A way to have your say about the Galveston Street Corridor!

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Nov 262014

One of three streetscapes envisioned by Bend planners

One of three streetscapes envisioned by Bend planners
City of Bend graphics

Proposed traffic circle at Galveston and Harmon City of Bend graphic

Proposed traffic circle at Galveston and Harmon
City of Bend graphic

The City of Bend is inviting citizens to offer their opinions and/or preferences on proposed design concepts for the Galveston Avenue corridor which runs from the south end of Drake Park to the traffic circle on NW 14th. A public meeting on all this is being held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 4, in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 710 NW Wall Street.

Over the past eight months, the City of Bend has been working with a community Task Force and a City Technical Advisory Committee to develop a streetscape concept design for Galveston Avenue. There are three design concepts available for viewing along with photos of already created (elsewhere) street modifications to accommodate the designs.

With input from these community groups, staff has developed preliminary concepts with the vision and goals of the project in mind. The options will improve safety and reduce congestion at the intersection of Galveston Avenue and Harmon Boulevard and will identify locations for additional on-street parking. The public is also invited to take an online questionnaire about the Galveston Avenue project concepts.

For complete information, with lots of artist illustrations of the three possible streetscapes, simply click here.

Vehicle into a tree on 101st at Spruce, north of 126, west of Redmond

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Nov 242014

A car on 101st street well west of Redmond has smashed into a tree north of Highway 126 at Spruce. The driver is out of the vehicle but says his car is smoking like it’s going to catch fire. Emergency responders are enroute.

Paramedics evaluating driver.

School bus with 7 aboard rolls down a snowy hillside southwest of Bend

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Nov 222014

School bus slid of Century Drive in West Bend. One student injured.

School bus slid of Century Drive in West Bend. One student injured. OSP photo

Bus came to rest against some trees.

Bus came to rest against some trees.

Just before 10am Saturday morning Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers responded to a report of a Crook County high school bus enroute to a sporting practice, went out of control, slid off the road and rolled down a hillside. The incident occurred at milepost 15.5 on Century Drive west of Bend – roughly half-way between Bend and Mt Bachelor.

Oregon State Police Troopers, assisted by the Forest Service and Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, learned that the bus slid through the eastbound lane and off the embankment before rolling over twice – coming to rest against some trees about 50 feet down from the road. The bus was occupied by six students plus the driver. One of the students suffered a minor injury and was transported via ambulance to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend for treatment. The others suffered minor cuts, bumps and bruises.

The driver was identified as RUSSELL JOHNSON, 55, of Prineville.

Uncounted votes in Deschutes County could make-or-break GMO label measure

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Nov 212014
KPTV News Graphic

KPTV News Graphic

The Oregon Secretary of State’s Office is saying that an automatic recount of the votes of Measure 92, GMO labeling, appears likely since the current margin between the yes’s and no’s is less than 1%. The no’s are leading by a cat’s whisker.

Ironically, the overwhelming number of uncounted votes are from Deschutes County – 3,400 out of around 4,000. So when those are counted we’ll find out whether a recount is automatically required under state law.

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

The future of recreational marijuana looks quite busy and anything but clear..

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Nov 212014
Who can tax it or ban it altogether?

Who can tax it or ban it altogether?

Now that recreational marijuana has been given the green light by the voters to become legal in Oregon, those who want to tax it or even ban it are gearing up to lobby the next legislature to tailor Measure 91 into a form that suits local preferences.

Variations on how marijuana enters or doesn’t enter a community could become quite interesting. Here’s the story in the Oregonian.

Click here.

Charting a smarter course for Bend’s sewer system – keeping sewer rates under better control

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Nov 202014
Bend City Hall

Bend City Hall

Twenty year sewer plan

The Bend City Council Wednesday night seemed genuinely impressed with what appeared to be a revolutionary way to plan, build and charge for utility expansion in the community. The council was presented with a twenty year plan for sewer collection, transport and treatment. And it came as very welcome news. Instead of costing $130 million dollars over the next twenty years, it’ll be something 30% less than that – $80 million. It means, according to the city’s public works department, stable sewer rates for the foreseeable future while expanding the system to meet growing needs as Bend infills its vacant lands and fills out toward the edges of its urban growth limits.

The plan relies on a highly sophisticated array of software that allows cities and sewer districts to project future needs for more pipes, pumps and lift stations to get sewage to the nearest treatment plant. And it does it all in what was described as the most cost efficient manner – so the city doesn’t spend too much too soon based on current demand while still adding capacity later – a rather efficient “pay as you grow” system.

Public Works officials told the council that current expansions like the Southeast Interceptor, the Colorado Lift Station and increasing capacity on Bend’s north area will all be integrated into the overall “smart” plan – all built at the right time to provide the proper level of capacity when needed. This will, they say, prevent future over or under capacity throughout Bend. The plan also entails getting Bend residents that are still on septic tanks off of them. A special reserve fund is contemplated to begin that process, coupled with establishing local improvement districts to ensure those property owners pay into a fund that extends pipes to their properties.

Another review session is planned before the city planning commission November 24th and then back before the city council on December 3rd and 17th. On December 19th the plan is expected to be forwarded to the state Department of Land Conservation and Development for its review and hoped-for approval.

Again, total cost to the community for future sewer expansions is estimated to be $80 million rather than $130 million which should not drive sewer rates much higher over the long run because of the smarter pacing of infrastructure improvements.

New medical response plan welcomed by city council

New medical response plan welcomed by city council

Putting the $2 million fire protection tax levy to good use – doing more without paying retail

The City Council also got a report from Fire Chief Larry Langston and his staff that they now have a plan to put a recent fire protection levy override to good use. As promised to the voters, Chief Langston said the new plan will lower emergency response times within the Bend city limits from roughly 8 minutes down to 6, and in the Bend rural area from 12 minutes down to 8.

Chief Langston told the council that the key is in hiring lower cost EMT’s to take the place of highly trained paramedics which are often dispatched when their level of medical expertise is not required at the scene. Langston said that during the day most medical calls can be handled by EMT’s. When the program is in full bloom in early 2016, the more highly skilled (and higher paid) paramedics will respond mainly to emergencies that require such high levels of emergency medical intervention.

An added benefit to this more ‘calibrated’ response system is that at night, when medical calls taper off, and fires are more frequent, paramedics will be able to respond with regular firefighers on trucks that will now have a full complement of responders – four personnel instead of three. Upon arrival, having four personnel will allow OSHA-approved entry into a burning building to more quickly rescue anyone inside. Currently, Bend fire trucks carry only three personnel which means a fourth firefighter arriving in a separate vehicle will have to get there before anyone can go inside for a rescue.

Chief Langston, along with the city council, congratulated all who made the plan possible, including the Bend firefighters union which saw the need for enhanced service to the community and supported the changes. Langston said 93% of union members voted in favor of it. Again, full enactment is expected by mid-2016.

Vacation Home Rentals – Issue heating up

A number of Bend residents sternly addressed the council over what they called unwelcome Vacation Home Rental intrusions into their neighborhoods, especially a few specific ones. Some chastised the city for what they contended, in a round-about way, was a “loading” of the VHR study task force in favor of business and other special interests that favor VHRs. Neighbors complained that their neighborhoods were being made into a shadow of a typical residential area, what with the constant coming and going of “strangers” who are there to party, have fun, then leave – some partying more loudly than others and causing trash and parking problems to boot.

City staff defended the make up of the task force saying that its members are on the committee only to articulate various viewpoints on VHRs, not to write rules or regulations to control them – that’s up to the city council. City Manager Eric King chimed in reminding the council that recommendations from the committee are just that – recommendations. He added that the status quo on VHRs will not be allowed to continue, especially in view of the numerous complaints that have come into city hall about problems suffered by year round residents in their own neighborhoods. At the urging of complaining citizens the council expanded the membership of the 23 member committee to 24 to include Bend Bed and Breakfast owner Anne Goldner for whom the neighbors seem to have great respect.

The VHR Task Force will meet a number of times in the near future to adopt a series of observations as to the benefits and liabilities of VHRs and what can be done to fix the problems that VHRs post to single family neighborhoods. Many cities in Oregon are wrestling with the same issues as the economy improves and those who own vacation homes in desirable resort areas like Bend are seeing their customer base return in droves.

All city and county governments generally see VHRs as beneficial because they enjoy not only enhanced property taxes but also tourism room taxes that are produced by VHRs.

Council candidate Casey Roats. Will the city council seat accept him as the winner?

Council candidate Casey Roats.
Will the city council seat accept him as the winner?

City Council candidate Casey Roats – on the hot seat

…and finally, will the Bend City Council accept City Council candidate Casey Roats as a newly elected member of the council. Coast got the most votes for Position 6 but it was learned that Coats had not lived within the Bend City limits for a full year prior to the election. Coats has stated publicly that he did live outside Bend with family while he built a new home within the city limits of Bend. The council will have to wrestle with the question; “Was his intent to live in Bend the same thing as actually living in Bend?” The law is very vague about residency and usually sides with those who can make even weak arguments as to where THEY consider home. Coats maintains that he always intended to live in the city or why would he build a home there? However, would it be different if someone else put a deposit down on an apartment but never got around to moving in? But again, Roats could argue he worked diligently to get his home ready for occupancy.

The council decided to settle the issue at a special council meeting on Monday, December 1st. The council will interview Roats as to his “true residency,” talk about his responses and then render a decision. It’s their’s alone to make under the city charter. Although the public is welcome to attend the special meeting and witness all of the proceedings, there will be NO public comment allowed. Again, the issue is strictly among city council members. If they go along with Roats’ version of “true residency” he’ll be sworn into office at the council’s regular meeting later that week. If not, the runner-up candidate, Lisa Seales, would be in line to assume the Position 6 council seat.

Sen. Merkley: “We must leave 80% of world’s fossil fuels in the ground.”

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Nov 202014
Keystone Pipeline route from Canada to Louisiana refineries.

Keystone Pipeline route from Canada to Texas refineries.

Just prior to the razor thin vote on whether the U.S. Senate should approve the construction of the Keystone Pipeline from Canada to the American Gulf Coast, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley implored his colleagues to vote no. He went on to outline global climate change’s threat to the planet and stated that such projects as the pipeline are prime players in that threat.

Here’s how Senator Merkley presented his argument on the floor of the Senate in just 12 minutes. Click here.

It’s icy across central and eastern Oregon

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Nov 202014

odot banner

ODOT: East. Ore.: OR 204 (Weston-Elgin Hwy/Tollgate Hwy) is closed to commercial trucks between MP zero (OR 11 junction) and MP 40 (in Elgin/OR 82 junction ) due to icy conditions on the OR 11 side of the mountain pass. Several trucks have spun out of control and only passenger vehicles are allowed on the route until conditions improve. Many highways sections in Morrow and Umatilla County are closed due to ice. Travelers are prompted to stay at home until conditions improve. Check TripCheck.com or call 511 / 800-977-6368 for listing of all closure notifications and update conditions.

The newest addition to the Bend Police Department

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Nov 192014
Newly trained K-9 Rony Bend Police

Newly trained police dog
K-9 Rony
Bend Police

From Bend Police:

The Bend Police Department is excited to announce “Rony” as the newest canine addition. Rony is a 20 month old Belgium Malinois purchased from Adlerhorst International, a reputable canine vendor out of Riverside, California. This purchase was made possible by a donation from the Angela D. Collier Foundation. The Angela D. Collier Foundation is a non-profit organization focusing efforts on animal related services.

Officer Erick Supplee has been selected to handle Rony. Rony comes to the department initially trained in obedience, handler protection, and area searches. Officer Supplee and Rony recently passed Oregon Police Canine Association standards after an extensive four week training period. The team is set to begin their first patrol shift together next week.

Officer Supplee is a veteran police officer with over 11 years of service. He is also a prior canine officer. Officer Supplee had the opportunity to work with “Zlatan” for the past six and a half years. Zlatan retired last month at the age of 10 and is looking forward to relaxing with the Supplee family. This is a common practice with retired police canines as they become part of the handler’s family.

Officer Supplee and Zlatan had an impressive career. The team was deployed approximately 800 times. They captured or assisted in the arrest of 99 suspects, recovered 38 items of evidence, and located seven missing persons. The team also conducted numerous demonstrations at local schools, meetings, and functions.

The Bend Police Department would like to thank the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office for assisting in training Officer Supplee and Rony. Their personnel provided additional expertise and knowledge that will help the team become successful.

OHA monitoring six people recently back from Ebola areas in Africa

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Nov 192014

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 4.11.32 PM

Oregon Heath Authority officials say they are monitoring six Oregonians who recently returned from trips to areas of West Africa where Ebola is present. Officials say that all six are considered low risk. They are all calling in their body temperatures twice a day. They are being monitored for 21 days. It takes a maximum of 21 days for an exposure to Ebola to create symptoms which include Fever, Severe headache, Muscle pain, Weakness, Fatigue, Diarrhea,
Vomiting, Abdominal (stomach) pain, Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising).

All six persons being monitored live in the Portland area. Again they are considered low risk. The protocol is the same protocol that the Federal Centers for Disease Control have prescribed for all 50 states.