▶️ Bend may hire security robot to patrol the Centennial Parking Garage

The City of Bend is proposing a new security measure for the downtown Centennial Parking Garage. It’s an autonomous security robot meant to deter suspicious activity and criminal mischief. 

“It’s pre-programmed. It’s traveling a random route every night all the levels of the garage. It comes back. It monitors through security cameras, microphones, sensors to find its way,” Parking Services Division Manager for the City of Bend Tobias Marx said.

The security bot is built by the company Knightscope. 

Marx says the robot will be cheaper for the city to employ, rather than installing more security cameras and hiring an in-person security presence.

He says the city is currently paying $2,000 a month for security patrols of the garage. Marx says the robot will cost $1,700-$1,800 a month.

>>> Have you checked out Central Oregon Daily News on YouTube? Click here to subscribe and share our videos.

RELATED: Madras puts Dax the Droid to work to give sidewalks a grade

RELATED: Bear Creek Elementary students learn basics of coding through robots

Bend Police say it’s a location where they receive a significant number of calls.

“I would say it’s in the top 40 addresses that we see. Obviously there’s tons of addresses in town, but 12 calls a month is not insignificant, but it’s not an incredible amount,” Bend Police Communications Manager Sheila Miller said.

Miller says most of the calls involve criminal mischief such as vandalism, car racing and loitering. Other reports include quality of life and traffic related concerns of tires squealing and cars speeding.   

Jackalope Grill owner Laura Bliss, has experienced the issues firsthand. The restaurant’s outdoor dining patio lies beneath the roof of the garage.

“A soda can or a cup, they’ll toss it over. This is during service when we have people dining out here. The previous owners experienced a lawn chair being thrown over and it landed on a table. No one was hurt, but that was very very scary,” Bliss said.

The robot is only being proposed. It is not yet guaranteed to patrol the garage.

▶️ St. Charles offers new service to track prostate cancer

St. Charles Health System is offering up a new tool for men in Central Oregon battling prostate cancer.

Men can now get a Prostate-Specific Membrane Antigen PET scan. It will see if the cancer has spread out of the prostate area and gives a more precise detection of the cancer.

In the past, this scan was offered in Portland or Boise. It’s something that patients and doctors have been asking for.

“It’s going to help patients by diagnosing that weeks sooner than it would have had to wait to go to Portland to get this study. So it’s going to change their treatment just to become quicker and faster for them,” said Dr. Jonathan Reigle, Nuclear Medicine Manager at St. Charles.

>>> Have you checked out Central Oregon Daily News on YouTube? Click here to subscribe and share our videos.

RELATED: Mosaic opens medical clinic at Mountain View High School

The scan is available at Cascade Medical Imaging, which is a joint venture between St. Charles and Central Oregon Radiology Associates.

St. Charles officials say appointments are booked through June, but there are spaces available in July and after.

▶️ Oregon GOP senators facing $325-per-day fine if walkout continues

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Senate Democrats plan to start fining their absent colleagues amid a month-long Republican walkout, a move they hope will pressure boycotting lawmakers to return to the chamber as hundreds of bills languish amid the partisan stalemate.

In a procedural move Thursday, Democrats voted to fine senators $325 every time their absence denies the chamber the two-thirds quorum it needs to conduct business. The amount reflects lawmakers’ average daily pay, according to the office of Democratic Senate President Rob Wagner.

“Oregonians work for a living every day, and they don’t get paid when they don’t show up,” Wagner said while addressing the Senate. “We have a huge stack of bills sitting right over there on that cart, just waiting for us to take them up, to debate and to vote.”

>>> Have you checked out Central Oregon Daily News on YouTube? Click here to subscribe and share our videos.

RELATED: When would Oregon GOP senators face election ban? Measure wording casts doubt

RELATED: Kotek begins talks with GOP, Dems to end Senate walkout that’s holding up bills

RELATED: Protestors on both sides line Bend corner over Senate GOP walkout

The month-long Republican walkout — the longest-ever in the Oregon Legislature — once again prevented the Senate from reaching a quorum on Thursday. But Democratic Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber, citing an article in the state constitution, requested that the Senate compel absent members to attend and fine absentees $325 for every day a quorum isn’t reached. Her request was voted on and approved by the other Democrats present on the Senate floor.

The article of the Oregon Constitution cited by Democrats states that even if two-thirds of members are not present, “a smaller number may meet … and compel the attendance of absent members.”

Senate Republican Minority Leader Tim Knopp condemned the plan as retaliation.

“Senate Republicans don’t feel compelled to entertain his political theater. In fact, we suggest President Wagner pay our fines since it is his behavior that galvanized our protest,” Knopp said in a statement.

Most Republican senators haven’t shown up for floor sessions since May 3, denying quorum and stalling hundreds of bills, including ones on abortion, gender-affirming care and gun control that have sparked fierce debate in the Legislature.

Knopp has said Republicans will only return to the Senate on the last day of the legislative session, June 25, to pass the budget and “bipartisan” bills.

Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek said Wednesday that her talks to end the impasse have failed and that Knopp wants the bill on abortion and gender-affirming care to be “substantially amended or dead.”

Kotek said negotiating on that measure, which has already passed the House, is not an option.

After Republicans staged previous walkouts in 2019, 2020 and 2021, voters last November approved a ballot measure by an almost 70% margin that was supposed to stop walkouts. Lawmakers with 10 or more unexcused absences would be disqualified from reelection in the next term, according to the measure’s title and summary.

But the text of the measure says disqualification applies to “the term following the election after the member’s current term is completed.” Republicans are taking that as meaning that boycotters who are up for reelection in 2024 could be candidates, since their current terms end in January 2025 — with the disqualification coming for the 2028 election.

Secretary of State spokesperson Ben Morris said the department is seeking a legal opinion from the Oregon Department of Justice and will follow its advice. The Justice Department is currently working on the legal opinion, Roy Kaufmann, spokesperson for Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, said in an email Wednesday.

Republican senators are expected to file court challenges if the secretary of state’s elections division bars them from registering as candidates in September.

Central Oregon Daily News contributed to this report.

DCSO: Man with multiple nationwide warrants arrested in Sisters

A man with multiple nationwide felony warrants was arrested in Sisters Wednesday after a woman he was with, also with a warrant, reached out to a deputy. That’s according to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO).

DCSO said Shawna Elizabeth Myers, 32, contacted a deputy in the Rays Food Place parking lot. Myers allegedly said she had traveled with the wanted man, 31-year-old Jamie Lee Denby, from Marion County.

Myers said she did not feel safe with Denby, the sheriff’s office said, and admitted that she also had an active warrant out on her.

>>> Have you checked out Central Oregon Daily News on YouTube? Click here to subscribe and share our videos.

RELATED: Police: Tip leads to Sunriver, Corvallis graffiti suspect arrest

RELATED: Freshman arrested after fires in 2 Sisters High school girl’s bathrooms

She allegedly told deputies that Denby was armed with a machete and would likely fight back if police contacted him.

DCSO said Denby was found asleep in a vehicle in the nearly Chevron parking lot. Deputies, including an armored vehicle, pinned Denby’s vehicle in to make sure it couldn’t drive away. Businesses in the area were also told to pause operations during the event, the sheriff’s office said.

Denby was taken into custody without incident, DCSO said.

DCSO said Denby had three active nationwide felony warrants including:

  • Kidnapping
  • Coercion
  • Extortion
  • Assault 4th Degree
  • Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle
  • Menacing
  • Unlawful Use of an Electrical Stun Gun, Tear Gas, or Mace

Myers had a warrant for failure to appear for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle.

Black Butte Police assisted in the arrest.


Rattlesnakes showing up in Jefferson County: How to protect yourself

Watch where you step as it starts to warm up. There have already been several rattlesnake sightings in Jefferson County, and more are expected.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office has some helpful tips to stay safe in rattlesnake habitats.

  • Wear ankle-high boots and long loose pants
  • If you’re walking through tall grass, carry a long walking stick to tap on the area ahead of you to warn snakes that you’re nearby
  • Walk with a partner
  • Never touch a rattlesnake, even if you think it’s dead
  • Stay on trails and if you see or hear a snake, stay away

>>> Have you checked out Central Oregon Daily News on YouTube? Click here to subscribe and share our videos.

RELATED: ODFW: Large, illegally trafficked, invasive snapping turtle found near Eugene

▶️ Prescribed burn escapes perimeter in Willamette National Forest

Central Oregon firefighters are assisting U.S. Forest Service crews after a prescribed burn escaped its perimeter in the Willamette National Forest.

The fire was continuing to grow Thursday north of the McKenzie River Ranger Station near Highway 126.

The total burn area has surpassed 120 acres and is located on a steep slope north of McKenzie Bridge.

Ground crews, including nearly 40 firefighters, are making progress by building control lines around the fire.  

Two firefighting helicopters were also called in.

>>> Have you checked out Central Oregon Daily News on YouTube? Click here to subscribe and share our videos.

RELATED: Oregon suing 21 companies for PFAS contamination from firefighting foam

RELATED: 6 campfires abandoned in Central Oregon during holiday weekend

▶️ Mosaic opens medical clinic at Mountain View High School

The Mosaic Medical Clinic is officially open on the Mountain View High School campus.

Mosaic says it offers a full range of physical, behavioral and preventive health services for anyone 18 or younger — no matter their ability to pay.

The doors opened on May 10. Mosaic just reached its fundraising goal of $200,000 for operations, pushed over the top by a recent donation of $10,000 from First Story.

>>> Have you checked out Central Oregon Daily News on YouTube? Click here to subscribe and share our videos.

RELATED: St. Charles offers new service to track prostate cancer

“The parents don’t have to miss work. Students can walk over, get care. They don’t need to wait, necessarily. And if you’re really feeling the need from a behavioral health perspective or maybe you hurt yourself, you’re in practice and we’re open, you can come on in,” said Mosaic Pediatrics Clinics Manager Tamarra Harris.

Other school-based health clinics are located at Bend High School, Madras High School, Redmond High School, Lynch Elementary in Redmond and Crook Kids in Prineville.


Portland mulls ban on daytime camping amid sharp rise in homelessness

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — City Council members in Portland were considering on Wednesday whether to ban homeless camping during daytime hours in most public places, a move that aims to bring the city into compliance with a new state law and appease the growing number of residents frustrated by a deepening yearslong homelessness crisis.

Portland is among progressive West Coast cities moving to adopt stricter rules on camping while grappling with intertwined homelessness, housing, mental health and addiction crises. In Portland, homelessness jumped more than 30% between 2019 and 2022, according to federal data.

Homeless people would have to dismantle their camp every morning and remove their belongings and any litter during the day. People who break the rules would receive a warning for the first two violations. After three violations, people could be fined up to $100 or be sent to jail for up to 30 days. The measure would prohibit camping between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. in city parks and near schools, day cares and construction sites and on some sidewalk areas.

But while there appears to be an increasing appetite for camping regulations in Oregon’s largest city, advocates said the new rules would further burden homeless people and strain nonprofits already working at capacity.

Mayor Ted Wheeler said at Wednesday’s City Council meeting that his goal is to get enough shelter and housing to eliminate unsanctioned camping in Portland. The City Council voted in November to create at least six large, designated campsites where homeless people will be allowed to camp and gradually ban street camping altogether once the sites are operational.

“There are currently hundreds of unsanctioned, sometimes dangerous and often squalid homeless camps across all 146 square miles of the city of Portland. These homeless camps … represent nothing short of a humanitarian catastrophe,” Wheeler said.

Before testimony got under way, dozens of protesters rallied with megaphones outside City Hall to voice their opposition. At times, advocates inside the City Council chambers cheered those speaking against the measure and jeered people supporting it, including Wheeler, prompting him to threaten to move the meeting online if decorum was not respected.

The meeting was expected to stretch for hours into the night with more than 170 people signed up to testify.

“Asking homeless Portlanders … to carry their homes on their backs for 12 hours a day, seven days a week, will heighten mental and physical distress, hitting houseless and front-line workers like a punch to the gut,” testified Sandra Comstock, executive director of the Portland-based homeless nonprofit Hygiene4All.

Business and property owners were among those who testified in support of the ordinance, saying some customers and employees don’t feel safe shopping or going to work because of encampments.

Councilmembers are expected to vote next week, according to Wheeler’s office.

Portland already prohibits camping on city property at all hours. But the measure is rarely enforced and could be found to violate a state law that takes effect July 1. The new law codifies a key 2018 federal court ruling that bars local governments from arresting people for sleeping outside when there isn’t enough shelter available, but does allow them to have “objectively reasonable” limits on where, when and how campsites can be set up.

Andy Mendenhall, CEO and president of Central City Concern, a homeless services nonprofit in downtown Portland, acknowledged before the City Council meeting that “unsheltered homelessness has reached a point of untenability” in the city. But he added that implementing a measure that essentially displaces people on a daily basis will be hard to implement.

“Both the process of enforcement and the referral of homeless folks to limited regional resources will be a challenge,” Mendenhall said.

In a separate but related development, Portland’s City Council also voted Wednesday to approve a settlement in a federal lawsuit brought by people with disabilities who said sprawling homeless encampments prevented them from navigating the city’s streets.

The federal class action lawsuit, filed in September, alleged that the city violated the American with Disabilities Act by letting tents to obstruct sidewalks, impacting people who use wheelchairs, scooters, canes and walkers.

Under the settlement, the city must prioritize removing tents that block sidewalks and clear at least 500 sidewalk-blocking encampments every year for the next five years. Portland, which didn’t admit wrongdoing, must also operate a 24-hour hotline for reporting tents blocking sidewalks and create an online reporting portal where people can upload photos.

Additionally, the city must devote at least $8 million in the 2023-2024 fiscal year to make sure the settlement conditions are met, and at least $3 million annually for the following four fiscal years. Portland also agreed to pay $5,000 to each of the 10 plaintiffs and reasonable attorney fees.

Amazon to pay $31M in privacy violations for Alexa voice assistant, Ring camera

WASHINGTON (AP) — Amazon agreed Wednesday to pay a $25 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations it violated a child privacy law and deceived parents by keeping for years kids’ voice and location data recorded by its popular Alexa voice assistant.

Separately, the company agreed to pay $5.8 million in customer refunds for alleged privacy violations involving its doorbell camera Ring.

The Alexa-related action orders Amazon to overhaul its data deletion practices and impose stricter, more transparent privacy measures. It also obliges the tech giant to delete certain data collected by its internet-connected digital assistant, which people use for everything from checking the weather to playing games and queueing up music.

“Amazon’s history of misleading parents, keeping children’s recordings indefinitely, and flouting parents’ deletion requests violated COPPA (the Child Online Privacy Protection Act) and sacrificed privacy for profits,” Samuel Levine, the FCT consumer protection chief, said in a statement. The 1998 law is designed to shield children from online harms.

FTC Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya said in a statement that “when parents asked Amazon to delete their kids’ Alexa voice data, the company did not delete all of it.”

The agency ordered the company to delete inactive child accounts as well as certain voice and geolocation data.

Amazon kept the kids’ data to refine its voice recognition algorithm, the artificial intelligence behind Alexa, which powers Echo and other smart speakers, Bedoya said. The FTC complaint sends a message to all tech companies who are “sprinting to do the same” amid fierce competition in developing AI datasets, he added.

“Nothing is more visceral to a parent than the sound of their child’s voice,” tweeted Bedoya, the father of two small children.

Amazon said last month that it has sold more than a half-billion Alexa-enabled devices globally and that use of the service increased 35% last year.

In the Ring case, the FTC says Amazon’s home security camera subsidiary let employees and contractors access consumers’ private videos and providing lax security practices that enabled hackers to take control of some accounts.

Amazon bought California-based Ring in 2018, and many of the violations alleged by the FTC predate the acquisition. Under the FTC’s order, Ring is required to pay $5.8 million that would be used for consumer refunds.

Amazon said it disagreed with the FTC’s claims on both Alexa and Ring and denied violating the law. But it said the settlements “put these matters behind us.”

“Our devices and services are built to protect customers’ privacy, and to provide customers with control over their experience,” the Seattle-based company said.

In addition to the fine in the Alexa case, the proposed order prohibits Amazon from using deleted geolocation and voice information to create or improve any data product. The order also requires Amazon to create a privacy program for its use of geolocation information.

The proposed orders must be approved by federal judges.

FTC commissioners had unanimously voted to file the charges against Amazon in both cases.

▶️ Chance coming for you to score an old Mt. Bachelor Skyliner chair

Mt. Bachelor is busy at work replacing the old Skyliner with a new six-seater lift.

So what is happening to the chairs from the old lift? Well, you may be able to get your hands on one.

A Mt. Bachelor spokesperson says the chairs have been distributed around the community.

Some will remain at the mountain as backups and some will go to staff. The others were sold for $500 per chair — there are still a few dozen chairs left.

If you’re interested, it’s a lottery process Mt. Bachelor expects to share details on that process soon.

>>> Have you checked out Central Oregon Daily News on YouTube? Click here to subscribe and share our videos.

RELATED: WATCH: Mt. Bachelor Skyliner terminal demolition

RELATED: Famous Mt. Bachelor fox turns out to be rare species