▶️ Hawaii wins Juniors Baseball regional tournament at Caldera High School

The Western Regional Juniors Baseball Tournament wrapped up Thursday at Caldera High School in Bend.

The team from Hawaii punched their ticket to Taylor, Michigan to play in the Junior League Baseball World Series, routing Southern California and stopping their losers’ bracket run.

The tournament at Caldera High School has been running for a week, hosted by Oregon’s District 5.

World Series action kicks off from Michigan this Sunday.


▶️ Red-eye: Oregon fire detection plane looks for new starts in dead of night

Lightning storms and drought conditions are a recipe for wildfires, a mix Central Oregon has seen over the last few days. But what if firefighters could detect those fires before sunrise?

The Oregon Department of Forestry has a small aircraft that looks for wildfires. And what it lacks in amenities, it makes up for in technology.

It’s a red-eye flight utilizing a thermal imaging camera and night vision goggles.

“We’re taking the two and blending them. The military’s been doing that for a long time,” said Dan McCarron, ODF’s Chief Pilot.

Mix in some weather data and what you get back is highly-accurate location information and a detailed look at really small fires.

When storms like the one we experienced this week pass, they crew saddles up and gets airborne. 

“We’ve found as many as 10 or 11 new wildfire starts in a night,” said Cole Lindsay, ODF’s Northwest Area Aviation Coordinator.

RELATED: Eyes in the sky: Married Deschutes fire lookouts share day in their life

The FLIR system on board is from military surplus.

The Italian-built Partnavia P68 has been with ODF since 1984. It’s been doing post-storm night detection flights for three years.

“We just fly a path through the lighting and as we’re looking we’re just doing one of these looking for sources of light.”

“We’ve found as many as 10 or 11 new wildfire starts in a night,” said McCarron.

RELATED: Remote Oregon wildfire cameras become key to finding new smokes quickly

The plane is strategically based in Redmond for much of the fire season and is dispatched all over Oregon.

ODF is one of the few agencies in the country blending those technologies for nighttime fire detection. Daytime detection flights are still used for spotting fires, but those crews are usually looking for smoke.

▶️ Bend North Little League to play for Northwest Regional title today

One step closer.

Bend North Little League beat Lewiston, Idaho, Wednesday to advance to the Northwest Regional championship game.

Walt Reilly’s in Bend held a watch party for anyone who supports the team in their fight to earn a World Series bid. 

A photo was taken of the crowd of supporters, which was shown on ESPN.

The score was close throughout the game. Team Idaho took an early advantage of 1-0 off an RBI double in the first inning before Oregon tied it with some smart base running.  

RELATED: Bend North Little League World Series Northwest Regional schedule

RELATED: Bend North LL defeats Alaska 12-2, stays alive in Northwest Regional

Trouble struck Oregon when Idaho broke the tie and went up 3-1 due a couple of wild pitches. These are the last two runs Idaho would bring across the plate. 

Bend’s bats heated up in the bottom of the third, scoring three unanswered runs for the remainder of the game. The final score was 4-3, Oregon.

Team Oregon takes the field against Bonney Lake, Washington on Thursday at 4:00 p.m.. The team that wins books a trip to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Walt Reilly’s is holding another watch party at that time. Everyone is welcome. For those who can’t make it, the game will air on ESPN.

▶️ Redmond Police want to hear from parents after child porn suspect arrested

A Redmond man has been arrested on charges related to possession and distribution of child pornography, Redmond Police announced Tuesday. They indicate he may have been around children in Central Oregon.

Brian Zollman, 47, was booked on 16 counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse — six in the 1st degree and 10 in the second degree, Redmond PD said.

Zollman was arraigned Wednesday, where it was learned he’s also charged with Encouraging Sexual Assault of an Animal.

The arrest comes after a four-month investigation. Police said a search warrant was served Tuesday.

“Based on information learned during this investigation, Mr. Zollman may have had access to children in Redmond, Oregon, and Bend, Oregon,” police said in a statement.

RELATED: The Dalles man sentenced to 7 1/2 years for child pornography

Anyone whose child has been in contact with Zollman over the past year or has information in this case is asked to call Redmond Police at 541-693-6911 and reference RPD case #22-18415.

Redmond Police say National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and the Central Oregon Digital Forensic Laboratory assisted in the investigation.

Reports of child sexual exploitation can be made through Deschutes County Dispatch at 541-693-6911, or through NCMEC’s Cyber Tipline.

▶️ Historic Pendleton flour mill destroyed in fire

PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — A historic flour mill in northeast Oregon was destroyed in a fire Wednesday morning.

KHQ reports according to the Pendleton Police Department the fire at the Grain Craft Flour Mill in Pendleton started around 2:55 p.m. Tuesday.

The Pendleton Fire Department responded to a report of visible black smoke and quickly extinguished a small fire. Officials say the fire reignited around 4 a.m. Wednesday and the building was soon fully engulfed, because of the amount of dry grain in the mill.

Grain Craft says no injuries have been reported.

Pendleton Fire and eight other agencies responded to the fire.

Officials say the building is a total loss.

RELATED: ‘Big responsibility’: An inside look into slowing wildfires with air tankers

RELATED: Eyes in the sky: Married Deschutes fire lookouts share day in their life

▶️ Bend’s Kids’ Corner childcare program back after 2-year hiatus

Bend Park And Recreation District brings back its Kids’ Corner program after a two-year break.

Kids’ Corner offers childcare services at Juniper Swim And Fitness Center for kids 6 months to 6 years old.

New this year, registration is now available so parents can secure certain days and times — and it is “strongly recommended.” You can register online here.

Childcare hours run Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:00 – 11:35 a.m.

Registration opens Tuesday, Aug. 16, at 6:00 a.m.

RELATED: KIDS Inc. hiring event this week for afterschool childcare

Here is more information from BPRD:

  • Registration is strongly recommended.
  • Registration includes four weekly scheduled 75-minute visits per session at discounted rate.
  • Each visit is limited to 75 minutes. Sorry, no discount for less time.
  • Drop-ins welcome; space permitting.
  • Childcare hours: M/W/F from 9:00 to 11:35 am.

Registration Childcare

  • TODDLER – Ages: 6 – 29 months. Limited availability. $30.00 ID $36.00 OD / session
  • PRESCHOOL – Ages: 30 months – 6 years old. $25.00 ID $30.00 OD / session
  • Days/Times: M/W or F: 9:00 – 10:15 am – OR – 10:20 – 11:35 am
  • Sessions are three-, four- or five-weeks per month. *Fee is adjusted for three or five visit sessions.

Drop-in Childcare

  • TODDLER – Ages: 6 – 29 months. Limited availability. $9.00 ID $10.80 OD / visit
  • PRESCHOOLER – Ages: 30 months – 6 years old. $7.50 ID $9.00 OD / visit
  • 75 minutes maximum.
  • Days/Times: M/W/F: 9:00 – 11:35 am

▶️ Reward offered after wolf found shot dead in Eastern Oregon

(Editor’s note: An image of the dead wolf appears at the bottom of this story. It may be disturbing for some to see.)

A reward is being offered to help find whoever shot and killed a female wolf in Eastern Washington near the Idaho border.

Oregon State Police say troopers and Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel found the dead wolf on an embankment on Forest Service Road 66 between Twin Lakes and Fish Lake on Aug. 5. It was roughly seven miles north of Halfway, Oregon. 

The wolf was known as OR112. It’s a two-year-old gray-collared female that was part of the Keating Pack.

OSP said the wolf appears to have been shot, likely on the morning on Aug. 4.

RELATED: Adult wolf, 5 pups spotted together on Oregon trail camera

The Oregon Wildlife Coalition and conservation partners are offering to pay an $11,500 reward that leads to an arrest or citation, OSP said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Turn in Poachers (TIP) hotline at 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP (*677), or email TIP@osp.oregon.gov and reference case number SP22201971. 

▶️ The Great Outdoors: Senior Fishing Derby at Walton Lake

Dozens of fish were caught, prizes were won, and everybody had fun at the annual senior fishing derby at Walton Lake.

The Cordoba brothers, Louie and Zenon, drove four hours from Portland to participate in the 27th annual Senior Fishing Derby at Walton Lake.

“We thought it was going to be jam-packed. It’s for one day and it’s a long drive,” said Zenon. “My brother says, ‘Let’s leave early.’ But we got here too early. No restaurants open or nothing.”

A few hundred yards down the shoreline, Mark Schmidlin from Banks, Oregon, watches in amazement as his grandsons, Wyatt and Waylon, catch fish all around him while he goes fishless.

RELATED: The Great Outdoors: Low water, high temps threaten Crooked River fish

He says he won’t stoop to borrowing one of his grandsons’ fish to enter the derby.

“I won’t do that, but I might borrow one of their poles. Let the boys start baiting the poles for me,” Schmidlin said. 

So, it’s their touch, not yours?

“Maybe. I’m starting to think that.”

“We came up here to have a good time. If we catch a fish that does well in the derby, we would be happy,” said Richard Fields, who came from Redmond with his wife Nancy. “Mainly it’s to have a good time.”

RELATED: The Great Outdoors: Sturgeon fishing on the Columbia River

The senior fishing derby at Walton Lake resumed this year after a two year break due to the COVID pandemic.

“It started 27 years ago with a promotion for a fishing company,” said Joseph Gannon, one of the derbies’ early organizers. “They sent us two fishing poles and a target and told us to go have a casting contest. The prizes would be the two fishing poles.”

The derby was a hit from the start and has been ever since. 

“Today, I’d say we have about 15 to 20 people out. In 2019 they had 50. The highest ever was around 100. It’s a popular event,” said Garry Sanders, Ochoco National Forest fisheries biologist. “It’s great weather. It’s a good time to be up a little higher elevation out of the heat and people like to fish.”

Prineville area businesses have a long history of donating merchandise and gift certificates for winning anglers to claim. 

“It’s a five fish limit. We have a prize for the total heaviest catch, a prize for the biggest individual fish and for the smallest fish. We have a prize for the oldest male and female anglers,” Sanders said. “We have a prize for the longest distance traveled. And then we do a casting contest, so you can get points in the casting contest and win prizes there too.” 

I gave the casting competition a try. I hit the target on one cast, but it deflected away without going through the hole.

Another angler, who spent the day trolling behind his boat, put the lure through the target hole twice. 

Zenon Cordoba had the largest total catch of five trout that weighed just shy of three pounds. He also caught the largest individual fish, a 15-inch rainbow trout.

Richard and Nancy Fields won a prize for being the oldest couple to fish in the derby.

Even Mark Schmidlin, who got schooled by his grandkids ,won prizes for the smallest fish and the farthest distance traveled.

Walton Lake is managed as a recreational fishery. 

“What we would call a family fishery or a ‘put and take’ fishery,” Sanders said. “We do have some holdover fish that can get up to 16-to-20 inches. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, one of our partners, they stock this lake several times each year with what they call catchable size fish. Those are in the 10-inch to 12-inch range.”

Walton Lake was developed by the Isaac Walton League more than a century ago as a retreat for people in Prineville to escape the summer heat. 

At 5,100 feet elevation in the Ochoco Mountains some 30 miles east of Prineville, it’s still serving that purpose.

The Senior Fishing Derby is usually held in June or July each year. 

Keep your eyes open for fliers posted around Prineville or social media announcements from the Ochoco National Forest promoting the next derby.