THE LAND PRESERVATION RUSH
This was the year that several landowners and would-be developers opted for preservation instead of planned unit developments, cashing in on soon-to-expire capital gains tax breaks in the process. They found willing buyers in Central Oregon where thousands of urban and rural acres were set aside for public use. Perhaps the most visible of the properties was the so-called Miller's Landing parcel, which was acquired by the Trust for Public Land in partnership with the Bend Metro Parks. The roughly six-acre property, which is located just downstream from the Colorado Avenue bridge, is one of the few remaining undeveloped parcels along the Deschutes. It wasn't the only blockbuster land deal for the park district, which also managed to acquire 122 acres of riverfront property between Archie Briggs Road and Tumalo State Park. Both properties became available after proposed development projects were stymied by the housing bust.
In Sisters, the Deschutes Land Trust brokered another preservation coup with the acquisition of a two-mile riverfront property along Whychus Creek in an area that is expected to be one of the strong holds for returning steelhead and salmon in coming years. Finally, looking southward, the state of Oregon put together the biggest deal, at least in terms of acreage, when it acquired the 43,000-acre Gilchrist state forest from a private landowner in June. The property, located on the border or Deschutes and Klamath counties near its namesake mill town, is the first new state forest to be added to Oregon's public lands in almost a century.
HEALTH CARE REFORM
THE MIDTERM MASSACRE
WHO IS JASON EVERS?
The Jason Evers story read like a post-Cold War script for Little Nikita, except that instead of a culturally embedded super spy, we got a super douche bag. Yes, Evers, already fading quickly from memory, was the Eastern European chess mastermind masquerading as Oregon Liquor Control Commission regional manager, who turned out to be living under the assumed identity of a slain Ohio toddler. Evers, real name Doitchin Krasev, was eventually outed by federal authorities during a routine background search of passport applicants, but not before bringing the OLCC to the brink of all-out warfare with the local bar owners, tourism officials and even city councilors who took issues with Evers' heavy handed enforcement.
THE DUGAN-FLAHERTY BATTLE ROYAL
THE SAWYER FIVE FIASCO
One of the holdovers from the Great Pyramid Scheme that was the entire Bend real estate market between 2003 and 2006, or thereabouts, was the recent indictment of Tami Sawyer and her husband Kevin on some 21 counts of fraud and embezzlement. Tami was a one-time real estate high flyer who took millions of dollars from her friends and neighbors that were subsequently "invested" into a crumbling house of cards that stretched from Cabo to Indiana. Instead of lucrative returns, her investors lost their retirement savings while the Sawyers allegedly enriched themselves, paying for cars, Mexican vacation homes and other personal expenses. Kevin, a captain in the Bend police department, took early retirement after being placed on administrative leave when the allegations of wrongdoing became public.
THE GREAT GOOSE GENOCIDE
BANK OF THE CASCADES RESCUED
After teetering for more than a year on the brink of insolvency as its loan portfolio tanked, the once high-flying Bank of the Cascades was given a lifeline in the form of a nearly $180-million capitol infusion that will keep the bank afloat for the foreseeable future. Federal regulators had issued several orders to BOTC demanding that it raise enough money to essentially cover its bets, meanwhile the bank's share had dipped below the minimum $1-trading level on the NYSE, prompting concern that the bank could be delisted from the stock exchange. The bank addressed both issues late in the year with a reverse stock split along with the issuance of new stock to its investors who now control more than 80 percent of the bank's shares.
DUCKS BLOW UP BCS
This was another national story that seemed to be particularly salient in Central Oregon where unemployment hung stubbornly in the teens and businesses, including restaurants and retailers, struggled to hang on. Look no further than the once-booming housing market where foreclosures and short sales now dominate the Bend market. Downtown, restaurants continued to struggle with both Staccato and Marz closing. It was so tough that even Subway packed up and left. We could go on about employee pay cuts, mandatory furloughs, unemployment benefits drying up, but you know the rest. So here's looking at you, 2011. Let's get the next decade start off on the right foot.