June was dry in Bend, despite stormy end

June surely ended in stormy fashion across the High Desert, with the National Weather Service issuing a flash flood watch for a third straight day Wednesday as thunderstorms rumbled and flashed through the region.

Tuesday’s intense storms in the Prineville area (bendbugle.com/?p=16460) brought record precipitation of more than an inch to the city, breaking a June 29 record dating back to 1952, according to the NWS. But unlike Tuesday, there were no flash flood warnings issued Wednesday, nor severe thunderstorm warnings, as things improved and calmed down a bit as the evening arrived.

Bend had another relatively dry month in June, recording just .45 of an inch of moisture, more than half of that on the last day of the month. That’s just over half the average June precipitation of .78 of an inch for Bend, in records dating back to 1948.

There were some hot days toward the end of the month, peaking with a 91-degree reading on the 24th. But there were some decidedly cool periods as well, with a high of just 52 degrees on the 8th, in a string of 11 days that never rose above the 60s. Overnight lows were generally mild, dipping below freezing just once, on the 11th, according to observations at the city’s Department of Public Works, at the foot of Pilot Butte.

A slight chance of afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms lingers across Central Oregon into at least the first part of the Fourth of July holiday weekend, forecasters said. Highs will hold in the 80s, cooling a few degrees by Saturday.

Toddler drowning heats up canal-piping debate

Questions about the fate and future of Central Oregon’s irrigation canals, from political to financial to deeply personal, swirl in eddies as swift and treacherous as the 3 feet or so of fast-moving Central Oregon Irrigation District water into which a 22-month-old Bend boy fell and drowned Tuesday evening.

The rare nature of the tragedy – one official said it’s been 20-plus years since a similar occurrence in Bend – is likely to do little to stem the intense emotions that ensue around such a death, especially on an issue that already has had emotions flaring for some time on the High Desert.

The main reason irrigation districts have been looking at turning open-air canals into buried pipelines is to preserve that precious quantity, water, needed for the area’s growing population, and also needed to restore skimpy middle Deschutes River flows during the heat of summer – at state insistence, for fish habitat and water quality issues.

No one denies that the canals made of porous volcanic rock leak more than half the river water before they reach farm or field. The question is what to do (or not do) about it, as many canal-side residents have come to treasure their gurgling (for part of the year, anyway) amenity.

But a side benefit to the water-saving potential of canal lining has always been about removing the potential liability and boosting the safety of neighbors and the public, as the once-rural areas around Bend become more and more populated.

Whatever details (and possible legal issues) emerge about supervision of the child, the timeframes involved, etc., the tragedy that befell little Jonathon Sanchez no doubt will heighten the emotions on all sides of the canal-piping issue. So will the continued effort by a group called Save Our Canals to have state officials place historic designation on the Swalley Irrigation canal, north of Bend, a move that Bend city officials are opposing, for a variety of reasons.

And one other thing is certain: With hundreds of miles of unfenced, open water, running by homes across the region the toddler’s drowning is an irrigation district manager’s worst nightmare, come to life. Steve Johnson, who has headed COID (www.coid.org) for just nine months, can attest to that.

Johnson said his agency was called shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday by Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies about the possibility of cutting off the water flow, to aid the search effort. He said they acted as quickly as possible, but “it still took two hours for that flow to be reflected in the area that the search began. By then, it was 11:30, pretty late. There was limited visibility, and the water was still high.”

“We ferried and worked with the rescue teams up and down the canal last night, and agreed to come back at 5 a.m.,” Johnson said Wednesday. “As much as we had control of the situation, I’ve been evaluating mentally if we responded as well as we could. I felt satisfied that the staff” did just that.

The county’s Emergency Preparedness Network was pressed into service, quickly calling about 1,600 neighbors in a 1-mile radius, to advise about the missing child. Among those neighbors was Deschutes County District Attorney Mike Dugan.

“Everyone was out looking for the kid – my son was out looking,” Dugan said. “It’s terribly sad. When we moved to that area, my children were 2 and 4. We had concerns about that canal. As much of a conscientious father as I was, I know you can blink and turn around, and they’re gone.”

Piping canals pricey proposition; fencing problematic

One big reason more canals haven’t been piped and buried has been the cost. Johnson figures that for about five miles of the east-west Central Oregon Canal, that would cost about $15 million – and even more for the north-south Pilot Butte Canal, since it would need steel, rather than high-density polyethelene, due to the steeper grades and higher pressures involved.

So what about fencing? Some canal neighbors have taken that step, but many haven’t, and many of those would oppose such a move, Johnson said.

“The challenge with the fencing is that we don’t own the land,” he said. “We have easements where the canal is. It ends up being a private property issue.” A secondary issue is there can’t be fencing – at least, not without locked or electronic gates – at spots where COID staff need access for operation and maintenance work.

“Many people have (fenced), and the district certainly makes them aware of the known hazard when they decline to fence,” Johnson said.

Opponents of canal piping who have proposed the historic Swalley designation have been given some extra time, until July 12, to submit additional material for their application to the state Historic Planning Office, according to Roger Roper, preservation programs manager. That’s also the day Roper plans to visit Bend and meet separately with both the irrigation district board and the Save Our Canal members, to detail the process.

The State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation meets three times a year; its next meeting is in October, and the deadline was set for adequate time to review the application, Roper said.

Dwight Smith of Sisters, recently named vice chairman of that panel, also sits on the Deschutes County Historic Landmarks Commission. His reaction to the COID canal drowning was sympathetic, yet blunt.

“I have great sympathies to the loss of a child,” he said. “That’s always sad, anywhere. But it’s a totally different arena from the preservation of our key historic resources. It’s emotional and sad, and so forth. But shall we burn down all our historic resources because a child was improperly supervised? I think not. We live in a dangerous world, but please – protect your children.”

“Are open canals a hazard? No more than a street,” Smith said. “Parents need to take care of their kids.”

Smith, a retired leader of ODOT’s cultural resources team, said he’d not read the initial Swalley historic designation application but that he’s already aware that “Swalley Canal is historically very important, as are all the 1910s-1920s canals throughout the state, not just the Bend area. That’s what generated growth and prosperity.”

“If I get a National Register nomination on a linear resource on the Swalley Canal, I will vote in favor of it, because it’s historically important and meets the criteria for the National Register,” Smith added.

City says lining canals not answer

Roper said the state would like to see a middle-ground direction in which officials “preserve the integrity” of the canal but take steps so they don’t lose much water.

“There’s nothing about a National Register nomination that would freeze any improvement on the canal,” Roper said.

But if the option is lining canals, the criticism will be loud, especially at Bend City Hall.

“The people who have been advocating for canal lining don’t understand that it just makes it worse,” said Ron Garzini, interim city manager. They cite two factors: lining speeds the velocity of the already swift-running water, and can make it harder, if not impossible, for people (or animals) to clamber up the slippery slopes to safety, should they fall in.

“I think the only solution, over time, is piping,” Garzini said. He said COID has proposed piping portions of their system, through a recent request for proposals by Bend and Prineville. He said the idea is to “show the residual of piping can be attractive. We can create green belts,” and water features as well – ones that operate more than during just the irrigation season.

“As Bend grows more and more, it’ll be more and more risky to have open, unprotected, uncontained canals,” Garzini said. “It’s going to take a lot of money and take a lot of time, but it’s doable.”

A month ago, Bend city councilors formally weighed in as opposed to the Swalley Canal historic designation, and also urged that other factors, such as water conservation and safety, be factored into the decision.

But Roper said that’s not how it works: “Designation happens based on the historic merits of the canal, not on whether it’s safe or has water loss,” he said. “It’s whether it has state historic significance.”

City Councilor John Hummel said at the early-June meeting that he hoped every canal in Bend would be piped, as soon as funding was found.

“It’s good for safety. It’s good for the environment. It’s good for tourism,” Hummel said at the time.

Contacted Wednesday with the tragic news, Hummel said, “This isn’t a time for `I told you so,’ at all. But we’ve known about the problem for years. Dogs have fallen into canals. It was just a matter of time. In fact, in Madras, seven or eight years ago, a man was running along the canal, his dog fell in, he jumped in to save the dog, and they both perished. It’s an attractive nuisance, and they need to be piped.”

COCC dean addresses international conference

Celeste Brody, instructional dean at Central Oregon Community College, delivered a keynote address at a recent conference of the International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education in Singapore.

Brody’s address, “Begin with the Teacher: Professional Development for Teacher Learning and Cooperative Learning,” examined some key trends and approaches in professional development that cultivate teacher learning and sustained professional growth in schools.

IASCE, established in 1979, is the sole international, nonprofit organization founded specifically to support educators who research and practice cooperative learning. Brody is currently co-president of the organization. The conference was also hosted by the National Institute of Education and Nanyang Technology University.

Brody has served as instructional dean at COCC since 2000, coming from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, where she was an associate professor of education. Her responsibilities include supervising several of the college’s programs, working with faculty on course offerings and other administrative duties.

COCC Concert Band presents free concerts

The Central Oregon Community College Concert Band will present three concerts this summer. The program will include Sousa marches, Stephen Foster medleys and other popular tunes. The concerts are free, and the public is invited.

The band will perform at:

7 p.m. on Thursday, July 8, in the Sunriver Village Mall;

7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 13, at the Village Green Park in Sisters; and at

8 p.m. on Thursday, July 15, at the northern end of Drake Park in downtown Bend.

For information, contact band director Colin Lippy at 318-1089.

SBA boosts outreach to Spanish speakers

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration has published four new brochures in Spanish designed to provide its Spanish-speaking customers with additional, easy to use information about basic entrepreneurship and SBA resources.

Information for the Small Business Owner, How to Start Your own Business: A Practical Guide, How to Finance a Small Business, and Assistance for Small Businesses at Women’s Business Centers are the latest additions to the growing selection of educational, informational resources available in Spanish from the SBA.

The tri-fold, color brochures are designed as easy-to-use, quick-reference material with valuable information on important subjects such as: how to start a business, how to write a business plan, how apply for a loan, where to get technical assistance, and more.

The SBA is making these brochures available to the general public through its district offices as well as through resource partners such as Small Business Development Centers and Women’s Business Centers in areas with large Hispanic populations throughout the country. They also will be available in electronic, downloadable (PDF) format on the SBA’s Spanish language Web site, at www.negocios.gov.

The brochures complement efforts undertaken by the SBA in the last two years to better provide information to the nation’s Spanish speaking community. The SBA launched its Spanish-language portal www.negocios.gov in September 2002. Since then, the Web site has received more than 7 million hits.

The SBA is working to expand its reach within the Spanish-speaking community, the largest ethnic minority in the country. Hispanic-owned businesses are one of the most dynamic segments of the U.S. economy. They account for about 8 percent of all U.S. businesses (close to 2 million), with an annual revenue of nearly $200 billion.

For more information about all of the SBA’s programs for small businesses, visit the SBA’s extensive Web site at http://www.sba.gov in English, or www.negocios.gov in Spanish.

The Motet coming to Bend for pair of concerts

July 15, 2004
Munch & Music
Drake Park
7:00pm
Free

July 16
The Grove
1033 NW Bond – Bend, OR
541.318.8578
8:00
$7 in Advance, $10 Day of Show
21+

Spearheaded by drummer extraordinaire Dave Watts, The Motet continues its tradition as one of the most eclectic bands on the scene today. The Motet’s unique blend of Afro-Beat, Afro-Cuban, Latin, Funk and Jazz traditions defies categorization. Drawing on the wealth of musical inspiration in the band’s hometown of Boulder, CO, The Motet never fails to inspire fans and enthrall the crowd. The music is a grooving improvisation that awakens and stirs the soul.

Throughout its history, the music of The Motet has explored an unparalleled depth of influences. The band has played Cuban folkloric music, frenzied samba rhythms and straight-ahead funk. The latest Motet material draws on Afro-Beat, a genre inspired by the legendary Fela Kuti. These instrumental compositions encourage the listener to redefine the way they look at jazz and enhance The Motet’s reputation as a world-class ensemble.

The Motet takes to the road this summer with a brand new album: Music for Life (Harmonized Records, 2004), due in July. Music for Life is the first release from The Motet since Live (Harmonized Records, 2002) and the first studio album since Play (Anonym Records, 2001). Filled with catchy rhythms and hypnotic beats this new album brings to life The Motet’s expansion into the conscious and inspiring world of Afro-Beat.

The Motet is a rare example of a band whose repertoire is entirely composed by its drummer. Dave Watts attended the Berkeley College of Music before the inception of Shokra, a popular funk group that helped lay the groundwork for today’s jamband scene. He has performed with an extensive group of renowned musicians and is a founding member of both Skin and The Theory of Everything. Under Dave Watts’ direction, The Motet has welcomed an impressive roster of outstanding musicians into its ranks throughout its history.

The Motet encourages its fans to be responsible members of their communities. Voter registration forms and information are available at Motet shows throughout 2004 thanks to partnerships with non-partisan organizations such as the New Voters Project and HeadCount. The Motet is fueling it’s tour bus with clean-burning BioDiesel, spreading information and awareness about this eco-friendly renewable resource.

There are two constants in the world of The Motet: evolving music and matchless musicianship. The constantly evolving sound of The Motet defies definition as the band takes the music to new levels with every performance.
Whatever the occasion, wherever the gig, The Motet is winning the hearts, souls and dancing feet of fans all over the country.

Firefighters back Bush, blast Kerry on forest issues

Ten months after President Bush flew into Central Oregon as wildfires raged, lobbying for his Healthy Forests Initiative, local supporters in the firefighting field used a backdrop of Shevlin Park west of Bend on Wednesday to voice their support for the president and the new law. They also criticized Democratic nominee-apparent John Kerry for what they called his waffling on the issue.

State Rep. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, consulting forester John Rounds, and Redmond contract firefighting manager Rick Dice joined about 50 wildland fire fighters and Bush-Cheney ’04 supporters to applaud President Bush’s leadership on critical issues to the West.

“Senator Kerry has a hard time explaining his position on the critical issue of forest health,” said Knopp. “This legislation was supported by a vast majority of Republicans and Democrats including Oregon’s Senator Wyden, yet John Kerry seems to be playing politics by being both for and against Healthy Forests.”

Rounds, president of PatRick Corp. in Redmond, said, “Catastrophic fires have devastated our region’s landscape and natural resources for years. President Bush was speaking directly to the voters of the West when he initiated Healthy Forests, and we thank him for his leadership.”

“Healthy Forests protects our rangelands, our communities and our brave men and women who fight the blazes,” said Dice. “Senator Kerry seems to base his campaign on negative attacks and has relatively little to offer when it comes to policies to protect what is important.”

In the past two years alone, 147,049 fires burned nearly 11 million acres of America’s landscape. In 2002, we lost roughly 7 million acres and in 2003 fires burned 3.8 million acres. Wildfires destroyed nearly 7,000 structures across the country just last year.

The supporters said that the president’s plan will reduce dense undergrowth that fuels catastrophic fires through thinning and prescribed burns. They said that they plan, adopted by Congress late last year amid intense debate, will protect and preserve America’s water supplies, ecosystems and communities.

“Originally, when the bill came up, he (Kerry) was very critical of the legislation, and said it would kill trees,” Knopp said. “Now he says he likes lots of parts of it. He missed the votes when it came up – in fact, he missed 70 percent of the votes in the 108th Congress.”

“It’s a significant issue,” he said. “As these projects occur, we’ll see less of a wildfire impact close to our communities.”

Dice, whose firm employs about 300 people around the country, nearly half out of Redmond, said, “Years ago, 80 percent of our work was fuel manipulation, fuels management work.” But the thinning work was all but halted, “so now it’s fire” that employs his workers.

“I’d rather spend their money on fuels work,” which is a lot less hazardous to both citizens and firefighters, Dice said.

“I’ve been in firefighting 39 years, in business for 35,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of changes, and a lot of fuels buildup. It’s going to take us a long time to get to work on that (fuels reduction), and not have the raging-type fires we have, and (return to) the more natural-type fires. This law allows us to start doing some of that.”

Sturgeon retention to end in John Day pool

SALEM – Retention of sturgeon in the Columbia River between John Day and McNary dams will be prohibited effective 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 11, 2004, because the harvest guideline will be met, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today.

Catch-and-release fishing will be allowed through the remainder of the year.

The rule change takes effect in Oregon and Washington at the same time.
A ban on sturgeon retention already is in effect in The Dalles Pool and Bonneville Pool.

Joint staff reports, fact sheets, and Columbia River action notices are available at:
http://www.dfw.state.or.us/ODFWhtml/InfoCntrFish/InterFish/Index.html.

Governor appoints new Lane County DA

Governor Kulongoski has appointed Alex Gardner to serve as District Attorney for Lane County. District Attorney F. Douglass Harcleroad resigned effective June 30, 2004. This appointment is effective immediately upon that resignation. Mr. Gardner will serve for the remainder of Mr. Harcleroad’s current unexpired term of office.

Mr. Gardner holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters degree from the University of Oregon. He received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Oregon School of Law. Mr. Gardner currently serves as a Senior Assistant District Attorney for Lane County and has worked for the County since October of 2001. Previously, Mr. Gardner served as a Deputy District Attorney in Douglas County.

Mr. Gardner will serve as District Attorney until Mr. Harcleroad begins his new term on January 3, 2005.

Some low-vision Oregonians may be able to drive

A pilot program that takes effect Thursday will allow Oregonians using a special set of corrective lenses to apply for limited driving privileges.

Senate Bill 289, sponsored by Sens. Jason Atkinson and Peter Courtney, on behalf of constituents, and passed by the 2003 Legislature, retains Oregon’s 20/70 vision standard for obtaining driving privileges. Yet it allows people with limited vision to apply for an instruction permit and driver license if they meet certain requirements.

Based on other states with similar laws, it is estimated that there may be up to 200 people in Oregon eligible for the Legislature’s pilot program. Typically, these are individuals who cannot achieve 20/70 vision even with standard glasses or contact lenses, but who can be fitted with and trained to use a special set of lenses, “bioptic telescopic” lenses.

A bioptic telescopic lens is a spectacle-mounted device that magnifies distant objects. The device allows users to alternate between the magnified narrow field of view and the unmagnified wide view by tilting their heads, like traditional bifocal lenses.

Oregon residents might qualify for driving privileges if they have visual acuity between 20/80 and 20/200 that is not expected to deteriorate below that level, a field of vision of at least 120 degrees horizontally and 80 degrees vertically, and who meet all other requirements for driving privileges in Oregon. The pilot will run from July 1, 2004, through June 30, 2008.

Not everyone with vision between 20/80 and 20/200 will be aided by the use of bioptic telescopic lenses. Only a licensed vision specialist can determine if someone¡¦s vision meets the requirements of this program.
The program will allow such individuals to drive only during daylight hours, on roadways with speed limits no greater than 45 mphm and only while using bioptic telescopic lenses.
DMV also has authority to add further restrictions, such as limiting a driver to specified routes or times of day.

A growing number of states have programs for licensing drivers with limited vision, with or without required use of bioptic telescopic lenses. Both Washington and California will license drivers down to 20/200 visual acuity without requiring the use of bioptic lenses. Training is not mandatory, but specialized testing is required, and restrictions may apply. Idaho and Nevada have higher visual acuity standards, but allow drivers to use a bioptic lens to meet those standards.

To qualify for the Oregon program, applicants must:
–Submit the required certification from a licensed vision specialist.
–Pass the driving knowledge test for a Class C (regular passenger vehicle) driver license.
–Obtain a special limited-vision-condition instruction permit. The fee is $13.
–Complete a rehabilitation training program in use of the bioptic telescopic lens, and receive a certificate of competency from a rehabilitation training specialist certified by DMV.
–Pass a drive test with a DMV examiner.
–To keep the license, low-vision drivers will be required to submit an updated vision certification and pass a drive test every two years.

Customers who need more information about the program can ask DMV questions at (503) 945-5000 or in Portland (503) 299-9999, or visit DMV online at http://www.oregondmv.com/DriverLicensing/LimVision.htm).

For information about whether their vision meets the requirements for this program, they should talk to their vision specialist.