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Friday, January 14, 2011

Winter Fest Gets Road Trip Props

Posted By on Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 1:13 PM

A national online magazine/blog has given Bend’s WinterFest a nod as one of the Top 10 winter festival destinations for road tripping families.

Road Trip For Families published a piece this week identifying WinterFest among the nation’s must-see winter celebrations alongside such well known festivals as St. Paul Minnesota’s massive Winter Carnival and Steamboat, Colorado’s less massive, but much lauded, Winter Carnival. (You’ve probably seen pictures from the event, which features a “skijoring” competition wherein “skiers” are pulled through a snow-covered downtown race course by a cowboy on a horse)

WinterFest isn’t exactly a secret around Central Oregon where locals have watched the festival grow from a small downtown get-together to a bonafide winter carnival atmosphere complete with national music acts and a multi-story rail jam complex that acts as the visual centerpiece of the festival. The event, which is produced by the Source’s sister business, Lay It Out Events, is scheduled this year for Feb. 17-20. This year’s event is sponsored by On Point Credit Union and Mt. Bachelor.

Other winter festivals singled out for praise by, included the Eagle Days in St. Louis Missouri and the awesomely named Polar Bear Jump Off and Ugly Fish Tacos in Seward, Alaska.


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Chris Horner To Host Mass Road Bike Tour in Bend

Posted By on Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 7:00 AM

Bend native and Tour de France star Chris Horner has teamed up with Visit Bend on a new charity bike event to be held in August this year. The event, which will be hosted by Horner and organized in part by Visit Bend, the city’s tourism bureau, is dubbed the Cascade Gran Fondo, and modeled on similar mass participation rides that are popular in Italy.

The event is scheduled for Aug. 18-20 and is expected to draw around 1,00o participants. Money contributed by sponsors and raised by riders goes toward the Mt Bachelor Ski Education Foundation, Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong campaign and the World Bike Relief fund.

Thanks in large part to the recruitment efforts of Visit Bend, the community has played host to several high profile cycling events in the past few years including the recently concluded CycloCross Nationals and U.S.A. Cycling Road National Championships.

The inaugural Cascade Gran Fondo ride begins with a Q and A session on Thurs Aug. 18 with Horner and continues with a VIP banquet for riders and sponsors on Friday, culminating with the ride, which Horner says is one of his favorite local circuits, on Saturday.

One of the top American cyclists, Horner is a member of the Radio Shack race team. He is coming off one of his best years, including a Top 10 finish in last year’s Tour De France.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Big Cheese: Appointing or electing Bend's mayor

Oran Teater asks why Bend, Oregon doesn't elect its mayor.

Posted By on Thu, Jan 6, 2011 at 10:48 PM

Before heading off into the City Council retirement sunset, former councilor and mayor Oran Teater yet again brought up the question of why Bend doesn’t have an elected rather than an appointed Mayor.

Teater is absolutely spot on with his question, which is essentially pertinent this week, considering Jeff Eager was sworn in as mayor at last night's city council meeting.

Currently, the mayor’s role is strictly ceremonial. He or she runs the council meetings, signs official documents, cuts ribbons at openings and represents the city at social and governmental functions.

An elected Mayor would have to run on a platform and once in office try to guide the council on implementing that platform. This simply makes sense.

It’s no surprise that Bend is the only Oregon city of some size that still appoints its mayor. So, let’s get up to speed and make the position of Bend mayor an elected one.

And while we’re at it, why not consider altering the city charter to have four council positions elected by district. There would be Northwest, Southwest, Northeast and Southeast districts with two at-large seats and the mayor’s position. The idea is to give people in the various districts better representation.

Will either happen? Doubtful as ceremonial title holders don’t pose a threat to anyone and districting is scary.

Photo: City of Bend

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Friday, December 31, 2010

New John Day Rafting Restrictions Released

Posted By on Fri, Dec 31, 2010 at 12:39 AM

The BLM has issued new summer time boating rules for the John Day that will greatly restrict the number of boats allowed on the most popular stretches from late May to early July. Under the rules released on Thursday afternoon, which go into effect for the 2011 boating season, the BLM will allow a total of just nine boat trips to launch in the popular Clarno to Cottonwood section of the lower John Day between May 20 and July 1. Upstream, the BLM will limit access to 19 boat trips per day between May 20 and July 10, on the so called Segment 3 between Service Creek and Clarno.

Using some back of the napkin math that would amount to about 1140 total possible trips during the peak season next summer on Segment 3. By way of contrast, the BLM recorded almost 10,000 boater launches last year on Seg. 3 during the peak season.

The new rules which have been in the works for several years are an attempt by the BLM to enhance the wilderness experience for users on the popular John Day River, which has been designated by Congress as Wild and Scenic waterway, allowing the BLM special management authority. Under the proposed rules, the BLM estimates that boaters will see fewer other groups during their floats, reducing competition for campsites as well as degradation of the natural environment that accompanies over-use. To help enforce the rules, the BLM will require all boaters to register and obtain a pass before launching.

The pass may be available next year at no cost, but boaters should check with the BLM and make their boating plans early if they want to get on the river this summer.


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Monday, December 27, 2010

Bend Drivers Not Drunk, Just Texting!

Posted By on Mon, Dec 27, 2010 at 1:47 AM

I recently lost my Bluetooth headset. After finally giving up on the search, I’m planning to replace it soon at a cost of roughly $40. That will make $80 so far that I’ve spent on headsets for myself, another $40 for my wife’s Bluetooth and a grand total of $120, or thereabouts.

That’s about the equivalent of the fine that the state levies under the current cell phone ban law.  I know because I paid that, too. Or at least me wife did after she got pulled over for chatting on her phone while driving home from work. She had a lot of excuses. She’s too busy and distracted with two young kids to make her phone calls at home. She’s busy at work and needed to talk to one of her fellow students from her MBA class about an upcoming assignment. Like some other drivers that I’ve talked to she thought she would just toss the phone if she saw a cop. Well she did see a cop, but not before he saw her talking on her iPhone. Ironically, my Bluetooth headset (this was before I lost it) was sitting only a few inches from her phone in the center console. But it wasn’t set up for her handset and the Bend cop who stopped her was less than sympathetic.

So was I.

You see I’m not all that fond of my headset. I don’t like it sticking in my ear. I hate fumbling around with it. I didn’t like spending the money on it. But I also know the statistics about cell phone driving and the research is unequivocal: talking and texting while driving hugely increases your chance of getting into an accident. That means that you’re much more likely to hurt yourself and, more importantly, an innocent victim when you pick up your phone behind the wheel. Last year, more than 6,000 people were killed by “distracted” drivers and nearly a half million more were injured. According to federal studies, people texting – something that’s more common than many might think – are 20 times more likely to be involved in a crash.

This isn’t new information, we’ve known for years that cell phone use leads to accidents. In Oregon it’s been illegal for almost a year to drive and dial. Yet, it seems every time I drive across town I see someone yakking into his or her handset. I see mom’s chatting as they pull out of the school parking lot after dropping off their kids at my daughter’s elementary school. It seems everyone does it. One thing they almost always have in common is their poor driving – a result of their distraction. They don’t signal turns; they fail to yield. Often, they can’t even keep to their own lane. When I see someone make a stupid move, the first thing I do is look up to see if I can’t spot the tell tale left hand to the ear that let’s me know their attention is elsewhere. My favorite is when somebody cuts me off in a roundabout or at a four-way stop and then raises their hand and smiles to acknowledge that they’re not being rude – they’re just distracted. “Sorry, I’m on the phone, didn’t see you there,” they seem to be saying. Usually, I just blow it off. Nothing worth getting worked up about. And it’s not like I’ve never broken a rule of the road. But I wonder would it be any different If I pulled up a half empty bottle of Wild Turkey from between my legs and tipped it another driver’s direction, “Hey, sorry about that, I’m just a bit tipsy. No offense!”

Maybe we need bigger fines or more aggressive enforcement to get folks’ attention. Maybe as transportation secretary Roy La Hood hinted recently, we’ll need some sort of jamming device to stop drivers from breaking the law. I’m not sure what the answer is at this point. But I do know that there are a large number of drivers out there who just don’t get it. As a father of two young girls who are just starting to venture out on their bikes, that scares the hell out of me. I also realize that we’re on the front of the information revolution and that devices like the iPhone and Blackberry aren’t going away. My guess is that one day in the not too distant future we’ll look at cell phones and driving the same way we now look at drinking and driving: As an irresponsible and socially unacceptable mix that has serious legal consequences. Until then, I’ll keep waving and nodding – while muttering, “Idiot.”


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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Um, Did Pat Robertson Say That We Should Legalize Marijuana?

Conservative Christian commentator Pat Robertson comes out in support of decriminalizing marijuana.

Posted By on Thu, Dec 23, 2010 at 6:49 PM

Remember Pat Robertson, the aging hard-right Christian broadcaster known for, among other things, announcing that the earthquake in Haiti was a result of the nation's pact with the Devil?

Well, last week he seemed to indicate on his show The 700 Club, that he was in favor of decriminalizing marijuana (or perhaps reforming mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana possession), a statement that seems to fly in the face of the rhetoric Robertson and his followers typically espouse. His reasoning: we're spending too much on jails.

See for yourself:

You need to use a flashplayer enabled browser in order to view this video

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Redmond to Residents: Wait to Skate

Posted By on Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 9:33 PM

Ambitious plans to get an outdoor community ice rink up and running in Redmond’s Centennial Plaza this winter were scrapped earlier this week. According to a press release from the city of Redmond, the city’s plans hit a roadblock when arrangements to bring a compressor over from Portland fell through recently. Rather than keep searching around the city has decided to temporarily shelve the project until next year, allowing the city to complete some of the accompanying site work over the summer when it will be more cost effective. Redmond’s ice sheet would have been the third seasonal skating rink in Central Oregon and the first in Redmond (The other rinks are located at Seventh Mountain Resort and Sunriver). It was pitched as a desirable and relatively inexpensive winter amenity to the city’s downtown area and city leaders had hoped to have it up and running before the end of the year.

“The Council, Staff and I were really hoping that we could provide the residents of Redmond with an ice skating experience for the rest of the winter.  Unfortunately, due to circumstances we cannot overcome, we cannot make it happen this year,” Mayor George Endicott, said in the press release.

The city now hopes to have the rink up and running after next Thanksgiving for a three-month season. (EF)

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

DMV Decides Not to Pursue New Office Location in Bend

Posted By on Wed, Dec 8, 2010 at 7:52 PM

After months of protests by residents in neighbors off of Brookswood Blvd. on the southwest side of Bend, the Oregon Department of Transportation announced today that it would no longer pursue a DMV location in a shopping center in that area.

In the letter to the owner of the space, W. Scott Lovejoy III, the DMV says that the lease is void because the space could not be prepared in time for the planned January move in.

The current Bend DMV will continue at its current location on the north end of Bend.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Central Oregon's Email Subject Line of the Day

Posted By on Fri, Dec 3, 2010 at 1:25 AM

One of the great privileges of sitting in my chair is the opportunity to wade through hundreds of emails and press releases each week for the chance of finding just one small nugget that could possibly be of interest or relevance. It’s captivating stuff. Then every once in awhile you see something that catches your eye, like the following email that came through from the Sheriff’s office this afternoon. I wish I knew how to write headlines like that -- without even a trace of irony.

I could probably upload the document, but really what else do you need to know.??

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Arnold Concedes Bend City Council Seat to Ramsay

Scott Ramsay wins the hotly contested Bend City Council race after a recount.

Posted By on Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 10:52 PM

Just off the phone with council candidate Chuck Arnold who informed that he has conceded the final council seat from last month's election to his opponent Scott Ramsay, following a hand recount that determined Ramsay edged Arnold by a razor-thin three vote margin. An upbeat Arnold said that he felt very positive about the recount process and confident that the hand recount was accurate. Arnold, who also serves as the executive director of the Downtown Bend Business Association, said he looks forward to working with the council and Ramsay.

"I'm still going to be around," said Arnold, who when asked about the possibility of a future campaign, said he had not ruled it out.

"A lot change in 24 months. I feel really good. It was a great campaign. I have no regrets about how any of this went."

Got to run, but I'll try to get a comment from Ramsay before the end of the day.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Goodbye Goomba's, Hello Bond Street Bar and Grill

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 1:09 AM

The restaurant casualties continue in downtown where longtime operator Peggy Falcaro announced on Monday that she has sold Giuseppe’s after a 20-plus-year run on Bond Street.

Longtime locals remember Giuseppe’s as one of the places to enjoy a good meal and a glass of wine before the boom. However, like many downtown establishments Giuseppe’s struggled to find its niche in the new downtown scene where customers have rewarded novelty, innovation, and, well, newness—none of which Giuseppe had in any great quantity. With this week’s closure, Giuseppe’s joins, Ernesto’s and Bella Cucina on the list of locally owned Italian eateries that haven’t survived the recession shake-out. Meantime, chains and franchises like Portland’s Pastini Pastaria, Carino’s and Olive Garden have moved in, creating additional competition.

Falcaro encouraged her friends and regular customers to stop in before Tuesday when Giuseppe’s staff will serve their last dinner. According to Falcaro, the new ownership will take over immediately and plan to open as the Bond Street Bar and Grill as soon as next week. It’s not yet clear what type of menu or format, that the new business will offer, however, the offerings will include, at least initially, a Giuseppe’s Classics sections on the menu that may help encourage longtime patrons to at least check out the new establishment.

While Falcaro was initially mum on the identity of the new owners, she mentioned that a pair of the restaurants’ popular front of house staff, Nancy and Hydie, will likely be on board for the launch of Bond Street Bar and Grill.

No word, either, on the fate of Giuseppe’s popular lounge, the somewhat underground, Goomba’s. Here’s hoping the new owners find a way to incorporate the well loved alley accessible lounge that’s faithfully watered this thirsty customer’s palate over the years. Salud, Giuseppes, and thanks for the memories.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Flaherty To Get Blaylock Murder Case

Posted By on Thu, Nov 18, 2010 at 1:30 AM

In a break from string of hostilities dating back to the May election campaign, District Attorney Mike Dugan has announced that his successor DA-elect Patrick Flaherty will serve as a special prosecutor on the high profile Lori Blaylock murder case. Blaylock's husband, Steven, was arrested last week and charged with killing his wife whose body has not yet been found.

Flaherty who takes office in January has been publicly battling with Dugan's office and county brass over issues related to his transition, particularly his authority to fire some of the deputy district attorneys and office staff when he takes control after the New Year.

However, given that Flaherty will likely have the reins through the bulk of the Blaylock prosecution, Dugan said in a press release that it would be appropriate to bring him into the case now as a special prosecutor.

"It is important to both of us that the work that is being carried out in this office for the benefit of our citizens be continued. Community safety is, and will remain, a primary goal of the district attorney's office," Dugan said in the prepared statement that alludes to the very public acrimony between Flaherty and the outgoing DA.

The release also indicated that the two met on Wednesday to discuss issues related to the office, which Dugan described as a "productive" discussion. That's a departure from some of the recent headlines, which have detailed how Flaherty has already butted heads with Dugan's staff, beginning with the August revelation that he intended to fire chief deputy Darryl Nakahira.

Deputy D.A.s responded by moving to unionize, which they did successfully in September. Since then the county has been working to develop the terms of the DDA's collective bargaining agreement. In the meantime, the county's legal staff wrote a formal letter to Oregon Attorney General John Kroger, essentially requesting that Kroger tell Flaherty to back off.

"If the county is named as a defendant in any lawsuit arising from Mr. Flaherty's actions, the county will tender such claims to the state. For these reasons, we respectfully request that you or someone from your office discuss Mr. Flaherty's plans with him either before he takes office, or at the very least, before he implements them," Deschutes County Attorney Mark Pilliod wrote in a two-and-a-half page letter to Kroger, dated October 26.

Those issues, notwithstanding Dugan and Flaherty announced Wednesday that they would spending next week with their transition teams to address issues related to changeover in the office, including case load management, the budget and "external issues."

Should be a fun pow-wow.

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