School districts explain threat notification policies following recent incidents

Police were called to schools in Redmond and Bend this week, creating some uneasy moments for students on campus and for parents forced to wait and find out exactly what was going on.

Central Oregon Daily’s Brooke Snavely spoke with a district official today about the procedure of notifying parents and why it’s not always in the best interest of safety for parents to know about threats in real-time.

 

▶️ Local students join global Climate Strike

You’re never too young to make a difference

“The more people getting together to cry in one voice that this is a problem and it needs to change, and something needs to be done about it now, the better.”

Friday marks the start of a weekly youth-led climate strike in Downtown Bend.

Their mission? To raise awareness through protest and call for government action to combat climate change…at the local, state and national level.

The local rally is part of a global protest that stretched from Australia to South America. Thousands of students walked out of class in Portland to join the movement.

“We’re getting dangerously close to getting to a point where climate change is causing these fires, lack of snow, and awful seasonal changes that are hard to reverse,” said Freddy Finney-Jordet, one of the event organizers. “It’s about stopping it where it is, then we can focus on making it better.”

Led by the Oregon Youth Climate Strike, hundreds of teens will be taking over the corner of Newport Avenue and Wall Street.

An area Freddy believes will make the biggest local impact. 

“It’s important to have our strike in that downtown area where it’s almost impossible to not see it,” Finney-Jordet said. “That’s really the point of demonstrations like these, is to make the problem impossible to ignore.”

Locally, protesters want the city to implement changes that were included in the Community Climate Action Plan.

Nationally, the Oregon Youth Climate Strike wants the Green New Deal to be passed and have climate change be declared as a national emergency.

“It’s really about driving that message home and getting it into people’s heads so that they’re more motivated to fix it,” Finney-Jordet said.

▶️ POW/MIAs honored during ceremony in Bend

BY ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY

There are 86,500 United States military veterans who have been missing in action since WWII.

About 1,000 of those veterans are from Oregon.

Sixteen are from Bend, including Dollie Raymond’s brother, Bennie Dexter, who was Oregon’s first Vietnam War prisoner of war.

“He went ahead and joined the Air Force, was going to go on and get his college degree in the Air Force and of course, Vietnam happened. So he was sent to Vietnam in September of ’65,” Raymond said. “They ended up in Pleiku in April, and he was taking Mother’s Day that same year so just a month. They’d only been in that area for a month. Back then they came in a government vehicle, an Air Force vehicle. So here came two Air Force officers to my parent’s home, I wasn’t there. And they told my mother that Bennie was missing.”

Dollie’s family has heard stories that her brother had been taken by five armed Viet Cong guerrillas to what they believed was a training camp.

“It wasn’t a prisoner of war camp, it was a training camp so they had the camp cook guarding him. Well he tried to escape three times, and on the third attempt, they shot and killed him,” Raymond said.

Despite hearing of a possible grave site and an excavation of an area they suspected Bennie’s body was buried in 2016, his remains have never been recovered.

Even after 53 years, Dollie says she’ll never stop looking for her brother.

“I can’t tell you, I mean, I’ve pretty much come to peace, I know he’s not alive. But the closure for my family. If we had remains, trust me baby, you would know about it! The whole town of Bend would have a whole big party,” she said.

On Friday morning, the Bend Heroes Foundation held a POW/MIA ceremony for Bennie and others like him.

Just this week, Governor Kate Brown signed a law, designating U-S Highway 26 as the POW/MIA Memorial Highway.

The sign was unveiled during the ceremony.

Dollie says ceremonies like this are important for future generations.

“We need to keep the public educated, they don’t know about Vietnam, they don’t know. You know they may have read in history books about WWII or Korea, but they don’t understand that there are still people missing and there are still families out there without closure,” she said. “It’s important to me to make sure that people know and don’t forget.”

 

 

Rastovich Family Farm celebrating 100 years in Deschutes County

The Rastovich Family Farm in Bend, the first estate in Deschutes County to reach the 100-year-mark, will hold a centennial celebration Saturday.

Guests can enjoy a hayride around the ranch, a guided or self-guided (using your smartphone) walking tour of the original homestead, and enjoy a burger raised on the ranch and beer from Sunriver Brewing Company. Antique farm equipment used in the early days of the ranch will also be on display.

George and Anna Rastovich immigrated from Serbia in the early 1900s, making their way from New York to Spokane before settling in Bend. They staked their claim on September 19, 1919; 40 acres about seven miles east of Bend, just off present day Ward Road.

Since 2012, Rastovich Family Farm has been home to Barely Beef, an all natural beef ranch that works in cooperation with local breweries to feed and sell beef products.

“We pick up the spent grains from local breweries, like Sunriver Brewing, Bend Brewing Company, Boneyard, and Deschutes, and we feed the gains to the cows,” Bob Rastovich said. “Then we sell beef to consumers and back to pubs, so when you visit Bend Brewing Company, you’re eating a burger raised on the beer you’re drinking.”

“We are proud of the history of our ranch,” he said said. “But we are equally proud of being a part of Bend for 100-years, so our celebration is as much about celebrating Bend as it is the Rastovich Family.”

The Rastovich Family Farm celebration happens Saturday from 11 a.m. to  3 p.m. at the ranch located at 21925 Rastovich Road, Bend.

Images courtesy Rastovich Family Farms

Broken sprinkler pipe floods McMenamins Edgefield hotel

TROUTDALE, Ore. (AP) — Flooding at the historic McMenamins Edgefield hotel in Troutdale, may have been caused by someone hanging from a fire sprinkler pipe.

KOIN reports that Gresham firefighters said a sprinkler pipe burst at the hotel Wednesday evening. Hundreds of gallons of water spilled into the building before crews were able to shut off the flow. Nearly 200 guests had to be evacuated.

McMenamins Director of Marketing Renee Rank Ignacio says a guest or someone at the hotel may have grabbed the pipe and pulled it down or hung from it, according to

Ignacio said the cleanup was progressing quickly. There are no cameras in the hallway where the pipe broke so there’s no video evidence of what happened. But investigators are working to figure out who is responsible for the damage.

Image courtesy McMenamins

La Pine rape suspect indicted on 59 charges; more alleged victims come forward

A La Pine man was indicted Thursday on 59 sex-abuse related charges dating back to 2004, according to Bend Police.

Rusty Allen Pugh, 47, was initially arrested on August 22 on five counts of rape after a two-month long investigation. At the time, police asked others with information regarding suspicious contact with Pugh to call in.  Since that date, detectives have received numerous follow up calls for investigation.

Pugh was released from jail with a GPS monitor after posting a $25,000 bail on August 27th. Over the next six days, police say three more victims reported Pugh as a suspect in various sex crimes between 2004 and August of 2019 that weren’t previously reported.

He was re-arrested and jailed after a traffic stop on August 28th.

Police say a 16-year-old Deschutes County girl came forward on Sept. 13th to report Pugh as a suspect in various crimes between 2009 and 2013 that had not yet been reported.

Bend Police Lt. Juli McConky said two of the victims, Yamhill County women who are now 19 and 22-years-old, were abused in 2004.

“We’re sure there are more victims out there,” McConky told Central Oregon Daily. “It’s just encouraging them to come forward.”

McConky said Pugh was “definitely involved in these childrens’ lives.”

“It’s not a stranger and most of these types of offenses are where the suspect or alleged suspect would be in contact with people and groom them and give them access to the children,” she said.

The 59-count indictment includes five counts of first-degree rape, 27 counts of first-degree sex abuse, two counts of unlawful sexual penetration, 17 counts of first-degree sodomy and five counts of second-degree encouraging child sex abuse.

Police believe there might still be more victims who haven’t come forward. If you have any information, you’re asked to contact non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.

▶️ ODOT disability day gives employees a peek into wheelchair struggles

Oregon Department of Transportation employees on Thursday tried to navigate some Bend streets in manual wheelchairs.

The Central Oregon Coalition for Access puts on the “Disability for a Day” program each year, hoping to give employees a look at the struggles people in wheelchairs have just getting around town.

“I’ve heard a lot of comments today like, oh wow, I had no idea; or they’re complaining about upper body discomfort,” said Carol Fulkerson, with Central Oregon Coalition for Access. “One of them, the grips on their wheelchair got wet so they were having a hard time navigating with the wheelchair. Just the day to day stuff that people with disabilities deal with routinely.”

Fulkerson said she hopes the experience helps ODOT engineers and managers keep the struggles in mind as they design intersections, crosswalks and other transit-related projects.

Similar events have taken place across the region for more than a decade.

▶️ Author of controversial novel set to speak in Sunriver

BY HEATHER ROBERTS
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY

Paul Young is an Oregon author who never intended to get published.

“It was a gift for my kids. Kim and I have six children. And, she had said, ‘someday, as a gift for our kids, would you just write something that puts in one place how you think, because you think outside the box?’”

Twelve years later, he’s a best seller. The Shack has sold more than 20 million copies. In 2017 it was released as a major motion picture.

It’s the fictional story of Mackenzie Philips, whose youngest daughter is abducted during a camping trip in Oregon’s Wallowa mountains. His grief leads him to “the shack,” where he meets three people.

Papa, Jesus and Sarayu represent the Christian trinity.

Many in the faith community have spoken out against The Shack because of Paul’s depiction of God.

“So God the father is a large black African American woman, the Holy Spirit is an Asian woman; and even in Hebrew scriptures, the word for the Holy Spirit is feminine.” He adds, “Jesus was the easiest. Even though my people have written me and said ‘How dare you make Jesus a middle easterner.’ I’m going, ‘Really? He’s a Jew.'”

Twenty-six publishers turned down the manuscript, refusing to work with such a controversial story.

“The faith community publishers thought it was too edgy. The secular publishers thought it had too much Jesus. So, I got stuck between edgy and Jesus.”

But, for Paul, it was never about getting published or becoming famous; this was his story.

“I’m both Mackenzie and Missy, right? Missy’s a five-year-old because that’s when sexual abuse started in my world. Both in the tribal culture, then at six in missionary boarding school. So, a lot of my life was trying to reconcile the character and nature of God, in the midst of personal tragedy.”

And, it turns out, Paul’s take on loss, pain and the search for God isn’t unique.

“One gal writes me a little note. She was a long-distance runner in high school. At 16, she got separated from her team on a practice day and got grabbed, taken behind a shed, was raped twice and shot three times with a .22 and left for dead.  She wrote me because of a certain section in the book. And she said, ‘How could you write that without knowing?’ And she said, ‘Maybe because, in the middle of your abuse, you still felt that there was a God that was good, somewhere.’”

For Angela Thomsen, of Bend, the book forced her to question things she thought she knew.

“I read The Shack, it’s been about four years ago, now.” She tells Central Oregon Daily, “I kinda thought it was a little bit of heresy!”

While going through a difficult time with her husband, a marriage counselor recommended she read The Shack.

“One of my biggest challenges through the divorce, was the church said divorce is not okay; that was my interpretation of what God was telling me. And, at that time, he wasn’t a safe person for our family. I was seven months pregnant with my daughter and I had a one-year-old. And he had, unfortunately, gotten into some trouble. And it wasn’t safe to stay with him, but the church was telling me I had to stay. And so that book predominantly helped me challenge those things.”
The Shack, she says, gave her the courage to file for divorce, and offered a new way to look at her now ex-husband.

“And the forgiveness piece, which you see in that book, absolutely was part of my experience too, of forgiving someone who hurt me and my children deeply.”

Angela met Paul for the first time this week, at a theology conference in Sunriver.

“Usually when I’m walking up on to a podium or a stage,” says Paul, “I still don’t know what I’m going to talk about.” He adds, “I’m a storyteller. And, the stories that have come out around the book, the stories that have been told to me, what I’ve experienced, they are the backdrop for whatever folks that come want to have a conversation about.”

And, he’s grateful for the conversations with readers, whether they liked The Shack or call him a heretic.

“We all need to be challenged about what we believe. I don’t think we’re ever intended to get stuck in one place.”

If the book never sells another copy, if no one else sees the movie, Paul says the story served it’s purpose.

“For my kids, I wanted to say to them – and they know my story – I wanted to say, ‘look, let me tell you about the God that actually showed up and healed my heart. Not the God I grew up with. That’s what I wanted for my kids. And they got it.”

Paul Young will be back in Central Oregon next month. Sunriver Christian Fellowship will host an afternoon with the author on October 12th. 

Tickets are $25. You can purchase them online at paulyoung.brownpapertickets.com or call 800-838-3006

 

▶️ Prineville adaptive athlete recognized with regional award

By Anyssa Bohanan
Central Oregon Daily

Walter Jones has used a wheelchair for most of his life.

“I was born with Spina Bifida, a birth defect, so I had forearm crutches for a while and then about seven years ago I lost my right leg to an infection in the bone.” Walter Jones said. “I started using my wheelchair more permanently around 10th grade.”

But Walter hasn’t let the disability slow him down.

He’s been playing basketball, as well as other sports, on and off for the last 15 years.

“I was doing track and field with a team out of Seattle for wheelchair racing and they convinced me to play my senior year of high school with them and I’ve been playing ever since,” he said.

Today, he plays for the Portland Wheel Blazers.

“I’ve played on and off with them, I’m not exactly sure, but I started playing with them again about three years ago I believe and I’ve been playing with them ever since,” he said. 

Walter regularly travels from Prineville to Portland for games and tournaments and says the travel expenses and finding time to practice are the most difficult parts of the job.

But his hard work on the court, and in his community as an advocate for the growth of adaptive sports, hasn’t gone unnoticed.

He was recently nominated for the Adult Adaptive Athlete of the Year Award through Adaptive Sports Northwest.

On Tuesday, he found out he’d won.

“It’s pretty exciting, I’m honored,” he said. 

Walter’s favorite part of playing for the Wheel Blazers?

“The camaraderie, being on a team and getting to play basketball.”