State Police, hunters group offer reward for killers of nine wintering deer

The Oregon State Police and the Oregon Hunters Association (http://www.oregonhunters.org/) announced a $500 reward Monday in hopes of finding and arresting whoever’s responsible for killing nine wintering deer in the past month off China Hat Road south of Bend.

The nine kill sites investigated in the past month all have been within a mile of a power line that crosses China Hat Road, troopers said.

Four of the kill sites involved does, while the other five were mature bucks. Two of the bucks and one doe were killed and left to waste.

Individuals with information can remain anonymous, troopers stressed. Anyone with such information is asked to call troopers Katzenstein or Meyer at the OSP Regional Dispatch Center, 617-0617, or the Turn In Poachers (TIP) line at 1-800 452-7866.

Update: ODFW license computer system down again

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Contact: Anne Pressentin Young (503) 872-5264 x5356
Internet: http://www.dfw.state.or.us Fax: (503) 872-5700

For Immediate Release 3:00 p.m., January 2, 2002

Hunting/Fishing Licensing System Shut Down Wednesday

ODFW Offices Sell Hand-Written Licenses

PORTLAND – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shut down the computerized licensing system at 1:30 p.m. today because each transaction was taking more than five minutes. Hunters and anglers seeking 2002 licenses and tags may obtain hand-written versions at larger ODFW offices, some of which will remain open until 9 p.m.
ODFW Information Systems staff is working as quickly as possible to locate the source of the problem and fix it. The licensing system will be effectively offline until the problems are resolved, though it may be functioning for short periods as testing occurs.
The Point-of-Sale licensing system began experiencing slow downs late Dec. 28. It was taken off-line Dec. 30 between 1 and 1:30 p.m. to re-boot the system, but this did not correct the problem. On Dec. 31 at 11 a.m. the licensing system was shut down until 5 p.m. It worked as expected Monday evening and all day Tuesday – processing up to 65 licensing documents per minute – until 11 a.m. today when the system slowed to processing less than 25 documents per minute.
Hunters and anglers must have an official 2002 license and appropriate tag to hunt or fish. Only select ODFW offices may issue hand-written documents. The following offices will be open until 9 p.m. weekdays to issue hand-written licenses should it be necessary: Portland headquarters, Clackamas, Corvallis, Roseburg, Bend and La Grande. Additional ODFW offices may issue hand-written licenses between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. They include: Central Point, Charleston, Enterprise, Gold Beach, Hines, John Day (morning only), Klamath Falls, Newport, Ontario, Pendleton, Salem, Sauvie Island, Springfield, Tillamook, and The Dalles.
Hunters and anglers who receive hand-written licenses or tags will be able to exchange them for printed versions at no charge from the same ODFW office once the Point-of-Sale computer system is functioning. In addition, hunters or anglers who purchased a hand-written hunting license or one-day fishing license on Dec. 31, but need a combination or annual fishing license may apply the cost to the purchase of the appropriate document. Such transactions may only be completed at an ODFW office.
In December, the entire licensing system processed an average of 2,000 documents per day. That number increased to between 5,000 and 6,000 per day the last week of the month with sportsmen and women buying documents for the 2002 season. The licensing system processed about 9,000 documents Dec. 31 and about 12,000 documents Jan. 1. Approximately 2 million transactions are processed in the course of a year.
Many hunters and anglers filled ODFW offices Dec. 31 to obtain hand-written licenses when the computer system went down. It is unknown how many sportsmen and women left an ODFW office or license agent without receiving requested documents.
Another news release will be issued as soon as the system is fully operational.
###

New local support group forming to address depression

For Immediate Release
Event Date: January 9, 2002
Contact: Todd Sprague
Phone: 541-388-7705

New Support Group Forming to Address Depression

Depression affects millions of people in the United States each year (10-20 percent of the population), and thousands here in Central Oregon. With that in mind, St. Charles Medical Center and Deschutes County Mental Health are teaming up to provide a weekly drop-in support group for people experiencing depression. The format will include information on topics including coping techniques, drug and alcohol abuse, alternative treatments and the use of relaxation to help decrease depression symptoms. The group will also provide an opportunity for participants to share information and experiences with each other. Mike Kwiatowski from Deschutes County Mental Health and St. Charles social worker Katy Elliott will facilitate the group. There will be no cost to attend. The first meeting will be held from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 9 in Classroom B at St. Charles Medical Center. The group will meet once a week for six weeks (January 9, 16, 23, 30, February 6, 13). It will start another six-week run in early March. For more information, call Amy King at 617-2682.

Air Life plane slides off Sunriver runway; only pilots aboard, no injuries

SUNRIVER – A $2.8 million Swiss-built turboprop plane owned by Air Life of Oregon slid off the apparently icy runway while landing at Sunriver Airport late Friday night, but no one was hurt in the air ambulance service’s first such incident in its 16-year history.

No patients or medical crews were aboard the aircraft, only two pilots returning from a flight to Portland. They had been diverted to Sunriver after finding they were unable to land at their Bend Municipal Airport home base, or at Roberts Field in Redmond, due to foggy conditions, said St. Charles Medical Center spokesman Todd Sprague.

Air ambulance service by the organization (http://www.airlife.org) is not being affected while the accident and damage to the aircraft is investigated. That’s because Air Life has a second Pilatus PC-12 aircraft that it uses as a backup, as well as its Bell 222UT helicopter.

Shortly before midnight Friday, with Joe Kitchens at the controls and Joe Moys at his side, the plane slide off the side of the airport’s 5,400-foot runway and into a berm of snow, ending up nose down but upright, Sprague said. While the Federal Aviation Administration is involved in the investigation, “icy ground conditions may have been a contributing factor” to the accident, Sprague added.

The firm that contracts pilots for Air Life, Air Method of Englewood, Colo., also is conducting its own investiation into the accident, officials said.

It was the first incident resulting in damage to an aircraft since Air Life began operations in August 1985, meaning its perfect safety record on patient-transport flights remains intact, Sprague said. In July 2001, Air Life, which is closing in on 1,000 missions a year, became the first emergency medical transport program in Oregon to be certified by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems.

Bill Porter, Air Life’s flight operations manager, praised Sunriver Airport workers and residents for their assistance in helping dig the plane’s nose out of the snow and towing it to a nearby private hangar, where the plane will be thoroughly checked out for damage.

Sunriver Airport Manager Barry Howarth said the plane landed toward one side of the runway and that its nose landing gear and prop were damaged in the collision with the berm. While the prop damage isn’t highly visible, Howarth said any time a propeller hits the ground, the engine has to be rebuilt.

Plane due `nose to tail inspection’ before further flights

Porter said Monday, “If you just walked up to it and looked at it, you’d really have to go over it with a fine-toothed comb to find any nicks or scratches.” But he said the engine’s “props kind of bent backward” as they struck the 3-foot-tall berm of snow lining each side of the runway.

Porter had no initial estimate for the repair costs. “Of course it’s insured, so we won’t have out of pocket stuff,” he said. “Certainly we’re going to look at the engine, to see if there’s any damage there. It will get a full nose-to-tail inspection.”

Air Life, based at St. Charles, averages two lifesaving missions a day and has about 22,000 members, who pay $45 a year to avoid any further expenses for such flights.

The organization bought its first Pilatus PC-12 in July 1998 and added another in October 2000. A third Pilatus was purchased recently for Air Life, which when ready will be based in LaGrande. The plane, which travels at 320 mph, has FAA approval for patient transport uses. The pressurized cabin enables flights up to 30,000 feet, and it can carry up to two patients, three caregivers, the pilot and, on occasion, a family member.

Whatever the repairs cost, in money or time, Porter knows the incident could have turned out a whole a lot worse. “We are feeling very fortunate, with people walking away” from the landing, he said.

Fog returns to foul up Redmond flights; freezing rain threat lingers

Fog – the stealthy nemesis that bedeviled Redmond’s airport on New Year’s Eve and Day – returned Wednesday afternoon, forcing cancellation of at least five flights and prompting delays of several other arrivals and departures.

The fog lasted into the evening, cutting visibility to ¼ to 1 mile at times, while keeping temperatures close to freezing. At least four United Express flights into and out of Roberts Field in the afternoon and evening were scrubbed and one Horizon Air flight as well. Others ran 15 to 45 minutes late.

Forecasters warned of more scattered rain or snow showers overnight, with “pockets” of freezing rain – the problem that led to Culver schools’ cancellation of classes Wednesday and numerous accidents on highways north of Redmond.

There’s only a 20 percent chance of rain or snow showers Thursday morning, followed by a day or so of drier weather, though more patchy fog and cooler temperatures. A chance of rain returns Saturday afternoon and continues into next week before an expected midweek drying trend.

The first workday of the new year started in better shape weather-wise for most Central Oregonians – more wet than icy, as temperatures climbed above freezing in the Bend area. Temperatures into the 40s helped thaw some side streets. But it remained cold and icy enough north of Redmond to keep a freezing-rain warning posted – and to prompt Culver school officials to call off classes for the day.

New Year’s was good day to stay off roads

Rain, fog, freezing rain and a term only forecasters could love – “mixed precipitation” – made New Year’s Day 2002 a good day for many Central Oregonians to stay inside and watch football and parades.

And apparently, that’s just what lots of folks on the High Desert did, as traffic was light on the roads and quiet on the police scanners.

But that was of little consolation to those travelers trying to fly into or out of Roberts Field in Redmond, where the fog and other varieties of precipitation canceled numerous flights and brought delays of up to two hours for others – a second straight day of holiday flight frustrations.

To check the latest status of flights, go to http://www.united.com or http://www.horizonair.com .

A winter weather advisory was extended by the National Weather Service through early Wednesday after a warm front moved into the region, spreading warm, moist air over colder air trapped at lower elevations.

The Redmond airport’s weather station reported 30 degrees and fog at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 31 and freezing rain an hour later, and that “mixed precipitation” report, still at 31 degrees, into the afternoon. The fog finally cleared in the evening, allowing more planes to take off and land.

Bend tops 26 inches of snow since November

Year-end figures show Bend officially had 12 ¼ inches of snow in December. Add that to the 14 inches that fell in late November, and Bend already has dug its way out of 26 ¼ inches of snow – when the city’s 80-year average snowfall for the entire year is just 33 inches. (Those who’d like to take this snow job and shovel it should be forewarned – January is usually Bend’s snowiest month, averaging 11.2 inches.)

The official Bend reporting station, at the foot of Pilot Butte, recorded snow on the ground for all but four days of December. The most was back on Dec. 5, when six inches of new snow made for a 1-foot total. Fog was recorded on four December days and ice pellets on two – with a fog/sleet double-header on the 21st.

The precipitation total for the month (which includes melted snow) was 2.34 inches, a half-inch above the 1.84-inch December average.

Sisters man seriously hurt in Hwy. 20 crash improving

A head-on collision on icy Highway 20 at the Tumalo grade Sunday night sent six people to the hospital in Bend. Only one was admitted – a 22-year-old Sisters man who suffered serious injuries in the crash, but had improved from critical to serious condition.

Shortly before 7:30 p.m. Sunday, a 1992 Honda driven by Sara Easley, 18, of Bend, and heading east toward Bend slid on ice and crossed the center line into the path of a westbound 1993 Ford Explorer, driven by Charles R. Kelley, 59, also of Bend, said Deschutes County sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Dizney.

The impact of the collision sent both vehicles spinning counter-clockwise about 90 degrees, leaving the car blocking both eastbound lanes of Highway 20. The Explorer came to rest on the north (westbound) shoulder of the highway.

All six occupants of the two vehicles were taken by ambulance to St. Charles Medical Center. One of two passengers in Easley’s car, Tyson N. Ceniga, 22, of Sisters, improved to serious condition Monday at St. Charles Medical Center, recovering from chest and head injuries, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Easley and Kelley were among the five people treated for minor injuries and released from the hospital. The others included Easley’s second passenger, Maddie R. Easley, 14, and Kelley’s two passengers, Diana R. Kelley, 59, of Bend, and 8-year-old Austin R. Wolfe, Dizney said.

All three persons in the Explorer were believed to be wearing seat belts, as was the car’s driver, but deputies weren’t sure if the car’s two passengers were as well. Alcohol was not a factor in the accident, which remains under investigation, Dizney said.

Year 2002 preview: There’s no job like a snow job

The start of a new year traditionally is the time for pundits to pontificate about what the year ahead will bring. I have absolutely no idea what the year ahead will bring, but that doesn’t stop the other guys, so why should it stop me?

Therefore and forthwith, forsooth, herewith are my fearless prognostications for 2002:

Jan. 1, 2002 – New York Post reports Osama bin Laden was sighted mingling with New Year’s Eve crowd in Times Square. The lanky terrorist leader is described as wearing Elton John-style glasses, eight-inch platform shoes, Paisley bellbottoms and a rainbow-colored Afro wig.

Jan. 28 – Bend City Councilor John Schubert announces that, after experiencing a religious epiphany, he is accepting the position of executive director of the Bend Chamber of Commerce. “I now understand that growth is God’s plan for Bend,” Schubert tells reporters. “My only regret is that I have spent so many years trying to thwart the divine will.”

Feb. 4 – Snowstorm dumps 12 inches on Bend.

March 1 – The American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces the Academy Awards for 2002 have been canceled because “there just wasn’t anything worth giving an award to.”

March 21 – A militant Islamic student is overcome by passengers and arrested after attempting to hijack an airliner armed with a wooden toothpick he had concealed in a bodily orifice. President George W. Bush salutes heroic passengers, blames Bill Clinton for hijack attempt. National Rifle Association spokesman Charlton Heston says incident proves the need to let all airline passengers carry firearms.

March 22 – Tom Ridge, head of the Office of Homeland Security, announces all passengers flying out of U.S. airports will henceforth be required to submit to full-body-cavity strip searches.

April 1 – Snowstorm dumps 18 inches on Bend. President Bush blames Clinton.

April 10 -Greyhound Lines announces 550 percent increase in business travel ticket sales, unveils new “business class” accommodations featuring wider seats, more leg room and complimentary wine-in-a-box.

April 20 – U.S. Department of Labor announces national unemployment rate has reached 10 percent. President Bush tells a news conference he sympathizes with the plight of the jobless, blames Clinton for recession, calls for further $3 trillion tax cut.

April 23 – Snowstorm dumps 23 inches on Bend. President Bush blames Clinton.

May 5 – The Weekly World News reports Osama bin Laden, disguised as the late Michael Landon, has been sighted eating barbequed ribs at a restaurant in East St. Louis, Mo.

May 11 – Federal Reserve Board cuts prime rate to 0.5 percent in effort to stimulate economy. Dow drops 93 points.

June 6 – Snowstorm dumps 35 inches on Bend, bringing season total to 217 inches. “We have reason to hope that water supplies in the state for the summer of 2002 will be adequate,” the state climatologist announces. President Bush blames Clinton.

June 18 – Labor Department announces unemployment rate has reached 12.4 percent. President Bush issues statement saying he sympathizes with plight of the jobless, blames Clinton, urges Congress to swiftly pass his $3 trillion tax cut.

June 23 – Bend City Councilor John Hummel says he was wrong about the Southern Crossing, hailing it as “a major improvement in our quality of life”; calls for “at least” five more bridges to be built across Deschutes River during the next decade.

July 4 – Snowstorm dumps 48 inches on Bend. Annual fireworks display canceled because Pilot Butte inaccessible to pyrotechnic crew. President Bush blames Bill Clinton.

Aug. 15 – National Enquirer reports Osama bin Laden, disguised as Calista Flockhart, has been sighted in a video store in Snohomish, Wash., renting a copy of “South Park II: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut.”

Aug. 23 – Federal Reserve Board slashes prime rate to 0.25 percent. Dow Jones Industrial Average slumps 89 points.

Aug. 30 – Just before Labor Day recess, Congress passes President Bush’s $3 trillion tax cut and Bush signs it into law.

Sept. 10 – Labor Department announces unemployment rate at 15 percent. President Bush expresses sympathy for jobless workers, blames Clinton, says additional $4 trillion tax cut is “urgently necessary.”

Sept. 15 – Bare earth seen in Bend for first time since Dec. 30, 2001. City council proclaims day of prayer and thanksgiving.

Sept. 16 – Early-season snowstorm dumps 14 inches on Bend.

Oct. 5 – In effort to stimulate economy, Federal Reserve Board offers to pay people 5 percent to borrow money. Dow drops 157 points.

Nov. 12 – President Bush concedes that Osama bin Laden “probably has given the posse the slip” and escaped from Afghanistan; blames Clinton.

Nov. 30 – Deschutes County Commissioner Tom DeWolf stuns Central Oregon by revealing he doesn’t really think “It’s a Wonderful Life” is the greatest movie of all time. “It’s just a piece of sentimental tripe,” DeWolf says. “My real favorite movie is `Sunset Boulevard.’ ”

Dec. 10 – In an effort to stimulate consumer spending, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan announces the Fed will give 20 percent rebates on all holiday gift purchases, and he and other members of the board will personally gift-wrap all presents. Dow drops 230 points.

Dec. 31 – Osama bin Laden and Elvis Presley are discovered operating a New Age bookstore and crystal shop in Weed, Calif. “Osama and I have found true happiness with each other, and all we want is to be left alone to live a quiet life together, running our little business and watching old Judy Garland movies,” Elvis tells a news conference. “Thangya, thangya vurry much.”

Theft suspect, chased by police, hits family’s car, runs – but not far

A 23-year-old Bend man who took off when police tried to pull his car over went the wrong way down Colorado Avenue and and slid into a car carrying a family of three in the Colorado/Century Drive traffic circle, then fled on foot toward the Deschutes River. A foot chase led to his capture a few moments later, officers said.

Police tried to stop the vehicle being driven by Joshua Cartrette “for suspicious activity related to theft” around 12:40 a.m. in the area of Colorado and Simpson avenues, said Sgt. Rex Cat. But the vehicle sped up in an attempt to elude the officer and headed westbound in Colorado’s eastbound lane, officers said.

When Cartrette came to the traffic circle at Colorado Avenue and Century Drive, he clipped the truck apron and went southbound in the northbound lane of Century and slid into a sedan being driven by John Moody, 50, of Bend, accompanied by his wife, Vicky, 46, and daughter Rachel, 9.

After the crash, Cartrette fled the vehicle and ran toward the river, Catt said. After a brief foot chase, the suspect was apprehended within a few hundred yards of the crash location.

John and Vicky Moody work for The Bulletin, delivering newspapers, and were just beginning their route when the collision occurred, Catt said. The woman and girl were taken by ambulance to St. Charles Medical Center, where they were treated for what Catt termed “non-life threatening injuries” and released.

Catt said an investigation revealed that Cartrette had a no-bail warrant for “unauthorized departure” – and allegedly had just stolen a computer from a local business. He also was driving with a license that had been suspended for previously attempting to elude a police officer.

Cartrette was lodged in the Deschutes County Jail, facing three counts of third-degree assault, attempt to elude, felony hit and run, second-degree theft, reckless driving and driving while suspended, as well as the no-bail warrant for unauthorized departure.

Housewarming: Tumalo home goes up in smoke, for good cause

It’s not every day that two firefighters, dubbed “ignition technicians,” use a diesel-fueled “drip torch,” wooden pallets, kindling wood – even a dry Christmas tree – to set fire to a house, over and over again, eventually getting the all-clear to burn it to the ground as their colleagues stand by and watch the roaring blaze.

In any other circumstance, it would be called arson.

But out Couch Market Road in Tumalo on Saturday, it was called training – a successful day of “live fire” training that marked graduation day for four Bend Fire Department recruits and a healthy refresher course in firefighting techniques for dozens of colleagues in helmets and air tanks from as far away as Sisters, Redmond and Crooked River Ranch.

As a light snow fell off and on, thick yellowish-white smoke periodically billowed from the windows and eaves of the 71-year-old, two-story wood-frame house, donated to the cause by owner Steven Goebel of Portland, who plans to build a new home on the rural 7 ½-acre parcel.

At mid-morning, Bend Fire Inspector Susie Lovisco said, “The plan of attack is to start on the second floor, with starts and stops” of the flames, reacquainting all involved with what has become in recent years a far more scientific way of monitoring a fire’s behavior – all the better to knock it out as quickly and safely as possible.

Amid the amiable chatting, a warming tent and plenty of sandwiches and drinks, It might seem a bit like fun and games – until you’re told that more firefighters are hurt, even killed in such “burn to learn” exercises than dealing with real, everyday fire calls.

“Most firefighters (killed on the job) perish in training,” Lovisco said, so safety is the watchword for such exercises. The home is boarded up, stripped of anything toxic and actually made more structurally sound, so firefighters can worry less about collapsed walls or floors or ceilings.

Intense heat from erupting blaze can melt plastic, scorch metal many feet away

House fires easily exceed temperatures of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit – and that can melt the plastic parts of a car parked too close, not to mention the plastic mask of a new firefighter who didn’t get low to the ground in time and thus experienced part of the “rollover effect” of flames in enclosed spaces. At one point, firefighters even hosed down a nearby engine, to prevent any scorching or other damage.

Lovisco said there are three phases of fires – the “incipient,” initial phase, with temperatures up to 1,000 degrees, followed by the steady, “free-burning” stage, which climbs even hotter – 1,300 degrees. “One breath can sear the lungs,” she said. Then there’s the slow, smoldering phase, when there’s no oxygen left to feed the flames.

As the new recruits, after three months of classwork, prepare to join Bend’s 56 career firefighters, one key element – working together as a team – is stressed over and over. Orange vests at the drill indicate who is in the role of incident commander, safety officer and public information officer, among others.

“It’s not Hollywood,” which often depicts sheets of orange flame roiling at all times, the fire inspector said. Usually, Lovisco said, “It’s black. It is so black, you have no perception of what’s up and what’s down. By the time you see a glow, it’s much too hot” to approach without protective gear – and even that can fail to cope with the intensity of the flames.

New Bend firefighters Frank Iovino, 33, and Troy Stevens, 32, aren’t new to firefighting, having worked in La Pine previously. After a stint in the smoky home, Iovino said there weren’t any surprises: “It was a good refresher.” Stevens said he came to Bend for a “better opportunity for advancement,” and because he lives in the city.

Stevens said many members of the public have an inaccurate image of “firefighters sitting around the station.” In reality, he said, there’s a lot to do between alarms, from checking and inspecting apparatus to working on physical fitness, a crucial thing for firefighters weighed down with hundreds of pounds of gear.

Fourth-generation firefighter: `My dad was always my hero’

As we all learned in heartbreaking ways from the New York City tragedy, firefighting often is a family affair. On hand Saturday was Jeff Jenson, 26, a fourth-generation firefighter whose father, Don, is a deputy fire chief, overseeing operations.

“I grew up in the fire department,” the younger Jenson said. “I grew up playing with fire engines. My dad was always my hero.”

While the repeated interior burns melted the snow off the old home’s roof, Stevens got a bit of ribbing for his partly melted face mask – until he noticed that Capt. Steve O’Malley, helping train the recruits, suffered a similar bit of meltdown on his air tank’s gauge.

“The idea was to watch the fire behavior,” O’Malley said. “How much heat is comfortable? Sometimes, brand-new firefighters – these guys aren’t brand new – panic when it gets too hot.”

Crews erected two large portable tanks to hold water trucked in from a Tumalo fire hydrant, since none are nearby. The Crooked River Ranch crew, led by Chief Patrick Reitz, brought along their $18,500 “thermal imager,” which helps find hot spots in walls (and can help find people trapped by thick smoke).

Former Sunriver Fire Chief Era Horton, now regional training officer for the state Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, said there’s a lot to do on the checklist for live-fire drills, such as notifying the state Department of Environmental Quality. Mark Ayers, on hand from the DPSST’s Salem headquarters, had nothing but praise for how well the Bend drill was planned and coordinated.

Aptly-named firefighter says trip into burning home was `awesome!’

Lovisco said many people offer up homes for such “burn to learn” exercises, but one key is a location far enough from neighbors to eliminate or minimize the danger to others.

After venturing inside the burning home, Redmond fire volunteer Deb Blais offered a broad grin and said, “That was awesome!” (Yes, her name rhymes with blaze – and yet, she said she’s the first firefighter in her family).

“I’m a wildland firefighter, so fire behavior is way different when outdoors,” said Blais, 32, assistant superintendent with the Redmond Hotshots crew. “Everything’s enclosed – I’m used to standing in the wide open spaces.” Still, she said she might aim more toward the structural side of firefighting in the future.

Around 2:30 p.m., after various exterior attacks were tested, the work began in earnest on bringing the old home down to smoking rubble.

“That’s flashover – when everything in the room ignites at once,” Lovisco said, pointing to the roiling red inside a downstairs window frame.

One of the Bend volunteers who spent three days getting the house ready to burn was Steve Stenkamp, a Bend High shop and drafting teacher who’s also a former city councilor, one of the fabled “Men Without Ties.”

“I’ve got the best of both worlds,” Stenkamp said. “I get to work with a great group of kids, and with these guys, too.”

Old house didn’t seem to want to say goodbye

Close to a half-hour into the all-out burn effort, only a few flames were showing outside, and firefighters were dragging in tree branches as added kindling. Several onlookers said the old home was showing a lot more persistence than they expected.

Finally, around 2:50 p.m., flames began to erupt from the roof and all of the windows. “It won’t take long now,” one firefighter said.

After some quick team poses for photos out front, everyone began to move back as the flames roared bright yellow and orange and the heat became quite intense. Black, billowing clouds of smoke carried bits of roof insulation onto the snow and across the road.

After the second floor collapsed, and the walls fell, Horton had to admit: “This was a well-built old house.” Today’s homes, constructed with more lightweight building material, would have collapsed much quicker, he explained.

Adjacent neighbors were advised of the exercise ahead of time, as was Deschutes County 911, in case anyone seeing the plume of smoke called in an alarm. A few residents who drove by or stood watching the house burn said it had been vacant for some time and, while a sad passing, it was time for it to go.

But “the old O’Neil place,” as a few old-timers called it, didn’t go down without a fight – a lot of fights. And the lessons it helped to teach could save lives and property, on dozens of fires to come.

Couple upset by snowball throw find man with gun; police make arrest

A southeast Bend couple who pulled over when a snowball hit their car ended up chatting with a man who displayed a handgun. That prompted them to call police – and when they arrived, he was still carrying the gun, and was arrested.

Steven Elliott Warner, 28, of 1636 Skylark Dr., was arrested Wednesday night on charges of unlawful use of a weapon – a Class C felony – and menacing, a Class A misdemeanor, said Bend police Sgt. Rex Catt. Warner was booked into the Deschutes County Jail on $7,500 bail and was released Thursday evening, a jail official said.

The couple, who live on nearby Tempest Street, told police they were driving in the area, with their kids in the car, around 9 p.m. Wednesday when the snowball hit the vehicle, Catt said. Spotting a youth going into the rear entrance to a house, they pulled over and went to a fence to better determine where the boy went, Catt said.

“That’s when Mr. Warner comes out of the back of the house,” Catt said. “There was a conversation about the snowball throwing, and Mr. Warner is armed with a large-caliber handgun, at which time the two people retreated” and called police.

Officers sent to the scene began to set up a perimeter and find out what happened. Two officers were near the front of the house when the suspect allegedly “came out of the house with a handgun in his hand and started approaching officers,” one of whom identified themselves as police. The arrest followed without incident.

“He did not directly point (the gun) at the officer,” Catt said. “He was just exiting the house and walking toward her.”

According to The Bulletin, the police report indicated Warner told officers he had had three or four mixed drinks before the incident.

Shevlin Park’s beavers just doing what comes naturally, dam critics told

John Simpson graduated from the University of Oregon not once, but twice. So you can imagine that the U of O Duck might find it a little difficult to defend a whole bunch of beavers (with a small B) from critics, well-meaning or not.

But as the Bend Metro Park and Rec District’s park services and development director, Simpson had (almost) nothing but good things to say Friday about the beavers (of the dam-building variety) that have re-established themselves along Tumalo Creek in Shevlin Park after decades of being trapped, even shot to keep them from rearranging things, as it were.

Simpson said the park district (http://www.bendparksandrec.org) has received some calls from citizens concerned about the beavers felling aspen trees in the 603-acre nature park, of which only 50 acres is developed. But Simpson wants to assure one all that the beavers are just doing what comes naturally, and all is according to plan.

The park planner said the cries of alarm came basically from “a couple of yahoos concerned through should be beavers in there at all, allowing trees to be felled, `because isn’t it a park for trees?’”

Well, Simpson said, it’s also a park for a stunning variety of wildlife, from beavers to bears — even the occasional wandering buffalo. (He said a buffalo that wandered down from the Crooked River about five years ago was spotted going through Shevlin Park, and made it all the way to the Crescent/Gilchrist area, where it unfortunately was struck and killed when trying to cross Highway 97.)

The Shevlin-Hixon Co. gave the big park to the community back in 1920, and lots of theories about nature and preservation have come and gone in the intervening years.

“Shevlin Park is a nature park, where we want to encourage natural processes to evolve,” Simpson explained.

Allowing beavers to do their thing will return creek to meandering ways

(Critics of the Shevlin tree-felling harken back to a story long told by Bend Chamber of Commerce officials about a woman who moved to town years ago and called the chamber to complain about the still-running sawmill’s smokestacks obstructing her mountain views.)

Historically, before man intervened, Tumalo Creek was a more meandering waterway that crossed the canyon floor, back and forth, between pools and dams. That character was created, in part, by beavers doing what they do best: building dams. Aspen actually is the beavers’ main food source, Simpson said.

“Interestingly enough, beavers are also an important part of the aspen’s ecology,” the park planner explained. “While they do whittle away at the trees, they also help stimulate new growth in the park’s ever-changing ecosystem.”

In the past, perhaps misguidedly, change was an enemy of those overseeing Shevlin Park. Several years ago, before Simpson’s role as a park planner was expanded, “beavers were still being at least trapped and shipped out,” something he calls “an old way of thinking – trying to keep the park exactly static: no trees gone, picnic areas not flooded by high water.” (He still expects the beavers’ work to be guided somewhat, so the road through the park and established picnic areas aren’t damaged.)

Years before that, he said, “they used to shoot `em.” As for the creek, he said, a D6 Caterpillar tractor would be taken down there “to get rid of all those `nuisance logs,’ to stop the creek from meandering and creating fish ponds.”

In fact, Simpson said, the beaver population had declined so much, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife “had to pay somebody with a real fancy machine to install logs in the creek, to slow the water and do the work of the beavers.”

“Well, beavers do that for free!” Simpson said, adding a jest only a fellow U of O Duck could love: “Beavers aren’t worth much, but they’re worth that much.”

Drake Park changes also under way, to try to keep ducks at bay

Now, Simpson said, “The beavers are back, and doing what they are supposed to do.” And eventually, that should result in some new ponds that will be “great to fish,” he added. “I talked with a guy who grew up here and he used to go with his dad to fish the ponds, only about 1,000 feet upstream of Aspen Meadow.”

Of course, Simpson also deals with ducks of the feathered variety in his job – at Drake Park, the downtown crown jewel of the park system, now in the midst of a 2-year-plus renovation. Currently, an area below the Mirror Pond parking lot that Simpson has called “duck plaza” is being changed to try to curb the well-intentioned feeding of the ducks, restore a natural shoreline of sorts and add another pleasant sitting area.

“It’s so popular, they’ve worn the grass out,” Simpson said. “The ducks were decimating the turfgrass – it might be a beaver backlash,” the Duck alumnus joked.

So now, a low wall is being poured so people will be able to sit at the water’s edge, and will be less tempted to do what signs always urge not to do – feed the ducks bread.

“Bread is a drug to the ducks – they get totally addicted,” Simpson said. “They stop migrating, they start smoking cigarettes.” (Again the lapse into humor by the U of O Duck.)

While old parks drew deserved attention, new ones on the drawing board also are coming to life. A few months after the Foxborough Park dedication, district crews are preparing to create a new, 3.5-acre neighborhood park at Blakely and McLellan roads, above the Old Mill District development. It should be ready by next summer, and while the plot is too small for a ballfield, Simpson expects it to be a popular patch of open, green space in a growing area of the city.