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County considers pot tax for Nov. ballot

Curry County commissioners plan to ask voters in November to approve a 3 percent tax on marijuana, adding to the current state tax of 17 percent.

The only time the county has the opportunity to do so is in a year in which there is a general election, said Commissioner Susan Brown, so if commissioners opt out of the election in November, they’d have to wait until 2020.

“Is it going to save us? No,” said Economic Development Director Julie Schmelzer in urging the board to put the question to the voters. “Is it going to help us? Yes.”


History of the Pilot: The press keeps rolling

Editor’s note: This is the final installment in a series of articles commemorating the Pilot’s 70th anniversary this month.

Dick and Polly Keusink’s sale of the Curry Coastal Pilot to Western Communications (WesCom) in July 1981 marked the end of “mom and pop” ownership of the newspaper.

WesCom, headquartered in Bend, had its beginnings when Robert W. Chandler bought The Bulletin in 1953. Chandler, like the Keusinks, was a graduate of Stanford University’s journalism school and they were friends. At the time of his death in September 1996, he owned eight newspapers in Oregon and California.


King tapped for county’s budget committee

Curry County Commissioners tapped Nesika Beach resident Carl King as the newest member of the county’s six-person budget committee.

The decision came after a heated discussion among commissioners, elected officials and department heads who argued about candidates’ experience, recommendations from other elected officials, and even possible perceptions of conflicts of interest — before naming King to the six-person committee.

Commissioners voted 2-1, with David Brock Smith voting against the motion to appoint King. He repeatedly pointed out that elected officials — and even County Accountant Gary Short — recommended incumbent John Spicer be reappointed to the seat, and the “coincidental” submission of King’s application to the board a day after Commissioner Tom Huxley tabled the appointment a week prior.

The budget committee is now comprised of all three commissioners and lay members Terry Hanscam, Sam Scaffo and King. Serving on the budget committee typically takes a couple of weeks in May. Spicer has held two, three-year terms on that committee.


Flood watch issued for Curry

The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for low-lying areas of Curry and surrounding counties today through Monday morning. 

The watch includes Port Orford, Gold Beach and Brookings as well as areas along Highway 199 such as Cave Junction. 


70 years of the Pilot: 1962-81: The Keusink Era


Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of stories celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Curry Coastal Pilot. The first two were published on March 2 and 5.

Dick and Polly Keusink had a dream of owning their own newspaper, and when the dream became a reality in late August, 1962, they sold their home in Santa Monica, California, loaded up their three children and a few possessions and headed to Brookings.

They took over publishing the Brookings-Harbor Pilot from John M. Jenkins and moved into a not-yet-complete home on Parkview Drive, gathering camping cots, a roll-away bed and a double mattress from here and there around town so they could manage until their furniture arrived.


Deadline frenzy of filings for election

In a last-minute flurry of county and state candidate filing, Curry County Commissioner David Brock Smith has bowed out of the race to keep his seat — and former county commissioner David Itzen is in.

Itzen filed — and Smith submitted paperwork to drop out — on Tuesday, the last day citizens could file to run in the May 17 election.


Council will consider proposed sales tax

The Brookings City Council will discuss a sales tax Mayor Ron Hedenskog would like voters to approve to pay for one  — or a variety of — projects that need money. The issue will be on Monday’s council meeting agenda.

“I think some voters are asking for revenue alternatives, rather than hit the property tax,” Hedenskog said. “Let’s try it; let’s see what the voters think.”

Hedenskog has bandied about the rate of 3 percent, and using information gathered from 2012, he said that rate could generate about $5.8 million annually.

No municipality or county in Oregon charges a sales tax, although Yachats and Ashland both charge a 5 percent food and beverage tax on prepared food.


Police arrest wanted man, woman faces drug charge

Two Brookings residents driving through town were arrested without incident Tuesday afternoon on Highway 101 near Oak Street after an off-duty police officer identified one of them as a wanted person.


Robotics class preps for tourney

Senior John Christopher and Freshman Ethan Warner work on a robot their class will use to compete in robotic tournaments scheduled this month and in April.

The Brookings-Harbor High School Robotics Team is finally ready for its biggest challenge of the year: the FIRST Robotics Competition. Students have spent six weeks designing and building a robot, which will compete against other 35 other teams at statewide contests in March and April.

With about 30 students on the team, this year’s group is the largest that teacher Alain Chirinian has coached. Some students in the program now have a few years of experience working on robots and attending competitions, but there are a lot of newcomers as well.

“This is technically my first year,” said Monique Riggs, a senior. “I was at the competition last year. It’s the first time I’ve gotten to build. It’s very gratifying to see it work.”


Harbor sink hole update: Rebuilding the road

Crews with Tidewater Contractors on Thursday use excavators to put the finishing touches on a new section of Shopping Center Avenue that was destroyed by a sink hole. The failed culvert responsible for the sink hole has been replaced as well.

Traffic on Highway 101 near the sinkhole in Harbor will be diverted early this morning (March 5) to Hoffeldt Lane, onto the newly rebuilt Shopping Center Avenue and return to the highway via Zimmerman Lane, state transportation officials announced Friday.

Backhoes were sitting idle Friday, awaiting work on Highway 101 to replace the culvert that runs under it, but rollers were compacting gravel on Shopping Center Avenue in anticipation of its reopening.

The entire project will likely be finished a week later than anticipated, due to back-to-back torrential rainstorms in January that made it difficult for backhoes to dig in slippery mud.


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