Hazardous cargo rolling through Bend

Trains travel each day through the center of Bend , along a track that bisects the city. While drivers wait at rail crossings, they can see passing tank cars marked as flammable, explosive or poisonous. Often, it’s unclear what exactly the train is carrying.

It turns out that local first responders are similarly in the dark on the details of hazardous materials that pass through Bend . Bend Fire Chief Larry Langston said last week railways do not share information with local first responders about the types or quantities of hazardous materials that trains carry through the city on a daily basis.

“Some of those trains are hundreds of cars long, with maybe 20 different types of chemicals on them, and it would just be impossible for them to be supplying that (information) to us … That’s unfortunately the reality we’re dealing with,” Langston said. This lack of information is not unique to Bend , Langston said. “I think it’s every community in the nation.”

Read more here and check out an interactive map of spills.

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.

Read more here.

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

Entrepreneurs perfect their product pitches during 54-hour Startup Weekend

By Sunday evening, Lorenzo Aiello’s eyes were bloodshot and he was ready for a full night’s sleep.
Aiello got four hours of sleep Friday night and three hours Saturday, as he and a team of hopeful entrepreneurs worked all weekend to perfect their pitch for a startup company called Perfect Menu.
“I have no voice, obviously, and I haven’t eaten dinner,” Aiello said. Nonetheless,
and his group were full of enthusiasm, as they pitched their product and cheered on other groups.

The Perfect Menu group was one of seven that participated in a 54-hour event
called Startup Weekend in Bend. The event was one of 125 startup weekends taking place around the world this month.

Read more here.

Election brings friendly frontyard rivalry

This fall, something new sprouted on the well-kept lawn in front of Rod Kohler’s home on Northwest Broadway in Bend. Kohler, 75, had been a Republican for years but never felt strongly enough about an election to put up political signs.
Meanwhile, his neighbor Ken Cooper, 82, put out campaign signs for Democratic candidates in one election after another.

Read more here.