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Ten dead, seven injured in shooting at Umpqua Community College campus

UPDATE at 5 p.m.

The official death toll has dropped to 10, with seven reported injured, according to Sheriff John Hanlin. 


UPDATED at 2 p.m.:

At least 13 people were dead and more than 20 others were injured after a gunman opened fire Thursday morning on the campus of Umpqua Community College in southwest Oregon, according to various news agencies and press releases from authorities.

The gunman was killed in a firefight with Douglas County sheriff’s deputies, Sheriff John Hanlin said. 


Recreational pot sales begin Thursday

Budtender Josh Conduracki uses a scale to measure marijuana bud at South Coast Dispensaries in Brookings.

Dispensaries in Curry County are stocking up on and packaging product in anticipation of big sales Thursday, the day that Oregon residents — 21 years and older — can legally buy a limited amount of recreational marijuana.

“We anticipate a higher number of people rolling in the door,” said Ryan Campbell, store manager of Club Sockeye, one of four licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in Curry County.

Campbell said his dispensary in Wedderburn, just outside of Gold Beach, increased production of it’s own marijuana crop this year to meet the expected demand.

“We’ll be open normal hours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, but if a lot of people line up, we might open early,” Campbell said.


Debate focuses on CHD annexation proposal

The Brookings TEA Party on Saturday provided the backdrop for two passionate Curry County residents to debate the merits and drawbacks of a proposal to annex the southern end of the county into the Curry Health District. 

Mayor Ron Hedenskog, a supporter of the annexation, and Curry County resident Catherine Wiley, a former health care professional and vocal opponent of the measure, discussed the issue and fielded questions from a packed audience.

The debate over whether to annex the southern end of the county into the Curry Health District has elicited strong reactions from Curry County residents since it was announced in August that the issue will appear on the Nov. 3 ballot. 


Measure would hike minimum wage

SALEM — A top Democratic lawmaker and a coalition of unions and other groups made clear Monday that either the Legislature will raise Oregon’s minimum wage to the highest in the nation, or Oregon voters will decide for themselves in November of next year.

Raise the Wage, one of two groups that might ask voters to raise the minimum wage, filed a ballot measure Monday to raise Oregon’s minimum wage to $13.50 an hour by January 2018 over two years.


No more smoking in Brookings’ parks

The city of Brookings approved a proposal Monday to ban smoking in all areas of city parks, altering a 2011 ordinance that allowed smoking in specific parts of parks property.

Parks Director Tony Baron presented a proposal to the council in May 2015, noting that after frequently receiving complaints from park visitors about litter from cigarettes, fire hazards, and secondhand smoke, the parks commission had unanimously voted to propose a complete ban on smoking in city parks.


Leader of the pack

Photo by Grant Fraley

Recreational fishermen make sure they stay out of the path of the Brookings-based commercial fishing vessel Miss Sarah as it heads into the Port of Brookings Harbor earlier this week.

Hedenskog seeks county job

Brookings Mayor Ron Hedenskog will run for one of two Curry County Commissioner seats in the May 2016, election, but he’s going to do so at the foundation level and without spending much money.

“I intend to run a grassroots campaign (based) on my record of participating in the operation of a successful city, and will carry that forward to the county,” Hedenskog said Thursday.

He filed for Curry County Commissioner Position No. 2 on Sept. 21, competing against incumbent Commissioner David Brock Smith, who filed for reelection on Sept. 11.


Positive changes at GB schools

Students, teachers, and administrators of the Central Curry School District have changed things up this year and the consensus at the last school board meeting was that it’s for the better.

“We have added 10 brand new teachers to round out the total of 27 teachers on staff and added one new counselor as well” said district Business Manager Krystal Carpenter. “The overall energy for the new school year has been very positive.”

While a third of the district’s teaching positions have been filled, the changes don’t end there.


Local veteran groups host Sunday event at Azalea Park

Several Brookings-Harbor veterans groups are saying “thank you” to the community — for everything — with a free concert from 1 to 6 p.m. on Sunday (Sept. 27).

The Vietnam Veterans of America, the Marine Corps League and the Disabled American Veterans will sponsor “Vet Fest” at the Azalea Park bandshell. The event will feature two bands: the J. Barley Band, a bluegrass group from the Illinois Valley that will play at 2 p.m., and local blues rock band Spence Brothers, which will play at 4 p.m.

VVA president Bill Farrell explained the chapter’s long history with the community.


Azalea Park: The Elmo connection

Mention the decades-long transformation of Brookings’ Azalea Park and Elmo Williams is quick to give others the credit.

“It couldn’t have been done without so many great volunteers,” the Brookings resident said wistfully.

With a smile on his face, Williams asked, “Did I tell you they were using it as a pasture to graze mules when we first went in there?”

For several decades, Elmo, a retired Hollywood director, and his late wife, Lorraine, along with a small army of volunteers, transformed Azalea Park from an overgrown, neglected piece of property into the beloved city park that now serves as the backdrop for local festivals, afternoon games of catch, and family picnics.


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