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Ballots roll in, vote deadline nears

Election officials were hit with 285 ballots on Monday, received another 514 by Wednesday morning and had a total of 1,673 by Friday — and there are still 10 days left until the May 19 election.

Those numbers represent 12.7 percent of the county’s 13,168 registered voters, and are pretty comparable to returns in previous elections, said Supervisor of Elections Shelley Denney. In last November’s runoff, 54 percent of registered voters cast ballots; in the last May special election, 30 percent did. 

Voters have until 8 p.m. May 19 to hand deliver to the white ballot boxes at the Brookings and Port Orford city halls or outside the County Courthouse in Gold Beach. Elections officials advise voters to mail their ballots no later than May 13 to get to the Elections Department in time for the 8 p.m. May 19 deadline. 

“We dropped off the ballots to be delivered on Thursday (April 28), and they didn’t get to people until Saturday,” Denney said. Mail first goes to Portland — no longer Eugene — before it returns to mailboxes here, she added.

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Cat shelter closer to happening

A cat shelter that’s been 20 years in the planning became one step closer to reality in 15 minutes, after Curry County commissioners unanimously approved deeding the animal shelter building in Gold Beach to Pennies for Pooches for $1.

A roar of applause came from the standing-room-only crowd in the meeting room earlier this week after the board agreed to the proposal.

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Winds fan wildfire near Gold Beach

UPDATE

GOLD BEACH — Firefighters contained a brushfire by 4:30 p.m. today, two and half hours after it was reported in an outbuilding along Cedar Valley Road northeast of Gold Beach. The fire burned a structure and a truck before it climbed up a hill and over a ridge in dry brush.

Firefighters from Ophir and Cedar Valley fire departments, along with Coos Forest Protective Association, arrived on scene in thick smoke to battle the blaze, which had consumed about five acres within 20 minutes.

Firefighters expressed concern about winds in the area, which were steady at 11 miles per hour with gusts up to 18 mph.


Hospital: from dream to reality

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Solomon Levine shovels dirt as officials with Curry Health District watch during Monday’s official groundbreaking at the site in Gold Beach where a new hospital will be built.

The first shovel that struck the gravel pile at the groundbreaking of the new Curry General Hospital Monday evening represented the culmination of two years of work by hundreds of Gold Beach-area residents — and the beginning of a summer flurry of construction.

“A lot has happened in a very short time,” outgoing Curry Health District CEO Wayne Hellerstedt told a crowd of about 200 who gathered at the site of the new facility. “It’s gone from being just a dream to being reality. It’s a giant leap forward for everyone, and without your vote for the $10 million general obligation bond, this project would not happen.”

Voters approved the bond in November, and hospital officials are now awaiting news from the USDA regarding a $19 million loan to complement it so they can start construction.

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Health district to ask voters to join

The Curry Health District is reaching out to those in Brookings and Harbor in an attempt to secure its status as the primary medical care provider in Curry County.

Work is already underway to redesign Curry Medical Center in Brookings to accommodate a new emergency department (ED). And this fall, voters in the southern end of the county will get the chance to join the district — and with that membership, get a new 25,000-square-foot facility to house a much-needed dialysis center, infusion therapy for cancer patients, a stationary MRI, surgery, outpatient observation beds and additional health-provider offices.

The cost is expected to be between $8 million and $10 million.

“This is an exciting day for us, as you can imagine,” Brookings Mayor Ron Hedenskog told the hospital board Monday after they agreed to a resolution to pose the annexation question to south county voters. “It’s an extraordinary, historic day for us. But it’s also the beginning of a lot of work.”

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Sheriff is no fan of gun sales measure

Curry County Sheriff John Ward doesn’t plan to make it a priority to ensure that even private individuals obtain criminal background checks when they sell a firearm to another person.

Senate Bill 941, approved at the legislature Monday, would require that; the legislation awaits the governor’s signature to become law.

“Right now, with resources as low as they are, and the priority list we try to respond to, that will not be in my sights,” Ward said. “It’s not that I won’t investigate it, it’ll just be a low priority.”

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Flights to Portland go on sale soon

As Crescent City’s new air carrier approaches its Sept. 15 takeoff, area travelers may soon be able to purchase their first tickets to and from Portland.

No flights have been available in or out of Crescent City since early April while equipment at Del Norte County Regional Airport is updated to accommodate its new carrier, PenAir, which will fly exclusively to Portland, Ore. The airline is replacing SkyWest, which retired its only aircraft capable of using Del Norte’s runways.

Booking and fares for PenAir’s twice-daily flights in and out of the Del Norte Regional Airport may go live as early as this weekend, according to Vice President of Marketing and Sales Melissa Roberts, who told the Triplicate Monday that updating a reservation system is a complicated process and sales wouldn’t be going live until the company’s codeshare partner, Alaska Airlines, has updated the system on its end. 

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Brookings water plans based on worst-case

The Brookings City Council is planning for the worst when it comes to its water supply.

It recently voted to hire Garrett Pallo of Civil West Engineering services in Coos Bay to evaluate alternative water sources for the city in the event of a natural disaster. The $40,378 study will be done as part of the city’s efforts to become more resilient in the face of disasters, specifically the inevitable slipping of the Cascadia fault just off shore, a major conflagration in the forests that surround town or a prolonged drought.

A major earthquake and its subsequent tsunami would likely isolate Curry County survivors for about three weeks from the outside world. Bridges would be out, roads ruined — and infrastructure crumbled for months, if not years, experts say.

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Volcano may be erupting off Oregon Coast

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The arm of a submersible cracks the crust on the Axial Seamount during an earlier visit. The possible eruption of the volcano, 300 miles off the coast, does not pose a tsunami threat.

NEWPORT — Axial Seamount, an active underwater volcano located about 300 miles off the coast of Oregon, appears to be erupting, according to two scientists who predicted such an event would happen this year.

Researchers say such an eruption is not a threat to coastal residents. The earthquakes at Axial Seamount are small and the seafloor movements gradual and thus cannot cause a tsunami.

Geologists Bill Chadwick of Oregon State University and Scott Nooner of the University of North Carolina Wilmington made their forecast last September during a public lecture, and followed it up with blog posts and a reiteration of their forecast just last week at a scientific workshop. 

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9 vie for 3 school board positions

Nine Gold Beach citizens will vie for three positions on the Central Curry School Board in the May 19 Special District Election. The district has faced growing problems in the last few years, including difficulty retaining both teachers and students, budgetary problems and low morale. Next year, the district will also be tasked with finding a new superintendent. The district has worked hard this year to make changes, creating a strategic plan committee that met monthly to target the main problems facing the district and create a five-year plan to fix them. Board candidates addressed these problems, and offered their take on how to help the district.

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