Memorial Day ’04: Hero offers message of faith

It was another Memorial Day full of echoes from the past and swirling emotions about the present – almost 60 years since D-Day, two days after a World War II Memorial dedication in the nation’s capital, and with the troubled war in Iraq, a nation asking itself questions – not about honor, duty and country, but about rationales, politics and exit strategies.

But there was a purer focus and rationale at Bend’s Deschutes Memorial Gardens, as more than 200 people gathered, in the sun or shade of a beautiful Monday afternoon, to remember and honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, or risked their lives and still returned home, but are no longer among us.

Many in the crowd, of course, were veterans of past battles, getting around slower with each passing year, but getting around just the same. Some have lived here for decades, others are newcomers, like Frank Spiegel, 79, of the 101st Airborne, who moved to Bend little over a year ago, joking that the smiling stepdaughter on his arm, Katie Ardt, had “dragged” him to the ceremony.

Spiegel, a paratrooper back then, was part of a unit that jumped onto the shores of Normandy on D-Day. But for him, that was not to be – as the momentous day neared, he was doing calisthenics with his comrades when he broke his right shoulder.

More than two-thirds of his unit didn’t survive the June 6, 1944 assault on Hitler’s forces. As for Spiegel, he healed up and became an instructor at jump school, later returning home to be a firefighter in California. Danger remained a part of his life.

“What I didn’t bust in parachute jumps, I busted in the fire department,” joked Spiegel. Then he turned serious again, talking of how he found the televised memorial dedication ceremonies “very moving” and that he’s “definitely going to go see” it for himself.

“I lost a lot of good buddies, several known relatives” in the war, he said, and his voice choked and faltered a bit: “This is a very special day for me.”

It also was a special day for Jeff Briggs, who brought sons Connor, 9, and Marcus, 7, along with their friend Quade Story, 7, because he wanted to hear the speech given by Robert D. Maxwell, a Bend resident who is the last living Oregonian to hold the nation’s highest military award, the Congressional Medal of Honor. Briggs, 43, said he isn’t a veteran, but looking to the boys, noted that “both of their grandpas” were.

The father and sons stopped at the Supply Depot on the way to the event, and Connor proudly wore his helmet, as all three boys played soldier in their “Army uniforms,” planting their small Stars and Stripes in the gravel path, and later in a small patch of dirt at the foot of the hill. Up above, bugler David Truog played “To the Colors” and, later, “Taps,” after the crack of a rifle salute by the VFW Post 1643 rifle squad.

A welcome, a poem and an introduction

After a color guard of local high school NJROTC members presented the colors, and the Pledge of Allegiance, Jerome Daniel, whose family bought Deschutes Memorial Chapel and Gardens about a year ago, led the group in the national anthem, as scheduled singer Dani Lehman of Mountain View High had fallen ill. Later, he returned to sign “America,” and at the end, to offer a memorial prayer.

Bob Cusick, quartermaster of Bend’s VFW post, noted that more than a million Americans have died in the nation’s battles since the Revolutionary War. “In honoring them today, we recognize their courage, their dedication and their sacrifice.”

Dick Heinz, post commander for the VFW post, read a poem he’d compiled for the day, about ordinary veterans who didn’t seek fame or glory, but deserved more recognition: “Perhaps a small news headline, just bold enough to say: `Our country is in mourning, for a veteran died today.'”

Cusick introduced Maxwell in simple fashion, stating the basics about the Boise-born 83-year-old, raised by his grandparents in a mostly Quaker environment, “an unlikely candidate to be a hero.” A shrapnel wound had sidelined him for a few months in 1944, but he later rejoined the 3rd Division as it traveled to southern France.

On Sept. 7, as he and three other communications techs tried to keep the Germans from taking an observation post, a grenade made it through the wire netting atop a stone wall, and landed at his feet. Holding a blanket, he threw himself over the grenade, and the blast knocked him unconscious. But the time he came to, the others had left, thinking he was dead. But a lieutenant who had been in the home helped him get to safety. His most severe wound was to his right heel, which required extensive surgery, and still has a large scar.

But Maxwell, in typically modest fashion, didn’t talk of that in his remarks Monday. “My apologies for being out of uniform,” he began. “I forgot my cap.”

He looked over to the standing M-1 rifle with a helmet perched atop the bayonet, and said that, except for the camouflage, it looked like many he’d seen during the war.

Modest hero speaks of faith

And Maxwell talked of the Ehlers brothers: Walter, who also was honored with the Congressional Medal of Honor, and older brother Roland. Both men took part in the D-Day invasion; only Walter survived (http://www.homeofheroes.com/brotherhood/ehlers.html).

“You see,” Maxwell said, “we send the best of our people off to fight other peoples’ wars. We send the very best of our generation to bring dignity, to bring relief to the world, to bring down dictators who are persecuting their own people and other people of the world.”

“That is why we’re in Iraq right now,” he said. “We’re there to destroy tyranny, and to try to establish a government.”

“What about those who return from the battle?” Maxwell said, then spoke of a man he and wife Bea came to know, who returned from World War II with severe injuries, suffered removing a phosphorous bomb from a B-25 over Japan. Despite the wounds, he “came back and worked to build America – he worked to build his own career, but isn’t that how all of us build America?”

“A great many of you have friends who have returned from the war and have been lost since, and you honor their memories,” he said. And he noted how most of those taken prisoner or missing in action also are gone, by now.

Maxwell also spoke of his faith, beginning with the symbolism of the crosses that mark many military graves, especially in Europe: “The arms outstretched represent the love my savior had for the world. Maybe you don’t believe it, but the lack of believe doesn’t make it untrue.” He recalled how his savior had said to him, when things were at their darkest, “Come unto me, and I will give you rest.”

As a tape of patriotic music played and the crowd lined up to place their “buddy poppies” in a special display, Eve McFarland of Bend recalled how her father went off to World War II. “When he came back, he was a different person,” she said, noting she was 13 at the time. He had served in France, captain of an ordinance crew, but she said, “He wouldn’t talk about it.” He wasn’t alone in that, of course.

After the ceremony, as all were invited to the VFW post, Maxwell shook hands, posed for photos, signed a copy of Tom Brokaw’s book, “The Greatest Generation.” And the holder of two Silver Stars, a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, as well as the French Croix de Guerre, said he’s being honored again by the French, on the 60th anniversary of D-Day.

Maxwell: Foes want to destroy Christianity

Maxwell will be traveling East again, this time to the Navy base at Norfolk, Va., where he’ll board a French frigate and receive the French Legion of Honor, the French Government’s highest military honor. He’s among 100 U.S. veterans who will receive that honor, to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of France.

And what did Maxwell think of the long-awaited, much-debated World War II Memorial, whose dedication he attended as a special honored guest? “It was the greatest memorial I’ve seen,” although he added, “I do regret that it didn’t come earlier,” when more of those who fought in and survived the war were still alive.” But he said the country seems “more willing to accept it,” due to the more recent battles, such as in Iraq.

Despite all he’s seen, Maxwell said he remains confident about the nation’s future. “I feel that even Iraq will somehow – that it’ll all be sorted out, sooner or later.”

And while others might disagree, Maxwell sees definite ties between “the regime of evil that’s over there” and “the terrorist element, which is sworn to destroy Christianity. That’s what prompted 9/11. They look at America as a Christian nation, even though we have many religions.”

Getting into her car to head home to Crooked River Ranch, Barbara Tracy said she found Maxwell’s remarks “just so inspiring.”

The woman in Stars and Stripes garb who acknowledged, “My blood runs red, white and blue,” also said that “we need such inspiration, with all the bad news out there – which I don’t believe.”

Tracy, whose husband served in Korea during the Vietnam War, bemoans much of the negative news, and believes things are going better in Iraq than people are led to believe. “We’re inundated with fear,” she said. “That kind of stuff wears on you.”

Missing ATV riders turn up safe near Wickiup

A search for two overdue ATV riders in the Wickiup Reservoir area ended fairly quickly Sunday night when the pair returned to their camp in good condition, officials said.

Deschutes County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue responded to the area around 8 p.m. on a report of the two missing riders, Misty White, 22, and Nicola Mete, 21, both from Eugene. They had both been missing for about four hours when authorities were called, said sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Swearingen.

Search areas were assigned, with the aid of Forest Service law enforcement personnel and sheriff’s deputies. A short time later, the pair returned to their campsite, Swearingen said.

The women told authorities their ATVs had run out of gas near Pringle Butte. They received help from other campers in the area, and were escorted back to camp, Swearingen said.

Wild Westside weekend: Burglaries, ax attack

A 24-year-old man wearing only an allegedly stolen sweatshirt was found hiding near the College Way Chevron station and arrested early Sunday. He was accused of entering three unlocked apartments, engaging in a struggle with one resident, and trying to enter a fourth, police said.

It already had been a busy night for Bend police on the city’s Westside. In an unrelated incident, an apparent domestic dispute turned violent Saturday night, in an attack involving a double-bladed ax.

Around 2:20 a.m. Sunday, police were dispatched to an apartment in the 1100 block of Northwest Milwaukie Avenue on a report of an unknown man inside of a residence, said Sgt. Ben Gregory. The resident told police he fought with the man, and was able to force him out of the home before officers arrived. Nothing was taken from the apartment.

Less than an hour later, around 3:15 a.m., officers were dispatched to an apartment in the 1600 block of Newport Avenue on a report of a man attempting to enter a residence. The man was unable to gain entry to a locked back patio door and fled the area as the resident locked the front door and called police, officers said.

Officers found the suspect, Frank Joseph Falick, wearing only a blue sweatshirt, hiding near the gas station at College Way and Newport Avenue.

As officers interviewed Falick, another nearby resident, in the 1500 block of Newport, called 911 to report someone had been in his apartment – and left their clothing behind. Responding officers allegedly found Falick’s ID in the discarded clothing, and determined that the sweatshirt Falick was wearing had been stolen from the man’s apartment, Gregory said.

Officers also learned that after Falick left one of the apartments, he went to a neighbor’s apartment. Officers contacted two women living there, one of whom said she was sleeping when she was awakened by a man in her bedroom, who then fled the apartment.

Falick was identified as the suspect who had been in three of the apartments, and tried to enter the fourth. Nothing was taken from the other apartments, Gregory said, noting that all were unlocked when Falick allegedly gained entry.

Falick was lodged at the Deschutes County Jail on three counts of first-degree burglary and one count each of attempted burglary, second-degree theft and harassment. He was being held on $73,500 bail, a jail officer said Monday.

In the earlier incident, around 10:15 p.m. Saturday, officers responded to a 911 hang-up call in the 1900 block of Northwest Monterey Pines Drive. A woman living there, Kathleen A. Fitzpatrick, 41, refused to open the door to talk with police and demanded the officers leave.

A few minutes later, as police were standing by, roommate Ronald Eppink, 34, tried to open the door, said Lt. Bob Wittwer. Fitzpatrick allegedly grabbed a Renaissance-style double-bladed ax off of the wall and attacked Eppink, who sustained a cut on his right hand as he tried to defend himself, Wittwer said.

Eppink was able to disarm the woman and open the door to gain assistance from officers, Wittwer said. But as Fitzpatrick was placed under arrest, she continued to struggle and resisted the officers.

Fitzpatrick was taken to the county jail, and lodged on charges of second-degree assault and resisting arrest. Bail was set at $52,500, a jail officer said Monday.

Locals step up to help kids of jailed parents

Over at the sheriff’s office, 40 Deschutes County citizens thought back to the horrors of junior high. Bob Moore paused for a moment, letting the memories surface. “Now, imagine reliving those years as the child of a parent incarcerated for rape, or drugs.”

Bob Moore is the project director of COPY, or Central Oregon Partnership for Youth, a three-year program intended to establish long-term mentoring relationships between community members and the children of incarcerated parents.

Last Wednesday, May 26, representatives of public schools, county offices, family services, and community action groups met for a seminar on the children of incarcerated parents. These children – often left behind by the justice system, only to enter it later as offenders – are crucial in the effort to reduce the numbers in Oregon’s overflowing jails and prisons.

The seminar was presented by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with Portland State University’s Criminal Justice Policy Research Institute. It informed community members of current efforts on behalf of the children of incarcerated parents, also discussing possibilities for action at the local level.

According to a state Department of Corrections 2000 survey, 15,000 children in Oregon have a parent in prison. A total of 67 percent of the women and 59 percent of the men in Oregon’s prisons have children under the age of 18, and 57 percent of women and 48 percent of men expect to live with their children upon release.

Most of these children are between the ages of 3 and 10. Many are exposed to the arrest itself, then left alone, or with a caregiver. Research indicates the children of incarcerated parents are six times more likely to enter the criminal justice system than their peers.

Since the siting of Coffee Creek Women’s Prison in Wilsonville in 2000, Oregon has made an effort to reach parents in prison with parenting classes, Early Head Start, Girl Scouts Behind Bars, family literacy, job training, and prenatal education. These classes provide life skills to ease the reintegration of parents into society.

“Recently released parents are trying to care for their children while they search for a job, a home, and attend any rehabilitation courses required as a condition of their release,” said Tracy Schiffmann, a former Head Start instructor teaching parenting classes in Oregon’s prisons. “That’s a lot to work with at one time, and many prisoners lack the skills to do so.”

Although the Department of Corrections is working with parents in prison, the question of action at the local level remains.

Sheriff sees local role as key

Sheriff Les Stiles believes that children of incarcerated parents, numbering roughly 300 in Deschutes County, should be in the care of the community and given new paths to explore.

Children of prisoners frequently exhibit signs of anxiety, depression, declining school performance and low self-esteem. Often the caregiver is overstressed with work or additional responsibilities, and unable to spend much time with the child.

A permanent program to address these issues could take up to five years to establish, a gap filled by COPY, or Central Oregon Partnership for Youth.

The sheriff’s office has received a three-year grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to recruit and train COPY volunteers as mentors for eligible children.

The goal of COPY is to establish long-term mentoring relationships between adults in the community and children between the ages of 5 and 15 who have a parent serving a jail or prison sentence longer than 12 months. The mentoring relationship would provide support and consistency in the child’s life while the parent is away.

Stiles described the volunteer selection process as “rigorous, requiring an extensive background check and a commitment of one year.”

COPY seeks volunteers over 21 years of age, with a history that deems them safe and appropriate to serve as mentors. The matching of a child with a mentor is only established with the approval of the caregiver and the incarcerated parent. If their support is given, a matching process takes into account age, sex, interests, hobbies, language and concerns on both sides.

To get a child involved with COPY, contact the program at copy@deschutes.org for a referral form.

Bend officer’s painful lesson: Lock car, take keys

Lock your car, take your keys: It’s a message police agencies large and small stress all the time. But when you’re an officer on the run on a busy holiday weekend, and you pull up in a patrol car to a reported wee-hours fight at a downtown Bend bar, lights and sirens going, and you jump out to assess the situation, well …

Nobody was making excuses Sunday, but some explanations – and no small measure of embarrassment – clearly were in order. A 25-year-old Bend man – a veteran of at least one high-profile police chase in the Sisters area – was riding his bike downtown when he happened upon and allegedly took advantage of just such a situation in the parking lot beside On the Rocks off Oregon Avenue, around 2 a.m.

That high-profile car theft was only the start of a wild hour or so, as the suspect, Matthew Paul Forster, allegedly crashed the patrol car through a fence along Gerking Market Road in the Tumalo area and fled.

The allegedly intoxicated suspect also broke a gun rack to remove the stored AR-15 rifle and fired off some shots, based on spent casings found at the crash scene. After he fled Forster allegedly stole not one, but four other cars before a homeowner called police and he was captured in her yard (bendbugle.com/?p=15835). Forster was the only person reported injured.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Lt. Bob Wittwer said.

The man in the unwanted spotlight is Bend police Officer Scott Elliott, who has been with the force for two years. He will face a review of procedures and practices, and perhaps some disciplinary action, Wittwer said. But he and other officers stressed that leaving a patrol car running in such a situation is done quite often, and that vulnerability must be weighed against the specific circumstances.

Three patrol cars had responded to a disorderly conduct call at On the Rocks shortly after 2 a.m., Wittwer said. Elliott pulled into the main parking lot, which parallels Gasoline Alley. Wittwer noted that it was a very busy late Saturday/early Sunday shift on a holiday weekend, with officers running from one call to the next non-stop.

“He (Elliott) got out of the car to deal with the crowd there, and was about 30 feet away from the car. He left it unlocked, running, and the suspect jumped in the car and took off.”

Wittwer said Forster apparently was not involved in the altercation that brought police to the scene – and in fact, “he rode up on a bike – ran into the police car on his bike, from what I’m told. He got in the police car and drove away.”

Captain: Textbook and `the street’ are different

The 2000 Crown Victoria marked patrol car, with about 100,000 miles on it, was severely damaged, and quite possibly totaled. The car, later towed to a southeast Bend auto yard, had electric door locks, as do all Bend police cars, Wittwer acknowledged.

“We’ll review it, as to procedures and common practices,” Wittwer said. “But they are all well and good, if everything’s by the textbook. When you get out on the street, things don’t always happen that way. “

“This obviously is an embarrassment for us,” Wittwer said. “The officer obviously is having a ton of anxiety.”

“There may be some discipline, but not very much,” the captain added, noting the situation that night and the number of cases handled.

“If the overheads (lights) are on, the cars have to stay running, or they’ll be dead in two to three minutes,” Wittwer said. “We carry two sets of keys, so you can leave a key in the ignition and lock the car. But even then, people who steal cars can break into a car in about two seconds.”

There was a case a few years ago in which a handcuffed suspect in the back of a Deschutes County sheriff’s patrol car managed to wriggle through a sliding plastic window and steal it, but Wittwer said such incidents are rare.

One challenge, if and when a suspect does get away with a patrol car, is that they conceivably can listen in to officers’ attempts to capture him or her. But in this case, officers were given a message on their portable laptop computers, called “mobile data terminals,” to switch to a different radio channel. The stolen patrol car, formerly used by supervising lieutenants, didn’t have one of the laptop devices, Wittwer said.

“He (the suspect) wasn’t able to figure out how to unlock the gun out of the locked rack,” Wittwer added. “He broke the gun and the rack, but the gun was still functional.”

Bend currently has 20 regular patrol cars and five backups that are not totally outfitted, Wittwer said. “If this car is totaled, it’s old enough to not be replaced,” he said. No new cars were bought in the last budget cycle, but six patrol cars are proposed to be purchased, at $24,000 a piece, in the coming year, as the agency adds four officers to deal with growing population and caseloads.

Authorities also noted that the lesson about locking one’s car without the keys inside is often disregarded – as none of the other cars stolen early Sunday were “hot-wired,” either.

Speaking in defense of Elliott, Wittwer said, “That could have been me. That could have been any veteran officer. It’s partly the urgency of the call. You get out of the car, and you might push the button and think it’s locked, but push it the wrong way.” That didn’t happen this time, though, and Elliott was honest about it: “He said, `I screwed up,'” Wittwer recalled.

As lieutenant on duty at the time, Wittwer got the unpleasant duty of notifying his bosses about what had transpired, including Chief Andy Jordan. “I woke him up,” Wittwer said.

CRR Lions plan Buffalo Feed, plant sale set

The Crooked River Ranch Lions Club will hold its annual “Buffalo Feed” on Saturday, July 3rd. The event will be held at Crooked River Ranch’s MacPherson Park from 10 AM until 4 PM.

In conjunction with this event, the Crooked River Ranch Mariposa Lily Garden Club will be having a huge plant sale, with affordable prices and a huge selection to enhance your gardens. Call Adina at 504-1108 to find out more. There will also be a crafts fair.

For information about the entire event, call 923-6038..

One busy hour: Bend PD car, four others stolen

An allegedly drunk 25-year-old Bend man stole a city police car downtown and crashed it west of town, then swiped and crashed four more vehicles in the Tumalo area in just an hour before his capture early Sunday, Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies reported.

It wasn’t Matthew Paul Forster’s first run-in with police. Last September, he led Black Butte Ranch officers on a chase in the Sisters area. A Black Butte officer fired four shots into Forster’s car as it sped toward him after he got out of his patrol car.

District Attorney Mike Dugan later ruled the action justified, saying the car came within two feet of hitting Officer Mitch Elliott, who got back in his car and continued the chase. It ended about a quarter-mile away, when the car crashed into a juniper tree next to the road (bendbugle.com/?p=11805).

This time, Bend police advised shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday that one of their marked patrol cars, a Ford Crown Victoria, had been stolen by an unidentified man from the area of 125 NW Oregon Ave., location of On the Rocks restaurant and bar, said sheriff’s Sgt. Shane Nelson.

Deschutes County sheriff’s officers and Oregon State Police were notified of the stolen car through 911 dispatch. Sheriff’s units responded to assist Bend police with area checks for the car, Nelson said.

Around 2:45 p.m., 911 dispatch advised that a citizen reported a car had crashed in the area of Highway 20 and Dayton Road, in the Tumalo area, and that a man was near the crash scene, standing in the middle of the road with a gun.

Sheriff’s and OSP units responded to investigate, locating a 2004 Chevy Impala, but were unable to find anyone near the crash scene. They did, however, find the firearm, along with spent ammunition casings. The gun later was determined to be from the stolen police car.

While investigating that crash, sheriff’s deputies got a report of a man trying to steal a vehicle from a nearby home, in the 65000 block of Concorde Lane, shortly after 3 p.m. The man was described as “extremely intoxicated,” Nelson said, and the woman who reported the incident said the man told her he needed the keys to her 1994 Toyota 4-Runner.

Deputies who arrived at the Concorde Lane address found the suspect, later identified as Forster, sitting in the homeowner’s Toyota. Sheriff’s office K9 “Rudi” was deployed and assisted in apprehension of Forster around 3:15 a.m., Nelson said.

Police piece together sequence of events

An investigation revealed that Forster had crashed the Bend police car through a fence in the 65000 block of Gerking Market Road, causing severe damage to the car. The Chevy Impala was stolen from that address, and later found crashed on Highway 20 near Dayton Road.

Then, a 1999 Toyota Sienna minivan was stolen from another home in the 65000 block of Concorde Lane and driven through a fence at that address, Nelson said. The minivan then drove across a lawn and into a fence at a neighboring home, damaging the vehicle’s front end.

The suspect then allegedly stole a 1994 Mazda pickup from that Concorde Lane address. It was driven through a gate on the driveway of yet another Concorde Lane home, damaging both the pickup and the gate. It was left in the driveway of that address, and the suspect stole a 2003 Chevy Suburban, towing a small, enclosed utility trailer.

The Suburban was driven through the driveway gate, damaging the utility trailer. The suspect then allegedly drove the Suburban to another Concorde Lane home, where the female property owner called 911 dispatch and Forster was arrested in the woman’s 4-Runner. The Suburban had been driven across the lawn and had become high-centered on some rocks at the edge of the yard.

Bend Fire paramedics responded and checked Forster for possible injuries suffered during the crashes. Forster was taken to St. Charles Medical Center-Bend for treatment, and later lodged at the county jail on a variety of charges.

They included five counts each of DUII, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and second-degree criminal mischief, along with attempted car theft, two counts of first-degree theft, possession of a weapon by a felon, resisting arrest, three counts of reckless driving, three counts of hit and run with property damage, two counts of interfering with a police animal, and six counts of unlawful entry into a motor vehicle. Total bail was $105,000.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Merlin Toney said there was a key message: “People need to secure their cars, especially in outlying areas. None of the cars were `hot-wired.'”

Toney said drugs, as well as alcohol, may have beeen a factor. He referred questions about the stolen police car to Bend police, but he also offered some sympathetic comments.

“I feel bad for the officer who was driving that car,” Toney said. “People have had the opportunity to steal our cars when we’re out on a call. Sometimes you have to run into a residence and the car’s still running.”

Survey says: Growth still top fear, but reality invades

In a town growing as fast as Bend, five years is a relatively long time. And comparing two snapshots of citizen opinions, five years apart, can say as much about the changing mix of residents as it does about any change in viewpoints on the big issues of growth, public safety, transit and so forth.

Nevertheless, the results of the city’s new citizen survey, and the tabulation of almost 1,000 returned questionnaires (available in full at www.ci.bend.or.us), does show that Bend residents are, in a sense, “getting real” about what the future holds. And while they still have a lot of concerns about growth’s impacts, from traffic to quality of life, at least they aren’t thinking there’s a magical “turn back the clock” button.

A case in point, much cited since the quite similar 1999 survey, is that most of those in a town then of 51,000 thought the “ideal” population for Bend in 2005 would be about 44,000 people. (How the city was supposed to pick which 7,000 residents must pack up and leave was left unanswered.) It wasn’t until the year 2020 that those respondents thought the city should reach the population it already had attained.

Read that message how you will, but the one from the spring 2004 mail survey was undoubtedly more realistic. Given the estimated current population of 63,000, the respondents on average said the “ideal” population in 2005 would be about 66,000, growing to almost 80,000 in 2010 and 111,000 by 2020.

On a related note, the percentage of those who believe the city should somehow “intervene to influence population growth” only dropped by a percentage point, from 49 to 48 percent. But those with a definite negative opinion on the idea (or its practicality, perhaps) grew markedly, from 34 percent to 42 percent – in other words, fewer residents had no opinion on the matter.

More than 3,500 randomly selected voters were sent the survey in mid-March, and the return rate was just as strong as it was five years ago. The city paid Moore Information (www.more-info.com) of Portland about $19,000 to conduct the survey, which asked a few more questions than the inaugural questionnaire of 1999.

While the demographics of survey respondents were similar to ’99, the average age was older (especially 55-64 and 75 and older, with a drop in responding voters 35-54), there were more college graduates, and more respondents with yearly household incomes of $75,000 or more.

Councilors are expected to give at least their initial impressions of the survey results during Wednesday night’s council meeting, but might wait to really chew over them for a later work session or retreat.

Surveys alone won’t dictate future city policy, of course – and that’s a good thing, considering that there’s definite lack of consensus in some key areas.

Take housing density: the respondents were evenly divided between saying the city’s current densities are about right or too dense, while a smaller group said the density now is too sparse. A majority said future density should stay the same, and almost a third said it should be lower. Those findings, similar to 1999, belie the fact that more residents now appear to understand that more growth is coming – like it or not – and those added residents have to live somewhere.

Planners generally believe higher density belongs in a community’s core area, but a majority of survey respondents pointed to the outer areas, mostly only annexed into the city five years ago, as the best spot for more density. Almost 30 percent said “no area” could handle increased density. Still, there’s a shift from ’99, when fewer respondents thought the outer areas could handle more density, and more thought no areas could handle it.

Uncontrolled growth still top fear

“Voters continue to report that uncontrolled growth and the expanding population are the greatest fears about Bend’s future,” the surveyors said, at 20 and 18 percent, respectively. Increased traffic congestion and increased crime tie for third at 12 percent each, followed by inadequate planning and increased residential density, both at 9 percent.

When asked what projects or programs could help ensure a high quality of life in Bend, the top choice, at 16 percent, was “a better growth management plan” followed by public transportation at 11 percent and improving/adding to parks/recreation at 10 percent.

Asked to name a development in Bend that’s the best model for future development, most voters didn’t respond or said “none/nothing” or that they didn’t know. Among those with an opinion, the Old Mill District and NorthWest Crossing were the two most popular developments, at 8 and 6 percent, respectively. No other development was mentioned by more than 1 percent.

The list of factors enhancing quality of life is much the same as five years ago: the environment, open space and beautiful views.

“That said, voters are divided over the status of the quality of life in Bend today,” the survey summary stated. “Forty percent say it is holding steady, while 37 percent say it is declining, and another 21 percent say it is improving.”

But a comparison to five years ago shows improvement: Fewer voters today think the quality of life in Bend is declining (37 percent now, compared to 53 percent in ’99), and more think it is either improving (21 percent, more than double the ’99 figure of 9 percent) or holding steady (40 percent, up from 34 percent five years ago).

In terms of city services, the respondents gave the city higher than average marks on 19 of 24 listed services, with the highest ratings continuing to be for fire and emergency medical response, water service and fire prevention programs, added this time by timeliness of police response – a “notable increase” from ’99, surveyors said.

The areas needing most improvement, based on lowest ratings from voters, included enforcement of zoning rules, design and nuisance ordinances, sidewalks, building permits and other development assistance, street repair and surfaces, and downtown parking. Looking at priorities, street repairs and paving top the list, followed by police, fire and emergency response and downtown parking.

Transit priority, but not with taxes

If the city has more revenues – always a big if – the respondents said they’d like to see more funding of public transportation, followed by street repair and social services. But if there’s a budget shortfall, the first items they’d like to see axed are landscaping and street trees, bike lanes and facilities, parking enforcement and – curiously – downtown parking.

“There is widespread support for expanding the current Dial-a-Ride system to a fixed-route transit system, though a majority of voters oppose using property taxes to pay for it,” the survey summary said.

The respondents gave city staff better than average accessibility ratings, an improvement from ’99, but continue to give below-average marks to the mayor and city councilors in that department (although almost 40 percent had no opinion on city staff accessibility, and almost two-thirds fit that category for the mayor and councilors).

Asked to rank the top issues facing Bend over the next 20 years, the voters focused on protection of water supplies, traffic congestion, fire protection/emergency medical services, police and fighting crime, and family-wage jobs. Other top issues included wildfire hazards, completing the street system, air quality, economic development and services for seniors. The only issues that fell below average on a 7-point scale were Bend Airport development and sign height and size regulation.

This time, residents also were asked about fireworks regulations, and there wasn’t much of a consensus. Forty percent favor some kind of regulation, but almost a third said there should be no regulation, and 28 percent favored an education effort only.

The city’s Neighborhood Association program, begun since the last survey, got an average rating in effectiveness, but two-thirds of the respondents said it shouldn’t be financially supported by the city.

Asked what information source they rely on the most for information about city government, The Bulletin predictably garnered the top spot, at 54 percent, followed by KTVZ at 27 percent, radio at 9 percent, The Source at 8 percent and Bend.com / the Bend Bugle a combined 7 percent (4 and 3 percent respectively), followed by word of mouth at 5 percent, council meetings on cable at 3 percent and the city’s “Our City” newsletter at 2 percent.

Class to teach Drawing on Right Side of Brain

The SageBrushers Art Society will offer a class from instructor Becki Lee Timson, “Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain” at the SageBrushers Art Gallery, 117 SW Roosevelt Ave., Bend.

Class will be Tuesday mornings, June 1st and 8th, from 9:00Am Until noon. The class is offered to children and adults. Cost is $2.00 for utility donation. Please bring a couple of pencils, and eraser. On the 8th please bring an extra pair of shoes.

Please contact Becki to register for the class at 330-6692 or becki@BLTimson.com

Bend pedestrian struck by train, seriously hurt

Cries for help, heard by neighbors, brought authorities to help a 46-year-old pedestrian who was seriously injured Saturday morning when he was struck by a Burlington Northern-Santa Fe freight train near his home just north of Bend, Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies said,

Deputies and Bend Fire and Rescue responded around 8 a.m. to the scene north of the 147 railroad mile marker and near a home at 63820 N. Highway 97, across from Deshcutes Memorial Gardens, said sheriff’s Sgt. Merlin Toney.

The victim, identified as Frank David McDonald, of 64040 N. Highway 97, was on or near the tracks as a freight train was passing through the area, Toney said. McDonald was struck on the east side of the tracks.

Residents in the area heard McDonald’s cries for help and called 911, Toney said. He was taken to St. Charles Medical Center-Bend, where he was listed in serious condition Saturday afternoon, but had improved to fair condition by Tuesday, according to nursing supervisors.

A fire engine, ambulance and battalion chief responded and found McDonald sitting on the railroad tracks embankment, next to an irrigation canal, said Battalion Chief Doug Koellermeier. The man had suffered injuries to both feet/lower legs, and also was wet from being in the irrigation canal, Koellermeier said.

The accident remains under investigation, Toney said, adding that alcohol was a factor, with regards to the victim.