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New Brookings group focuses on climate change

Bill Vogel and Cynthia Freeman are trying to attack a global problem at the local level.

The two were inspired by Al Journet of the group Southern Oregon Climate Action Now, who spoke in Harbor last month about global warming and its implications on worldwide ecology.

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Curry gets FEMA funds for Harbor sinkhole, landslide

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Crews with Tidewater Contractors use excavators to dig dirt and mud from at the edge of a ravine, seeking the collapsed culvert responsible for causing a sinkhole near Highway 101. Photo taken from video by Cody Miller (http://tinyurl.com/jetroco)

Curry County is eligible for more than a quarter-million dollars in federal emergency disaster funds after torrential rainfall in December resulted in mudslides, sinkholes and flooding throughout the area.

President Obama has approved $25 million in funds to be spent in Curry, Coos, Lane, Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln, Linn, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Washington and Yamhill counties after back-to-back storms battered the coast late last year.

Damage here was initially reported to total $253,821, and a second assessment will be conducted this month to determine actual cost damages.

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Legislature OKs minimum wage hike

Many workers throughout the state will get raises over the next six years as the legislature approved a Senate Bill 1532 establishing new minimum wage levels in an unprecedented tiered system based on where employees live.

Over the six-year plan, employees in sparsely populated areas such as Curry County will see their wages increase gradually, eventually earning a minimum of $12.50. In that same time, those in the Portland area will earn the highest minimum wage rates in the nation, of $14.75. Those in a middle tier that includes Bend and Eugene would make $13.50.

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New concert hall for Brookings

After 30 years of hosting classical music concerts in various Brookings churches, the nonprofit Friends of Music is going to build it’s own concert hall in downtown Brookings.

Friends of Music purchased the vacant lot at the corner of Fern Avenue and Spruce Street earlier this month for an undisclosed amount.

“We’ve been thinking about doing this for 10 years and we finally decided to jump out there and do it,” said Mark Newhouse, president of the nonprofit. “This is going to be a positive thing for the community and for us.”

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Dinerís owners deal with closure

For some, the Harbor sinkhole has been an inconvenience, but for owners of the Fireside Diner it’s been a financial disaster, forcing a temporary closure.

Having opened Sept. 4, 2015, the restaurant owners were building a steady customer base until Dec. 13, when  heavy rains and a failed culvert created a sinkhole in the parking lot. Things have gone downhill from there.

Through it all, the owners have maintained a positive attitude.

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Curry officials keep an eye out for avian flu virus; no cases yet

First the birds, now the … dogs?

The avian flu viruses H2N3 and H2N8 have spread from the Midwest to the West Coast, but haven’t yet struck Curry County, local veterinarians reported this week.

The odds, too, are slim that local dogs will catch the illness, said veterinarian John Jacobson.

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Hospitality: A ladyís touch

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Karen Ramos, manning the gift shop at Curry General Hospital, has been a member of the Ladies Hospital Auxiliary since 1985.

When a trip to the hospital is required it can be for a myriad of reasons: Heart attack, vehicle accident or the birth of a child.

The one thing that potential patients of Curry General Hospital can count on is the smiling faces of the hospital’s Ladies Hospital Auxiliary. 

The auxiliary is an all-volunteer group that works along side the Curry Health Network to add a touch of compassion to what can be a stressful time.

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Suit seeks federal funds for counties

Curry County might join Lane County and others this summer in lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management, claiming the agency has violated the terms of the 1937 O&C Lands Act that addresses timber production on federal lands.

If the lawsuit is successful, it would allow loggers to increase timber production on federal land, likely resulting in more money for county coffers.

“This is the most important piece of litigation Curry and the other 17 O&C counties could ever be involved in,” said Curry County Commissioner David Brock Smith, who sits on the board of the Association of O&C Counties (AOCC).

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Hospital districtís struggles continue

The budget-strapped Curry Health Network is making some financial headway, but it still has a long way to go before it can pursue long-term projects such as an emergency room at its Brookings facility.

Interim Chief Financial Officer Carl Gerlach recently told the hospital network’s board of directors that he and auditors are poring through the district’s books trying to implement accounting principles that weren’t used in past years to figure out where the district stands with revenue and expenses.

Among the important factors is cash-on-hand, which in November was 7.83 days. That means the hospital had, without any revenue coming in, 7.83 days of cash available to keep the doors open.

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Changes ahead for Azalea Festival

Several groups that host events during Brookings’ Azalea Festival every Memorial Day weekend will hold a meeting Thursday to discuss how to advertise and coordinate this year’s festival, in light of some recently-announced changes that affect the event.

The meeting is at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, at the Chetco Community Public Library, 405 Alder Street. 

At a January meeting, leaders of the Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce announced that they will take a step back from the Azalea Festival this year, focusing only on the parade.

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