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Central Oregon’s memorable 2019: The year’s news in review

Like all years, it brought tears and cheers, triumphs and struggles

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Central Oregonians experienced the highs and lows of life, often in dramatic, sometimes sad and often bittersweet fashion, in the news we encountered, reported and shared throughout 2019.

From a late-February, overdue and very snowy blast of winter that broke records and left roads icy for weeks, to the spring passing of America's oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, Bob Maxwell, to several summer months of boil-water orders in Warm Springs (and widespread community support to get through it), to a fall murder trial that brought justice for a little Redmond girl who was starved to death, the mix of emotions was intense and memorable.

But to rank, with any claim of precision, any year's (or decade's, or century's!) "top news stories" is an artificial, even debatable exercise, for many reasons.

One is that news stories rarely begin or end within a calendar year -- for example, the conviction of Estevan Garcia and Sacora Horn-Garcia came nearly three years after their adopted daughter died.

But more importantly, to say this or that widely covered event was more or less important than another is a matter of personal perspective. Not to mention the many crimes, crashes, fires, etc. that news media cover, as well as broader, longer-standing issues like the struggles of growth and fast-rising house pries, don't often come up as "spot news," pegged to one day. They are also don't reflect the newsworthy things that happen in everyone's lives each year that often touch us at a more personal, profound level.

We've examined the top stories of a year in various ways over the years at KTVZ.COM, but since we're about to turn the calendar page on what some call the last year of a decade -- another matter of debate -- the chronological approach seems less artificial than others.

We've also done a fairly comprehensive "year in links" before, and that can be an easy way to bring the details back into view.

But we made a major move to a new Web platform late this year, and … let's just say all the boxes aren't unpacked, much less everything assembled as it was before in our new home (video and images are not connected to each old article -- more progress and news on that to come in 2020!)

But we have indeed moved up to 12 years of digital news to the new site, which has a better search engine than our previous one (click that magnifying glass on the upper right of the page to see), so we encourage you to explore the stories this brings back to mind.

We've also found that the imported stories are again showing up in Google, so that's another approach! One example: Here's the story we did on the stuck Sunriver-area off-roader who authorities said survived on taco sauce packets to survive -- which went viral, of course, and brought him a year's supply of Taco Bell. Or the very widely reported news that Bend's Blockbuster video store became the last one on the planet.

We still have much work to do to make the new KTVZ.COM (and our apps) work as well as we want, and as you deserve. But life is a work in progress --- especially when it comes to technology, right?

In the meantime, we at NewsChannel 21 thank you for your patience in our transition, and we wish all of our fans and friends the happiest of new years.
--Barney Lerten, digital content director

So here's our by no means complete list of some of the top local news of the year:

JAN. 11: A McMinnville man, Cory Dwight Homestead, robs Umpqua Bank on S. Highway 97 and is caught a few hours later after a high-speed chase in N. California. 

JAN. 12: Alan Peter Porciello allegedly shot and killed Jenny Lynn Cashwell at his apartment on their first date after meeting on an online dating site. In late December, he pleaded guilty to a reduced second-degree manslaughter charge and is due for sentencing to up to 10 years in mid-January.

JAN. 16: Joanna Lynn Kasner allegedly shot and killed Valerie Peterson as she walked 2 dogs outside Kasner's home in the Boonesborough subdivision north of Bend. Her murder trial is currently scheduled to begin Feb. 26, 2020.

JAN. 17: Wisconsin-based Shopko Stores files for bankruptcy protection, announces plans to close its stores, including on in Bend; in the fall, WinCo Foods files plans to move into the site, with an expected 2020 opening.

FEB. 8: A judge convicts Shantel Witt on first-degree manslaughter for the fatal drugged-driving collision in late 2017 that killed Bend dentist Marika Stone; 10 days later, Judge Michael Adler sentences her to 12 years in prison, lifetime drivers' license suspension.

FEB. 25: Bend gets over a foot of snow from a late-season storm, a record one-day snowfall for the month of February, closing Redmond Airport for 2 ays; La Pine gets four feet from the storm, Bend and Sisters over two feet, in what many are calling "Snowmageddon 2.0," while Mt. Bachelor gets nearly 4 feet in 2 days; schools call four straight snow days, reopen March 1 but some roads stay snow-packed, icy for weeks.

MARCH 24: The Sonic Restaurant along Third Street on Bend's south end is destroyed by an earl-morning fire.

MARCH 29: Gov. Kate Brown chooses Redmond resident and former GOP lawmaker Bev Clarno as secretary of state; Clarno, 83, succeeds the late Dennis Richardson, says she won't run for the job in 2020.

APRIL 8: Sun Country Airlines announces twice-a-week service to Las Vegas, starting Sept. 5 through Dec. 15.

APRIL 25: Edwin Lara, already sentenced to life in prison for killing Kaylee Sawyer, gets a second life term in federal prison for a kidnapping and carjacking.

MAY 11: Robert Maxwell of Bend, the nation's oldest Medal of Honor recipient, dies at the age of 98.

MAY 13: Oregon Senate Republicans, including Bend's Tim Knopp, end a week-long walkout to delay a vote on a school funding tax

MAY 21: Redmond Parks and Rec voters reject a bond and levy for a new $40 million pool and recreation center; Jefferson county voters approve three-year jail operating levy. 

MAY 31: The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Tribal Council approves an emergency disaster declaration amid serious water infrastructure issues, at the start of the fourth boil-water notice of the year, this one lasting lasting 81 days; Sens. Merkley, Wyden later propose legislation to fund tribal water system improvements.

JUNE 18: Allegiant Air, which left Redmond Airport in 2012, announces it will return to RDM in October, with service to Las Vegas and Phoenix.

JUNE 20: All 11 Republican state senators, including Bend's Tim Knopp, stage a second walkout, to block a "cap and trade" bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; Gov. Kate Brown dispatches State Police to round them up, but they have left the state; they return June 29 and the bill is sent back to committee; supporters vow a new effort in 2020, in Salem or at the ballot.

JUNE 22: Pilot Kevin Padrick of Sunriver, co-founder of a Portland investment firm, is killed in the crash of a seaplane in the Deschutes River near Sunriver Airport.

JULY 7: Two adjacent mobile homes, four vehicles are destroyed in fire at Tops Trailer Park in Madras, the sixth serious fire in six years at the park.

JULY 18: Gov. Kate Brown, other officials gather in front of the Deschutes County Courthouse for the ceremonial signing of Kaylee's Law, named for 2016 Bend murder victim Kaylee Sawyer, whose parents lobbied for the legislation setting out standards for campus security officers and their vehicles, to better differentiate them from police officers.

JULY 22: The federal government grants $60.4 million to ODOT for the Highway 97 reroute project at Bend's north end.

JULY 29: A suspicious package and a hoax bomb threat phone call closes the Deschutes County Courthouse until an OSP bomb squad uses a water cannon to neutralize it. Two Bend men, Kellie Cameron and Jonathan Allen are charged with the crime.

AUG. 8: Deschutes County commissioners decide to "opt out" of allowing more marijuana production and processing, until voters decide the issue in November of 2020.

AUGUST 20: An agreement is reached to keep seven chimpanzees at the Chimps Inc. sanctuary in Tumalo, under new management, rather than be moved to an Iowa research facility.

SEPT. 24: Mt. Bachelor names its new chairlift, two conveyors lift at the resort's Woodward Mountain Park, a new terrain area for beginners below Sunrise Lodge.

OCT. 4: Gov. Kate Brown imposes six-month ban on sale of flavored vaping products after 8 cases of respiratory illness are reported, two of them fatal; appeals court puts the ban on hold.

OCT. 18:  After weeks of emotional testimony, a jury finds Redmond couple Estevan Garcia and Sacora Horn-Garcia guilty of murder in the 2016 starvation death of their 5-year-old adopted daughter, Maliyha Hope Garcia. The couple is sentenced to life on Nov. 18, eligible for parole in 25 years.

OCT. 28:  After 20 years in Congress, 2nd District Rep. Greg Walden announces he won't seek re-election in 2020; numerous candidates announce a bid for the seat by year's end, including former state Rep. Knute Buehler of Bend.

NOV. 6: Bend's Epic Aircraft announces it has received FAA approval for the design of its carbon fiber E1000 turboprop plane.

NOV. 29:  Deschutes County sheriff's Deputy Clint Baltzor shoots car theft suspect Adam Gilliam three times, near Bend's Cascade Village Shopping Center after another deputy uses a pursuit maneuver to stop the car. DA John Hummel later rules shooting justified due to Gilliam driving toward deputies.

DEC. 24: Nearly 70 years after its humble beginnings in Prineville and more than a decade after its headquarters moved to Bend, Les Schwab Tire Centers, the region's third-largest private employer, announces it has put itself up for sale and expects to close a deal within several months; analysts say the deal could bring a price of $3 billion.

Author Profile Photo

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.



  1. I love how the left are a bunch of godless heathens…. but boy jump like a duck on a junebug on the christianity today story. Any other day, you people would be brow beating the publication to death

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