▶️ One freeze ends and another begins; restaurants look for ways to survive winter

The governor’s two-week ‘freeze’ to slow the spread of COVID ends on Thursday, but restrictions remain in place for many Oregon businesses.

Bars and restaurants head into the holiday season forced to offer either take-out or outdoor dining.

It’s a tough ask as winter temperatures make for a less-than-cozy dining experience outdoors.

But as Central Oregon Daily photojournalist Steve Kaufmann shows us, food cart courts and other restaurants are turning to the tried and true and getting creative to survive the end of 2020.

Local ice rinks dealing with COVID restrictions; Redmond rink won’t open this winter

COVID restrictions are putting an unwelcomed freeze on local ice rinks.

Public skating sessions at The Pavilion in Bend still aren’t allowed under the state’s new rules – at least until after Dec. 17th.

The region’s oldest rink at 7th Mountain Resort hopes to open up on a reservation-only basis later this week.

The Village at Sunriver’s rink is open but also requires reservations this year.

And in Redmond, the downtown rink won’t open at all this winter due to COVID restrictions.

 

Crime Lab staffing issues slow murder investigation; DA gives updates on recent cases

Detectives have served 40 search warrants and have multiple suspects in a Bend double murder that’s gone unsolved since August, Deschutes County DA John Hummel said Wednesday.

Hummel said slim staffing at the Oregon State Crime Lab has slowed the progress into the death investigation of Raymond Atkinson Jr. and Natasha Newby.

Police performing a welfare check on August 15th discovered Newby, 29, and Atkinson, 34, dead inside their home at the corner of 12th and Greenwood Avenue.

Later that week, police announced they were investigating leads outside of Central Oregon, but no other information had been provided on the case until Wednesday.

Hummel said he believed the couple was targeted so there was no threat to the community.

But he had no comment on where the suspects might be or their relationship to the victims.

The murder investigation was part of an update Wednesday from Hummel on several recent high-profile cases being handled by the district attorney’s office.

Other cases Hummel discussed Wednesday include a shooting in Drake Park in November.

He said the victim, Jordan Thorn, was recovering well in the hospital, and charges are expected against a suspect soon.

The investigation continues in a fatal multi-vehicle crash on the Bend Parkway near the Colorado Avenue on ramp last month.

The crash, which started after a a BMW, driven by 39-year-old Jonathan Short of Bend, had merged onto the highway and into the left lane, where he struck a Chevrolet pickup driven by 47-year-old Kevin Schultz of Bend.

Schultz’s car crossed the center median into the southbound lane, where it hit a van driven by 37-year-old Christopher Rodea.

Rodea sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Two more southbound vehicles and one more northbound vehicle were also involved in the crash, although none of those drivers or passengers were seriously injured.

Hummel said they have found two surveillance videos he calls “key” to the investigation.

They’re also downloading the computer systems from the cars involved to evaluate.

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A charging decision is expected soon in a fatal pedestrian hit-and-run in Redmond Nov. 23rd.

Leroy Hall, 90, was hit first by a maroon 2018 GMC Yukon and hit again by a second vehicle, according to police.

The driver of the Yukon, 19-year-old Anthony Vasquez, left the scene while the driver of the second vehicle remained on the scene, police said.

Police found the Yukon nearby a short time later.

Vasquez was arrested and taken to the Deschutes County Jail on multiple charges including first-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, felony hit-and-run and DUII.

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Additionally, the investigation continues into an alleged assault on Bend’s west side in early August.

Giovanni Ortego was found bloodied on the side of the road, but he doesn’t remember the assault.

Hummel said Ortego’s last known location was the D&D Bar downtown, but there’s no helpful surveillance on the route to where he was found.

He said the case was a dead end unless the public was able to provide new, helpful information.

Redmond woman identified in fatal pedestrian crash; DCSO says speed, alcohol not a factor

New details in a fatal accident last week show an 81-year-old driver hit and killed an 80-year-old pedestrian on Odin Falls Way in Redmond.

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office says Anna Louise Jondall was walking west on Odin Falls Wednesday afternoon – with the flow of traffic – when she was hit from behind and killed.

Deputies and the Redmond Fire Department responded, but the woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver, a Redmond woman, remained on the scene and is cooperating with the investigation, Sgt. Jayson Janes said.

The results of the investigation have been forwarded to the Deschutes County District Attorney’s office.

But the DCSO said speed and alcohol are not contributing factors in the crash.

2 camp trailers, 2 vehicles destroyed by fire east of Redmond

Two camp trailers and two other vehicles were destroyed by fire Thursday night at Redmond-area transient camp, according to fire officials.

Redmond Fire & Rescue responded to the fires east of the old Rod and Gun Club site around 9 p.m.

Units discovered two large camp trailers engulfed in flames and the fire had spread to a tree and two other vehicles.

Firefighters were able to prevent the blaze from spreading to another RV and more vehicles.

The two camp trailers and vehicles were a total loss.

Crews stayed on the scene for about three hours.

Nobody was injured in the fire.

Pedestrian struck and killed near Redmond

A pedestrian was hit and killed Wednesday afternoon near Redmond, according to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

Sgt. Jayson Janes said the accident happened around 2:10 p.m. in the Tetherow Crossing subdivision north of Redmond.

Deputies and the Redmond Fire Department responded, but the Redmond woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver, a Redmond woman, remained on the scene and is cooperating with the investigation, Janes said.

No other information has been released, as the investigation continues.

 

‘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.”

 

K-9 tracks down suspect after traffic stop leads to chase near Terrebonne

A Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office K-9 on Monday was able to track down a man who ran from a disabled car after leading deputies on a car chase near Terrebonne.

The incident started around 6:50 p.m. Monday when a deputy tried to pull over a car for a traffic violation in the area of NW Chinook and Badger Road.

Sgt. Jayson Janes said the car immediately sped up to try get away from the deputy.

Deputies pursued the car into the area of NW Quail Road and NW Lower Bridge Way in Terrebonne.

Janes said as the vehicle was traveling south on NW Quail Rd, a deputy tried the Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) to stop the car.

The driver of the car, later identified as 22-year-old Jonathan Addington of Terrebonne,  slammed on his brakes, forcing the deputy to turn to avoid a collision with the car. A second involved deputy ended up side swiping the lead deputy’s car.

There were no injuries, but both Sheriff’s Office vehicles sustained minor damage.

Addington then continued onto BLM land in the area until his car became disabled and he ran away from the scene.

Janes said additional responding deputies established a perimeter in the area and spotted the car.

K-9 Ares and his handler began tracking Addington and ultimately tracked him about two miles north to a residence located in the 7000 block of NW Rainbow Rd.

Deputies discovered Addington hiding in the attic of a barn on the property, Janes said.

Addington was issued a citation for felony fleeing or attempting to elude police, reckless driving and misdemeanor attempt to elude.

 

▶️ Deschutes Co. looking into possible COVID outbreaks at senior living facilities

By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

As Oregon continues setting single-day records for COVID cases, hundreds of people rallied locally and across the state saying they won’t comply with the governor’s new rules aimed at reducing the virus’s spread.

At the same time, at least two local retirement facilities are reporting new cases of coronavirus among their staff and residents.

A woman whose mother lives at Touchmark contacted Central Oregon Daily News to say she was angered by weekend demonstrations and the lack of mask-wearing in public.

“My mother, living at Touchmark and all other residents there are now at risk because of … herd stupidity and selfishness,” she wrote.

Today, we got confirmation that five employees of Touchmark in Bend tested positive for COVID 19 so far this month, forcing this and other assisted living and nursing facilities to stop allowing family members to visit their loved ones.

“It’s not something where we are hating on anybody or anti-science or anti-saving lives,” said Tommy Szymanski, the protest organizer. “We are anti-our freedoms being taken away from us systematically.”

Touchmark executive director Scott Neil says mask-wearing is proven effective at limiting the spread of COVID. He asks the community, at large, to wear masks when outside their homes.

Neil says the 200 Touchmark staff members who come and go from the facility each day venture out into the larger community where they are probably being exposed to COVID by those who don’t wear masks or practice social distancing.

Redmond Fire medics responded six times Sunday to Brookdale retirement and assisted living community in Redmond. The chief tells us while it isn’t unusual to respond multiple times in a day to a senior facility, six responses is higher than normal.

Today, Brookdale management confirmed more than one member there has tested positive for COVID 19.

“We are working with both those facilities for COVID cases,” said Morgan Emerson, Deschutes County Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. “When we learn of a COVID case in a long-term care facility, we work with them to make sure all residents and staff are tested and continue to be tested every week until there are two weeks in a row with no new positive tests.”

Since the pandemic began, there have been 1,955 confirmed cases of COVID 19 in Deschutes County.

▶️ RDM sees uptick in passengers, but still down from previous years

By STEELE HAUGEN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

Flying around this time usually makes for a chaotic time at the airport.

This year will have fewer travelers, but flyers still need to be prepared and arrive early.

“I am just not afraid,” said Michigan resident Patt Delorme.

She is one of several passengers who traveled to Central Oregon for the holidays.

“I don’t get to see my family very often,” Delorme added.

Redmond Municipal Airport Director Zachary Bass says holiday travel is way down compared to previous.

“The four days prior to Thanksgiving last year saw twelve thousand passengers come through the airport,” Bass said. “We’re expecting about half of that this year, around six thousand.”

Air travel is expected to be less than usual, but still busy during these upcoming weeks.

“Historically the holiday season is our busiest season, a few weeks in November, a little bit before Christmas,” Bass said. “So we are expecting to see an uptick in passengers, but if we compare against what we’ve seen historically before the pandemic we are still going to be quite a bit down.”

Passengers gave us their thoughts after getting off their flights

“It felt safe, it was clean, it was good,” said Bryn Olivera, who is visiting from Texas.

“It was good,” added Lauren Kneadler, who is visiting from Phoenix. “My flight wasn’t full going there or back.”

Airports take several COVID-19 precautions.

“Redmond, just like almost all airports in the country, masks are required at the airport, also, on the aircraft and we just remind people to try to keep that six feet distance, wear a mask,” Bass said. “Overall, air travel has been pretty safe.”

Airlines like Alaska are blocking all middle seats, while United Airlines is having passengers leave the plane in groups of five rows to reduce crowding.