo experience, all while keeping fans safe.

Snider said the economic impact of the rodeo and its ability to help the community recover from the year-long pandemic was a significant factor in the decision to host this year’s event.

Over the last five years, the Roundup has raised and donated more than $75,000 to 35 local organizations.

“The Crooked River Roundup supports our community significantly by providing opportunities for local groups to participate, raise money, and give back,” said Ray Austin, president of Kiwanis Club of Prineville. “We appreciate the many ways the Roundup committee makes a difference in Crook County.”

Unique to the Crooked River Roundup is the cattle drive and “Street Party” that takes place in downtown to kick off the event annually on Wednesday evening June 23. Prineville continues to pay homage to the Roundup’s history as ranchers drive cattle through downtown to signify the start of the festivities.

Non-rodeo events keep rolling with a parade Saturday morning featuring marching bands, tractors, and dozens of intricate floats.

Queen Emily McDaniel Lauman and Grand Marshals Mike and Donna Mohan will make history, reigning two consecutive years after the Roundup was canceled last year. “Re-ride 75 represents the very best of Crook County and our resilience,” said Queen Emily McDaniel Lauman. “Thanks to our generous sponsors and community members, we are going to have a wonderful celebration!”

The three-day rodeo will start on Thursday, June 24, and run through Saturday, June 26, 2021. For more information on the Roundup and to purchase tickets. click here.

The Crooked River Roundup is supported by a grant from the Crook County Cultural Coalition with funds from the Oregon Cultural Trust to support Oregon’s arts, heritage, and the humanities.

▶️ Madras, Prineville mayors say their communities can reach vaccination goal

Jefferson and Crook Counties are among the counties needing big boosts in vaccination rates before they can move to the lower risk category.

But leaders in their two biggest towns  – despite some skepticism of the vaccine – say the governor’s goal of 65% is within reach.

“I am just happy that governor Brown is finally reaching out to people and is giving us hope and giving us a chance to heal,” said Madras Mayor Richard Ladeby.

Ladeby says businesses are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I know our citizens and business are waiting to be ready to open up,” Ladeby added.

While Deschutes County is expected to reach the 65%goal by next week, Jefferson and Crook County have a ways to go.

Jefferson County’s vaccination rate is just 46%.

“I think we got some outlying people that are concerned and I think we need to address those concerns instead of ignoring or pushing them,” said Ladeby.

Crook County’s rate is even lower at 42%.

▶️ ‘I think it’s a joke:’ Prineville residents voice hesitations about COVID vaccine

“A lot of people are against getting the vaccine it seems in our county,” said Prineville Mayor Jason Beebe.

Both Ladeby and Beebe say a 65% vaccination rate is attainable.

“I can’t tell business or people what to do personally,” said Beebe. “They have to choose that on their own and I support that because that is our freedom to do that.”

Beebe plans to discuss with City Council and Crook County Commissioners about how to proceed.

“We agree on things as a council and I will support whatever outcome comes of that,” Beebe added.

Ladeby and Beebe say their county’s public health departments do a good job getting the word out about getting the vaccine.

“If people want to get it then I encourage them to get it,” said Ladeby.

Ladeby was not comfortable saying whether he is vaccinated, while Beebe says he’s waiting for more research to decide whether he will get the shot.

Prineville mom says daughter collapsed at basketball practice because of mask

A Prineville mother says her daughter collapsed at a high school basketball practice Tuesday because she was forced to wear a mask.

Few confirmed details are available, but Jason Carr, a spokesman for the Crook County School District said they were investigating the situation.

“Our high school team is meeting with the parents and interviewing coaches and players so we understand all the details,” he said in a statement. “That’s all the information I can provide at this time.”

Late last month a Summit High School track athlete wearing a mask collapsed just before finishing an 800-meter race.

▶️ A week after Summit runner collapses, OHA relaxes mask rules for athletes

Her coaches and others immediately called for a change in the state’s rules for high school athletes – and less than a week later the Oregon School Activities Association did just that.

The changes allow athletes to take off face coverings when competing in non-contact sports outdoors and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from others.

Non-contact sports include but are not limited to tennis, swimming, cross-country, track and field, sideline/no-contact cheer and dance.

▶️ COVID cases at Thriftway in Madras leads to ripple effect in employee shortage

It doesn’t take too many COVID cases to handcuff a small-town grocery store.

Three employees at Erickson’s Thriftway in Madras tested positive for COVID-19 last month, leading to 14 days of quarantine. 

And leading some employees to quit in fear of catching the virus themelves.

It also caused several other factors that put them in a bind.

“We have had 6:30-10 o’clock for decades and now we have to close at 7 and we might even be changing our hours even more to get through this rough patch we seem to be having,” said Erickson’s Thriftway Co-Manager Kevin Eidemiller.

Eidemiller says they may have to close one day a week because of a staffing shortage.

It started when around 10 employees had to quarantine.

“We had three people out from the meat department, a few people from the bakery, a few from the sales department and a couple of managers out,” said Erickson’s Thriftway Co-Manager Savannah Moss.

Three employees tested positive for the virus, including Eidemiller.

“We take every precaution here at the store and once again we keep up with the county and state or we wouldn’t be in business,” said Eidemiller.

The store shut down one day last week to sanitize, shortly after, six employees quit, three saying they were afraid.

“Basically, saying they didn’t want to get infected, or they didn’t want to expose themselves,” said Moss.

Moss says there have been days when they’ve been short nearly 20 positions, leading to other issues.

“We had limited product out in our shelves, especially in our meat department last week that made quite an impact there,” Moss added. “We are slowly trying to open back up ours and get back to our full extent.”

Just like many employers across the country, Thriftway is now struggling to find new workers.

“Now you can find higher paying jobs because there is such an off balance of salaries, especially in Central Oregon,” said Eidemiller.

OSHA says there have been no COVID complaints toward Thriftway and Jefferson County Public Health says this was not a workplace outbreak.

Thriftway’s General Manager is also considering reducing hours at the Prineville store due to hiring issues.