February 27, 2007

February 28, 2007

  • Redmond's latest battle in its sign wars -- revamping of its vague banner sign code -- has finished its slog through the public venue and is heading to the city council. A public hearing Monday was lightly attended and failed to persude Redmond Urban Area Planning Commissioners to change the latest recommendations from city staff. The changes in city sign codes will restrict size, number of days for display and require permits for the temporary signage.

  • The local American Legion Post, now nestled between the new Highland/Glacier couplet, has put its building up for sale. The post is not closing, however, merely fishing to see if it can get a sales price worth moving to a new location. Redmond's Historic Church, former Presbyterian church and on the National Historic Register, is trying a likewise move. After two years of renovations the owners have listed it for sale, hoping to attract a buyer who will appreciate its historic importance -- and its newly renovated look.

  • The committee formed to plan celebrations for Redmond's upcoming centennial have chosen a logo for the events, based on a 1910 land sale brochure. "The Hub' is the theme of the logo, designed by Sublime Design of Redmond.

Editorial:Vote with your feet

The wheels have been set in motion and -- more likely than not -- voters will be considering a school construction bond measure on a ballot in the not too distant future.

Also gearing up are the arguments of the contrarians, those who seem to oppose any school funding matters on principle, however unsubstantiated.
What tends to happen when a community considers a school bond are two divergent debates.

The first, and most logical, is that of the bond measure itself. Does the school district really need what it is asking for and is the proposal the best use of public funding?
Well, at this point no one knows exactly what is going to be asked for in any future bond measures but it is a safe bet to assume it will be new or expanded schools.

Why would they ask for this?

Let’s look at Redmond’s growth wave. In 1995, when things were really beginning to heat up in Redmond’s population, the town had 9,650 people and the school district 4,986 students. Of course the city population is counted only within city limits and the students come from a much wider area but close to 50 percent of the population in schools is a pretty impressive number. In 1995 Redmond School District had 10 schools, two of them newly built to accommodate the first wave of incoming students arriving with their families.

Since 1995 the city has doubled in population. The student population increase has been slower, but respectable, at about 35 percent.

The two new schools opened last year had seats for 1,400 students but in those years between 1995 and 2006 we gained a net of 1,782 kids. Where do those extra 400 kids go? Wherever we can find room.

Some schools are straining at the seams and some are quite comfortable with their current populations. Efforts to redistribute the students for equity’s sake have been difficult, with parents often protesting changes in school boundaries.

Meanwhile the city continues to grow, housing bubble threats aside. And the district can expect to welcome around 100 new students on a slow year.

Redmond’s eventual need for new school buildings, in reality, is a ‘duh’. There is no common-sense argument that can dispute the obvious need.

Oddly enough, the arguments against voting and paying for new schools tend to have absolutely nothing to do with new schools.

Instead, voters are told to Send a Message. Past mistakes and slights, real or perceived, are dredged up. The logic seems to be that if voters are unhappy with any decisions made by the school board – reduced school days to meet budgets, changes in personnel or policy, or a previous school building measure that did not measure up in their view – they should let the board know by declining to approve new schools for a growing student body.

The logic of this is befuddling. It is akin to refusing to allow your spouse to buy a new car when the old one has died because you think they failed to keep a previous, and unrelated, promise to you.

You don’t like the choices made the school board and district officials?

Vote with your feet, not your ballot. Head down to the district office for the next board meeting and be sure they know how you feel about former, and upcoming, issues. Most school board meetings have no public attendees aside from those there because they are on the agenda.

Essentially, that means there are up to 24 opportunities for taxpayers to become well-informed about the district doings and unlimited (don’t forget phone calls and letters) chances to voice your opinion.

Don’t confuse one important subject with another.

Michael McDaniel, RHS graduate

RHS grad Michael McDaniel and girlfriend Tiffany Gomes

“I was surprised to hear it was on the radio,” said Michael McDaniel, scanning the crowd and looking a little nervous.

“Until today, we were still calling people to get them to come. We didn’t think it’d be…” He trails off, watching as the crowd of hundreds filed in to the Redmond High School auditorium Wednesday night. His graduation – just his – is shaping up to be a bigger event than anyone imagined.

Michael, 17, was diagnosed with brain cancer in late 2005. In the fifteen months since then, he’s tried everything to fight the tumors growing inside his skull – surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation treatments and exotic little pills costing hundreds of dollars each. Despite these efforts, the prognosis is not good. A week and a half ago, with Michael’s health looking increasingly uncertain, school officials began planning a graduation ceremony for him.

Graduating has been a goal for Michael since his diagnosis, largely because, as a teenage boy, school is where he was supposed to be.

“I always enjoyed school. I always did well, I was athletic. I already had plans I wanted to do after high school, get my degree in physical therapy and go from there,” he said.

It’s a dispiriting thing, listening to a 17-year old boy talking about himself in the past tense. But as he goes on and gets distracted and turns to other subjects, he brightens. He talks about running track the spring before his diagnosis, how he’d get sick after every race, and its more dark humor than self pity when he sums up the headaches and the dizziness with a simple “now we know why.” He turns to art, and how his art classes at the high school left him cold, the way schedules and grades and all the other conventions of school manage to suffocate the creative process. He’s just getting warmed up when someone brushes by and taps him on the shoulder.
“Michael. It’s time.”

Michael enters the auditorium, and the audience turns and squirms in their seats to get a better look. By the time the orchestra plays the first six notes of Pomp and Circumstance, everyone has turned around, and the crowd cheers louder and louder and louder still as Michael makes his way to the stage. It’s a slow shuffle, at first, but there’s a there’s a definite bounce in his step by the time he hits the stairs.

It’s an unconventional ceremony with only one graduate. All the commencement address boilerplate about “live your dreams” and “do what you love” and “one person can change the world” is shelved in favor of all eyes on Michael, and he looks uncomfortable in the spotlight. He wrings his hands, and you can see his chest rising and falling beneath his dark red robe. After 45 minutes of songs and speeches and lavish praise, it’s finally over, and Michael exits the stage, diploma in hand. The band strikes up again, and a few beach balls are bounced around as the crowd begins to disperse.

Outside in the commons, Michael is still the center of attention. Maybe even more so as the gathering crowd backs him up against a cafeteria table for hugs and handshakes and other forms of congratulations. Dozens of cell phone cameras bob up and down, their tiny lenses all focused on the boy with the thin blonde hair and the metal hoop through his lip. But he’s at ease, laughing and smiling again, a teenager in his element, at school, among friends.

-- Scott Hammers

February 20, 2007

February 21, 2007

  • The Redmond School District is looking ahead to spring 2008 to place a school construction ballot before the voters. Before the ballot is written -- how much and for what -- district officials are planning on holding a community forum in March to solicite public comment. The questions asked, according to Superintendent Vickie Fleming, won't just be about money and buildings but what community members expect in the education of students and how facilities are thought to contribute to that outcome.
  • After presentation of a bold, multi-block redevelopment plan for downtown Redmond, Mayor Alan Unger, for one, is eager to get started. Consultants SERA Architects have proposed tackling the ambitious plan in three phases but Unger said, “We’re looking at trying to not have phases, but to try to address as much as we can to get more going at once." Besides looking for private investors for retail and commercial development, the plan calls for city investment in parks, parking, and a new city hall.
  • Redmond High School wrestlers took home nine medals at the OSAA 6A State Wrestling Championships last weekend. The Panthers took third place in team standings. At the event senior Austin Enoch won his third state championship in four years.

More roadwork ahead for Redmond

The Highway 97 reroute roadbed northeast of downtown Redmond

The Highland-Glacier Couplet and the Maple Avenue Bridge projects are complete, as is the revamped intersection of Southwest Canal Boulevard and Veterans Way, but motorists aren’t home free yet. More construction projects are slated for 2007.

Slated to begin in June is construction of Southwest 27th Street between Cascade and Highland avenues. The project will complete a link in 27th Street that eventually will allow drivers to go from Northwest Way to Southwest Canal Boulevard. The project also includes a signal at the intersection of 27th and Highland.

Also this summer the city will widen 27th Street between Southwest Obsidian and Salmon avenues. The current road width of 36 to 40 feet will be widened to 44 feet, said City Engineer Mike Caccavano. The widening will occur on the east side of the street. Both 27th Street projects also will include installation of the larger Westside Sewer Interceptor line.

Next year the city plans to reconstruct and widen 27th Street from Southwest Salmon Avenue to Canal Boulevard. Because the street follows a major canal lateral, preliminary work on the reconstruction is scheduled to begin next winter while the canals are off, however completion of right-of-way acquisition is always a big question mark, he said.

Scheduled to begin in June is the reconstruction of Southwest Rimrock Way from just south of Antler Avenue to Highland Avenue. The timeline calls for the project to be completed by the time school starts, Caccavano said.

Originally, the city was going to just put a new pavement overlay on the street near the high school, but the condition of the road led to the decision to completely reconstruct the street. The current road bed is too flat, he said. “I don’t know where the drainage has been going.”

The project will include a storm drain system, new pavement, curbs and sidewalks. The estimated $950,000 project will come from city funds. In August a federal grant will pay for adding sidewalks along Northwest 19th between Antler and Maple avenues.

Also in June, the city will replace the water line in Northwest Ninth Street between Northwest Maple and Southwest Evergreen avenues.
“It’s really needed,” Caccavano said. “There are a lot of smaller in lines in older neighborhoods around town.” The project will put in 12-inch lines. The approximately $1.33 million cost will come from the city’s water fund.

Another summer water project will build the pump station at the city’s newest well, Number 7. Next year the city will add a reservoir at the site.

A project to add signals at the off-ramps at South Highway 97 and Yew Avenue and sidewalks along Yew Avenue is scheduled to begin in August. While the signals will make it easier for drivers in the area, the sidewalks will make it safer for residents on the on west side of Highway 97 to walk to businesses on the east side, Caccavano said. The project is a cooperative effort between the city and the Oregon Department of Transportation, with the city designing the sidewalk portion, while ODOIT is designing the signals. Most of the $600,000 price tag will come from Systems Development Charges, he said.

In a project tentatively set for September, the city will install a formal right turn lane on the east side of Veterans Way at its intersection with Highway 97.
It’s the most tentative of the projects because the city is working with the railroad to get a rail crossing permit, Caccavano said. While the turn lane won’t cross the tracks, the sidewalk portion of the project probably will, he said.

The city also is nearing completion on phase one of road, water and sewer line installation in the Desert Rise, the northeast Redmond industrial park.

And after years of anticipation work on the actual road way for the reroute of Highway 97 around downtown is under way.

Work has started “sort of” on the reroute of Highway 97, Peter Murphy, ODOT Region 4 public information officer, said last week.
ODOT has issued the Notice to Proceed to the contractor, Oregon Mainline, and crews are “clearing and grubbing” and doing leveling work along the route, Murphy said.
“They’re just getting going,” he said, but “real work” will start soon.

Work is occurring all along the reroute project from south of Highland Avenue to the north interchange, where crews are digging for the footings, added Caccavano.
The $25 million project, which will take through traffic -- particularly heavy trucks -- out of downtown, is scheduled to be complete by Nov. 30, 2008, Murphy said.

-- Trish Pinkerton

February 6, 2007

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February 7, 2007

  • The Wal-Mart corporation has confirmed the sale of the south Redmond store but declines to reveal the buyer until the deal is set. The large retail site, just off the highway and near the Deschutes County Fairgrounds and Redmond Municipal Airport, is considered a prime location for just about anything. Work continues on the north Redmond location of a future Wal-Mart Supercenter.
  • Redmond Chamber of Commerce held its award's dinner last week, naming Community First Bank as Business of the Year. Busy volunteer Angela Boothroyd was selected Citizen of the Year and Gary Ollerenshaw was given the Community Involvement Award.
  • Redmond High School's principal Jon Bullock has proposed breaking the student body into career-themed "academies" in order to make school more relevent and help kids and teachers get to know each other better. The school board is considering the concept.
  • The Spokesman's yearly edition of "Profiles," a who's who guide to Redmond area businesses and organizations, can be found in the Feb. 7 issue of the paper.

Art chairs for charity

Local artists are busy creating colorfully decorated chairs that will raise money for Sparrow Clubs of Central Oregon. This year’s batch of chairs for the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Chair-ity project soon will be on display around the community and ready for bids.
Art students at Redmond High School and the International School of the Cascades are painting 18 of the chairs this month. Artists in the community will decorate another three to eight chairs.
“I like the project because it makes a practical use of painting and design skills. I think the kids like it because it's a new application, and they get to approach a familiar technique in a new way,” said Ethan Stelzer, whose advanced art students at RHS are painting five chairs.
The ISC 10th grade class is busy on 13 chairs.
“It’s a good project for them because they learn how to plan a design for a three-dimensional object and build knowledge and skill of color theory, color mixing and paint application,” said their teacher Susan Shayegi.
Redmond High School -- and the International School of the Cascades in particular -- have developed goals to get students to participate in community service, Shayegi said. The chair project helps broaden their understanding of what community service can be, in addition to car washes and bake sale fundraisers.
Now that the project is in its third year, current students remember seeing past chairs on display in businesses around town and are excited that theirs will be on display as well, she said.
The goal is to have the chairs on display in local business the entire month of March, so the public can place silent bids, said Joann Wheeler, GFWC member.
This is the third year for the project. The first year the event raised $1,000. Last year the amount rose to more than $2,000, Wheeler said, with the highest bid for a chair coming in at $225. All of the proceeds benefit Sparrow Clubs.
Wheeler said she’s pleased at the growth of the event.
“We’ve been able to make a difference,” she said.

--Trish Pinkerton

February 1, 2007

January 31, 2007

  • Redmond City Manager Mike Patterson announced this week that interim Redmond Fire and Rescue Chief Tim Moor would be taking the position permanently. Moor has been with the Redmond department since 1981 as a volunteer and full-time since 1992. Moor succeeds previous chief RonOliver, who left this fall for a chief's position in California.

Three local churches will be offering a rotating homeless shelter through the month of February. Redmond Christian, Assembly of God, and Community Presbyterian churches will provide meals and a bed for a week each, with church members donating time to the project. Optimally, the churches hope others come forward so next year nightime shelter can be available for the homeless all winter.

Redmond High School wrestlers Austin Enoch and Justin Martin came home champions from the Reser's Tournament of Champions last weekend. Enoch was undefeated in the 140-pound division and Martin took the 152-pound class.

The Spokesman printed the first edition of "Panther Pause", a monthly page dedicated to students of Redmond High School.