Regional News


ODOT Enlists Guard Help For Eclipse Duty

Traffic help at key Madras intersections

BEND — With thousands of travelers expected to descend on Madras for the total solar eclipse, ODOT is bringing in extra help for traffic control downtown. A team of Oregon National Guard engineers will be on hand in Madras to help with traffic.

According to District 10 Manager Jim Scholtes, “We are pretty sure that Madras will be flooded with cars and pedestrians. We want some extra help at key intersections to help with the crush and the Guard has offered their services. We took them up on the offer.”

 Motorists and pedestrians can expect to see uniformed guardsmen and women at the signalized intersections along both sides of the US97 corridor in Madras.

Oregon and Deschutes County Circuit Court Receive National Family Law Innovation Award

 The Deschutes County Circuit Court and Oregon’s Statewide Family Law Advisory Committee have received a prestigious national award for their informal, expedited domestic relations trial program.  The program is used in all types of family law disputes, including divorce, child custody and child support, spousal support, and parenting time.  Deschutes County Circuit Court Judge Wells Ashby accepted the Irwin Cantor Innovative Program Award at the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) national conference held in Boston on May 31.

“We are actively working to develop and expand these kinds of innovative court processes as more people are appearing in court without a lawyer,” said Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Balmer.  “This process is fast and voluntary, can save litigants time and money, and helps people feel heard – which increases their confidence that they are getting a fair and impartial hearing even if the decision is not in their favor.

Three Rivers K-8 School Wants to “Give Back to the Community”

By Andrea Hine, Contributing Writer

Three Rivers Principal Tim Broadbent, flanked by (left to right) 8th grader Logan, and first graders Neil and Burke, stand beside a statue of Webster, the school’s mascot. Broadbent became “passionate about working with kids and mentoring middle-school students” while serving as an AmeriCorps volunteer.

This must be an expensive, all-inclusive resort, judging by the variety of recreational options on the roster: running, chess, yoga, drama, jewelry making, edible plant use, fly-tying, putting on a weekly news broadcast, lego robotics and orchestra.

Actually, it’s a listing of after-school programs that students at Three Rivers School in Sunriver have available. And 88 percent of students have signed up, which proves their popularity.

“We don’t have a YMCA or Boys & Girls Club in Southern Deschutes,” said Tim Broadbent, Principal. “We wanted to give the kids something fun to do after school, and we’re pretty proud of how our direct outreach to parents and their children turned out.”

Three Rivers, a Title One school within the Bend-La Pine District, has 425 students, 150 of them in middle school (grades 6-8). As Broadbent noted, “economically, they range from those residing in Sunriver Resort to those whose parents are struggling financially. Approximately 55 percent of our students participate in the reduced lunch rate program. And, as the district has an open enrollment policy, we get a lot of kids whose parents have requested they come here.”

Broadbent explained that “Three Rivers was formed because local parents were tired of kids getting bussed to Bend and La Pine, and decided to ‘put money behind their talk,’ I can’t emphasize enough how thankful the school is to parents and the community for their continuing donations and support.”

One of many praiseworthy aspects of Three Rivers is that every classroom does public service projects. “We’ve benefitted from the community that helps support the school, and want to give back,” said Broadbent.

Projects range from raising more than $500 for the Ronald McDonald Foundation to making and selling 475 bird houses (each with a bag of bird seed) to raise money for the Sunriver Nature Center. They also include “acts of kindness” such as helping a neighbor shovel snow or providing firewood, food drives, and reading to seniors at La Pine’s Prairie House. A fourth-grade class planted 1,000 ponderosa pine seedlings, while fifth graders made fleece blankets for the Bethlehem Inn homeless shelter in Bend.

“Academically, we’re very proud of how the kids are doing,” Broadbent asserted. “As just one measure, in annual district-wide examinations, they continue to improve their skill set levels.

“Our music program (including mixed choir and band) is outstanding,” continued the proud principal. “In competing against bigger schools, Three Rivers consistently places in the top three.

“Due to the quality of our drama productions (which have included “Cinderella,” “Annie” and this year’s “Once on This Island,” the students have been invited to stage them at Bend’s Tower Theatre.”

Broadbent doesn’t hesitate to give credit for these accolades. “We have an incredibly hard-working staff of 45 people (including teaching and support) who make the school function each day. And the parents and kids are great. This is my dream job!”

THIS IS BIG – Really Big: Central Oregon Prepares for the Great American Eclipsegy

By Helen Woods, Staff Writer

This is a difficult article to write. Researching it is like dropping a pebble into a pond.  No matter where I drop the stone, the effects just keep rippling out.  If I drop two pebbles, their effect not only radiates out but the ripples merge. At least ripples are somewhat predictable. We really can’t precisely predict the effects of this Eclipse because a total eclipse hasn’t occurred over North America in a long time. “The August 2017 eclipse will be the first with a path of totality crossing the USA’s Pacific coast and Atlantic coast since 1918. Also, its path of totality makes landfall exclusively within the United States, making it the first such eclipse since the country’s independence in 1776. (The path of totality of the eclipse of June 13, 1257, was the last to make landfall exclusively on lands currently part of the USA.” (From Wikipedia)

On August 21st, the sun will be completely blocked out by the Moon and total darkness will fall on a sixty-mile swath across Oregon on its way to an exit from North America near Charleston, South Carolina. For twenty miles on each side of the line of totality, viewers will see a partial eclipse. Central Oregon cities that fall on the line of totality include Madras, Dayville, Mt. Vernon, John Day, Prairie City, and Unity. “Local officials estimate that the population of Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties will double, meaning 200,000 to 250,000 people visiting in the days leading up to the eclipse. That’s not even counting the tens of thousands of people who will pass through the region on their way to the Painted Hills, Mitchell and other points east.” (

All of this is going to be a welcome boost to our economy, but an equal strain on resources. The rumor-mill has it that Madras is expecting up to 1,00,000 people.  This is much higher than official estimates. That’s the problem with forecasts when there is no hard data to collect.  We will only know after the eclipse. La Pine won’t see the eclipse, but we will be affected. Newberry Station has been fully booked since November; all the rooms at the Westview Motel were reserved by a man from Europe; Timbercrest is also fully booked.

We shouldn’t take this lightly.  Highway 97 is the only direct route going north and south in Central Oregon. There are few rest stops from La Pine to Madras. Officials predict that, on the 21st, it will take 8 hours to drive the 80 miles to Madras. Port-a-potty suppliers have ordered 150 stations just for Madras and are strategically placing potties along the highway for use with daily servicing. The fire-fighting agencies are preparing for “an inevitable fire” somewhere.  Gas stations can only hold so much gas in their reserves. With the increase in traffic comes increased demand. Resupply trucks will be stuck in the same traffic as everyone else meaning stations are likely to run out.  Grocery stores and restaurants will be hard hit.  Water will be in high demand.  The average August temperature in Madras is 85 degrees. If you have been in Madras, you may have noticed that it is wide open land with virtually no shade trees.  St. Charles Hospital notes that, since our population will essentially double, they are planning for double their case load, including a large number of dehydration cases. Agencies tasked with traffic control in the counties along Highway 97 have collaborated on how to keep the highway open, allowing access for supply and emergency vehicles, protection of private and public property. See what I mean about the ripples?

Of course, there is a dark side to everything.  At least nine motels/hotels in Madras have been investigated for illegally raising their prices.  Many people who have had long standing reservations at some motels have had their reservations cancelled so the motel could re-rent the rooms to Eclipse Chasers at an exorbitant rate. Airbnb has a home listed at $1,500 per night with a three-night minimum.

Even we in La Pine must plan ahead.  Next month’s issue will suggest what we can do personally to avoid problems and make life easier for this high impact, short term event.