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.

Questions surface about ownership of Mirror Pond

Bruce McKay says his favorite beer is Deschutes Brewery’s Mirror Pond Pale Ale.

While that’s not surprising, McKay’s claim to the ale’s namesake is.

McKay and his siblings are the grandchildren of Clyde McKay, one of the early landowners who shaped the development of Bend after moving to the town in 1911. When land along the river was divided into lots, Clyde kept the land under the Deschutes River, the family story goes.

However, the story passed down by the McKay family is difficult to substantiate on paper. Read more here.

Health records now a click away, with electronic system

Eight public health clinics operate in Deschutes County and until recently, when a patient from one showed up without notice at another clinic, health workers often had little information about the person.

“We would have to fax the pertinent information that we needed to the other clinic,” said Cherstin Callon, clinical information systems
analyst for the county. “If it’s scheduled and we know that they were going to be there, we would plan it ahead of time and have the
chart there.

“We had some of our staff be couriers, so what they would do is if they were going between the clinics, they would take the charts
in secure vacuum bags.”

That changed Tuesday, when the county launched its electronic health records system, making it simpler for nurses and other county public health workers to access patients’ information at all eight clinics. Read more here.

School-based clinics in danger of closing

Construction has just begun on a new Sisters school-based clinic. But by the time it opens in 2013, the Deschutes County Health Services Department may be forced to consider shutting it down.

Five school-based clinics opened in Deschutes County over the past decade. It began with La Pine, where a health center opened in 2004 at the campus where the elementary, middle and high schools are located. Most recently, a clinic opened at Redmond High in 2011. There are also clinics at Bend’s Ensworth Elementary and Bend High, and M.A. Lynch Elementary in Redmond.

Even as the clinics expand, there are already questions about their future. Read more here.

How Prineville got wired

A decade ago, the small Central Oregon town of Prineville was left out of a new fiber optic loop and lacked the reliable high-speed Internet connections necessary to attract the data centers now popping up there.

See my story here on how Prineville got connected to the fiber optic network. With my colleagues Dylan Darling and Duffie Taylor, I also looked at how data centers’ draw on resources – power, water, fiber optic lines – will impact the region in the future. Find that story here.

Deschutes County mental health services aim for better access after oversight agency warning

Deschutes County is expanding mental health services after being warned it could lose money if it didn’t improve access to care.

In February, the county was placing people who requested routine mental health care on a callback list. Patients who were going through mental health crises got help immediately, but the waiting list to schedule routine care grew to more than 100 people by the beginning of February, according to records obtained by The Bulletin through a public records request.

Some patients waited 30 to 60 days for someone to call them back and schedule an appointment, said Jeff Emrick, program support manager for Deschutes County Health Services.

This raised concerns at the agency that oversees the state and federal funds the county had been getting. The Accountable Behavioral Health Alliance, or ABHA, realized the county was not meeting the state’s requirement to provide patients covered by the Oregon Health Plan with prompt access to mental health care.

Read the rest of my story here.

Increase in building permits encourages officials, but some are still cautious

During the long and painful decline in Deschutes County’s construction industry, local officials have learned to treat any positive economic signs with caution.

So the news this week that July was the best month for home-building activity in rural county areas in nearly three years got a lukewarm reception. It’s too soon to tell whether the numbers are a fluke, but the city of Bend has noticed an increase in home building for several months.

Read the rest of my story here, or check out the AP version on The Register-Guard website.

State bar questions DA, suggests release of personal information not against law

The Oregon State Bar said Deschutes County District Attorney Patrick Flaherty was incorrect when he said the release of personal information about his employees broke the law.

In a June 9 letter to Flaherty, Susan Roedl Cournoyer, the state bar’s assistant disciplinary counsel, also suggested Flaherty’s actions — regarding a grand jury he convened in February to investigate the matter — violated state bar rules against conflicts of interest and “conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.”

Read the rest of the story here.

I’m in the capital this week, covering stories such as this:

State health plan draws union fire

Commissioner seeks 20% cut in district attorney’s salary

Here is the AP version of my story, from The Register-Guard website:

BEND — A Deschutes County commissioner wants to cut District Attorney Patrick Flaherty’s salary by 20 percent on grounds the prosecutor is wasting taxpayer money for a grand jury investigation into the way the county handled a public records request by The Bulletin newspaper.

Commissioner Tony DeBone said reducing the district attorney’s salary will help offset the cost of the investigation, The Bulletin reported.

To view the rest of the story, click here.