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County Approves Grant Money For Mobile Outreach Van

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Health Services plans to use an $80,000 grant from the Central Oregon Health Council to purchase a mobile clinic.

Clinical Services Manager Anne Kilty is excited for the van that will provide services to people unable to get to clinics in Redmond and Bend. “Some basic health screenings that could be useful out in the community: blood pressure checks, diabetes screenings. Our WIC team will be providing nutritional support, breastfeeding support, early dental intervention for pregnant and postpartum women and children up to the age of five. And then, our perinatal care team will be doing maternity case management services,” says Kilty, noting the county has been working towards an outreach van since before the pandemic. She hopes to park the van in different communities at places like libraries, where patients can rely on their presence.

Deschutes County Commissioners approved the awarding of the grant at Wednesday’s board meeting.

Kilty says patients may be more comfortable accessing the van for care rather than going to a clinic, “It’s really important that we reach out to people and communities that are not able to access the Bend and Redmond locations very easily. We know people have problems getting to the clinic; some people don’t have good transportation, don’t have resources to pay for gas, have childcare and work issues.”

The van should be purchased and ready for use by July 1st.

Four Floors Approved For Deschutes Courthouse Expansion

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners on Wednesday approved adding a fourth floor to planned renovations at the County Courthouse.  

Commissioner Phil Chang says the additional space is helpful, even if it isn't used by court staff initially. “There are opportunities to use that space for activities, (and) organizations that are court-related. (That) makes it a much more attractive proposition,” said Chang adding that an estimated $44.5 million “is a very big price tag. That said, I definitely think that shelling out the fourth floor is a much more cost-effective option.”

The commissioners were given an option to have three floors built. Commissioners Patti Adair and Tony DeBone also support the fourth floor option because of the space. “Having another 10,000 to 13,000 (square feet of) flex space for future public safety, court proceeding needs is going to be very valuable,” said Debone, while noting the County will be asking the legislature in their next session to help pay for the addition.

Next spring will see the completion of a schematic design along with an updated cost estimate. The Courthouse Expansion could be completed in two to three years.

Local Snowpack Off To Strong Start

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon’s snowpack is off to a strong start, thanks to early season snowstorms. Snowpack in the Upper Deschutes and Crooked River basin are 144% of normal for this time of year, as of Thursday.

NRCS Hydrologist Matt Warbritton says an early November storm was followed by two weeks of dry weather, which was a little concerning, "Towards the end of November, we started to get significant storms again that again dropped pretty substantial snowpack for this early in the season, across most parts of the state. Even where it’s been a little dryer, like southern Oregon and much of Central Oregon, those areas also received pretty significant snowpack."

However, he says those November storms weren't all positive, "A lot of the early season storms, instead of precipitation as rain, that precipitation fell as snow at higher elevations. So, we didn’t quite get the amount of rain early in the season that we usually get, and that’s why some of the basins show below normal precipitation." He tells KBND News, "We would like to start to see more near-normal precip levels for more sites. Especially in Central Oregon, where they’re still the highest levels of drought in the state." According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, much of Crook County remains in “exceptional drought” - which is the highest level. 

Warbritton says it's a good start to replenishing reservoirs that have dried out from several years of drought, but the trend needs to continue. "Those above normal conditions are needed because next summer they’re going to be drawing directly from the water supply they get from this season’s snowmelt and they can’t really rely on any sort of carry-over." 

The takeaway is, he says, this snowy trend needs to continue; we still need more moisture before next spring to recover from previous precipitation shortfalls.


Tips For Averting Utility Bill Sticker Shock This Winter

BEND, OR -- With temperatures dipping into the teens and twenties, Pacific Power says there are a few things you can do to keep your electric bill from heating up. Tom Gauntt suggests caulking around doors and windows to seal off any leaks. For larger drafts, "You know where the cold wind comes from and you say, ‘Gee, I’ve got a door that faces that cold wind.’ You can go to the store, and they have these nice little things for the bottoms of doors, or makeshift towels or an old rug or something to kind of keep that cold air from coming in."

Try not to heat rooms you aren’t using. "Sometimes it can be simply, ‘You know what? We don’t really use that spare room anymore.’ And you can turn down the heat vent that’s in there," He tells KBND News not to turn heat off where pipes might freeze, "You don’t want to be foolish about it, if there’s some water pipes in the room or something, don’t cause a new problem."

Clean or replace furnace filters and make sure registers and intake vents are clear of furniture, so air can move freely. And, avoid the temptation to turn up the thermostat when it gets colder. Gauntt says it won’t heat your house any faster, "Try to set the thermostat at about 68. That might seem kind of cool to people but, if you can keep it there consistently and you have these other factors taken care of, it should keep you comfortable."

And, avoid relying too heavily on space heaters, "If you have a 1500 watt portable heater running eight hours a day every day, you’re looking at about $30 a month on the bill, right there, Those appliances have their place and we operate them safely and sparingly, it’s fine. But just to say, ‘I’m going to heat the garage all winter using that,’ it’s going to be costly."

Energy Trust of Oregon offers energy efficiency consultations if you need help finding other ways to save on your power bill.

Redmond Library Preps New Building Construction

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s library will soon be on the move, in preparation for a major reconstruction project. Deschutes Public Library Director Todd Dunkelberg says they’ll shift some books to the former Redmond Design Center on South Highway 97 in mid-January. It's about a quarter of the size of the current facility, “It’s definitely a temporary location. We’ll have some popular materials there to checkout, and people can place holds and we’ll have that service going. And then we’ll be doing a lot of work out in the community," Dunkelberg tells KBND News, "So, a lot of the programs that you normally would’ve gone to the library, we’ll be holding at different venues around Redmond."

The current 20,000 square foot library will be torn down and a 40,000 square foot facility built in its place, slated to open in August of 2024. “We’ll have a meeting room that can hold about 240 people, tutor space; one-on-one meeting space where people can meet to tutor people, you could have a Zoom meeting. We’ll have a co-working area, some really neat creative and do-it-yourself areas," says Dunkelberg, "It’ll have a drive-up window in Redmond, so on those cold days where you don’t feel like getting out of your car you can pull up, we’ll hand the books to you."

Redmond's Jessie Hill School was built in 1919 and has housed the library since 1996. Dunkelberg says it's just too small for the community now. "We needed a building of about 40,000 square feet to serve Redmond and how much it’s grown. We started off looking at how could we remodel that building and make it work? And it just didn’t work for us." He says he recognizes it's a loss for Redmond, "It was a really tough decision but we really wanted to be right in the heart of the city of Redmond. And talking with the city of Redmond, they were very interested in keeping us in the same location, as well."

Nearly every branch in the Deschutes Public Library system will be renovated in 2023, as part of the $195 million bond passed by voters in 2020. Dunkelberg says, "Really, the biggest piece of all this is the Children’s Discovery Spaces, that we’re doing in all of our libraries. But that was the number one thing that people said they wanted to see in their libraries, when we went out and talked to almost 7,000 people across the county.”

Click HERE to learn more about the Redmond Library project, and get details on a Thursday open house. 


La Pine Garage Damaged By Fire

LA PINE, OR -- Firefighters responded to a report of a blaze in the Ponderosa Pines Neighborhood of La Pine, early Wednesday morning. Arriving crews found fire coming from the back of a two-car detached garage and extending to the attic, just after 3 a.m.

Amid temperatures in the mid-teens and snowy conditions, they knocked down the flames and extinguished the fire, preventing it from spreading to the nearby home and vehicles. 

Everyone inside got out safely, after seeing the glow of the fire. Investigators believe it started outside the garage and involved a pile of firewood, although the exact cause remains under investigation.  


OSU-Cascades Gifted $60k For Sustainable Tourism Lab

BEND, OR -- OSU-Cascades has received a $60,000 gift from Visit McMinnville, the tourism board for that Willamette Valley city. Todd Montgomery is the Founder and Director of OSU’s Sustainable Tourism Lab, and says the money will further his team’s work, "It first started with Visit Bend in January. They gave us a gift to essentially allow us to launch the Sustainable Tourism Lab. And then, McMinnville has graciously joined us. What both of these groups show is that they’re really at the tip of the spear as it relates to sustainable tourism."

Montgomery defines "sustainable" as balancing the benefits of tourism with the costs, "There’s environmental costs, there’s society costs and, of course, there’s economic. By knowing what the community wants and what has worked in other communities, we can find out what those benefits are and we kind find out a way to really address those costs in the most equitable way possible."

He tells KBND News it’s important for communities to have reliable data, "There is this perception that it is negative. But honestly, and this is across the board, it’s rarely ever quantified. And the surveys that do try to quantify it, 80% of those had a significant amount of bias, in one way or the other. I think where we sit is a chance to really be a uniter on this and be an objective source of information."

Montgomery says this latest gift will benefit communities across the country as research expands. It'll help pay for continuing a five-year study on tourism impacts, student researchers and studying other places. 


Deschutes Co. Seeks Input On Transportation System Plan

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County’s Road Department it’s updating the Transportation System Plan for projects scheduled through 2040. "Things like intersection improvements, roundabouts in rural county intersections, road segments that will be improved, bike and pedestrian improvements, bridges, general safety projects," Says Director Chris Doty, "And then there’s a component in there as well that includes improvements to the state highway system where a county road connects to it."

The projects total around $300 million, including a new intersection at Highway 97 and Quarry, south of Redmond. "Growth’s going to happen mostly through development of the cities. But sometimes the transportation system needs to extend out and we need to work with the cities to do that. And the Quarry project is an example of that - very, very important to the city of Redmond." He adds, "There are some that I think you could consider aspirational, like the Quarry Avenue interchange," Doty tells KBND News, "Like the interchange on the south end of Deschutes River Woods that’s proposed to connect Highway 97 across from the High Desert Museum. But, for the most part, what we’ve put out, there is, I would say, a reasonably fundable list of projects based on the revenue we have in place today and what we see as logical increases that will occur over time." Advancement of those two projects are dependent on state funding, but Doty says most of the others are from county funds and anticipated grants. 

A virtual open house is available on the county’s website, including an interactive map of all projects planned through 2040, "You can zoom in around where you live or areas of interest and see what’s been planned." Feedback will be accepted through December 31. Doty says the plan should be finalized by County Commissioners early next year.


Newly Elected Redmond City Councilors Train For Upcoming Work

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s City Council will have two new members, come January, and a third is anticipated the following month. Councilors and Councilors-elect took part in a training retreat over the weekend. Mayor-elect Ed Fitch says it was a chance to get to know each other, "Building that teamwork and looking at how we want to function as a Council; what rules we want to have." They were also briefed on future city plans, "What projects are in place, where are we at on them, what can we expect in the coming year for issues to come before the Council, particularly for the first quarter or in the spring."

Fitch anticipates changes when he becomes the Council’s first new leader in more than a decade. He tells KBND News he wants an open discussion process, "We’ll have an opportunity for two or three Councilors to bring issues up rather than just relying on just the Mayor or majority of Council. So, I think some minority issues will be discussed - or an opportunity to have that on the agenda. I’m recommending that we have more joint sessions with our committees and commissions."

They’re also developing plans for filling the vacancy created by Fitch's election to Mayor. "What I’m going to recommend to the Council is that we have an open process where people can apply," Fitch says, "Those applications should be shared with the Council and reviewed, in more of a consensus-building appointment process, rather than just have me pick somebody and ask the Council to approve them." He hopes to start the process in late December and have the person appointed by the end of January. A similar process is already underway in Bend, to fill Councilor Melanie Kebler’s seat when she becomes Mayor.


Madras Mother & Son Convicted Of Abusing Foster Kids

MADRAS, OR -- A woman and her adult son were convicted this week of multiple charges related to the abuse of two foster children in their care, a four-year-old girl and seven-year-old boy. 

According to the Jefferson County District Attorney, 50-year-old Oglivia Pineda-Garcia took the boy to the ER in May of 2018 with a significant cut on his face that required stitches. St. Charles reported  St. Charles reported concerns to law entorcement after Pineda-Garcias' explanation did not seem consistent with the injury. Because the child did not disclose any abuse at that time, he was allowed to return to the home.

In June 2018, both children were seen at DHS in Madras with multiple injuries to their faces and bodies. Both children were interviewed at the KIDS Center in Bend, where they disclosed significant additional abuse, including the  boy being kicked in the face and held face-up under running water by 27-year-old Edgar Macias.  

The boy also disclosed that the but that sent him to the emergency room in May 2018 was caused by Pineda-Garcia striking him in theface with a glass mason jar that shattered. The girl reported having her hair pulled by Defendant Pineda-Garcia.
Law enforcement executed a search warrant at the home Pineda-Garcia shared with her son Macias in July 2018, where they found a set of seven mason jar-type glasses. Sheriff Jason Pollock, a
detective at the time, moved the refrigerator in the home and located a glass fragment. A second glass fragment with a lip that appeared to match the mason jars was discovered under the stove. The individual who treated the child at st. Charles testified his injury was consistent with being struck with a mason jar. 
Pineda-Garcia was convicted of Assault in the Second Degree, Unlawtul Use of a Weapon, Assault in the Third Degree (3 counts), Criminal Mistreatment in the First Degree (3 counts), Assault in the Fourth Degree, and Harassment. Macias was convicted of Assault in the Second Degree, Criminal Mistreatment in the First Degree (2 counts), Assault in the Third Degree (2 counts), and Strangulation. Sentencing is scheduled for January 3, 2023.

Horses Escape Pasture During Dispute East of Bend

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Deputies say a dispute east of Bend resulted in more than $50,000 in damage. Brandon Hoff was arrested on numerous charges Thursday night.

Investigators say the 32-yeear-old from Bend fought with another man at an Erickson Road property, then crashed his SUV into several parked cars, a shed door and fence. DCSO says a number of horses escaped their pasture, due to the damage. They were later corralled by their owner.

When deputies arrived, they say Hoff was standing near a vehicle with heavy front end damage. He was taken into custody without incident. The 53-year-old victim received minor injuries. 

Hoff is charged with Assault, Criminal Mischief, Menacing, and Reckless Endangering.


Bend City Council Accepts Applications For Expected Vacancy

BEND, OR -- Bend's City Council began accepting applications Friday to fill the anticipated vacancy created when Melanie Kebler becomes Mayor. Council plans to officially declare the vacancy on on January 4, when Kebler is sworn in as Mayor. Because Kebler was elected as Mayor in the middle of her four-year Council term, her move to the Mayor vacates the remaining two years of her Position One seat. That term expires in December 2024.

The Bend Charter requires a vacancy on Council be filled by appointment within 30 days of declaring the vacancy. Council Rules describe the process for filling a vacancy.

Online applications are accepted on the city's website, along with a letter of interest which may address such areas as reasons for wanting to serve on the Council, working as a part of a team and representing various areas of the community. 

Applicants can also come to City Hall (710 NW Wall St.) Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to fill out an application.  Please contact Melissa Mitsch to set up an appointment at 541-388-5505 or mmitsch@bendoregon.gov.

Completed applications are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023. The Council will review the applications then can select candidates for interviews. The Council anticipates conducting interviews the week of January 9 and expects to make an appointment at the regular Council meeting on Wednesday, January 18.

The Council aims to have the appointment made prior to the start of its goal-setting process, which takes place in late January. Dates, times and locations for all meetings will be available on the City Calendar once scheduled.

Alleged Wrong-Way Driver Arrested After Running From Police

BEND, OR -- A 31-year-old Bend woman is accused of running away from a DUI crash on the north end of town. Bend Police say Jessica Capasso was seen speeding through the Sportsman’s Warehouse parking lot on Hunnell Road, at about 9 p.m. Thursday. When officers approached her parked car, they say she drove over two parking lot islands before reaching Highway 97. Investigators say she then drove north in the southbound lanes and collided with a Jeep Wrangler that had just turned left onto the highway. The driver of the Jeep was taken to the hospital.

Capasso allegedly ran from the crash scene and hid in nearby bushes. Officers found evidence of drug use in her abandoned car. With the help of a drone, police found Capasso and she was arrested on suspicion of DUII-drugs, Attempt to Elude, Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangering, Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver, Driving While Suspended, Criminal Mischief, and a Probation Violation. She was checked out at the hospital before being booked into the jail.


Driver Charged In Deadly Hwy 58 Crash

OAKRIDGE, OR -- State Police have arrested a driver they say is responsible for a crash that killed a five-year-old girl and injured a Sunriver couple.

Amber Gonzalez-Riddle, of Portland, was westbound on Highway 58 on the evening of November 20th. Troopers say she crossed into oncoming traffic, about 25 miles east of Oakridge, and hit an SUV driven by a Sunriver woman. The two people in the SUV were pulled from the vehicle before it caught fire, and taken to the hospital.

A child in Gonazlez-Riddle’s car died at the scene. Two other passengers, a three-year-old and adult, along with Gonzalez-Riddle were transported to the hospital. She is now accused of Manslaughter, DUII and other charges. 

Bend Christmas Parade Saturday 12/3

BEND, OR -- The Bend Christmas Parade makes its way through downtown Saturday.

This year’s theme is a High Desert Christmas. “We’re looking for everybody to kind of just celebrate in the spirit of the high desert where we live and just kind of embracing that fabulous topography and everything that we have and incorporating that into their theme of their floats in some way, shape, or form,” said the Parade Committee’s Dina Barker who is grateful for the scores of volunteers, along with the Oregon National Guard Youth Challenge Program, who make the parade possible.

Parade Chairman Michael Sipe expects a record number of entrants. “This is the 30th anniversary of the volunteer committee doing it. So, this is going to be the biggest one ever. We have over a hundred entrants. Last year was the biggest turnout of the parade. Thousands of people out on the streets. From all of the people that have been doing it for 30 years they said ‘we’ve never seen any kind of turnout like this’,” said Sipe who is also excited about this year’s special dignitary, a former St. Charles CEO, “Jim Lussier is the Grand Marshall. He’s obviously one of the finest gentleman and biggest community leaders that we have in Central Oregon. So tremendous opportunity for us to say thank you to him for his years and years in community leadership.”

The parade starts at 12 pm beginning on Newport Avenue, travels down Wall Street, then by Drake Park, and finishes on the corner of Galveston and Harmon. 

Drivers need to watch for street closures along the route.

Emergency Roadside EV Charging Comes To Bend

BEND, OR -- Roadside assistance for electric vehicles is coming to Bend. AAA's Marie Dodds tells KBND News a pilot program is expanding to members in Central Oregon, offering mobile charging for EVs that run out of "juice."

She says, "We’ve been doing it for drivers of gas and diesel-powered cars for decades, and now we can provide a similar service providing ‘fuel,’ if you will, to drivers of electric vehicles. So, we can charge your depleted EV right there on the roadside and get you back on your way." Dodds estimates it takes about 30 minutes to charge enough to drive 10-14 miles, "What our service does is give you enough electric vehicle charge, if you will, so that you can drive safely to your home or to a close charging station."

She says having an emergency service like this could ease worries for car buyers interested in purchasing an EV, "‘Range anxiety’ is a top concern for folks who are thinking about purchasing or leasing an electric vehicle. They worry about having enough range to be able to drive where they need to go."

Portland was one of just six cities in the pilot program when it launched in 2011. It’s now in 14 cities nationwide. Dodds says it’s a sign of how mainstream EVs have become, "To have Portland and Bend on the list, two of only 14 cities across the country, this is a big deal for our area. And, of course, for Oregon it makes sense because electric vehicles are very popular here. They continue to grow. Oregon is fourth per capita in the nation." Of the 14 cities where the mobile roadside charging service is now available, only three are on the west coast: Bend, Portland and San Francisco. 

BPD Closes Safeway Shooting Investigation, Releases Video

BEND, OR -- Bend Police released surveillance footage from the August fatal shooting at Safeway, Thursday, as the investigation comes to a close. In addition to at least 90 videos collected during the investigation, Bend Police say they logged another 173 pieces of evidence. 

Bend PD's Sheila Miller says the extensive footage available from nearby Costco and Big Lots, as well as an apartment’s Ring camera and security cameras inside Safeway were critical to piecing together what happened. "It confirms that the suspect acted alone; it confirms that he got to Safeway on foot by walking through the shopping complex. And, it also confirms that he died by suicide at the end of the incident," she tells KBND News, "We ran down a lot of rumors and a lot of suggestions that there were additional people involved. And this helped us confirm that none of that is the case." The video released to the public has no audio and all faces are redacted, covered with a black square. 

The video sheds light on the shooter's movements just after 7 p.m. Sunday, August 28, "That starts at the apartment complex, moves through the Forum Shopping Center, into Safeway," says Miller. The gunman is seen shooting out windows of the Big Lots before getting to the grocery store. Once inside Safeway, he's seen firing at shopper Glenn Bennett, who died at the scene. The gunman then randomly fires at store shelves, moving through the store. He interacts with another shopper laying on the floor and fires a shot near his feet. 

About 70 seconds after entering the store, the shooter is confronted by produce worker Donald Surrett. Chief Mike Krantz tells KBND News, "Mr. Surrett obviously was aware something was going on. He made the decision to take action by hiding behind a rollable or moveable shelving unit and then, as the shooter approached him or passed him, Mr. Surrett attempts to attack him to try to disarm him." Surrett was shot and killed in the struggle.

Previous Coverage: Slain Grocery Store Worker Heralded As Hero In Bend Shooting

About a minute later, the shooter sits down on the floor and turns the gun on himself as police enter the store. "What the video shows is that the four initial officers that went in, went in on their own without waiting for a whole team or additional units," says Krantz. "What happens in those scenarios, or those incidents, when an officer goes in, they don’t know exactly where a suspect may be, so they’re listening for indicators as to where to go. And the video shows the officers going in one direction, they hear an indicator, they immediately change directions and approach and then confront, at that point, the shooter who had already committed suicide." Police reports also released Thursday reveal around 30 off-duty Bend officers arrived to the scene after the initial response by on-duty teams. 

Chief Krantz says the video’s release is in response to public records requests by the media, "This is material that we felt we were obligated to release, legally. However, we also feel that it’s pretty horrific material; it’s violence that doesn’t need to be really released into the world, and it doesn’t need to be watched by people." KBND News will not name the shooter nor provide the footage released Thursday.

Bend Police say they provided advance notice of the video's release to Safeway management and the District Attorney's Victims Assistance office, who made sure the victims' families were made aware. Additional support is available at the Community Assistance Center on Friday, December 2 through Sunday, December 4, from 3-7 p.m. at the Crisis Stabilization Center (63311 NE Jamison St. Bend). Other mental health resources are available HERE



Re-elected Commissioner Seeks Affordable Housing Opportunities

Bend, OR -- Following her re-election last month, Deschutes County Commissioner Patti Adair is ready to move forward with her plan to create more affordable housing.

She says she has a pilot project headed to the legislature, “Senator Knopp has picked it up. The single-wide manufactured home park north of bend with over 300 single wide homes for people who work in Deschutes County. So, if I can get that project through legislature, the long session, that will really be a coup for all of Deschutes County. I’m really appreciative of Senator Knopp’s team being behind that.”

Adair acknowledges the cost of building affordable housing is a concern alongside other projects including expanding the county courthouse.

Adair says legislation to allow ADUs in rural parts of Deschutes County is held up in SB-762, the state’s sweeping wildfire mitigation bill, but she’s hopeful it will move forward eventually, “I really felt like the Accessory Dwelling Units need to be started as soon as possible. We are short 5,000 homes in Deschutes County. We’re short them now; it’s going to be even worse next year if we don’t get something done.” 

Redmond Plans Wastewater Wetlands Complex

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond is moving its wastewater treatment plant out of the Dry Canyon. Wastewater Division Manager Ryan Kirchner says the current facility is near capacity and expanding the current site would cost around $104 million. Instead, he says the city plans to develop a new wetlands complex, at a cost of around $70 million. "The Redmond Wetlands Complex is going to be a brand new wastewater treatment system for the city of Redmond," Kirchner tells KBND News, "We’re completely relocating our treatment plant from the Dry Canyon, and moving it out to the irrigation and biosolids disposal site." Orchard grass grows on that site now, where hundreds of goats are currently chomping away to clear the land before winter.

Kirchner says this will be a natural site, similar to the Crooked River Wetlands Complex in Prineville, but larger. "We’ve mirrored some other utilities throughout the region," he says, "And did a lot of knowledge sharing to try to find a treatment solution for Redmond because it’s been growing drastically over the last 20 years and it’s hard to keep up with that population growth. Our current plant is about at its capacity for what it can accept; we’re within three to five years. And so, this new plant will add an additional 20 years." It will also be cheaper to operate, he says, because there are fewer mechanical parts.

And, city officials hope it will become a community asset, "Instead of our current plant which is cyclone fence and we keep the public out, the new plant is actually going to have park amenities: ADA trails, park features, passive park features. We’re building water conservation areas to show the community how they can change out their land and go to xeriscaping. We’re also working with Redmond School District and a lot of the organizations throughout the region to build curriculums for public education."

Kirchner says they plan to develop the 607 acres of city-owned land currently growing orchard grass, and lease an adjacent parcel of 625 acres from the BLM. He expects they'll break ground in August, with completion slated for early 2026. 

The BLM is now taking public comment on the city’s lease request. A required 30-day public scoping period ends December 30. The Bureau will also conduct an environmental assessment. Public comments must be submitted by mail (Deschutes Field Office; Deschutes Field Manager, 3050 NE 3rd Street 491, Prineville, OR 97754) or email by 4:30 p.m. on December 30. Please refer to Redmond Wetlands Complex Project.  

Entire comments, including personal identifying information, may be made publicly available. People can ask to withhold personal identifying information from public review; however, it cannot be guaranteed. For additional information about the expansion request, wastewater treatment facility, or associated wetland complex, visit the City of Redmond’s website

Image: City of Redmond rendering

Local RSV Cases Still Increasing, Along With Flu

BEND, OR -- St. Charles hospitals are seeing a steady rise in RSV and flu cases, and officials worry the peaks for both could still be several weeks away. St. Charles Health System Pediatric Hospitalist Dr. Suzanne Mendez says pediatricians are treating more co-infections, "We’re starting to see some RSV plus flu, together. When you have two viruses together, then it can be much more severe. Or, if you’ve just gotten over RSV and then get flu within the next couple weeks, that can make a much more serious case of flu as well."

Public Health reports 283 Central Oregon cases in, as of last week - the last week for which numbers are available - that's up from 275 the week before. At one point Wednesday afternoon, St. Charles reports there were nine admitted patients with RSV, and another five in the Emergency Department. There were also 17 patients with influenza. In a typical year; officials say 12 would be a high number. Eight other patients have tested positive for COVID-19.

"All the hospitals in Oregon are really - especially pediatric hospitals are really overwhelmed at this point. So, we’re hoping at least RSV will peak in the next few weeks. But then, we’re starting to see more flu," Dr. Mendez tells KBND News, "So, just being cognizant that there are somewhat limited resources due to some many people being sick at the same time." She asks everyone take steps to stay healthy and says this year's flu shot formula is helping keep people out of the hospital, "A lot of the tests that we do, the swabs will show up positive for influenza 2009, which was our last really, really severe flu season, when we had H1N1. So, [we’re] seeing some of that virus again and it does look like the flu vaccine is very effective." She also suggests families keep kids home and hydrated if they do get sick, and keep them away from younger siblings who may be more prone to severe RSV.

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