▶️ Santiam Pass traffic delayed due to avalanche, drivers urged to re-route

ODOT TripCheck showed a road closure on Santiam Pass due to an avalanche on Tuesday afternoon. 

The alert showed up just after 1 p.m. at milepost 79. 

Kacey Davey from ODOT told Central Oregon Daily News that only the westbound lanes are currently closed. 

“At this time, I looks like eastbound lanes are still open but there could be delays as crews clear the snow in both directions,” Davey said. 

Crews from Bend are on their way to assist others already working to clear the area.

Traffic is currently backed up at Hog Rock, but Davey was unsure how long delays would be. 

At 1:40 p.m., the ODOT TripCheck showed that delays were expected to be under 20 minutes. 

Central Oregon Daily News will continue to update this article as new information becomes available. 

Overnight permit reservations for Central Cascades Wilderness open next week

Overnight permit reservations open up for the Central Cascades Wilderness Permit System next week. The permits are required for all overnight use within the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, and Three Sisters wilderness areas June 15 through October 15.

Advanced reservations open up on Recreation.gov at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, April 4. At that time, 40% of permits will be available. The other 60% will be available through a rolling 7-day window once permit season begins.

Processing fees are $6 each, and availability is based on the starting trailhead and start date. 

You can use your permits for up to 13 nights with groups of up to 12 people. 

All reservations for Central Cascades Wilderness Permits need to be made through Recreation.gov either online, via the Recreation.gov app on Google Android & Apple iOS devices, or by calling their call center at 1-877-444-6777 or TDD 877-833-6777. Search for “Central Cascades Wilderness.” Overnight permits are not available at local Forest Service offices or outside of the reservation system.

Day use permits will be opened for reservation in a 10-day and 2-day rolling window beginning on June 5, 2023. Those permits are required on 19 of 79 trails within those same three wilderness areas during the permit season. 

▶️ Public hears from four Sisters City Manager finalists

Four finalists for Sisters City Manager introduced themselves and met with several members of the public during a meeting Monday night.

People were separated into four groups at different tables, and candidates had 15 minutes to answer any questions before moving to the next group.

Lynne Casey presently serves as Business Operations Manager for the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services.

“A top priority for me, starting out, would be to get to know the community here, do a lot of getting out, meeting people, listening to their concerns, hearing their concerns, getting to know the council,” she said.

Nathan George is working as the City Manager in Tillamook.

“I believe that I am a systems thinker,” George said. “I believe in process, and I believe in planning and having someone to be able to listen to people. I believe I am a good candidate because I listen and I work together, and I like to make sure of things planned out.”

Dave Nelson previously held the positions of City Administrator, Chief of Police, and Police Lieutenant over in Troutdale.

“Priorities I was hearing tonight are concerns about development, affordable housing development code issues regarding gas station potential applications,” said Nelson. “Those seem to be the priorities we face right now.”

Jordan Wheeler is the City Manager in Sandy.

“I think bringing some consistency of leadership to the city manager position is another priority that I would come in with,” said Wheeler.

“I feel I have a good background to be able to handle these challenges and help the Council and be successful.”

The candidates will meet the Sisters City Council Wednesday, and the council will decide who the next City Manager is Thursday Morning.

Central Oregon Daily News asked two questions to each candidate. What they think a top priority is and why they are the best person for the job.

▶️ Deschutes Co. Jail program aims to stop revolving door of addicted inmates

For years, inmates booked at the Deschutes County Jail who are addicted to drugs or alcohol have been left to detox in their cells, only to be released back to the neighborhoods, friends and dealers that got them there in the first place. And the cycle continues.

Inmates could take advantage of voluntary counseling. But for most, the goal is finding the next hit.

Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson and his staff are implementing a plan to treat the inmate’s addiction first. So, for the first time ever, they leave with a clear mind and a network of services to keep them from ever coming back. 

It’s paid for with funds from Oregon Measure 110, aimed at channeling hundreds of millions of dollars of marijuana tax revenues into drug treatment and harm reduction programs.

RELATED: Oregon’s drug decriminalization gets poor marks on audit

RELATED: Ideal Option opens in Redmond to help those struggling with addiction

Khristine Fodor is a 35-year old mother of two. She’s a methamphetamine and fentanyl addict. 

She is now also a felon.

“I stole a car and I got my first felony from it. And put on probation,” said Khristine.

She was released from jail 72 days after losing her kids, her job and her home. What she still has is a drug dealer and friends who are still using. The odds say Khristine will die of an overdose within a week or be right back in jail in a few days.  

Khristine Fodor
Khristine Fodor


The Deschutes County Jail is also a second home for Shawnda Jennings. She too is a recovering addict, spending decades chasing her next hit of meth or heroin.

“I’ve been where they’re sitting. I know everything that they’re feeling. The loneliness, them being scared,” said Shawnda.

Today, she spends her time guiding inmates like Khristine out of the nightmare of addiction as a peer outreach specialist for Ideal Option drug treatment center in Bend.

She is the partner Sheriff Nelson was looking for to turn previous inmate outreach on its head.

For decades, the drug assistance offered in places like this consisted of therapy and mental health counseling if you could find it. And then, if you didn’t die of an overdose first, medication to curb the need for your drug of choice. Most inmates just don’t have that kind of time. They need help kicking their addiction immediately.

Enter Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), where killing their cravings is the first order of business, not the last.

“Once we can get them on an effective medication for them to be stabilized, start thinking about what they want to do, so that they’re not making decisions based on their cravings, their sickness, and all of those things that are not letting their brains process what a meaningful life can be, we’re gonna start that process,” said Deschutes County Sheriff’s Captain Michael Shults.

And that process has to start before they walk out the door.

“You have that small window. I mean, either they’re going to get help … they’re gonna go to their dope guy or they’re gonna get help.  So, being able to help that person within the first 24 hours is huge,” said Shawnda.

Shawnda Jennings
Shawnda Jennings


For addicts like Khristine, the new approach means new hope.

“If I didn’t have that, the chance of relapse would probably be a lot higher because my mentality on my body can’t fight that addiction on its own right now,” said Khristine.

She found that out a few months ago when she overdosed on fentanyl just days after serving a previous jail sentence.  A friend was carrying narcan. She would survive this time.  

“Probably 90% of the individuals that come into our jail have an addiction issue, a mental health issue or a medical issue or a combination of all of the above,” said Nelson.

The MAT program is where sheriff nelson feels his Measure 110 money is best spent. 

“To help them overcome their addiction challenge which is most likely leading them to a life of crime or driving the wedge between them and their family members and support structure,” said Nelson. “So, if they have access to medication assisted treatment and that helps them overcome their addiction, so that they’re not in the criminal justice system anymore, that’s a win.”

And not just a win for them. Every inmate at the jail eventually gets released and then becomes your neighbor, the clerk at your favorite store, filling your car with gas, the parent of a student in your child’s class. No one is isolated from this problem.

However, isolation from their past is key to the success of these addicts.  And that includes partnering with those who can provide job assistance and even temporary housing. Turning points and other groups are equal partners in this effort.

“The data shows that they are arrested at a significantly lower rate, they maintain their court appearances, they use the ER medical services less and they show up for court and they don’t come back,” said Shults.

The National Institutes of Health confirms that in states from Washington to Rhode Island, up to 70% of the inmates on the MAT program broke their addictions and never returned to jail.

Khristine is starting over: Looking for acceptance, hoping others can understand the struggle, forgive the deeds and open their minds. 

“I’m engaging in the community. I’m doing what I need to do. I’m seeing a psychologist. I’m taking steps toward my sobriety and my mental health and again, that’s all stuff that I got through jail,” said Khristine. “You can’t judge a book by its cover. And, if you believe in second chances, we are living proof of second chances.”

Every single inmate fighting addiction is now offered a shot at the MAT program and at a normal life before they leave.

“Does it mean they’re gonna take it when they walk out those doors? But at least we can be there to offer it to them,” said Shawnda.

Khristine took that offer and is now working on a job, permanent housing and proving she can be a good mother to her 4-month old and 2-year-old children.

MAT is funded by the taxes raised through cannabis sales, and while Sheriff Nelson disagrees with much of what Measure 110 allows, the fact that it pays for the mat program is an important consolation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

▶️ How new $200M homeless, housing fund will affect Central Oregon

A $200 million funding package focused on creating housing and resources for the unhoused passed through the state senate Tuesday night. Now it will go to Governor Tina Kotek’s desk to be signed. 

“This package is going to be very helpful in the near term for people who are at risk of becoming homeless and it will be helpful in the long term as the dollars result in new indoor shelter beds created,” said Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang.

The tri-county area is expecting $14 million to address housing needs here. 

“Since the bulk of the population of the tri-county region is in Deschutes County, most of that $14 million will come here,” said Chang.

RELATED: Oregon lawmakers approve $200M for housing, homelessness

RELATED: Homeless advocates researching ‘affordable RV park’ on Redmond’s east side

The main goals of the money are to increase shelter capacity, rental assistance and ramp up housing production. 

Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend, tells us one of the main reasons he voted “yes.”

“Homeless youth has been a big issue that I’ve wanted to try to help on and so there’s a significant portion of funding in there for homeless youth,” said Knopp.

“The package didn’t have everything in it that it needed, but more importantly we need a housing package this session,” he added.

“This is a down payment on the work that we are going to do in the session, and it’s early in the session and that’s why I am so proud we had both sides of the aisle coming together to work on this and I absolutely agree that we have to build more affordable housing,” said Rep. Emerson Levy, D-Bend, a sponsor of the bill.

While Commissioner Chang said he is grateful for this state support, he does have worries.

“I am concerned that we will continue to need things like managed camps and outdoor shelter and safe parking and this program, this package, does not address those outdoor shelters,” said Chang.

The funds will be delivered to a regional coordination group made up of local governments, nonprofits and other organizations. It will then be used to support projects across the tri-county area. 

▶️ Sisters farm among 11 in Oregon receiving federal grants

$2.1 million in grants is being distributed to farmers for National Agriculture Day.

Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., announced that 11 Oregon farmers received the grant Tuesday, including one farm in Sisters.

Wyden says these grants are meant to “kick-start efforts for family farms to innovate and continue to compete in a global marketplace.”

The funds were made available through USDA Rural Development’s Value-Added Producer Grant Program.

RELATED: Old Powell Butte Grange Hall gets new life as irrigation supply business

▶️ CET buses now have free internet

Cascades East Transit now has free internet. The feature is available on most fixed routes.

“So this is a great opportunity for our residents and visitors to be able to ride our fixed routes as well as our recreation routes, be able to surf the web, stream some music with your headphones, check your emails on your way to work or school, and sit back and enjoy the ride,” said Derek Hofbauer, CET Outreach and Engagement Administrator.

CET also upgraded its automatic vehicle locator systems. This means you can get real-time updates on bus arrivals through their Passio Go! app.

RELATED: Bend Cracker Barrel closes after four years

RELATED: Bend low-income e-bike rebate lottery applications open

▶️ Get Outside: Sisters Trail Alliance

They’re the ones helping keeping the trails safe for you to explore.

Recently, they’ve been in the news for people vandalizing their signage out on the trails.

These folks put in thousands of hours of volunteer work to help keep us active and enjoying nature in Sisters country.

Emily Kirk got to meet up with the Sisters Trail Alliance to hear about their efforts.

RELATED: Sisters trail post vandalism suspects spotted on Forest Service camera

RELATED: Get Outside: Night Skiing at Hoodoo Ski Area

RELATED: Get Outside: Leading Edge Flight Academy



Free Deschutes Co. shredding, medication and flag disposal event Saturday in Bend

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is holding four upcoming events where residents can shred documents, dispose of prescription drugs or other medications and properly dispose of old American flags. The first one is Saturday.

DCSO and Republic Services will be holding the events on the following dates from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

  • Saturday, Bend: 63333 US-20, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office 
  • May 20th, La Pine: 51340 US-97, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office sub-station, La Pine 
  • July 22nd, Sisters: 703 N Larch Street, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Sisters 
  • September 16th, Terrebonne: Terrebonne Elementary School at 1199 B Avenue 

The events are for residential items, not for businesses.

RELATED: St. Charles and Bend PD partner to take back drugs

People who show up are asked to limit their documents to no more than four boxes. If you have more, you’re asked to call Republic Services at 541-352-2263 to determine how to dispose of your items.  

DCSO says it can take paper clips and staples but cannot take plastic bags or three ring binders.

Medications accepted are prescription, patches, ointments, over the counter, vitamins, samples, and medications for pets. No sharps, thermometers or inhalers are allowed.

If you have an old, tattered American flag you wish to dispose of, you can do it at these events.

Food donations are also accepted during the event, which DCSO says will go to a local food bank. 

▶️ Deschutes Co. Commissioner Chang explains need for managed homeless camp

Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang has sent a letter to constituents explaining the need for a managed homeless camp after the county pulled out of a managed campsite in south Bend last week.

In the letter, Commissioner Chang talks about the importance of having the right resources and support services for the houseless community..

He called out the county for not just pulling out of the partnership, but choosing to do nothing at this time about homelessness.

The letter references the success of a managed camp in Medford and how misinformation may have played a role in the public’s reaction of the camp site, which would have been on a piece of land just south of the Les Schwab Tire store between Third Street and Highway 97.

“Much of the concern that we heard from people in south Bend, in southeast Bend was was based on inaccurate information that they had been provided about the proposal. It was incumbent upon the city and the county to fill with up with accurate information,” Chang told Central Oregon Daily News Tuesday.

RELATED: ’Messy’: Deschutes Co. Commissioners explain decision to opt out of Bend camp

RELATED: ‘Inside Deschutes County’ podcast launches

Chang believes the relationship between the county and the city of Bend is “strained,” but that there are still opportunities for both governments to work together on this issue.

You can read Commissioner Chang’s full letter below:

Dear constituent,

Thank you for contacting me about homelessness in the Bend area, Hunnell Road, or a proposed managed camp at Murphy Road. As you may have heard, in a 2-to-1 vote the County Board of Commissioners withdrew from a planned partnership for a managed camp with the City of Bend on Wednesday and did not seek to identify other locations for a managed camp. I wanted to share my perspective on homelessness in our community and the role of managed camps in reducing it. 

Unauthorized, unmanaged homeless camping has reached unacceptable levels in our community. Unplanned camps like Hunnell or China Hat Road were not deliberately established to shelter people and do not have appropriate infrastructure or services for people to be living there. These places do not offer a pathway out of homelessness and do not serve anyone – not the community, not nearby residents and businesses, and not the homeless themselves.

Hunnell Road needs to be cleared and closed to camping. But we need appropriate places for people to go when that clearing happens. Ideally we would have enough affordable housing, indoor shelter, and transitional housing and adequate supportive services to offer to each person who is ready to take the pathway out of homelessness. Until we have enough of these indoor options, we will need managed camps and safe parking as interim solutions.

A managed camp is not what we see at Hunnell Road. Currently, there is no managed camp to look at as an example in Central Oregon. One of the better examples in Oregon is Medford Urban Campground, a facility operated by Rogue Retreat in Medford: https://www.rogueretreat.org/housing-shelter/

This facility offers basic sanitation, dry sheltered tent sites, and is fenced and gated. To be allowed to stay at Medford Urban Campground, people go through screening, agree to follow site rules, and sign up for a progress plan. 24-7 site managers and a range of service providers help residents move forward with their progress plans and to take steps out of homelessness. The site managers ensure residents are following the rules and keep the camp safe.    

If the City of Bend or Deschutes County clears people from an unauthorized location like Hunnell Road without appropriate housing, shelter, managed camps, or safe parking sites lined up we are not solving a problem, we are just moving unauthorized camping to a new location and causing stress to a new set of nearby residents and businesses. 

We need to get serious about developing the managed camp and safe parking sites our community needs to reduce unauthorized camping and provide people real stepping stones out of homelessness. The city-owned property at Murphy Road was just one option for a managed camp. On Wednesday March 8th, the Board of County Commissioners had the opportunity to request proposals from community service providers to develop and operate managed camps or safe parking sites anywhere in the Bend area, not just Murphy Road. My fellow Commissioners chose not to request any proposals for any Bend area locations on Wednesday, not just to withdraw County partnership on Murphy. They chose for the County to do nothing about homelessness in the Bend area.

I will continue to push for the County to play an active role in helping to create the affordable housing, indoor shelter, transitional housing, mental health and addiction treatment facilities, managed camps, and safe parking that our community needs to reduce unauthorized camping and unsheltered homelessness across the entire County. 

With the right support services and places to temporarily live there are many people in our community who can transition out of homelessness – youth and families with children, working people who can’t afford rent, seniors with chronic illnesses, and veterans. The vast majority of our local homeless population are long term Central Oregonians. If we dramatically reduce the number of unsheltered homeless in our community by providing real pathways out of homelessness, the remaining homeless population will be much easier to deal with.     

Thank you again for contacting me and I hope you will continue to be part of the discussions and planning efforts to develop the facilities and services we need to reduce homelessness in our community.