Water utility owner to be grilled by Bend City Council Monday on legality of his election to the council

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Nov 302014
 
Casey Roats - lived outside the city limits at the time of filing and on election day but was building a new home inside the Bend city limits.

Casey Roats – lived outside the city limits at the time of filing and on election day but was building a new home inside the Bend city limits.

Bend City Councilor-elect Casey Roats will be trying to convince the Bend City Council Monday that despite living outside the city limits for months before November 4th, he should none-the-less be allowed to take his seat on the council because he was building a new home inside the city limits on Brookswood Boulevard.

However, Charles Ringo, a supporter of Lisa Searles, another city council candidate Roats barely beat to win the election, says the city charter is very clear. Ringo says the charter says that if a candidate doesn’t live inside the city limits for 12 months immediately preceding the election, they can’t even file for election much less claim the seat if he or she wins. Obviously Roats was allowed to file based on what had to be his claim that he was a city resident, listing the address of the new home he was building while he stayed at his parents house several miles outside of Bend.

During the last Bend City Council meeting, City Attorney Mary Winters made it clear to the council that when they interview Roats to ascertain his eligibility to take office, they should remember that they have wide discretion to determine residency. But again, there is the City Charter stipulation that states that residency must be continuous at least one year before election day.

Should be an interesting discussion. They get down to business Monday afternoon, 3pm, at Bend City Hall.

Redmond: Small brush fire behind Albertson’s on Odem Medo

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Nov 292014
 

11:50pm
Redmond Fire Rescue enroute to putting out a small brush fire behind Albertson’s on Odem Medo. Law enforcement on scene says it’s got “pretty good flame lengths.”

11:57pm
Sounds like the fire is getting bigger – now up to 10 x 10′ and long flame lengths. Law enforcement wants fire department to “step on it.”

11:58pm
Fire department on scene. Small fire in the bushes. Will soon be out, no doubt.

Smoke inside a duplex at 2082 Novo Loop

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Nov 292014
 

11:34pm
Bend Fire Rescue units are enroute to a report of smoke inside a duplex at 2082 Novo Loop.

11:36pm
Bend Police say there is a smell of smoke, but no smoke visible in the duplex. Occupants in one unit have evacuated. The other unit is vacant.

11:41pm
Slight haze in upstairs unit. No active fire that they can find. All other units inbound can switch to Code 1, which means obey speed limits and take your time getting there.

11:42pm
One or two other fire units inbound have been told to return to their fire stations.

11:48PM
Investigators say it’s a problem with the furnace.

Does the Newberry Crater area south of Bend have the most important power plant in the country?

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Nov 292014
 
Newberry Crater EGS 37 miles SE of Bend

Newberry Crater EGS
37 miles SE of Bend

While there seems to be endless talk and publicity about wind, wave, and solar energies replacing nuclear and coal plants, “the little power plant that could” continues to make progress at proving itself south of Bend.

Imagine endless supplies of electricity at prices below coal plants, courtesy of the center of the Earth.

A progress report on those efforts appeared last week in Forbes business magazine. Here’s the story. Click here.

Conservationists cry foul at task force response to bee kill off

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Nov 292014
 

Bumble Bee doing it's thing pollinating the landscape...

Bumble Bee doing it’s thing pollinating the landscape…


Pollinating bee die offs quite severe due to improper pesticide use.

Pollinating bee die offs quite severe due to pesticide use.

When bumblebees started dying off by the millions over the past five years, the cause was quickly traced to the use of a kind of pesticide that was apparently never tested on bees – the primary cross pollinating critter on the planet.

Now that the pesticide is in general use, some of those on a special Oregon investigative task force are reluctant to ban the pesticide because of the economic effects it would have on growers and nursery outlets.

In a a head-scratcher of a story, conservationists are howling mad – some of whom served on the task force and who want the group’s report struck down before it gets to the legislature.

Here’s the story in the Oregonian. Click here.

Smell of smoke at Redmond Motors

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Nov 292014
 

11:20am
Smell of smoke inside Redmond Motors in Redmond.

11:24am
Fire units on scene.

11:30am
Firefighters checking the overhead crawl space.

Two die in head on crash on Powell Butte Road Friday evening

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Nov 292014
 
Double fatal head on crash Powell Butte Road near Pronghorn Resort.

Double fatal head on crash
Powell Butte Road near Pronghorn Resort.

From Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office

Two men were killed late Monday afternoon when the vehicles they were riding in, east of Bend, crashed head on on Powell Butte Road north of Highway 20.

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office reports that a Honda Accord headed south, for some reason, drifted over the center line on a straight stretch near Pronghorn Resort, and directly into the path of a northbound Chevy Suburban.

Suburban Passenger Stephen Harnden, 65, of Prineville was killed. Harnden’s son, Stephen Harnden, 35, was treated and released from St. Charles Medical Center. Driver of the Suburban, Ryan Reed 35, of Prineville was transported to St. Charles Medical Center with serious injuries but which were not considered life-threatening.

Driver of the Honda, Richard Patterson, 21 of Bend, was Air Linked to St. Charles but was pronounced deceased a short time later. Patterson’s pit bull dog also died in the crash.

No word yet on what may have caused Patterson’s Honda to cross over the center line and into the oncoming Suburban. Again, Patterson’s pit bull was aboard. It wasn’t reported whether the animal was restrained while riding in the car.

County Commissioners appear ready to give basalt aggregate mine thumbs up next month

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Nov 282014
 
Deschutes County Commission

Deschutes County Commission

Deschutes County Commissioners appear ready to send another set of solutions back to the state land use board of appeals (LUBA) in an attempt to get some farmland, 25 miles southeast of Bend, turned into a basalt aggregate mine. The family that owns the Millican Mine site at Highway 20 near Spencer Wells Road, has been trying for ten years to get the mine dug and opened to sell its highly prized basalt aggregate rock to construction firms and agencies like ODOT which uses it for road construction and maintenance.

Over the years, Deschutes County commissioners have been whittling down the objections of neighboring property owners and BLM grazing land lease holders who believe the mine will be disruptive not only for running cattle but for sage grouse that live in the area.

Great Sage Grouse Wiki Commons photo

Great Sage Grouse
Wiki Commons photo

Of late there has been a move to put sage grouse on the endangered species list as a threatened species – something that is being contemplated in other states and which may be done within a year here in Oregon depending on what wildlife biologists come up with. But some natural resources agencies, like U.S. Fish and Wildlife contend that the sage grouse should be considered as a strong candidate for being listed as “threatened” due to widespread degradation of its habitat throughout the West.

Millican Mine site Courtesy photo

Millican Mine site
Courtesy photo

Against this backdrop the commissioners still maintain that the Millican Mine should move forward and that a half-mile buffer zone around it should soften or eliminate any impact to area sage grouse or cattle grazing. As to whether the mine would prompt the sage grouse to flee the mine area and set up homesteading on that nearby BLM grazing land, the commissioners said they doubt that would happen, but added that no one can predict that. However, the commissioners admitted that if such a thing did occur, it would be up to the county to find ways to mitigate it and to prevent the Bureau of Land Management from cutting back cattle grazing on nearby lands in order to accommodate the bird’s habitat needs.

Paul Dewey, Central Oregon Landwatch (far left) Courtesy photo

Paul Dewey, Central Oregon Landwatch (far left)
Courtesy photo


Sharon Smith, mine owner's attorney - "Sage Grouse" is off the table."

Sharon Smith, mine owner’s attorney –
“Sage Grouse is off the table.”

At this point a representative from Central Oregon Landwatch joined the discussion admonishing the commissioners to take the sage grouse issue more seriously. Paul Dewey disagreed with the mining company attorney’s assertion that LUBA had laid the sage grouse issue to rest – that it was “off the table” as attorney Sharon Smith claimed. Dewey reminded the commission that a number of state and federal natural resource agencies are investigating whether the sage grouse should become listed as a threatened species. If it becomes listed as threatened, it would make land use planning and land use conflicts, such as the Millican Mine issue, even more difficult. In fact it could make many other land use conflicts across Oregon and the West even more contentious.

Dewey said under the commission’s mitigation plan for the mine, the commission proposed only that sage grouse strutting areas be protected. Dewey said the commission’s rules completely ignore the bird’s nearby nesting and migration corridors. Dewey added that Governor Kitzhaber is relying on counties like Deschutes to make a good case that sage grouse habitat is being properly protected – thereby proving that listing the sage grouse as threatened is not necessary. Dewey strongly inferred that if the current mitigation plan for the Millican Mine is the best the county can do, the commissioners won’t be doing the governor any favors.

County Commission Chair Tammy Baney summoned Community Development Director Nick LeLack to the microphone to ask him to schedule a commission workshop to explore issues like this one as well as other topics related to development of natural resources while minimizing impacts on the environment and wildlife. LeLack said he thinks it’s always a good idea to update county plans and regulations dealing with such issues because natural resources research is constantly evolving and therefore the county should do all it can to keep up with the latest. Commissioner Allen Unger strongly agreed with LeLack adding that land use and natural resource issues should be viewed with an eye to the latest research and best management practices when making important decisions that come before the county commission.

In the meantime Commission Chair Baney and the other commissioners agreed that the owners of the proposed mine deserve, after ten years of waiting, a chance to move forward with their project and that the commission’s 20 conditions applied to the land use change from farmland to mining are adequate. The commission also said LUBA should realize that high quality basalt aggregate is extremely valuable as a resource for construction and road maintenance and that when it’s found in areas where its extraction impacts are minimal, it should be allowed to be mined and therefore benefit the state as a whole.

The commission will discuss the issue further December 15th and make a decision on their mitigation plan and send a written record of that decision and everything that went in to it to the Land Use Board of Appeals on January 30th. Then they’ll wait to hear if LUBA agrees with them.

Fatal Accident Powell Butte Road – Two vehicles collide, 1 rolls over

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Nov 282014
 
Powell Butte Road Fatal Friday evening One fatality and at least one serious injury

Powell Butte Road Fatal
Friday evening
One fatality and at least one serious injury

4:45pm
Two vehicle crash on Powell Butte Highway milepost 10. Four people involved, one fatality in the car that rolled on impact. Watch for emergency vehicles.

5:20pm
Lifeflight airlifts one badly injured person to St. Charles. Two others not so badly injured.

6:15pm
Regional Crash Team on scene to perform forensics since it was a fatal crash.

Powell Butte Highway closed 3 miles north of Highway 20 ’til further notice.

Weather is diving into the deep freeze again…

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Nov 282014
 
20 car pile-up on I-5 near Albany, 2012 ODOT photo

20 car pile-up on I-5 near Albany, 2012
ODOT photo

From ODOT

BEND – As weather forecasters predict snow over the Cascade Mountains when travelers return from holiday activities, ODOT is advising motorist to check travel conditions on Tripcheck.com, or call 511, before hitting the road. A cold front is predicted to drop into Oregon with temperatures dropping below freezing. Forecasters say there is a possibility of snow and freezing rain in some areas, including mountain passes. ODOT maintenance crews will be working day and night to address weather issues as they arise.

General winter driving tips include:
* Plan ahead, give yourself plenty of time.
* Adjust your driving for the conditions if there is ice of snow on the road.
* Be ready to handle potentially dangerous situations.
* Look for signs indicating when chains or traction tires are required, and chain up early when you are required to do so.
* If you lose traction, slow down gradually – don’t slam on your brakes.
* Use extra caution when driving on bridges or concrete highways; ice forms first on these surfaces.
* Give snow plows and road maintenance equipment extra room and don’t pass snow plows on the right (plow drivers will pull over to let you pass, so be patient).
* Don’t use cruise control in wet, icy or snowy weather.