▶️ Redmond PD on enforcing mask mandate; compliance through education


The Redmond Police Department is promoting “compliance through education” during Oregon’s two-week freeze.

This pertains to all aspects of Gov. Kate Brown’s executive order, including wearing a face mask.

Brandon Weimer, owner of Herringbone Bookstore in Redmond, says he’s had hardly any customers refuse to wear a mask in his store.

“Very small,” Weimer said. “I could probably count on one hand how many incidents I’ve had. Sometimes they more or less just forget and we just provide one for them, so it’s good.”

During those few times Weimer did have to confront a customer, he says it went okay.

“A lot of times when I’m explaining to people it’s just hey, this is a private business, it’s in my guidelines and different things,” Weimer said. “Most people completely understand. Like I said, I’ve never had really any incidents where someone has walked off, gotten rowdy, or yelled.”

In a press release Tuesday, Redmond Police said they will “continue to follow an education approach first” and that they will only take action, such as a criminal citation, as a “last resort.”

There is a statewide hotline to report people violating the mask rule.

Redmond Police recommend reporting violations to Oregon OSHA for businesses or workplaces, and either OSHA or the OLCC for violations at restaurants and bars.

Weimer says just in the interest of being a good neighbor, he hopes that customers of any business do their part by wearing a mask.

“Let’s try and end 2020 on a good year by abiding by that so businesses can stay open, and restaurants can reopen for the holidays,” Weimer said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

▶️ Take-out or close down? Restaurants take different approaches to 2-week freeze


Restaurants are doing everything they can to prepare for another potential blow to the industry. 

And some are taking different approaches.

“A lot of my friends working in the industry are a little worried trying to figure out what to do next and what the next step is,” said Nick Stanitsas, Kefi Chef and Owner. “We’re just rolling with the punches at this point and whatever laws and new legislation comes out, we’re just going to keep trucking. That is all we can do right now.”

Stanitsas says it’s time to launch online ordering and other new services.

“Offer delivery, onside pickup, curbside deliveries,” Stanitsas said. “Everything we can do to keep people coming to the restaurant. That’s all we can do.”

Some restaurants are reducing staff, but others like Worthy Brewing will close their kitchen for the entire two weeks.

“During the upcoming shutdown, manufacturing is going to remain open,” said Dustin Kellner, Worthy Brewing Brewmaster. “The restaurant will be shutting down during that duration to keep our employees safe as well as the general public, encouraging everyone to be responsible and stay home.”

Kellner says Worthy is considering drive-thru beer sales.

Stanitsas says Kefi will remain at full staff even with the freeze.

“We’re keeping all our employees on, we’re not letting anyone go. We shortened our times, so instead of being open 11-9, we will be open 11-8 and we’re going to see if that is something that works.”

Kefi will start their delivery service on Wednesday.

▶️ Parents express concern over distance learning drop in grades


Christie Otley is a parent of three boys.

One in seventh grade, one in third grade and a first grader with an Individualized Education Plan.

Otley said all of them are falling behind learning from home.

“They’ve had more hardships with learning and understanding the technologies, and the materials provided to them,” Otley said. “It’s just all around been very difficult and unfortunate.”

Susanna Abrahamson has two sons at Mountain View High School — Reed, a freshman, and Andrew, a junior also on IEPs.

“It is staggering,” Abrahamson said. “The bad habits that have been created that I’m so worried will continue with them.”

Both parents say their kids have lost motivation.

While none of them are currently failing a class, they are struggling.

“If we were to do a side by side comparison of all three of my kids from last year versus this year,” Otley said. “In my eyes, they’re all falling dramatically.”

“In the previous six weeks,” Abrahamson said. “My older son did have a D in his class.”

Lora Nordquist, Bend-La Pine Schools’ interim superintendent says this time away from in-person instruction could, and likely will, catch up with students.

“I think that we will see lagging learning in our students when we are able to return in-person,” Nordquist said. “That’s not just a few students, that’s many students.”

Nordquist says both school employees and teachers are reaching out to students who they notice aren’t doing so well, primarily those in middle and high school.

“We are looking to intervene more at all levels,” Nordquist said.

Both Otley and Abrahamson say they worry for their sons if distance learning goes on any longer.

“He’s just doing enough to get by,” Abrahamson said. “That’s never been the kind of student that he’s been.”

“They want to be in school,” Otley said. “They want to see their friends, they want to be able to talk to their teachers without a screen in their way or without technology in their way.”

Nordquist says exact numbers of how many Bend-La Pine students are failing will not be available until the end of the semester.

▶️ As COVID cases spike, St. Charles, Oregon hospitals braces for surge


As of Tuesday, St. Charles has 15 COVID-19 patients – twice the number it had last week.

Of those, 13 are from Oregon counties, mostly Deschutes and Crook County.

While hospitals across the state may be able to withstand a surge of COVID-19 case, Gov. Kate Brown says it’s up to Oregonians to make sure they don’t have to.

“While we have plans to share beds and ventilators if necessary,” Brown said during a press conference Tuesday. “That needs to be a last resort.”

On Tuesday, the Oregon Health Authority had a record 285 confirmed COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the state.

That’s a 57% increase in just the past week, and 83% in the past month.

Dr. Jeff Absalon, the chief physician executive at St. Charles, says right now the hospital has room both in and out of the intensive care unit.

If a surge does happen, they have a plan in place.

“We’ve got a basement that’s full of extra hospital beds, a variety of other types of equipment, we’ve got multiple ventilators, much more so than what we normally or ever use available to us,” Absalon said. “We have plans on bringing those into play if necessary.”

Patients also could be rebalanced between St. Charles facilities across the region, and the hospital could once again scale back elective surgeries.

“So we’re hopeful that we won’t have to go there,” Absalon said. “But we do have plans in place to be able to pull those levers if necessary.”

Absalon says staffing, not beds, would be an immediate concern if COVID hospitalizations continue to spike.

Another week, another peak; social gatherings to blame for local COVID spike


COVID cases continue to skyrocket in Central Oregon with Deschutes County reporting nearly 50 cases in the last two days alone.

And County Commissioners are puzzled about how to stop the spread.

“How do we know this isn’t just going to keep going on no matter what we shut down,” Commissioner Phil Henderson said Monday.

Deschutes County cases have been steadily climbing each week since mid-October, reaching their highest level since the pandemic began.

Overall, the county has reported 1,484 cases.

Local health officials say it’s going to take more of a personal effort, limiting travel and social gatherings.

Jill Johnson, Deschutes County Public Health communicable disease supervisor, says it’s important to remember that just because you’re with close friends or family, doesn’t mean you can’t get sick.

“Everyone has their own experiences that they’re bringing to those social gatherings,” Johnson said. “That’s why the prevention measures remain so important.”

Vicky Ryan, Crook County Health Department emergency preparedness coordinator, says all of their cases are tied to personal behavior, not outbreaks.

“We’re starting to see a lot of the relaxed behaviors in the personal environments of our community members,” Ryan said.

Crook County has reported 141 total cases since the pandemic started.

While County Commissioners did not come up with a solution at Monday’s meeting, they say it will be discussed further.

▶️ Redmond SD commits to inclusivity through new task force


The Redmond School District is working to provide a more inclusive environment for students.

On Tuesday the district announced they are creating a District Equity Task Force to address systematic barriers students may face.

The group’s work will focus on

– Adopting an Equity Lens for the Redmond School District;
– Identifying policies and practices that contribute both to the achievement gap between students who endure inequities and the rest of the student population and to the achievement of those students;
– Recommending district wide training of Redmond school district personnel to combat issues of explicit and implicit racism, as well as recommending practices to diversify the school district workforce and monitoring the implementation of those practices;
– Creating or recommending projects and activities that build collective community among the diverse members of the community of Redmond.

The task force will consist of about 16 people.

Including Redmond School District administrators, licensed staff, classified staff, students, parents/guardians, Redmond community members, and a member of the Redmond School District Board.

Members will serve a one-year term for the duration of the school year, with their first meeting planned for late September.

The deadline to apply for a spot on the Task Force is September 14.


▶️ BLP superintendent addresses local parents’ childcare concerns


On Wednesday Bend Parks and Recreation announced an all-day childcare program for the that will take place inside of 14 Bend elementary schools this fall.

Parents are now questioning why the program can take place inside of the schools, but classes cannot.

“If we closed our school to that opportunity and they had to look elsewhere,” Lora Nordquist, Bend-La Pine Schools superintendent explained. “They would not be able to find many sites that they would be able to locate at.”

Nordquist says childcare can be held inside schools, but student instruction cannot because of metrics.

The district does not currently meet state metrics to return to in-person instruction, but those same guidelines don’t apply to Bend Parks and Rec.

“It does feel a little contradictory,” Nordquist said. “On the other hand, I’m completely sympathetic with families and their need for childcare for children in grades kindergarten through five.”

The program will be limited to forty students per school, each split into two cohorts.

Nordquist says that is a significantly lower number of kids in one place than if all grades came back to school.

“500 spots might be a drop in the bucket, but it is a way that we can help address some of that need in our community.”

Norquist hopes kids will be back for in-person learning

sooner than later, and childcare won’t be as much of an issue.

The last day to apply for Bend Parks and Rec’s fall program is August 31st.

▶️ BPRD announces all-day childcare program to support working families


A limited space all-day childcare program will be offered by Bend Parks and Recreation starting this fall.

In partnership with Bend-La Pine Schools, the program will be held at 14 elementary schools throughout the district to support working families.

“We just felt like it was important to step up now and help provide that alternative childcare for working parents,” Sue Boettner, recreation services manager, said. “So that they can make sure their kids are safe, that they’re getting the education that they need, and then that they’re safe and in an enriching environment.”

They call it Operation Recreation “Team Up.”

The alternative arrangement for first-to-fifth-grade children is a continuation of what BPRD’s summer programs look like.

The only difference is time set aside for distance learning.

“It’s not intended to replace school or education,” Boettner said. “We will have some education assistants guiding children through that part of the morning time.”

All-day program details:
Grades 1-5 (Kindergarten not eligible)
Dates: September 16 – October 23 (additional sessions will be added if distance learning is extended by Bend-La Pine Schools)
Schedule: Monday-Friday: 7:45am-4:30pm
Location: All Bend elementary schools except for Amity and Westside Village. Children will be assigned to their home school whenever possible.
Fee: $200 per week (due bi-weekly)
Financial assistance available for qualifying families

Boettner says she expects between 275 and 500 children in the program, and hopes to keep each at their home school.

BPRD will also follow all Oregon Health Authority guidelines, including social distancing and wearing masks.

Applying does not guarantee a place in the program.

However, if there are more applications than available spots, BPRD will be conduct a lottery to select participants and a designated number of spaces will be reserved for lower income families in need of financial assistance.

Applications are open Aug. 26 through Aug. 31.

Applicants will be notified on Sept. 2 if they have secured a spot or are placed on the waitlist. Applicants will also be notified about financial assistance awarded at this time.

For more information, visit https://www.bendparksandrec.org/activities/childcare/

▶️ Santa touches down in Bend’s Old Mill

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…and who better to bring that holiday cheer than Santa himself.

Every Black Friday Santa trades in his sleigh for a helicopter ride to Les Schwab Amphitheater.

Despite the busy season, Santa isn’t going back to the North Pole just yet. Until December 23rd he’ll at Santa Land in the Old Mill, waiting to snap a photo and grant your Christmas wishes.

Santa’s schedule is expected to fill up quickly, so arrive early, and don’t forget to bring that nice list smile.

If you’re trying to catch Santa this weekend, he’ll be at Santa Land from 11AM-5PM in the Old Mill.

▶️ Holiday shopping in full swing in Central Oregon

Holiday shopping was in full swing today for Black Friday.

In Bend’s Cascade Village Shopping Center parking lots were jam-packed and traffic was slowed to a crawl. However, Black Friday at big box stores still faces stiff competition from online retailers.

“I do most of it online. Like, I look at the stuff here and then look it up online, in the store. Most of the time it’s cheaper on line,” said Quenntin Jameson, a shopper visiting from Tacoma, Washington.  “Compared to Washington, it’s pretty chill and relaxed. Nobody’s getting trampled to death”

Over in Redmond it was a different story with shoppers casually strolling through the Holiday Village Market in Centennial Park.

“Even with the cold temperatures we do see a lot of people who are trying to shop local,” said Jenna Fox, a member of the Redmond Chamber of Commerce. “You know it’s easy to get online and shop Amazon but there’s that one-on-one connection with people that a lot of people value and you get to keep shopping from those businesses each year.”

Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Small Business Saturday, a national movement to keep that holiday spending close to home.

“Shopping local, for every dollar you spend  about 67-cents stays in town and then gets spread around again so there’s a multiplier effect,” said Eric Sande, the Executive Director of the Redmond Chamber of Commerce. “So shopping local keeps money here, it keeps people in business. They are our family and friends. We want to support everybody and make sure this is a good season for everybody.” 

The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest trade group, predicts holiday sales will rise between 3.8% and 4.2% this year compared to last, driven by a strong job market.