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AAA Releases Used EV Buyer's Guide

PORTLAND, OR -- With pushes at the state and federal level to convert to electric vehicles, more people are shopping for EVs. But buying new can cost $10,000 - $30,000 more than their gas-powered counterparts, pushing the price out of reach for many drivers.

AAA-Oregon's Marie Dodds says shopping used could be the answer, thanks to depreciation. "With electric vehicles, their value tends to go down more quickly than a gas powered vehicle," she tells KBND News, "So, when you’re looking at buying a used EV, the price gap between the comparable gas powered vehicle and the electric vehicle tends to be smaller."

AAA just released a 2023 Used EV Buyer’s GuideDodds says it offers information to help those looking for a pre-owned electric car, "The basic background of electric vehicles, driving range and charging; you know, what’s the difference between Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 charging. Used EV ownership cost comparisons; so, battery versus gas powered - how much does it cost you? Repair and maintenance costs."

Dodds says about a quarter of the nation’s EV shoppers would prefer to buy used, but hunting for the right vehicle is a little bit different, "There are certain things to consider that you might not consider if you’re buying a gas powered vehicle. For example, the age of the vehicle, how long will the battery last?"

While they tend to be more expensive than a gas-powered vehicle, Dodds says there are other areas EV drivers save money, "Most of the time, they cost less to maintain and repair than a traditional gas powered vehicle. And, of course, when you’re looking at fuel, you can save substantially because you’re not filling it up with gas."


All 30 State Senators Sign On To Knopp's Bill Banning Some Travel Pay

SALEM, OR -- A bill just introduced in the Oregon Senate would end one Pandemic-era reimbursement. At a recent press conference, Senator Dennis Lenthicum (R-Klamath Falls) said the GOP would hold state employees accountable, "During the COVID era, many employees were working in their new home state of Texas or their new home state of Louisiana, Idaho or wherever and flying back to Oregon, having the Oregon taxpayer pay for the roundtrip fare to get them from their offsite campus or home to their Oregon job." 

Senate Bill 853 would make those travel expenses the responsibility of state employees who choose to live outside of Oregon. It received its first reading on the Senate Floor Thursday.

Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend) is the Chief Sponsor. "This would be high paid state employees - living in Florida, Texas and other locales were being reimbursed with your taxpayer dollars for travel back to the state to do their jobs," he said in a floor speech last week, "I, like many Oregonians, was - let’s just say - less than enamored with that policy."

All 30 Senators and a bipartisan group from Oregon’s House have already signed on to co-sponsor SB-853. "It may turn out to be the most sponsored bill in the legislature," Knopp told reporters last week. 


file photo

Bend Bicycle Wayfinding Project Advances

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors have approved a $122,000 contract to start on a bicycle “wayfinding” project. Mayor Melanie Kebler tells KBND News, "It’s signage around town to make sure people know where all of our infrastructure is - our paths, our separated paths and bike lanes - to get around town."

The goal is to reduce interactions between cars and bikes. "Really, it’s to make sure that if someone does want to get around by bike that they know where those good paths are," Kebler says, "And, even our staff person Brad, from our mobility department, was talking about [how] he likes to ride his bike to work; and even he didn’t know about something like the Larkspur Trail or the Canal Trail and where it connected. So the idea is to have some signs that will direct people, so that we’re not keeping secrets of some of the best routes to get around town."

Kebler says the idea has proven effective in other cities, where signs direct non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians to the safest and most popular travel areas.

The contract approved this week is for design, including signs and pavement marking, and to establish the first north-south and east-west routes. Kebler says, "We’re going to start with a couple of key routes that we’re going to firm up at a later meeting, exactly where these first few signs are going to go. But before we do that, we have to decide what are the signs going to look like and how are they going to inform people how to get around?" She adds, "We want to, as much as possible, direct people to the lowest stress paths and part of our network that we’re trying to build out with our key routes for bikes and peds, so they’re having less interactions with cars and feel more safe."


Bend Parks & Rec To Open Spring Registration

BEND, OR -- Bend Park and Recreation District will open registration for spring recreation and programs and spring/summer sports leagues February 6-8. Available activities include programs held in April through mid-June and sports leagues with registration deadlines during this time. An online Spring 2023 Online Playbook is now available.

After high demand in past seasons that overwhelmed the online registration system, BPRD is grouping program offerings and will have three days of registration openings.

  • Monday, Feb. 6, 6:00 a.m.: Recreation, Enrichment & Sports Activities
  • Tuesday, Feb. 7, 6:00 a.m.: Swim Lessons & Aquatics Programs
  • Wednesday, Feb. 8, 6:00 a.m.: Sports Leagues including adult and youth roller hockey, adult softball, and adult and boys volleyball leagues.

Register online or in person at any of these locations:

  • District Office: 799 SW Columbia St. - open at 8:00 a.m.
  • Juniper Swim & Fitness Center: 800 NE 6th St. - open at 5:30 a.m.
  • Larkspur Community Center: 1600 SE Reed Market Rd. - open at 6:00 a.m.

If experiencing difficulty registering online, contact the BPRD Customer Service by phone at (541) 389-7275.

Commissioners Hear Thornburgh Resort Appeals

REDMOND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners heard two appeals Wednesday of a request to modify the fish and wildlife management plan for the controversial Thornburgh Resort. After several hours of testimony, Commissioners decided to keep the comment period open for at least two more weeks.  Many people spoke against the proposed resort east of Redmond, including Austin Smith, Jr. who was representing the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, “We kind of want to collect ourselves really and understand all these mitigations and how they will impact or be productive for not only our fish species, but our cultural resources and our cultural foods.”

Joe Craig, of Bend, asked Commissioners to deny the amended plan, “I’m concerned on pressure place on our existing water supply in maintaining high quality water for people, wildlife, and agriculture.”

Many, like Susan Hart of Redmond, are concerned with the resort's impact, “I think that it is self-evident that with climate change and with lack of affordable housing that it is high time that we not look backwards but plan for the future.”

Thornburgh’s scientists and attorneys argued the resort’s proposed water usage meets current requirements, but ODFW has pushed back on those findings. 

Both the resort and a Bend citizen filed opposing appeals; disputing separate portions of a hearings officer’s recommendations to deny development of the resort.

Two Arrested In Klamath County CODE Bust

GILCHRIST, OR -- A 32-year-old La Pine man and another suspect from California were arrested Wednesday afternoon, following an investigation into drug trafficking. 

Central Oregon Drug Enforcement detectives say Gregory Stites imported controlled substances from southern Oregon into the High Desert, where he distributed them throughout Central Oregon.

State Troopers pulled over a car driven by Stites on Highway 97, between Crescent and Gilchrist. During the stop, drug detection dog "Bonnie" alerted to the presence of controlled substances inside the car and some luggage. Officers seized a commercial amount of Meth and Cocaine, and a user amount of Fentanyl, along with a loaded 9mm pistol. 

Stites and his passenger, 40-year-old Robert King III of Sacramento, were arrested on multiple drug-related charges. Stites is also charged with being a Felon in Possession of a Weapon. 

Juniper Ridge Encampment Destroyed By RV Fire

BEND, OR -- A motorhome caught fire in Juniper Ridge Wednesday morning, destroying an encampment. Bend Fire responded to multiple calls and crews were able to stop the flames from spreading to neighboring camps.

Firefighters took more than an hour to fully extinguish the fire, due to the extent of what had burned. 

It was caused by a failed heater, which allowed the propane tank to ignite. One motorhome, two vehicles and an adjacent tarped area were destroyed. But the person who lived there escaped unhurt. Losses are estimated at $20,000. 


Photo courtesy Bend Fire & Rescue

Bend Man Walks Aided By High-Tech Exoskeleton

BEND, OR -- A Bend man is able to walk again after being in a wheelchair for almost 14 years. Wearing a specially designed exoskeleton, Erik Himbert left a Bend physical therapy center Tuesday under his own power.

A year ago, he began using the technologically-advanced leg-brace system, “The company is called ReWalk. They’re just extremely amazing to work with. So, they came out, set the whole thing up, and I was finally able to get into a device. And here I am about ready to graduate from therapy to take it home and use it on my own. So, it’s been amazing,” says Himbert.

He’s especially ready to get back to his routine activities, “There’s a lot of outdoors things to do as you know around here in Central Oregon. There’s a lot of pathways that are really fun to go down. So, I’d love to just get out and enjoy the outdoors and be able to walk instead of being in my wheelchair.” He is excited for this opportunity, “To be able to walk and to be able to do kind of normal functions. Be able to have conversations with people standing upright. It’s so good, just mentally for me to be able to feel normal again.”

Himbert hopes others with spinal cord injuries will be inspired by his accomplishment.


Local Group Planning EV Car Share Program

BEND, OR -- Pacific Power recently awarded more than $2 million in Electric Mobility grants to 18 organizations. A local climate action coalition plans to use its allocation to create an equitable EV charging and car share plan for Central Oregon. Once developed, it will be the first of its kind in the state. 

350 Deschutes Executive Director Diane Hodiak says, "We know that they have car share programs that are highly successful in other areas outside of Oregon. It’s a question of ‘how do we make it available to underserved communities?’ How do we make it available so they can pay and so it’s also affordable?"

Hodiak notes it will primarily target underserved communities, many of whom don’t own a car and can’t afford to live in Bend, but need to commute in for work, "So, if they have a car they can use - maybe two to three times a week - that is affordable, that includes their insurance and includes everything that they need, that would be very beneficial to them. And we know that we can create a program like that, we just have to figure out how to do it." She tells KBND News her coalition will work with urban and rural leaders to involve Black, Tribal and Hispanic communities.

It’ll likely take about a year to develop. Then cities can use the plan to leverage federal funding to roll out a program, "Nearly every city that we talk to wants to be involved in this," says Hodiak, "And we just feel that by working together, we can use those dollars that are coming from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act most wisely."

Click HERE to register for 350 Deschutes' EV Planning Group. Representatives from the business, government and nonprofit community are encouraged to attend and learn how to access funding for EV infrastructure.


Redmond Man Accused Of Stealing $100k From Former Employer

REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond man is accused of stealing more than $100,000 from his former employer. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office began investigating Todd Hedberg last week, when a construction company reported unauthorized checks and cash withdrawals, presumably made by a former business manager. They also say he made multiple online purchases using a business credit card.

Detectives analyzed financial documents and say the 48-year-old was responsible for the theft. With a warrant, investigators searched a home on SW 28th in Redmond and found items linked to the unauthorized online purchases, including receipts.

Hedberg was arrested, and is charged with seven counts of First Degree Forgery, three counts of First Degree Theft and two counts of Aggravated Identity Theft. 


Deschutes Co. Seeks One More Rancher For Wolf Committee

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County is forming a new Wolf Depredation And Financial Assistance Committee, in response to last year’s declaration by ODFW that this is an “area of known wolf activity.” But the group is short one critical member before it can get to work. 

County Commissioner Phil Chang says the committee is needed to disperse state and federal funding for projects that could prevent wolf attacks on livestock, "There’s some really simple things that livestock owners can do to reduce the likelihood that wolves are going to be attracted to and harm their animals." They’ll also help compensate ranchers whose animals are killed. He tells KBND News, "They’re not set up to exterminate wolves from your community, they’re not set up to let wolves run amok in your community. They’re set up to try to strike the balance between having a state and federally listed species in your community, with certain protections, but also to provide as much protection as possible for livestock owners against losses."

The committee will eventually have seven members. It needs two livestock owners or managers and two representatives from the conservation side. Once those four are in place, one County Commissioner will be assigned and the group will select two additional business representatives. But so far, only one rancher is on board with two people who support co-existence. Commissioner Chang would like to see a hobby farmer involved, "We got an application from a commercial-scale livestock operation and it might be very useful to have a small farm owner with a couple of animals, who’s thinking about how other small farm owners with a couple of animals are or are not impacted by wolves."

Chang says other counties have had such committees in place for years. But wolves have become a concern in Deschutes County only recently, "We’ve had wolves travel through in the past. But now there are wolves that are taking up residence, having puppies and are going to establish what appear to be permanent packs of wolves. And that increases concerns about the potential for depredation on livestock." 

Applications are due by February 24th and can be submitted on the county’s website

Image: Trail camera photo of an adult wolf with five pups photographed on July 4, 2022 in the Upper Deschutes wildlife management unit in Klamath County. Courtesy ODFW

Temporary Cold Weather Shelter Opened At Bend Church

BEND, OR -- A temporary overnight shelter opened at Bend's First Presbyterian church during this weekend’s cold snap to handle overflow from other homeless shelters.

Founder of Pandemic Partners in Bend Pastor Morgan Schmidt says people donated time, bedding, food, and clothing, “We’ve had guests walk in during this cold emergency in the snow wearing only socks. And so, it’s really important that we can get people properly outfitted as best we can to survive, and be okay in the elements.” Schmidt is grateful for the donations and she hopes more will get involved so this isn’t such an urgent issue, “That’s really the ask, that our community would just be mindful of opportunities to support the really important projects that are going, to help make sure that people don’t have to sleep outside in our community.”

City of Bend and Deschutes County services, Shepherd’s House, and the Red Cross also provided assistance to more than 30 people and their pets who stayed at the church. “All these folks from the community from First Presbyterian, a team of folks from First Unitarian Universalist church, and then all sorts of community members from groups like Pandemic Partners... that come and give of their time, they stay up all night, they really make it possible for us to offer a safe and hospitable place for people who need it,” said Schmidt.

The shelter was open again Monday night but will close with warmer temperatures in the forecast.

Crook Co. Drought Prompts Juniper Biomass Proposal

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County remains the only place in the western U.S. under an Exceptional Drought designation, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and county leaders have again asked for a state drought declaration.

Crook County Judge Seth Crawford says he has a new idea to recharge local reservoirs. "One of the things that’s really hurting the amount of water in the reservoirs is the juniper trees," he tells KBND News. Junipers can each consume up to 30 gallons of water a day, pulling from streams and other sources. Crawford believes those trees would be better used producing green energy, "Put in a biomass plant, monetize some of those resources, like the juniper trees to be cut down, putting more water in the system."

He says he recently took his idea to the Governor; although, more studies are needed before it can move forward, "Then we can go to different industries and municipalities and sell this as green energy to them. And so, we’re about $2 million short on that. And that’s what the ask for the Governor was. That was part of our drought declaration, as well, because I know the Legislature is working on funding four droughts throughout eastern Oregon." 

Crawford acknowledges it's a unique idea but believes a novel approach is necessary, "This is an opportunity to not only work on wildfire and a lot of those things, but to recharge the system and put more water back into it. Once we get those dollars, and once we have that plan, we do have the private sector ready to build the facilities and move forward; once we have the general idea of the cost and we have someone on board to purchase that power." He adds, "You’re going to be helping everybody. You’re helping the farmers, the fish, the recreator, you’re adding more water to the equation."


file photo, courtesy National Park Service

Three Sites To Be Dropped From Landfill Proposal

BEND, OR -- The list of potential sites for Deschutes County’s new landfill is getting smaller. County Commissioners have asked the Solid Waste Advisory Committee to review an FAA recommendation that new landfills not be sited within five miles of a public airport. "It’s actually been in place for a while, but when we spoke to the Redmond Airport, they were pretty adamant with us that we should use that five-mile radius as part of our siting criteria," Solid Waste Director Chad Centola says in a recent county video.

Landfills attract birds, which can be dangerous for nearby aviation operations, "The FAA advisory is actually any kind of wildlife movement. So, they regulate a lot of other things aside from landfills," says Centola, "But, in our case, it’s definitely birds at the site, as well as those that migrate to and from the landfill. We’re going to convene the Solid Waste Advisory Committee to discuss this item specifically."

Deschutes County's Solid Waste Advisory Committee will hold a special meeting February 7th, "The objective here is to honor that five-mile recommendation from the FAA and drop three sites off the candidate list. We have one site up in Redmond, near the Negus Transfer Station, and two east of Bend, off of Bear Creek and Rickard Road," says Centola.

Previous Coverage: Solid Waste Committee Hears From 100 On Possible Landfill Locations

Nine other locations remain on the list, "We knew at the get-go, no matter where we went, we’d be challenged. There’s impacts to residents, there’s impacts to wildlife - sage grouse was a huge issue that we were fully aware of going into this, especially east of Bend. We’re going to go through this process; these sites are not set in concrete, by any means." Centola has said he hopes to have a final site recommendation to County Commissioners by the spring of 2024.

The Knott Landfill is expected to reach capacity in ‘29. To learn more about the project, visit Deschutes County's Solid Waste website.

Gull Point Campground Closed For The Year

LA PINE, OR -- Gull Point Campground and boat ramp at Wickiup Reservoir will close for the entire camping season this year, due to public safety concerns. The Deschutes National Forest has identified 679 dead or dying trees in the area deemed hazardous. Officials with the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District believe drought conditions contributed to the die-off.

The campground and boat ramp will reopen once hazard trees are removed - likely in 2024. Reservations for this season will be refunded.

Boating access to Wickiup Reservoir will be available at North Wickiup Boat Ramp, Sheep Bridge Boat Launch and West South Twin Boat Launch. Camping options in the area include North Twin Lake Campground, Sheep Bridge Campground, South Twin Lake Campground and West South Twin Campground.

Additionally, hazard tree inspectors identified more than 300 hazard trees within Paulina Lake Campground. Crews removed a majority of these trees last fall; however, some hazard tree removal work remains. The remaining tree work will resume as soon as snow levels permit this spring. In anticipation of this work, the opening date for Paulina Lake Campground will be delayed by two weeks to June 30. Visitors with camping reservations between June 16 and June 29, will receive a full refund from Recreation.gov.


Gull Point Campground file photo

One Hurt In Snowmobile Crash Near Elk Lake Lodge

BEND, OR -- A snowmobile rider was flown to the hospital Sunday night, following a crash near Elk Lake Lodge.

Deschutes County Search and Rescue was dispatched at about 7:30 p.m., and says the snowmobile slammed into a tracked snow vehicle stopped on Cascade Lakes Highway. Speed appears to have been a factor in the crash. The rider was thrown about a hundred feet and his vehicle caught fire.

The driver of the tracked vehicle is an Elk Lake Lodge employee and was not hurt. Other lodge workers responded with cold-weather gear for the two people involved.

Chang Proposes Using Room Tax Dollars For Housing

BEND, OR -- Following the Governor’s executive order aimed at increasing affordable housing, one Deschutes County Commissioner wants to approach the issue locally this year.

Commissioner Phil Chang says the county could help mitigate the rising cost of land, construction, and System Development Charges, “Take all those three things and add them up, and it’s really hard to deliver a unit of housing that’s attainable to our local workers. So, we have to buy down those costs somehow, in order to make more housing attainable for more people and to build more housing.”

He’s proposing the county use some of the revenue generated by the Transient Room Tax, the fee paid by visitors at hotels and resorts. 

TRT dollars go to the Sheriff’s Office, Sunriver Service District, and the Fairgrounds, but millions remain unallocated. Much of the unallocated funds will likely be used for reconstruction of the courthouse, now expected to cost $40 million.

“There was a decision made about five or six years ago to reduce our assessed property tax rate by three cents, and then three cents again. If we hadn’t done that, we would probably have about $10 million in the bank for our capital reserve right now, to put towards the courthouse project,” says Chang adding he hopes TRT money will be left over for workforce housing following the courthouse expansion, “In the ideal world, I would like us to not use all of it. Because this housing need is so critical for our community. A lack of workers, which is driven by a lack of housing opportunities is breaking our local businesses.” 

County & Bethlehem Inn Partner For Shelter Beds, Treatment

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County and Bethlehem Inn are partnering to provide more beds and services for those experiencing homelessness and mental illness or substance abuse disorders.

Colleen Thomas with the county’s Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST) tells KBND News six beds will be made available at Bethlehem Inn’s shelters; three in Bend and three in Redmond.  “By having those beds set aside we have the ability to kind of wrap around intensive case management and peer support services for folks that need it. And it gives them an opportunity to have a safe place while they access different treatment opportunities and services through the county.”  Thomas said details are being finalized and the program should begin in a month or two, “We have folks that we are working with that would be ideal candidates for this program and so we’re just looking forward to getting it started.”

Deschutes County Health Services will reimburse Bethlehem Inn $70 a night, per bed.  Funding comes from a Measure 110 Behavioral Health Grant. 

There is a possibility the program could expand, “We from Deschutes County as well as Bethlehem Inn are open to conversation and how that might look as we get going. We might see that we have a greater need, and I think that that will just open conversation for how we can support more folks in the community,” said Thomas.

New Health Ctr. Planned For MVHS

BEND, OR -- Mosaic Medical plans to develop a new School-Based Health Center (SBHC) at Mountain View High in Bend. Mosaic manages five other SBHCs in Central Oregon: Bend High, Madras High, Redmond High, Lynch Elementary in Redmond and Crook County Kids Clinic in Prineville. Centers provide physical, behavioral and preventive healthcare for anyone 18 or younger, regardless of ability to pay. Almost 30% of MVHS qualify for reduced lunch and the Oregon Health Plan. 

Much of the money for the project comes from donations from Bend Foundation, Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation and First Interstate Bank. Mosaic officials say the nonprofit health system is less than $100,000 away from the $200,000 fundraising goal.  

The MVHS health center is expected to open in spring, through a partnership with Bend-La Pine Schools and Deschutes County Health Services. 

Bend Man Arrested Following Jefferson Co. Chase

MADRAS, OR -- A Bend Man was arrested after a Sunday night high-speed chase in Jefferson County. According to the Sheriff’s Office, a deputy tried to pull over a car on Highway 26 at about 8:25 p.m., but the car took off toward Madras. During the chase, JCSO says the suspect reached speeds over 100 miles an hour.

The agency closed the highway at NW Cherry Lane and deployed spike strips at NW Boise and NW Dogwood. After the suspect vehicle sustained two flat tires and came to a stop, 50-year-old Anthony Buffinger was arrested without further incident.

He's charged with a Felony Parole Warrant, Felony Driving While Suspended, Felony Elude, Rckless Driving and Reckless Endangering. 

Buffinger has an extensive criminal record; most recently convicted in Deschutes County of Felon in Possession of a Restricted Weapon, in October. 

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