DCSO asks for public’s help in tracking down suspected credit/debit card scammers

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is looking for help tracking down a couple of suspects linked to a theft late last month at Ray’s Food Place in Sisters.

The man and woman are wanted for questioning in a credit/debit card scam at multiple stories in the area.

Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to call non-emergency dispatch at (541) 693-6911 and reference case #20-92883

Bend woman killed in crash near Suttle Lake

A 24-year-old Bend woman was killed Wednesday night after her Jeep rolled near Suttle Lake, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Summer Jean Collins was pulling out of a forest information turnout just off Highway 20 when she is believed to have overcorrected, causing the vehicle to roll, according to a JCSO report.

The crash happened around 9:30 p.m.

Officers on the scene said Collins was wearing her seat belt.

Deschutes Land Trust buys 1,100+ acres near Sisters; conserves land forever

The Deschutes Land Trust announced Thursday it has purchased and protected 1,123 acres of land along Whychus Creek northeast of Sisters.

Rimrock Ranch includes rugged canyons, pine and juniper forests, and almost two miles of Whychus Creek.

“The owners of Rimrock Ranch began working with the Land Trust in 2003 to conserve this unique property. From the outset, our shared long-term vision for Rimrock Ranch was that the Land Trust would one day own and ensure permanent protection of its remarkable natural resources,” said Deschutes Land Trust Founding Director Brad Chalfant. “Thanks to stalwart donors who supported our Campaign for Whychus Creek, an amazing landowner, and our conservation partner McKenzie River Trust, we have now realized that vision.”

Rimrock Ranch’s grasslands, forests, and creek are home to a wide variety of species, including reintroduced Chinook salmon and steelhead, mule deer, rocky mountain elk, golden eagles, and numerous songbirds.

The diversity of natural features at the ranch, combined with the property’s connection to surrounding undeveloped lands means it will continue to provide a refuge in the face of a changing climate.

The Land Trust is developing a management plan for Rimrock Ranch to guide future stewardship.

Initial plans include working with restoration partners to restore the historic wet meadows along Whychus Creek, which were damaged by past flood control efforts.

They hope to begin this work in 2021 and ultimately return the creek and its floodplain to a healthy, biologically-diverse condition.

Rimrock Ranch will remain private property and is accessible to the public only through the Land Trust’s guided Walk + Hike program.

The Land Trust will resume tours once pandemic conditions improve.

Along with all who have contributed to the Campaign for Whychus Creek, the Land Trust would like to thank McKenzie River Trust for partnering with us in the long-term stewardship of Rimrock Ranch.

The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and the Pelton Round Butte Mitigation Fund were instrumental in conserving Rimrock Ranch forever.


Washington climber’s body recovered after fatal fall on Mt. Jefferson

Search and rescue teams Saturday recovered the body of a Washington man who fell to his death while climbing Mt. Jefferson one week ago.

Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins said a recovery team started hiking into the remote wilderness location on Friday afternoon, hiking about 15 miles and climbing Mt. Jefferson until about 10:00 p.m.

They spent the night on the mountain and began their day at 3:00 a.m. preparing for the arrival of a helicopter from Leading Edge Aviation to bring the body of 65-year-old David Freepons to Metolius Meadows in Camp Sherman where family and friends were staged and waiting.

Freepons, a climber from Kennewick, Wash. with decades of experience, slipped while traversing a glacier on the east side of Oregon’s second tallest peak, Adkins said in a press release at the time of the incident.

He was unable to stop his descent and friends found him dead, several hundred feet down the mountain.

Hazardous conditions and the inability to move Freepons to a location for LIfeFlight prevented a recovery effort a few days later and Adkins told family members a multi-agency recovery mission would happen this week.

“My heart aches for David Freepons’ family and friends during this most difficult time,” Adkins said. “I can’t imagine the pain of losing a friend in such a manner and being helpless to help or recover David from such a remote and precarious location, and having to wait so long to get him off the mountain.”

Saturday, expert climbers with several SAR teams helped with the effort, including the Corvallis Mountain Rescue Team with Benton County SAR, Benton County SAR, Eugene Mountain Rescue with Lane County SAR, Mountain Rescue Team with Deschutes County SAR, Lane County Amateur Radio operators, Linn County Posse members (shuttling gear for teams) and couple volunteers of the Jefferson County SAR team who were support and command.

“I want to personally thank Sergeant David Pond for his caring and tireless pursuit to gather so many experts from other counties to get the job done,” Adkins said. “When he reached out to other Search and Rescue coordinators in Oregon, their expertise and knowledge were able to put a recovery plan into action. I’m so thankful for our working relationship with other Sheriff’s SAR teams.”

The sheriff also lauded the help from Leading Edge Aviation for providing the helicopter and working with the rescue teams.

Adkins said the remote location of the accident was within the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness area, within the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Indian Reservation, within Jefferson County, Oregon.

▶️ Districts, teachers planning for online learning; promise a better experience


Hopes for a normal school year are diminishing by the day, and some Central Oregon school districts are coming to terms with the fact that face-to-face interactions may not happen anytime soon.

“It’s feeling more and more like we’ll be with most districts in the state and starting in a distance learning format,” Bend-La Pine Schools interim Superintendent Lora Nordquist said.

COVID has forced school districts like Bend-La Pine Schools to create a multitude of plans for in-person, distance or hybrid learning for students.

“We’ve had planning for all contingencies,” said Nordquist. “So it’s not like we have to start over again, but sort of rearranging some of the urgency and priorities.”

Nordquist says, they had hoped to have elementary school students, especially K-3rd grade in the classrooms full time.

“What the state did was have an exception for K-3, that is not as strict,” said Nordquist. “They definitely learn best in three dimensions.”

But as the start of the school year rapidly approaches, Nordquist couldn’t say whether students, K -3 or otherwise, would be able to do so.

“We don’t know for certain,” said Nordquist. “We have challenging metrics ahead of us.”

Deschutes County would need to cut its weekly COVID cases significantly to meet those exceptions.

“It’s feeling more and more like we’ll be with most districts in the state and starting in a distance learning format.”
Bend-La Pine Schools interim Superintendent Lora Nordquist

The Redmond School District was unavailable for comment today but sent this letter to parents Tuesday afternoon asking them to stay tuned for more information as they work to interpret Gov. Brown’s new health metrics.

Jefferson County School District Superintendent Ken Parshall said they’re focusing on a comprehensive distance-learning program for the fall.

He said staff would be better prepared than in the fall and will provide more resources to families including more hot spots and lap tops.

Everyone will work on the same platform as well, he said, possibly Google Classrom.

“Educators want to know what’s going to happen just like everybody else,” said Sarah Barclay, president of the Bend Education Association teachers union. “They need time to plan, they need time to prepare.”

Barclay says that while teachers want to be back with their students for face to face learning, it’s a mixed bag of emotions.

“There are some that feel safe and believe we need to get back in our classrooms now, and there are members out there that believe we should not be back until we have 14 days of no cases in Deschutes County,” she said.

But, Barclay says, they’ve been planning diligently for any and all scenarios, and online learning this fall won’t be like it was in the spring.

“In the spring, that was emergency learning, we did that overnight,” said Barclay. “We worked all summer to create a better plan for students if we need to go online.”

Though the wait can feel agonizing for some, answers, Bend-La Pine says, are coming.

“We’re looking at the data, and we’ll know by the beginning of next week what the school year will look like,” Nordquist said.

Deschutes National Forest to open new Peterson Ridge Trailhead in Sisters

The Deschutes National Forest, City of Sisters, the Recreational Trails Program and Sisters Trail Alliance on Wednesday will celebrate the opening of a new trailhead for the popular Peterson Ridge trail system.

A ceremonial ribbon cutting will happen with a small group of invitees due to COVID-19.

Following the ceremony, the trailhead, located just east of Forest Road 16 near the existing trail access point at the intersection of Tyee Drive and Forest Road 16, will be open to the public.

The old trailhead will be decommissioned, and users need to use the new trailhead.

The trailhead will provide restroom facilities and a parking area for 25 cars.

A new Forest Service trail connects the new trailhead to existing Peterson Ridge trails to the east and west.

In coordination with the Forest Service, the Sisters Trail Alliance is donating an informational kiosk to be installed at the trailhead later this year to help visitors.

“The City of Sisters is extremely pleased to have the new Peterson Ridge trailhead opening this July,” said Sistes Mayor Chuck Ryan. “This trail system is world-class and is a very important part of what Sisters offers regarding outdoor activities for our Sisters Country residents, neighboring communities, and tourists. Our local businesses also understand the strong connection between having this outdoor recreation capacity and the business that it brings to our downtown corridor,”

The Peterson Ridge Trail is one of the most heavily used trail systems in the Sisters area.

The trails are easily accessible from the town of Sisters and offer multiple loop options.

“The Peterson trail system has grown in usage and the new trailhead will provide much needed parking capacity and alleviate congestion in nearby neighborhoods,” Ryan said. “This trailhead, along with the recent Wychus Creek Overlook trail enhancement, are simply outdoor gems for our community especially in these challenging times.”

“We are so fortunate to have these relationships with the City of Sisters, Sisters Trail Alliance, the Recreational Trails Program and local contractors to collaboratively help us meet the needs of local residents and visitors,” said Sara Baughman, Recreation Team Leader for the Sisters Ranger District.

The new Peterson Ridge Trailhead was funded through the Recreational Trails Program, a Federal Highway Administration program administered by Oregon State Parks and Recreation, which funds the development and maintenance of recreational trails and facilities.

▶️ Live outdoor music events returning to Central Oregon


The Sisters Folk Festival entertains thousands of people every year.

The Folk Festival’s Creative Director Brad Tisdel calls it, “an extraordinary music experience”.

But like so many other outdoor concert series, this year’s festival is postponed to September 2021.

To help fill the live music gap, they’ll be hosting a new outdoor music event next month called ‘Close to Home’.

“We’re booking people that are close to home, we are encouraging people that are close to home to come,” said Tisdel. We don’t want to bring a lot of people to our community.”

The event sold out all 190 tickets in just one day.

If the show is a success, there could be more in the future.

“If that goes well then we’ll have some music on the Festival weekend, which is September 11, 12 and 13,” said Tisdel. “It won’t be the Festival, it will be a standalone event.”

Just down the road, General Duffy’s in Redmond is preparing to launch its own concert series.

“We are going to bring local artists and national artists into this space to share with our community,” said Tanner Robertson, Owner of General Duffy’s. “It’s going to be through the entire month of August, typically it will be Thursday, Friday or Saturday.”

Strict COVID-19 guidelines will be enforced at both venues.

“There’s pods of two, and pods of four that people could buy, spaced out and painted on the grass itself. Masks are required,” Tisdel said about ‘Close to Home’.

“You can buy tickets, free events will also be ticketed just so we can make sure we’re staying within the 200 limit,” Robertson said.

The events, they say, are meant to bring people back together.

“Good people gathering in a single location safely, it’s just, there’s nothing like it, and that’s why people love to live here in Central Oregon” Robertson said.

“We want to put people back to work, while at the same time provide an experience that reminds people of why we do what we do,” Tisdel said.

Tisdele says we should know by mid-August whether or not they’ll have more live music in September.

For more information on how you can get tickets to concerts at General Duffy’s, visit generalduffys.com.

▶️ Deschutes Co. voters to decide on $195M library bond

Deschutes County voters in November will be asked to fund a $195 million bond measure to pay for a new Central Library while repairing and remodeling existing libraries across the area.

The Deschutes Public Library Board on Wednesday agreed to move forward with the plan, along with immediately spending $1.35 million for the land on which it plans to build the new main library in Bend.

It’s the first time in more than 20 years the library has requested public funding like this.

“After six months of careful analysis with the help of Brooks Resources and their team of experts, we feel this is an important and proactive step toward ensuring Deschutes Public Library’s ability to keep pace with the county’s projected growth,” said Martha Lawler, Deschutes Public Library Board President.

The bond would be a 20-year levy at 40 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, not market value. A home with an assessed value of $200,000 would pay $78 per year.

Library Director Todd Dunkelberg said that after six months of due diligence, it was clear that the land purchase is a fiscally wise move.

“The location meets all of our top criteria,” he said. “It is centrally and easily accessible from all areas of the county and is located near neighborhoods, schools, shopping and other important services. It’s difficult to find a large enough land parcel that meets all those requirements, so we feel confident about moving forward with this purchase.”

The 12.75-acre parcel purchased for the new library is located west of Highway 20 near Robal Road. The land was originally purchased by the Gumpert family in 1948.

The plan calls for a 95,000 to 115,000-square-foot facility, which would be significantly larger than the 34,000-square-feet flagship library in Downtown Bend.

The planned Central Library will serve all of Deschutes County, including a state-of-the-art learning center for children, flexible gathering spaces for a variety of purposes from business meetings/collaboration to study rooms for students to DIY activities, a technology hub and a performance and art space.

Library officials say the building will expand the space needed for additional books and materials to meet population growth and provide increased efficiency with a centralized materials handling system that will allow rapid distribution of materials throughout the county.

The bond is necessary to make it all happen.

“If it does not pass, the library would not be able to proceed with a majority of the projects,” Dunkelberg said. “It would be out of range of what we receive in tax income currently.”

Conceptual plans for the building have been developed in response to input from more than 5,000 county residents over the past several years.

The new building will include flexible spaces to adapt to different use patterns and needs.

“Our communities are facing strange and difficult times,” Dunkelberg said. “In hard times, the library has always been the place Deschutes County residents turn to when they need answers and information that can change and enrich their lives, from connection to employment and health resources, small business and legal information, family activities and, of course, resources for learning and entertainment. We believe we must continue to be sound fiscal stewards as we plan and prepare for a dynamic future to serve all of Deschutes County as we have done for the last 100 years.”

Libraries in Bend, La Pine, Sisters and Sunriver would undergo extensive renovations if the bond masses. The Redmond library would double in size.

Preview the library’s vision plan at: https://www.deschuteslibrary.org/about/visionprocess

Redmond man killed in Hwy 20 motorcycle crash

A 70-year-old Redmond man was killed Wednesday when he crashed his motorcycle into the back of a truck waiting to turn off Highway 20 near Sisters.

Oregon State Police said the crash happened just before 5 p.. when a 2007 Harley Davidson driven by Michael Smith, collided with the back of a 2018 Ford F250 that was stopped, waiting to turn left onto Jordan Road.

Sisters-Camp Sherman medics responded and took Smith to an air ambulance in Sisters but he was pronounced dead prior to the flight.

The driver of the truck was not injured.

OSP was assisted by Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire Department, ODOT, and Central Oregon Police Chaplaincy.

No other details were released.