Sunday, January 17, 2016

January 15, 2016 - Deschutes County Commissioners and Staff Special South County Presentation

Deschutes County Commissioners and Staff
Special South County Presentation
by Kathy Matthews of
“In the News for La Pine and Surrounding Communities”

On Friday, January 15, 2016, the La Pine Chamber of Commerce and the Sunriver Chamber of Commerce held their annual joint meeting and breakfast at Thousand Trails RV Resort off of Century Drive. 

Anne Gawith and Tony DeBone welcomed people to the meeting, which had been held during the fall in previous years.  There were close to 200 people in attendance; the largest number yet.

There is a lot of excitement and numerous plans for Southern Deschutes County in 2016.  This year, Deschutes County turns 100-years-old, the City of La Pine turns 10-years-old, the Newberry Crater Monument turns 25, and this will be the 40th year of La Pine’s Frontier Days Celebration.   

In place of announcements, the schedule of event sheet was handed out to highlight the fun:

The first speaker on the agenda was Todd Dunkelberg, Director of the Deschutes Public Library.

Todd told us that in 1998, the Deschutes Public Library separated from the county and became a special district with its own funding base.  There are libraries in La Pine, Sunriver, Sisters, Redmond and two in Bend.  The Deschutes Public Library offers the same service in all towns.

The strategic plan for the library in coming years includes:

·        People - Doubling the number of people that they serve,
·        Place - Double the amount of square footage over current space, because       over the next 30 years, 100,000 people are expected to move into DC.       
·        Platform – Connecting people with all library services

There are now early learning spaces at the libraries.  This brings in families, and in La Pine alone there has been a 10% increase in visits. 

Another thing that people may not realize is that the libraries in Deschutes County have a strong digital presence.  People can now download books to read on their phones or computers for free.  They also offer wireless printing for a small charge.

The DCL is very helpful to businesses.  They have a large database that businesses can use, including demographic information and reports.  You can schedule a local librarian for 90 minutes to show you how things work.

The DCL is also helpful to non-profit agencies.  They can help you find out where the funders are and how to write grants for your organization.

There is now a county law library, with access to the physical books as well as online info.

The next person to speak at the meeting was Bob Bryant of ODOT, who spoke about the Deschutes County Capital projects as well as other improvements of HWY 97 from the Columbia Gorge to the California Border.   Bob told us that eventually, there will be a four-lane divided highway with a concrete barrier from Sunriver to La Pine.  Below are some of the things that ODOT is working on over the next couple of years.

#1 – US 97/Wickiup Junction:  Work will resume on the overpass as soon as weather and the ground permit.  This project is costing $11 million dollars in construction costs, with a total amount being spent of $17 million.
To find out more about the project, you can check out these links:

#2 – US 97/Romaine Village-Lava Butte:  There are plans of a safety barrier all the way down, with an open space for accesss to the High Desert Museum.  This will be completed during the summer of 2016.

#3 – US97/South Century Dr. (USFS Boundary Rd):  Beginning in 2016, due to the high demand on this section of the highway, a four-lane separated section to La Pine will be worked on.  The cost of this project will be between 20-25 million dollars.

#4- US97 Bend to Spring Creek:  Variable speed limit signage will be put into place, like HWY 26 has over Mt. Hood.  The speed limit is legally 65 mph now, and some from out of town don’t take into consideration hazardous travel conditions.

#5 – US97 Sunriver Interchange: Scheduled for 2018, pavement  work and also work on the La Pine Streetscape.

#6 – US97 Corridor Freight Plan: Scheduled for 2016, planning will be continued for truck traffic.  Truck traffic is continuing to grow and there needs to be a lot more options for them to park up and down the HWY 97 corridor.

Chris Doty from the Deschutes County Road Department then talked to us for a few minutes. 

Chris’ big news was that the dirt road part of Huntington Rd in La Pine will be paved this year, and so will the Deer Run subdivision.  Turn lanes will also be installed.  The 1.8 million dollar project will begin this summer.

In addition to that, a $1 million dollar project will begin in 2016 for the more and more dangerous Burgess/Day Road/Pine Forest intersection.  The county will need to get easements for this, and that is where it might take some time to get everything done, but they are working on it.

Steve Renke of Deschutes County’s 9-1-1 District was the last speaker.  (Sheriff Shane Nelson was scheduled to talk, but was helping out in Harney County and was unable to attend.)

The Deschutes County 9-1-1 Service District  is replacing an end of life radio system this year.  They had hired a consulting firm to help with this and it was going to cost $13 million dollars.  Then they realized that the State of Oregon was doing the same thing and are now teaming up with them.  That cut the cost in half for the county, and now it will only be $6.5 million.  They have been saving up money for the replacement so that part is already to go, and the new system should be up and running by October of this year.

There will be a district levy on the ballot in May to save up for the next upgrade, which is anticipated in another 20 years.  If passed, it will amount to 6.32 cents more per $1,000. 

9-1-1 is currently working on having a dedicated phone operator and dedicated fire dispatcher.  As it is now, the one person on duty handles a lot of calls at the same time.

Tony DeBone let us know at this point that we can schedule a tour to see how everything works at 9-1-1 if we want to.

After that, there was a drawing for free crab feed tickets and that was about it. 

I do want to take the opportunity to thank our county commissioners, Tammy Baney, Tony De Bone and Al Unger for all of their dedicated hard work.  Also, thank you to all the people who work hard to keep our county a great place to live, and to the La Pine and Sunriver Chamber of Commerce’s.

I scanned the flyers that they gave us and have posted them below.

Thank you for reading "In the News".  Please make sure to check out the Facebook page that goes along with this blog.

Thank you to today's sponsor, La Pine Redi Mix and Matthews Construction:

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