Officials ask Wyden for help on oil trains – Senator says more funding needed for hazardous materials response

Fire officials from across Oregon told Sen. Ron Wyden on Friday they do not have enough money to prepare for an oil train accident.

Wyden, D-Ore., met with first responders and federal and state officials in Bend on Friday to learn what Central Oregon needs in order to be ready for an emergency, after recent media reports revealed the number of crude oil tanker cars transported through the region increased by 58 percent from 2011 to 2013. The closest specially trained and equipped team of firefighters that can handle a hazardous material spill is in Salem, so it would take roughly three hours for them to arrive if there were an oil train derailment in Bend.

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More oil trains rolling through Central Oregon

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A conservation group that has raised concerns about the huge increase in crude oil rail shipments through the Columbia River Gorge is now warning that oil train traffic is increasing through Central Oregon.

The number of tank cars transporting oil through downtown Bend and other cities east of the Cascades increased by 58 percent from 2011 to 2013, according to information released by the Oregon Department of Transportation on Wednesday.

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Mirror Pond group meets in secret

After months of public outreach, Bend officials met behind closed doors Tuesday to begin deciding the fate of Mirror Pond , potentially violating Oregon’s public meetings law.

The Bend City Council and park district board voted last month to create a new Mirror Pond ad hoc committee and assigned its members a specific job: to select and refine a final plan for the future of Mirror Pond. Officials have been discussing how to manage the buildup of silt in the Mirror Pond section of the Deschutes River for years. Cost estimates for the four options that remain under consideration range from no expense, if officials decide to do nothing, to $10.9 million to remove a dam, alter the river channel to keep water flowing past homes on the north side of Mirror Pond and prevent the growth of riparian vegetation that would block their views. The committee met for the first time on Tuesday.

However, the Bend Park & Recreation District and city of Bend never published notice of the 3 p.m. Tuesday meeting. They also never provided an agenda. Park district employees told members of the media they could not attend the meeting.

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ADA progress is slow in Bend, as deadline looms

Late last month, a few disabled Bend residents gathered at City Hall to discuss choices most people never have to make.
Would they rather be able to go to grocery stores or job training centers? Is it more important for disabled people to have accessible routes to schools or to the Bend Community Center?
Nearly a decade after the city promised to remove barriers to people with disabilities in a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, much of Bend remains inaccessible to disabled residents. Due to budget constraints and policy decisions, the city spends a limited amount of money each year to fix curb ramps, sidewalks, and other broken or missing infrastructure. At times, the city has replaced infrastructure that was installed years after the settlement with the federal government.

Read more here, or on these websites:  San Francisco Chronicle,

The Register-Guard