Friday, September 23, 2016

"In the News" Links to Local Tidbits from La Pine and Newberry Country Stories:

September 23, 2016 - Highlights of the La Pine Planning Commission Meeting of September 20th:

La PIne - 

I just finished listening to the audio recording of the La Pine Planning Commission's meeting of Tuesday, September 20th. Here are just a few of the highlights:

* City of La Pine residents will be voting on whether or not recreational marijuana can be legally sold within the city limits and the ins and outs of the rules about that if the bill passes.

* A developer is interested in building affordable multi-family housing east of the Little Deschutes Logdes in Downtown La Pine. This would be in the form of 30-40 two bedroom apartments.

* The La Pine Community Clinic is planning on expanding it's facility. It is currently at 10,000 sq. foot building and may increase it's size by 25% or so.

* Plans are almost finished between the City and St. Charles about the new clinic on Huntington near where you turn to go to the high school.

* Gordy's hasn't started with the permit process to add on to their property and businesses, though they do have big plans in the making.

* The City is working on plans for the future transit center on the vacant lot next to Napa. They will meet with ODOT and COIC soon, and there will be a meeting on October 12th for presentation.

This is all exciting, but all I can think of is how congested it is going to be on Huntington. I wonder if they will be putting in a light somewhere near the Crescent Creek neighborhood? I have no idea, but driving is is gong to be a mess pretty soon. ~ Kathy Matthews

Here is the audio link for this past Tuesday's Planning Commission meeting. I'll post the agenda below also.

September 21, 2016 Geno and The Professor's Interview with DCSO Candidate Eric Kowsoski:

Wednesday #2: Geno and The Professor interviewed DCSO Candidate Eric Kozowski this morning on their KNCP 107.5 radio show.

This is what I learned.

This will be the first time in 20 years that the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office has had a contested race. Usually, prior to a sheriff retiring, another person is appointed and then they just go on to stay in office as the new sheriff. 

Eric is married to Kristen, and they have a 23-year-old daughter who attends college. They have lived in Deschutes County for six years now, but Eric has always been an Oregonian. He grew up in the Portland area, and was inspired to work in law enforcement by a couple police officers who had a positive impact on his life. Eric has fourteen years’ experience as a deputy; eight years in Wollawa and six years in Central Oregon.

Prior to becoming a cop, Eric worked in business, specializing in technology. He has been in the military, and has also been a leader in the Boy Scouts of American organization for the past 25 years. He enjoys being in service to his community, and feels that his background has prepared him to become the next sheriff of this county.

With a background in tech, he foresees how technical issues will continue to escalate, from identity theft to other issues.

Kozowski explained that these days half of the adult population prefers to get their info online instead of the conventional way of newspaper and t.v. The sheriff’s office needs to make wise use of technology, and not throw good money after bad. He said that we need more citizen input, and to be more open and honest with the public that they serve.

He feels that the DCSO has rather poor communication with the citizens, and that they have not embraced social media and other online communication. They do have a Twitter account, but are not using it very often. Other updates are not usually made in a timely manner.

Here are some of the questions that Deputy Kozowski was asked.

“Why do you want to become sheriff?”

• I saw a need for change.
• The public deserves more. They are paying for a lot.
• There are just too many problems in the DCSO
• There is a failure of leadership and management

“What are the qualities of a good sheriff?”

• Leadership. Be upfront, give guidance and have clear expectations
• Be open, honest, transparent and earn the trust of the community
• Police need to be better at communicating with the community
• A good sheriff needs to be a good steward of the public’s money, the tax dollars, and spend it wisely.

Kozowski said that his opponent wants to raise the tax rate, and that the 1.4 million dollars in expenditures needs to be looked at. For instance, there is a $200,000 increase allotted for overtime for the jail. The general liability amount is about to be changed from $87,000 to $405,000, and there is a capital outlay proposal for buildings of $250,000 but no detail of where this money will exactly go.

He stated that there are ways to reduce personnel costs. Currently, 27% of the employees at the DCSO are management or supervisors. This means that there is one manager for every 3.7 people working there.

Currently, there is only one officer allotted for the La Pine area on a regular basis. This is also true for Redmond. When Deputy Kozowski was working on patrol in La Pine, there would be one supervisor and five deputies working the whole county at one time. The shifts were 12 hours long, and 10 of those hours were back to back dispatch calls. There needs to be a proper management of staff scheduling, and it would not be hard to have more patrol cars and jail staff by simply adjusting schedules.

Kozowski is critical of the response times to 911 calls. He requested a log of every call over the past three years and analyzed them. He found that though the number of calls had actually gone down a bit, the response times had gone up (7% for this year and 10% for last year).

“What do you think about body cams?”

Deputy Kozowski said that he loves them. They are positive for the officer and the agency, and he wore one while working as a deputy in Wallowa. They reduce lawsuits. They are expensive though. The camera itself doesn’t cost very much, but data storage can cost a lot. He feels that he knows how to work around getting the cost on that down though. Also, it is expensive when there is a public records request, because the faces of the innocent people then need to be blurred out, as mandated by the Oregon Legislature.

“Let’s talk about the August 15th article in the Bend Bulletin on the histories of the two candidates. I felt that the article did a disservice to you, Eric. It was even leaning towards yellow journalism, and making it look like you did something wrong when you didn’t.”

• Eric said that he just answered the questions truthfully. He was called to the stand during a murder trial and was asked a question about memory. He said that he wasn’t trying to present himself as an expert witness. Also, others had been instructed to not talk about the case, so they didn’t when The Bulletin asked. (KM – I will link up that article in the comment section so we can see what they are talking about.)

“Why do you think that you are the right candidate for the job?”

• I have much more diverse experience
• I am not career law enforcement
• I have private business experience
• I have military experience
• I am fiscally responsible
• I will use the tax money wisely
• I will provide more patrols for not more cost for La Pine
• It seems like there has been a scandal a month for the past few years, and this is the first time in 20 years that an incumbent has been challenged.

And, that is what I learned. This was a very interesting interview to listen too.

~ Kathy Matthews

September 21, 2016 -  Geno and The Professor's Interview with Rosland Elementary School Principal, Rochelle Williams:

Rochelle Williams is the principal of the Rosland Rockets at Rosland Elementary in La Pine, and she was today's first guest.. 

This is what I learned:

* Rosland school opened 7 years ago. It has 12 classrooms, and at this time 4 of the classrooms are being used for school-based activities but do not have students and teachers in them full-time.

* Enorollment is up this year. New people are moving into La Pine, but others who had to move away have also been able to return. There are 184 students enrolled at Rosland this year. There is one classroom per grade level, except for the kindergartners, who have 2 classes with 18 students in each.

* The school can be easily expanded if the need arises, by building on two more wings. This would double the size of the school, and it will become as large as La Pine Elementary.

*There are a total of 30 people employed at the school all together, though some of those employees are shared among other schools in the La Pine area. Of those 30 employees, 11 are full-time certified staff (teachers, etc.) and 11 are support staff.

* This year, the school has hired a psychologist.

* Office Manager Karen Kromer Foster at Rosland was named as a support staff finalist. Besides her job as the Office Manager, Karen also helps the man who is in charge of the South County Schools. Congratulations, Karen!

* At Rosland, none of the children every have to worry about lunch money. Everybody eats for free, due to the low-income area guidelines. The food is super fresh and super good. The kids go through and get at least one fresh fruit or vegetable prior to choosing their entree, and are also able to choose from a very nice salad bar.

* Apparently, the food service department throughout the district is excellent.

* When asked what Mrs. Williams tells the parents at the beginning of each school year is to "coach up" your kids every morning. This means to let them know that they need to listen and follow the teacher's instructions, even if they don't understand why they are being asked to do something. The teacher knows what is coming up next, and he or she is trying to keep everybody organized. Be your child's cheerleader! Also, reading with them every night helps too. The school is in partnership with the families, and she is very thankful for all that everybody does to make the school a success.

* Rocket Time is a fun part of the school day, that happens every week at the beginning of school. The K-5 kids pair up with different grades, and go an visit other teachers and learn new things. They learn about manners, problem solving, communication skills, kindness, saying "I'm sorry", accepting apologies, being accountable, etc.

* The Bend/La Pine School District teaches 21st Century Learning besides reading, writing and arithmetic. Part of this is learning the 4'C's - collaboration, creative thinking, creativity and communication.

* The Open House went well this year. The parents learned about Title 1 funding and much, much more. The school publishes two newsletters per month. One is comprehensive and the other one, The Rocketblast, is an update type of newsletter.

* The staff at Rosland is working hard to implement a new curriculum this year.

* Rosland Elementary scored very well on the state's Smarte Balanced School Report Cards. Rosland saw great growth, and hopes to continue to expand upon this. The 4th graders at this school scored the highest in the whole district.

* Mrs. Williams was very excited about an upcoming all-school and all-community event that will be held on Saturday, October 6th from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at La Pine Elementary. This is the "La Pine Fall Festival", and dinner will be served free of charge. Also OHSU will be holding health exhibits at LPMS at the same time.

That's what I learned! I am a SMART Reader at this school, and it is a wonderful place. It is small, enjoyable and everybody is glad to be there. Keep up the great work, Mrs. Williams and your staff!

~ Kathy M.

Friday - La Pine: Yesterday, I was listening to the Bill and Gil Show and learned a few things (those two guys know everything!).

First, I learned about this year's Maitake mushroom season in Central Oregon. It isn't an ideal year for mushrooms this year, do to the lack of rain.

There have been close to 100 permits issued, and camps have been set up on both ends of Chemult for mushroom harvesters and sellers. They used to gather at Crescent Lake Jct. but there is only one family there this season.

The biggest year for harvesting was in 1992, and $500,000 per day was changing hands at Crescent Lake Junction. Back then, there were no controls on anything. The Maitake mushrooms are sold as delicacies in Japan and in 1992 the going rate was $800 per pound. I'm not sure what they fetch these days.

As I was listening to the mushroom report, I kept thinking about what the Klamath Falls women were saying a couple of weeks ago about many mushroom pickers were often victims of human slavery. Dang.

Also on the show yesterday were two people from Bancorp Insurance in La Pine. Rex Lesueur, the owner, and Cherie who works with individual health insurance.

Bancorp Insurance has received a grant, one of 35 agencies across Oregon now known as a "storefront agency". They help people sign up for medicare and individual Obamacare programs. The area that they serve includes Northern Klamath County, Lake County, Deschutes County, and they offer continuing education.

Open enrollment for Medicare (for people over the age of 65) goes until October 15th. Open enrollment for Obamacare is November 15th. It is very important to set an appointment and get the expertise offered at Bancorp Insurance if you have questions. There have been a lot of changes since last year, as many insurance companies have pulled out and left the state of Oregon.

~ Kathy Matthews

September 15, 2016 - The Chamber Connection - City Gives Chamber Money for New Program:

La Pine & Newberry Country: 

I was listening first to The Chamber Connection. Anne, Gary, Bernie and special guest Dirt Road Tom were on today. 

I won another t-shirt because I answered the trivia question. This is pretty easy to do, by the way, and I am limiting myself to every other week, so I encourage you to listen and win. Today's question was, what part did McClain Stephenson want toplay on M*A*S*H*? Hawkeye Pierce was the answer.

They talked a lot about last night's La Pine City Council meeting. Here are a few things that I learned:

* The La Pine Chamber asked the City of La Pine if they would commit to fund 10% of the new Business Retention and Expansion Program (USDA funds the other 90% of the $25,000 cost).

The City said that they would. They used money from the funds collected through business licences and the Business Development Program.

La Pine is only the third city in Oregon to participate in the Business Retention & Expansion Program, which is based on a successful program out of Minnesota.

The program is designed to help improve the local business climate in La Pine. 80* of new jobs come from existing firms, and people who want to start a business want to open on where others have been successful.

Please see the flyer in the comment section to learn more about the program and how businesses and individuals can participate.

* The City of La Pine passed two ordinances last night. One said that the City Mananger can spend a certain amount of money on city procurement's without getting permission on each thing.

The other one deals with design standards for public works, streets, sidewalks, etc. The City has its own engineer, and when a business applies to do a job in La Pine, they agree that their concrete and other materials will be up to standards and the City doesn't have to go through all the little details on each project.

* Elections were barely discussed on today's show, but candidates will be coming in and answering questions on the radio show soon. There are openings for a new mayor (Ken Mulenex is retiring after 6 years to spend time with his family) and also for two city council openings.

* Anne mentioned that the La Pine Business Park is ready to explode, but there is not enough housing in our area for future employees to live.

* There are rumors of several marijuana growers wanting to begin businesses in the La Pine Business Park.

* Not everybody is excited about ODOT purchasing a prime piece of property in downtown La Pine for a bus stop. Sandwiched inbetween Napa Auto Parts and TJ's Market, it will now be off the tax roles for the City of La Pine. It is agreed that a bus stop is a good idea, but not where it is. It won't be developed for a while yet.

* The question came up about how fast you can drive on State Rec Rd., because there is no sign. It boils down to the basic rule, whatever is safe, and 55 mph by default.

~ Kathy M.

September 8, 2016 - The Chamber Connection Radio Show Interview with Candidate for Mayor Dennis Scott and Letter from City Council Candidate Connie Briese:

La Pine - Here are some things that I have learned about Newberry Country over the past few days, mostly from listening to our local radio station, KITC 106.5 and KCNP 107.3. 

* La Pine has one person running for mayor so far, City Councilman Dennis Scott. There was a mix-up on getting Dennis on the ballot, so his name will need to be written in and spelled correctly.

Dennis Scott and his wife Colleen moved to La Pine four years ago from upstate New York. Dennis retired from the New York State Patrol. They have been active in the community since they got here, and help out with Put the Shine on La Pine, among other things.

* Connie Briese and Don Reiner have applied for the two City Council openings. I'm not sure yet if others have applied.

Connie wrote a letter to the editor at the Newberry Eagle newspaper, and I've decided to post it here.

"I care about what happens to the City of La Pine.

La Pine is my city, it's full of my friends and my neighbors and I care about what happens in the city and am committed to making certain it stays a place where I want to live; yet grows and matures to become better. I am asking for your vote for La Pine City Council in November.

I would like to be a part of helping La Pine retain the small town feel and yet attract new residents and visitors. As a leader of the youth in our community I want to show them, by example, that we need to volunteer to help make  our community the place we want it to be, to stand up & have a voice.

I have been attending City Council meetings regularly, in order to learn and increase my knowledge of what is happening now in La Pine. I also have served on the budget committee for the last two years.

I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest; I have lived in South Deschutes County for 17+ years and have owned a small business in Bend for 11+ years which allows me the flexibility to invest time in our community. I have several years of experience serving on a variety of local non-profit boards in various capacities and working in a team environment including being the founding president of the La Pine Park & Recreation Foundation and with SCOOTR (South Central Oregon Outreach & Toy Run) for many years. I currently serve together with my husband as a youth group leader at Crescent Creek Community Church.

I have owned a small business in Central Oregon for more than ten years; I know the "Ins and Outs" of running the business as well as all the hard work and dedication it takes for all the pieces to function together successfully. I have an eye for details yet I am not afraid to ask for help or further information when I need to.

I expect the City of La Pine to listen to the people, the needs expressed and the value placed on those needs. I expect professionalism, honesty, integrity and commitment to the people of of our city.

I have the leadership and management skills that are needed to be a city councilor.

Vote for me, Mrs. Connie Briese for City Council"

* St. Vinnies in La Pine is having a big sale; clothing is now $10 per bag.

* La Pine Hawks Football: There will be an unveiling of the new digital scoreboard this Friday evening at 5:00 p.m. All Hawks football games are on the radio, both home and away games. KCNP 107.3 La Pine only has three home games this year, so please make sure to attend if you can. All games begin at 7:00 p.m.

* There will be a special country dinner this Saturday, Sept. 10th from 5:00 to 7:00 at the La Pine Senior Activity Center. Tickets are $9 for adults. Proceeds will be split between the senior center and the American Legion.

* Weaver's High Lakes Feed Store on Huntington is holding it's grand opening on Sunday September 11th from 11:00 to 2:00. Free food, store discounts and more.

* The Crescent Community Center is holding it's 60th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, Sept. 17th.

* The La Pine Lions Club will be holding their annual golf tournament at Quail Run on September 18th.

* La Pine American Legion is holding a flea market on Saturday, Sept. 25th. Tables are $25. Call Shawn for more info: 425-765-6701.

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