Measure 110 aims to provide treatment programs instead of criminalizing drug-use

Measure 110 would decriminalize drug use and re-allocate tens of millions of marijuana tax dollars to treatment programs.

People caught with user-amounts of drugs would be slapped with a Class “E” violation and $100 fine, which would be waived by completing a health assessment.

That assessment could connect them to treatment, recovery and housing services instead of jail time.

“We need to give our law enforcement more tools to deal with the situation that they come in contact with,” says Paul Steigleder, a retired Sheriff’s Sergeant and M110 supporter. “When you come in contact with a person who’s struggling with addiction, give them treatment. Don’t incarcerate them.”

But Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton, who opposes the measure, said it’s not enough.

“So, if you’re addicted to heroin and someone says ‘you can pay a $100 fee or you can enter into treatment to get it waived, there’s a significant chance you’re just going to do neither,” Barton said. “And there’s nothing that the system can do about it in that regard.”

The measure is supported by groups like Oregon Nurse’s Association and the ACLU, and the campaign has drawn millions in out-of-state donations.

Opponents include the Oregon Chief of Police Association and Oregon’s Council on Behavioral Health.

A state committee predicts shifting pot tax revenue will reduce the state school fund by $73 million, as well as decrease money sent to cities, counties, state police, mental health services and the OHA’s alcohol and drug abuse prevention fund.

▶️ A quiet race continues for Oregon’s U.S. Senate seat

By HEATHER ROBERTS
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

It’s a four-way contest for U.S. Senate in Oregon, but the race has been relatively quiet.

Incumbent Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) says it could be the first time candidates for the seat haven’t bought any television airtime in a general election.

However, the two major-party candidates are active on social media.

According to campaign materials, Republican challenger Jo Rae Perkins is a retired insurance agent from Albany, with 14 grandchildren.

On Twitter, she posts frequently in support of President Trump and “Cue” — a common reference to QAnon — and is critical of what she calls “the mainstream media”. Perkins refused our request for an interview, citing her busy schedule.

Incumbent Senator Jeff Merkley says Perkins is not a serious challenger.

He tells Central Oregon Daily, “The Republican nominee hasn’t raised funds. I’m certainly not going to help give her publicity for QAnon, this bizarre conspiratorial thesis of cannibalistic group imprisoning children.”

Perkins has raised just over $90,000 since the start of her campaign, nearly $12,000 of her own money; much of the rest is from the conservative fundraising platform WinRed, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

She has about $35,000 in what’s considered “cash on hand,” compared to Merkley’s nearly $4 million.

He’s so confident of his position, he’s not focused on his own funding.

“I’m spending all my fundraising time, virtually all of it, on raising money, both for turnout in Oregon State — that’s called the Coordinated Campaign — and for raising money for folks who are running for senate seats across the country,” Merkley said.

According to Merkley’s FEC finance records, the only advertising money spent by his campaign is on social media and postal services.

Merkley has served in the Senate since 2009 and sits on the Appropriations, Environment, Foreign Relations and Budget Committees. A Libertarian Engineer and a self-employed member of the Green party are also running against Merkley.

▶️ City asks for public feedback on Southeast Area Plan

By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

479 acres in Southeast Bend off Knott Road is outside of current city limits, but within the city’s urban growth boundary.

Senior planner Damian Syrnyk says the City of Bend’s Southeast Area Plan will provide land for additional jobs, schools, parks and more than 1,000 housing units.

“We’re trying to provide that housing everywhere so that people have options,” Syrnyk said. “Where they live, how they get around, and they just have more choices.”

The project is still in the planning process and the city is looking for feedback through an online open house.

“You know everything from the land use concept, to the code changes, transportation, appearance of buildings,” Syrnyk said. “All those things are things that we’re hoping to get some feedback on.”

Syrnyk says so far, responses have been minimal, even though public concern was expressed in the early phases of planning.

“Some concerns about moving from a more rural area to a more urban setting,” Syrnyk said. “And making sure we’ve got a good network of trails and streets that people can walk and ride their bike safely has been brought up.”

The city’s online open house continues through November 12th.

You can access it at www.bendoregon.gov/southeastareaplan.

▶️ Local biologists study how Deschutes River fish respond to water management changes

By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

Some fish species are on the move due to drought conditions in the upper Deschutes Basin.

Biologists are studying how Deschutes River fish populations respond to changes in water management.

They use electrofishing equipment to collect data and establish a baseline against which they can measure changes over time.

“What we are observing here today are good numbers of both brown and rainbow trout,” said Brett Hodgson, Deschutes district fish biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Earlier this week we sampled further downstream and saw fairly good numbers of large adult kokanee as well as a few brown bull head.”

Another objective is to try to determine the number of fish that leave Wickiup Reservoir and see how they are doing in the Deschutes River.

“Brown bullhead could be a big concern if they got established in the river. They are very opportunistic feeders,” Hodgson said. “Basically, anything they come in contact with they are going to eat. That results in competition with fish species. They could, potentially, be a concern for predation on Oregon Spotted Frogs which also reside in this section of the river.”

Hodgson said whitefish, which are native to the river, are the only species that don’t seem impacted by high summer flows when massive amounts of water are released to farmers downstream, followed by minimal flows in the fall, winter and spring when water is stored in Wickiup Reservoir.

Wickiup Dam was constructed without a fish screen, which means when the water drops like it did this year during the drought, a lot of fish leave through the dam and drop into the upper Deschutes River.

That hurts the kokanee, brown trout and rainbow trout fisheries in Wickiup Reservoir but may help the rainbow trout populations in the river.

OHA reports 550 new COVID cases; highest daily count since onset of pandemic

The OHA reported 550 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the state total to 41,348.

Today’s case count is the highest daily case count since the beginning of the pandemic. It surpasses the last highest daily case count at 484, which was reported on Oct. 8.

Preliminary data shows this increase is due to continued widespread community transmission resulting in small clusters and outbreaks across the state.

COVID-19 has claimed three more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 649, according to the OHA.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (1), Benton (9), Clackamas (48), Columbia (3), Coos (5), Crook (7), Curry (1), Deschutes (11), Douglas (3), Grant (1), Harney (1), Hood River (4), Jackson (33), Jefferson (1), Josephine (1), Klamath (1), Lane (52), Lincoln (2), Linn (19), Malheur (13), Marion (57), Morrow (1), Multnomah (135), Polk (3), Umatilla (21), Union (1), Wasco (2), Washington (91), and Yamhill (23).

Crook County’s case count continues to climb as the county has reported 19 cases just this week.

Vicky Ryan with the Crook County Health Department said their communicable disease team has been able to identify the source of all of the most recent cases, which rules out community spread of unknown origin. The Communicable Disease Team is on top of the investigation and monitoring the active group, Ryan said.

Crook County has reported 100 cases and two deaths total.

Deschutes County has reported 1,098 cases and 13 deaths. 941 of those cases have recovered as of Friday.

Jefferson County has reported 600 cases and nine deaths.

St. Charles reported Thursday it has seven COVID patients; two are in the ICU, but neither are on a ventilator.

SCHOOL METRIC WATCH:

Each day we will be posting the Sunday-Saturday running tally of COVID cases in Deschutes County* as they relate to the weekly metrics many are watching for kids to return to school.

Counties need to have 30 or fewer cases per 100,000 people to bring kids back in grades K-3. With about 200,000 residents, Deschutes County’s target number is 60 or fewer total cases.

So far this week, Deschutes County has reported 57 confirmed and presumptive cases since Sunday.

* The final weekly tally reported by the OHA may differ based on a variety of factors.

Marine Board accepts petition for no-wake zone on Prineville Reservoir

The Oregon Marine Board accepted a petition and opened rule-making for a small, no-wake zone on the Prineville Reservoir at a virtual State Marine Board meeting on Wednesday.

In August, the Marine Board received a petition from the Crook County Sheriff’s Office and Prineville Reservoir State Park requesting the Marine Board establish a no-wake zone on a portion of the Prineville Reservoir, which is Crook County’s largest and most popular lake.

The no-wake zone would be in effect from May 1 to Oct. 1.

Local rules already prohibit boaters from operating in excess of slow, no-wake speed within 200 feet of the shoreline on the Prineville Reservoir. The new proposed rules would extend that restriction from short-to-shore near the marina.

The Oregon Marine Board will ask for written public comments on the proposed rule language in the coming weeks.

The Board also adopted rules that allow for the use of electric motors on North and South Twin Lakes for boaters with disabilities.

Boat Operations in Deschutes County now reads: “A person must not use a motor to propel a boat unless the motor is electric, the boat is not operated in excess of slow no-wake speed, and the operator of the boat has a disability or operates the boat on behalf of a passenger who has a disability. Documentation of eligibility shall be produced at the request of any peace officer and includes any documentation of disability issued by a federal, state, or county governmental agency.”

The meeting agenda and other meeting materials are available here.

Some hospitals in crisis as US nears high for COVID-19 cases

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The United States is approaching a record for the number of new daily coronavirus cases in the latest ominous sign of the disease’s grip on the nation.

The surge’s impact is being felt in every section of the country. Among the latest developments: a lockdown at the Ogala Sioux Tribe’s reservation in South Dakota and a plea by a Florida health official for a halt to children’s birthday parties.

There’s an increasingly desperate situation at a hospital in northern Idaho, which is running out of space for patients and considering airlifts to Portland, Oregon, or Seattle.

The surge in the U.S. mirrors a similar spike in Europe.

▶️ As local ballots pour in, election officials ensure counting machines work flawlessly

By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

The Deschutes County Clerk’s office tested its ballot counting system today. The results were flawless.

As of today, about 24% of the 150,000 ballots mailed to registered voters in Deschutes County have been returned to the clerk’s office.

That’s more than double the rate of ballots returned at this stage of the 2016 presidential election.

To make sure they are ready to accurately count the tens of thousands of ballots heading in, the clerk’s office ran more than 2,000 mock ballots through its ballot scanning machines.

“We do this test four times during the election,” said Nancy Blankenship, Deschutes County Clerk. “This is the second test. We do a third test prior to counting the ballots and a fourth test after the election to ensure the scanners are counting properly all throughout the election.”

Two clerk’s office staff compare the test results with what was fed into the scanners to ensure accuracy.

“How’d it turn out?,” Blankenship asked staff.

“Spot on,” one responded.

Meanwhile, at the ballot drop box in front of the clerk’s office, lines of cars queued up with voters dropping their ballots.

Congestion around the Wall Street drop box has gotten so bad, county officials have established clearly marked ballot drop turn lanes to help guide traffic.

This year, a lot of public attention is focused on mail-in voting, security and integrity.

“The last election my husband and I voted in, we dropped it at a mail site about a week ahead of time and then just after the election, maybe a few weeks later, we got a notice in the mail that said our vote didn’t count,” said Bri Fadness, Bend. “So, I decided to walk it over today.”

“Oregon’s been doing this (mail in elections) for years. I think they have it down,” said Marlena Williams, Portland. “I know the postal service is slightly slower than usual, but I still think if you get your ballot in, if you mail it in far ahead of election day, there shouldn’t be any problems.”

“If you are going to mail your ballot, please do not do it any later than next Tuesday, I believe that’s Oct. 27,” Blankenship said. “After that do not mail your ballot. Please take it to one of the drop boxes.”

Whether they are dropped or mailed, county clerks around the state are busy verifying voters’ signatures.

Next week, election board workers will start opening ballots and running them through counting machines to determine how many ballots they have.

The actual votes cast for candidates and issues won’t be tabulated until 8 pm election night, Tuesday, November 3rd.

Blankenship said ballots are processed the same way in every election.

“Depending on the size of the election, it expands and contracts. The processes are all the same. You can be assured that we have done this before, and we will do it again,” she said.

Voters who are concerned about the security of their ballots, whether placed in drop boxes or mailed, can check the status of their ballot at the Secretary of State’s website.

 

▶️ Deschutes Co. Fairgrounds set to welcome pro football

Football fans rejoice, Central Oregon has a professional football team on the way.

The Oregon High Desert Storm as they’ll be called will be the latest team to join The American West Football Conference, a professional indoor football league that is preparing for their second season.

Eric Lindstrom has more on what’s in store.