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Four Local Organizations Receive Arts Grants

BEND, OR -- Four Bend-based organizations will receive funding from the Oregon Arts Commission. BEAT Children’s Theater, the Deschutes Public Library Foundation, Out Central Oregon and World Muse each get $5,000 from the Arts Build Communities grant fund, to promote arts access for underserved audiences:

BEAT Children’s Theater To support BEAT’s Community Outreach Educational Program. Funds will be used for artist fees, supplies (costumes, makeup, music, set pieces, etc.), royalties, printing and transportation.

Deschutes Public Library Foundation To support the community read program, “A Novel Idea,” where residents are encouraged to read, discuss, create and explore the selected books together. The Library Foundation is seeking to bridge the socio-economic and cultural differences and foster a sense of community. Funds will be used to pay for bilingual author María Amparo Escandón’s honorarium, Spanish-speaking cultural experts and books in Spanish.

Out Central Oregon To support the inaugural Winter Pride LGTBQ Film Festival in partnership with The Tower Theatre Foundation. Funds will be used for artist fees and staffing.

World Muse To support the production of "A Reflection of Life," a full-length documentary film focusing on water issues and featuring Indigenous experiences and voices from five Northwest tribes as well as public policy makers and scientists. Funds will be used for artist fees.

The commission awarded a total of $265,000 to 53 organizations in Oregon. In recent years, the Arts Build Communities program has generated more than $600,000 in additional community investment, much of it representing salaries paid as well as products and services purchased in the funded communities. These grants are made possible through a funding partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.


Indigenous Languages Conference Starts Sunday

BEND, OR -- The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs hosts a four-day language conference in Bend, starting Sunday. The grant-funded event offers classes and presentations on linguistics, computer technology, and youth leadership.

Gina Ricketts, with the Warm Springs Culture and Heritage Department, says it’s important to preserve indigenous languages, “We’re seeing now this surge of learning our languages and the importance of how it increases student’s retention, and it lowers depression and suicide rates, and increases GPA.”

‘Healing Through Our Languages’ is the first of its kind in Central Oregon in almost 20 years. Experts say in that same time, fluency of languages spoken by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs decreased.

Guest speakers will have a special focus on teaching youth. “The conference is all about how language can be used to heal generational trauma. We have a lot of instructors actually modeling how to teach indigenous languages in classes,” says Ricketts.

The Culture and Heritage Department’s Lori Switzler tells KBND News fluency of the three languages spoken by the confederated tribes has decreased, but schools are trying to reverse the trend, “The language department has really kicked it into gear to just keep the language alive. It was determined that children that learn their language in culture have more self-esteem and confidence and do better with their educational studies and goals.”  She says language programs run through all grade levels on the reservation, and have been very popular. 

‘Healing Through Our Languages’ runs Sunday through Wednesday at OSU-Cascades.

Gov. Declares Drought Emergency In Deschutes County

BEND, OR -- Following a request by Deschutes County Commissioners earlier this year, Governor Tina Kotek issued a drought declaration Friday morning for Deschutes County. The Executive Order also includes a declaration for Grant County, in eastern Oregon. Her order directs state agencies to coordinate and prioritize assistance to the region.
Both counties have portions of extreme drought (D3) and are experiencing well below average water year precipitation. Streamflow has also been well below average in both counties over the water year, with Deschutes at 78% and Grant at 44% of its average streamflow. Likewise, streamflow at their respective basins have been below average, with Deschutes at 71% and John Day at 39%.
Reservoir conditions in the Deschutes Basin are approaching historic lows and soil moisture conditions across surface, root zone and shallow groundwater profiles are extremely dry. Above average snowpack conditions, 117% in Deschutes and 154% in John Day, will provide limited relief to drought conditions in some parts of each county.
According to the Governor's office, the drought declaration unlocks a number of drought-related emergency tools for water users, including assistance to local water users. Drought declarations also allow the Water Resources Department to expedite review processes and reduce fee schedules.
The Oregon Drought Readiness Council received requests from the Grant County Court and Deschutes County Board of Commissioners in March requesting Governor’s drought declarations. The council received input from Oregon’s Water Supply Availability Committee on regional water supply conditions. The Council recommended the Governor declare drought in Grant and Deschutes Counties for the 2023 calendar year, pursuant to Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 536.740.
As state and local officials coordinate with federal partners, Kotek's office says conditions will be closely monitored by the state’s natural resource and public safety agencies, including the Oregon Water Resources Department and the Oregon Department of Emergency Management.


Image: Map issued 3/23/23 by the U.S. Drought Monitor

Mule Deer Zoning Meetings Planned

BEND, OR -- A Deschutes County proposal would create new zoning regulations to protect mule deer habitat. Senior Planner Tanya Saltzman tells KBND News the data used for the current Winter Range zone is 30 years old. "Mule deer populations have been declining in the county, and this is due to a number of reasons. Some of it is because of development, so we’re looking to explore a potential update to this area and kind of issue some regulations that would pertain to those areas, to help protect that habitat." The existing Wildlife Area Combining Zone would remain unchanged.

The new proposed zoning rules would impact mostly commercial uses on properties over 20 acres, "Things that have been noted by ODFW as disturbing to the deer or the deer habitat; things like shooting ranges and BMX bike parks, solar farms, that kind of thing," says Saltzman, "So, larger scale commercial things."

Saltzman says the goal is to find a balance to protect both mule deer habitat and and the rights of property owners, "People are very interested in conservation of habitat, but they’re also really interested in being able to utilize their property as they way they are entitled to by the zoning. So, our goal with these regulations is to try and center it." She says the hope is to work with property owners, "We’re trying not to ever say ‘no,’ essentially. There might be some limitations but our goal is, at the moment, to not prohibit anything because we want to allow people to have these uses available."

The proposed zone is about 180,000 acres. But because much of that is federal land, Saltzman says it would only impact owners of about 80,000 acres, "The main area, I would say, of this new proposed area, is kind of in a triangle between Redmond and Sisters and Bend." Click HERE for more on the proposed Mule Deer Winter Range Combining Zone. 

Public information sessions are scheduled for April 4-10. Click on the link of a meeting to RSVP (not required but helpful for planning purposes). 

The Deschutes County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on April 13 at 5:30 p.m. The hybrid public hearing takes place at the Deschutes Services Center, Barnes & Sawyer Rooms (first floor) at 1300 Wall Street, Bend. Additional hearings may be scheduled after the April 13th meeting.


To hear our full conversation with Senior Planner Tanya Saltzman, visit KBND's Podast Page

New Art Considered For Colorado & Columbia Roundabout

BEND, OR -- Bend’s Art in Public Places team is in the process of selecting new roundabout art for the middle of Colorado and Columbia Street. Renderings of the five finalists will be on display at the Larkspur Community Center, from March 25 - April 1, then at the downtown library from April 3-10. 

The finalists were chosen from among more than 90 submissions. Once a sculpture is chosen, it will be installed either this fall or next spring and added to Bend’s public art collection.

Click HERE for more information on each piece.

Commissioners Updated On 'Safe Parking Program' Code Creation

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County will ask the legislature for help creating a code for a Safe Parking Program. Deputy County Administrator Erik Kropp told Commissioners Wednesday county staff is making progress in establishing limited overnight parking in unincorporated areas , “Safe parking is likely more restrictive in the county versus the city, because of Oregon land-use laws. At this point it’s unclear if Safe Parking would be allowed in certain zones in the county. Based on preliminary research it looks like its allowed in unincorporated communities and urban growth boundaries. So, at this point staff plans to come back in April with some options for the board.”

Commissioner Phil Chang suggested asking the legislature for help in overcoming land-use restrictions since they have a similar law already, “Some minor tweaks to that existing legislation could probably get us what we need in terms of clearance to allow this kind of use in the unincorporated county.”

County Staff will draft a letter to lawmakers asking for assistance. Commissioners will review the letter at Friday’s legislative update meeting.

Also at Wednesday’s board meeting, Commissioners agreed to fund full-time positions in Behavioral Health, and Outreach Services to help those experiencing houselessness. 

Rescued Farm Animals Ready For Adoption

BEND, OR -- Dozens of farm animals seized during a neglect investigation in Terrebonne earlier this year are now ready for adoption. 

Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Captain William Bailey says pigs, hogs, and goats were nursed back to health at the Sheriff’s Office rescue ranch, and multiplied, “A number of the pigs that we got were female and pregnant, and so I’m told as of yesterday we have about 18 piglets at the ranch. Those things are cute, running around with their moms. We had to do a little bit of adjustment at the ranch to help accommodate the mothers and the babies, just to make sure they were warm. We have about 16 goats that are available, 14 females and two males. We’ve been going through and getting their hooves all ready to go, dewormed, vaccinated, some of them will get fixed before they’re released to a family.”

Bailey says there is no cost to adopt from the Rescue Ranch, “The Sheriff’s Office does some basic background checks. We want to make sure that we’re giving animals to people that need to have an animal. So, people who are interested right now, we have approximately 50 females. They’ve all been dewormed and vaccinated.”

Contact the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office for more information.

Oregon Prepared Conference In Sunriver

Sunriver, OR -- The Oregon Department of Emergency Management hosts its Oregon Prepared conference in Sunriver this week. Deputy Director Matt Marheine tells KBND News the seminars and demonstrations helps governments and private agencies prepare, respond to, and recover from disasters. “We most certainly see the potential for earthquakes. We deal with wildfires, and floods, and winter storms, and landslides. So, there are a significant number of hazards that impact Central Oregon. And really across the entire state we see an increasing impact on drought,” says Marheine, adding the workshops help attendees build relationships, “Those hazards can be very difficult to plan for. The reason theses conferences are so special: it really builds the network. This conference allows these folks to build the relationship so that they can be that much more effective when things go bad.”

The approximately 500 participants also get hands-on training with techniques and equipment, “We offer the opportunity for people to see things like our emergency communications capabilities. We have Federal Emergency Management Agency resources here. We have our own agency resources from amateur radio. And really what this is trying to show people is how we can communicate during an event.”

Marheine says it's crucial to be alert for the eventuality of a disaster, “The people of Oregon need to put themselves in the driver’s seat about what could impact them, and what they’re going to do for themselves and their family. We live it 24/7. It is not if, it’s when.”

The Oregon Prepared conference continues in Sunriver through tomorrow.


Roadwork To Affect Mt. Washington-3rd St Turn Lanes

BEND, OR -- ODOT crews are rebuilding sidewalks and curb ramps in northeast Bend that could cause traffic delays over the next two weeks.

ODOT Community Affairs Coordinator Kacey Davey says the work is near the Riverhouse and Bend River Promenade, “Right where Mt. Washington meets Third Street, or Business 97. So, there’s going to be a few right turn lanes that are impacted as we’re rebuilding some corners. This week, it’ll be on to Third from Mt. Washington is going to be impacted. And this next week, it’ll be from Third to Mt. Washington. We’ll make sure people can make the right turn, but they’re going to have to share a lane with people that are going straight.”

Prep work continues on the major project in the area: North Highway 97. But Davey says that shouldn’t start impacting travel until later in the spring. 

May Election Positions Filed, Some Remain Open

BEND, OR -- A few Deschutes County Fire and Sanitary district positions remain open for May’s Election. Last Thursday was the filing deadline.

Many board candidates including positions with Redmond Schools, and COCC will run unopposed. County Clerk Steve Dennison says this can happen in off-year elections, “We do typically have a handful. I think last time around we had probably somewhere around 5 in 2021, and 2019, I think we had as many as 10 seats with no candidate filed,’’ adding some candidates waited to file, “We did have a lot of filers on Wednesday and Thursday. Some of these seats are tougher to fill, too. These smaller water and sanitary districts tend to have less interest.”

Ballots for the May special election will be mailed next month.

Today, the Clerk’s Office conducted another ballot count from last week’s election to establish Terrebonne’s Sanitary District. Unofficial results show the measure passing 24 to 16. Terrebonne Sanitary District Director has Tim Brown and Guy Vernon both receiving 23 votes.


Redmond Airport Welcomes New Therapy Dog

REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond Airport's newest therapy dog joined the program this week. "Jasper" and handler Beth are among more than a dozen teams regularly volunteering for a few hours a week in the terminal. 

Erinn Shaw helped bring therapy dogs to Roberts Field almost a year ago; she now oversees the program. "Traveling can be stressful for passengers, and sometimes certain circumstances create a little more anxiety than others," Shaw tells KBND News, "And sometimes people leave their dogs at home and they’re upset that they’re going to be missing their dogs. [We] just wanted to provide a sort of comfort and stress relief for our passengers and our staff here at the airport." Shaw says, "Our teams generally try to approach passengers and just ask them if they’d like to pet the dog. And it’s nice because they sit and spend a little time chatting about their journey, where they’re headed or where they’re coming from."

Jasper will, no doubt, become as popular with travelers as Gunner, Tilly and the others. "Passengers love them, kids love them, our staff loves them. They’re a really welcome addition to the airport. Our TSA looks forward to the dogs coming." Shaw says they've become local celebrities, "All of the staff, and even a lot of passengers follow the dogs on Facebook and our social media. Most people even know the dogs by name now." She adds, "You know, there’s a handler that’s a part of the team. Most of the time, people talk to the dogs, they know the dog’s name and they kind of forget about the handler."

Redmond's program is modeled after therapy dog programs at around 100 other airports in the U.S. Locally, dogs are certified through Compassionate Canines of Central Oregon. In addition to the airport, many also volunteer at local schools, libraries, assisted living facilities and hospitals. Training takes six to eight months, and Shaw says the Redmond Airport prefers at least one-year of therapy dog experience after certification.


Bend Opens E-Bike Rebate Application Process

BEND, OR -- Low-income Bend residents can now apply for a rebate to purchase an electric bicycle. There are a total of 75 $2,000 rebates available. Cassie Lacey, with the city, says the amount is designed to make e-bikes affordable for everyone. "When we talked with e-bike retailers, they were suggesting that the average cost of a base model e-bike is around $2,500, so the estimated out of pocket expense for an e-bike would be about $500. That said, there are some that are even more affordable than that."

She tells KBND News the City Council believes it could help ease traffic congestion, "It supports our transportation goals by supporting alternative transportation. It also supports equity goals the city has around supporting vulnerable populations meet some of their basic needs like transportation."

The goal is to build on the popularity of Bend’s e-bike-share program, launched last year, "Compared to other cities of similar size, our usage for those bikes is very, very high, so we know that we have a population that is using those to a great degree." Lacey says researchers looked at the routes taken regularly by users, "And they were able to track how many people appeared to be using the bikes for commuting. We, again, had a very high number."

Funding comes from a $150,000 state Clean Mobility Grant, managed by Pacific Power. "It’s not coming from the City of Bend’s discretionary funds," says Lacey, "So, these are not funds that the city would be able to use on other projects. These are coming from the state, basically, that can only be used for these types of projects."

Applicants must make 80% of the area median income or less, live inside the Bend City limits and be a Pacific Power customer. Rebates will be awarded in three lotteries: April 17th, May first and May 15th. After being selected, recipients then must purchase an e-bike from a local retailer. Click HERE for more information, including the application. 


Interior Secretary Announces Oregon Tourism Projects

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler met with recreation enthusiasts, local business representatives, and outdoors-related organizations at Bend’s OSU-Cascades campus Friday to discuss Oregon’s outdoor recreation economy.

Secretary Haaland said it was helpful to hear ideas to increase access to public space, “The horsemen that actually need some parking. They do a lot of backcountry work on the trails and so forth back there, so that’s an issue. We recognize that this outdoor economy just like the mayor said is an important one here in Bend and across Oregon. We got some suggestions. We’ll follow up.”

She noted it was good to hear a local perspective, “I feel that it’s my responsibility when I’m in places like this that I want to listen more than I talk. We got some great ideas about how we can move forward.”

Secretary Haaland said the intergovernmental multi-agency group, FICOR is dedicated to getting more Americans outdoors, “We all agree we need to make opportunities for children to be outdoors so that they can feel that connection at an early age.”

The Secretary’s trip to Oregon also included a meeting with state Indigenous leaders to discuss clean water projects. She also announced federal funding for maintenance projects and wildfire mitigation. 

The Great American Outdoors Act will enable $130-million in deferred maintenance on State public lands. A $45-million project will rehabilitate East Rim Drive at Crater Lake National Park. Nearly $50-million in new allocations from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will support wildland fire management in 2023.


Spring, Summer Paving Projects Planned For Bend

BEND, OR -- Drivers can expect even more road work next month. Bend City Council has approved $3.2 million in contracts for street preservation efforts through the summer. "Some roads, we need to grind out the asphalt and put in a new layer of asphalt. Other roads that are maybe less traveled on, some of the residential roads, we can put on a ‘slurry seal,’ so think like a coat of paint to keep them from getting worse," Bend City Manager Eric King tells KBND News, "About 37 lane mines of the city’s about 800 or so lane miles will be touched; meaning they’ll either get the slurry seal or the grinded inlay, all over town, all corners of the city." 

Asphalt grinding will happen over about 18 lane miles of arterials and collector roads, "There will be projects ranging from 15th Street, in southeast, to Pinebrook, Butler Market, OB Riley, 27th - those are some of the busier streets that will get that kind of overlay treatment. They’ll get the grind of the old asphalt and a new layer of asphalt put on top." Another 19 lane miles of mostly residential roads will get a slurry seal.

Click HERE for a map of planned projects. King says, "Typically, those paving projects aren’t that disruptive. A lot of that work can happen without major closures."


CRR Outbuilding Destroyed By Fire

CROOKED RIVER RANCH, OR -- An early morning fire destroyed an outbuilding in Crooked River Ranch, Saturday. Crews were called just after 1 a.m. and found the small structure fully engulfed in flames.

There were no hydrants in the area, so two tenders brought water to the site. Neighbors reported hearing multiple explosions during the fire. Firefighters later determined multiple propane tanks were stored in the shed.

Crews worked for 30 minutes to knock down the blaze and prevent it from spreading to nearby brush. No one was hurt, but the building was a total loss, including a tractor and flatbed trailer.

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month Highlights Importance Of Screening

BEND, OR -- A new report by the American Cancer Society shows an increase in colorectal cancer among people under the age of 50. "Overall incidence of colorectal cancer is going down; and they looked at this between the years of 2011-2019. But, interestingly, the rates of colorectal cancer are going up in those under the age of 50," says Colon and Rectal Surgeon Dr. Dave Parsons. In response to those updated stats, the recommended screening age for colorectal cancer was lowered to 45 in 2021. "Colon Cancer is one of the few cancers in humans that can be prevented through screening."

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. "Most of us probably know someone who has had colon cancer, if you’ve lived long enough," says Dr. Parsons, "It’s very common. 150,000 people diagnosed every year with colorectal cancer in the United States, approximately." But, when caught early, 9 out of 10 are cured. "We know, overall, that the death rates from colon cancer have been going down. And, it’s presumably due to better screening, for the population that’s getting screened." However, he says only about two-thirds of the people eligible for a screening actually get it done, either by colonoscopy or home test. "I’d like to see 100% of people who are eligible getting screened, because - it may put me out of business - but I think it would be great."

March is colorectal cancer awareness month; the perfect time to start that conversation with your doctor. 

To learn more about the importance of screenings, listen to our full conversation with Dr. Dave Parsons, Colon & Rectal Surgeon for Kaiser Permanente Northwest:


Bend Officials Hope For Funding From State Homeless Pkg

BEND, OR -- Plans to clear the unsanctioned homeless camp at Hunnell Road remain stalled after Deschutes County Commissioners backed out of a deal to help create a managed camp. 

Bend City Manager Eric King says the city doesn’t have the financial capacity to take on such a project on its own, but help could soon come from the state, "There’s some potential additional resources coming from the Governor’s budget and, it might not be the city, but other providers that are trying to expand services." King tells KBND News, "The Governor’s budget dedicated $130 million. It looks like it’s going to pass this week. There’s funding going out to regions of the state, Central Oregon’s slated to get about $14 million. There are some proposals from local service providers to expand capacity in the system."

He says applications are already submitted for that funding, "We hope to hear back by the end of this month, which projects are selected. As I’ve been hearing, the Governor plans to sign - I think it’s passed the House and on to the Senate. I think this is a high priority, so the sense of things is the money will come shortly thereafter, in the next couple of weeks."

Trying to clear unsanctioned camps, like at Hunnell Road or China Hat, without more programs in place just spreads the problematic situation to another neighborhood, says King. It's a sentiment echoed recently by Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang. King says Bend has created more shelter space in the past two years, but not enough for the estimated 100 people living at Hunnell Road, "It’s a very fluid system. So, folks might stay at a shelter one night, they might graduate to a hotel room that’s part of the Stepping Stone shelter, so there’s movement. I think we’d like to see a little more capacity in the system to accommodate folks. But I don’t think it’s possible to construct a space for everybody; we don’t have the resources. And that’s some of the challenge that we are facing at the city."

To hear our full conversation with City Manager Eric King, visit KBND's Podcast Page


file photo

Construction Underway On New Redmond Library

REDMOND, OR -- With a temporary library branch on the south end of Redmond, the new permanent Redmond library is now going up, slightly ahead of schedule. "This is a really exciting moment for us," Deschutes Public Library Director Tod Dunkelberg says, "We’re starting construction this week and that should be opening in early fall of 2024."

The new 40,000-square foot facility is being built on the same property as the previous Redmond Library, which was housed in the historic Jessie Hill School. Dunkelberg tells KBND News he and the library board recognize tearing down the more than 90-year-old building is a loss to the community. They paid homage during the recent groundbreaking ceremony, "We really did a good job of honoring that building. We gave out bricks from the building to people who came, and they really appreciated that." He adds, "Right now, we’re creating a little movie - a little film. We interviewed people all around town about their memories from the building, and we found that will be a nice way to preserve the legacy. But also, at the same time, people are really excited about what’s coming because it’s going to be a real game-changer for Redmond."

The new Redmond branch will be "state of the art," and larger than the downtown Bend location. Click HERE for more details. It's one of four major library facility projects happening now, thanks to a 2020 bond measure. 

Until its 2024 opening, a temporary branch is located on South Highway 97, next to Wilson’s of Redmond. 


Second Deadly Avalanche Strikes Central Oregon In As Many Weeks

LA PINE, OR -- A Bend snowboarder was killed in an avalanche on Paulina Peak Wednesday, east of La Pine. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, 33-year-old Erik Hefflefinger was carried over a cliff band by debris, and may have struck a tree during the fall. 

Investigators say Hefflefinger and two friends used snowmobiles to access the area, then made their final approach - Hefflefinger on a snowboard and the other two on skis. The two skiers went down one side fo the slope and Hefflefinger followed on the other side. The avalanche started on his descent. All three were wearing safety equipment, including avalanche safety gear. Just before 1 p.m., the International Emergency Coordination Response Center notified DCSO of an SOS alarm from a device, and provided GPS coordinates. About 10 minutes later, one of the skiers notified the IERCC there was an avalanche and one person was not breathing; they were performing CPR.  

DCSO Search and Rescue arrived via Airlink helicopter and reached Hefflefinger at 4 p.m. They took over life-saving efforts after discovering a faint pulse. At 5 p.m., it was determined he was "beyond help" and his body was transported to the 10-Mile Snow Park. 

Avalanche Danger Persists

It’s the second time this month, a local avalanche has claimed a life. A Bend man was killed in a slide while skiing at Black Crater. Prior to March second, it had been nine years since DCSO last responded to an avalanche-related death. 

"I think it’s probably a combination of factors, Gabriel Coler tells KBND News, "And, the most obvious factor that’s kind of undisputable, is just how many more people are in the backcountry." Coler is a forecaster with the Central Oregon Avalanche Center, which rates the current risk as Moderate (pictured), "We forecast avalanche danger for Central Oregon Cascades, which is a zone roughly from Mt. Bachelor up to Santiam Pass. We don’t currently forecast for Paulina Peak. That Moderate danger does not apply to Paulina Peak. None of our forecast team has been there recently to assess the danger."

Even for areas included in their forecast zone, Coler says skiers, snowmobilers and snowboarders need to heed warnings, "I think they often look at the danger rating and they just judge, ‘okay, what level is too scary for me?’ Or, ‘what level am I likely to get killed in?’ But it’s more specific than that. There’s actually advice that goes with each danger rating. And avalanches are possible under all of the danger ratings." He says an avalanche can occur on any snow-covered hill with a pitch between 30 and 45 degrees, "But, for a lot of people, that steepness - like a 35-degree slope - is a really fun slope to ride on. In the Venn Diagram of what is fun for some people and what is dangerous, there’s definitely a lot of overlap there."

For more information on the danger scale and avalanche risk, visit the Central Oregon Avalanche Center's website


Deschutes County Dissolves Drug Court

BEND, OR -- After more than two decades, Deschutes County’s Drug Court is ending. It provided drug offenders with court-supervised treatment. District Attorney Steve Gunnels is disappointed, "I was the prosecutor who was originally part of the planning process, and I have been the drug court prosecutor now for 23 years."

He tells KBND News dissolving Drug Court wasn't a choice anyone wanted to make, "That’s really a result not of a decision by the court to end the program; although, ultimately, that’s the decision they had to make. It’s a decision that was based on the fact that we could not find a treatment provider for the participants in the drug court program, or a coordinator." Gunnels says the coordinator position was lost when the salary offered was not enough for someone from out of the area to find housing. And, past treatment providers are no longer available, "The rules about what has to be offered by the treatment provider have been very stringent and nobody in Central Oregon is capable of meeting all of those standards at this time." 

He says many offenders took part over the years, "Typically young people who have drug addiction issues and children, and try to get them turned around, get them into drug and mental health treatment and parenting classes. They have to stay clean and sober, they have to get a job and they have to reestablish their relationship with their children, which is oftentimes the motivating factor." And he considers the program a success, "Some people have had their lives turned around from really miserable paths that they had chosen with their drug addiction, and they are now productive members of society who are raising their children and living good lives."

Drug offenders will now only be prosecuted in the traditional way, and a judge could order treatment as part of a sentence or settlement. Gunnels hopes the re-start the program in the future. 

Visit our Podcast Page to listen to our full conversation with Deschutes County DA Steve Gunnels. 

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