More of you have made the switch to Central Oregon Daily News in 2022. It’s been our privilege to bring you the news and the unique stories of the High Desert.
Here is a look at the top stories from the region over the past year.
Deadly shooting at Bend Safeway
Everyone knows where they were when they first heard about what happened on Aug. 28.
A gunman made his way from his apartment complex behind the Forum Shopping Center on Bend’s east side, entered the Safeway and shot and killed two men — military veterans — before taking his own life as police arrived. Customer Glenn Bennett and employee Donald Surrett Jr. were killed.
We learned that Surrett not only stayed in an attempt to stop the shooter, he actually caused the gunman to drop one of his weapons.
The masks come off
After nearly two years, Oregonians ditched those face masks.
Governor Kate Brown lifted the indoor mask requirement from the COVID-19 pandemic, taking effect after March 11. For many local businesses and schools it was the mark of a return to normal.
The 2022 general election made history in Oregon. For the first time, three women were on the ballot for governor.
National ratings agencies had this as a toss-up for months due to the inclusion of non-affiliated candidate Betsy Johnson.
Democrat Tina Kotek ended up defeating Republican Christine Drazan, extending Democrats’ 35-year run in the governor’s office.
On the flip side, Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, which now includes parts of Central Oregon, turned from blue to red as Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer defeated Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner.
Cedar Creek Fire forces evacuations near Cultus Lake
It started small and grew slowly for more than a month. But in early September, high temperatures and strong winds caused the fire to grow by tens of thousands of acres in a matter of a couple of days. It forced the closure of part of the Cascade Lakes Highway and cut off access to Cultus Lake and other areas.
Below is an animation showing the day-by-day progression as the Cedar Creek Fire grew.
And this was the dramatic scene from the skies on Sept. 9 as the plume from the rapidly-growing fire looked similar to that of a volcanic eruption.
Bend North Little League appeals after controversial loss in regional final
Controversy surrounded the end of the Northwest Region Final of the Little League World Series that cost Bend North Little League a shot at a trip to Williamsport.
The team from Washington defeated Bend North 3-2 in extra innings. The controversy came on a ball hit down line and hit the ground just past third base. The third base umpire called it foul. The home plate umpire called it fair. The Washington player who was on first at the time rounded the bases and scored the winning run.
Bend North head coach Brett Hartlaub says the foul call should have ended the play then and there, but the umpires let the call stand.
Hartlaub appealed to the Little League World Series to add Bend North as an extra team, but was denied.
The spread of homeless camps in Central Oregon hit a breaking point, with action close behind.
Nonprofit St. Vincent de Paul opened a homeless village. A new outdoor shelter — Central Oregon Villages — was approved and now under development on the east side of Bend.
Throughout the year, the City of Bend executed camp clean-ups on places like 2nd Street while ODOT cleaned areas along Highway 97.
In November, the Bend City Council narrowly passed a new unhoused camping code, banning homeless camping in residential areas, city property and public rights of way. But there are still unanswered questions about enforcement. The new code doesn’t go into effect until March.
Despite these efforts, the number of homeless individuals continues to rise locally. This year’s Point In Time count showed a 17% increase in homelessness in Central Oregon since 2021.
Ian Cranston found guilty in death of Barry Washington, Jr.
Cranston was found guilty in November of first- and second-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon in the death of Barry Washington Jr. in September 2021. He was found not guilty of second-degree murder.
Camp Tamarack controversy
Culver Middle School students headed to outdoor school at Camp Tamarack, only to be brought home hours later after complaints about the gender identity of counselors.
Several other local school districts send kids to Camp Tamarack, including Bend La-Pine Schools. But Culver was the only one to pull its kids out.
In the month that followed, the superintendent for Culver schools and Camp Tamarack Leadership worked together on a path forward.
Bend Whitewater Park death
In late April, 17-year-old Benjamin Murphy died after getting trapped underwater for about six minutes at Bend Whitewater Park.
The surfing wave was closed down for seven weeks. When it reopened, a leash ban was put in place for all surfers as a safety measure.
Also, a rack with loaner gear — including life jackets — now sits next to the entrance to the river in hopes of preventing future tragedies.
Banner year at the amphitheater
From the Goo Goo Dolls to Thomas Rhett to Weird Al Yankovic, folks enjoyed more than 50 shows at the Hayden Homes Amphitheater.
The venue made some big changes, including a larger stage, a higher-capacity of up to 8,000 people and the addition of the controversial policy to ban outside chairs.