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County public forums scheduled

Curry County Commissioner Susan Brown will continue to gauge the public’s opinion and educate people on an array of topics — from consolidating taxing districts to the county’s budget — during a flurry of 15 meetings in three weeks beginning July 27.

“The winter community survey results made one thing clear,” she wrote in a press release. “The public wants to be involved in county decisions. And they should.”

Brown is leading the county strategic planning process, and is beginning the outreach forums to solicit ideas and educate people about how taxing districts work, the county’s budget and funding, and the results of her study, among other issues.

“It’s time for a change; it’s time to listen,” Brown said. “We need to come together as a county and work on solutions that make sense for our citizens and our government.”


Officials: Prepare for really big one

A recent swarm of quakes and quake-related news articles — particularly one in the most recent edition of the New Yorker magazine — has coastal residents and officials talking about “The Really Big One” should the Cascadia Fault beneath us slip.

And a magnitude 9.0 quake on the Cascadia Fault could produce the worst natural disaster in the history of America, experts predict.

The most recent swarm of quakes hit last month along the Southern Oregon Coast, measuring magnitudes of 3.9 to 5.9, but did not trigger any tsunamis. Most people didn’t even feel them.


Gold Beach Police at full strength


Gold Beach Mayor Carl Popoff welcomes newly-hired police officer Cheyene Alexander during a swearing in ceremony at city hall Monday.

The Gold Beach Police Department this week swore in its newest officer, Cheyene Alexander, filling the department’s last remaining position after being short-staffed for about a year.

Alexander, a former Charleston, South Carolina, resident, has lived in Gold Beach for two years. He took his oath of office during Monday’s Gold Beach City Council meeting  and will start training at the police academy this October.

“I’m already out there working,” Alexander said. “Now, I’m working in a team with an FTO (Field Training Officer). After the academy, I can fly solo.”


No more Evergreen bears for Brookings


The Evergreen bears are rounded up in Brookings last year to be transported back to Grants Pass.

Brookings City Councilor Kelly McClain was beyond upset when he learned this week that Evergreen Federal Bank will no longer be bringing its whimsical bears to town.

“I was very disappointed,” he said. “Very, very disappointed. I just think they add a lot of character to town.”

According to the bank’s marketing coordinator, Melissa Vierra, the BearFest Bears are in need of repair and didn’t weather well in Curry County’s salt air. A bear visit is, however, planned for 2016, but their placement will be limited to the area around the bank on Frontage Road along Chetco Avenue.


State curtails fishing on rivers to protect fish amid drought

SALEM — In a sweeping move to protect fish amid ongoing drought and high air and water temperatures, Oregon fish and wildlife officials announced Thursday some stretches of rivers will be closed to angling indefinitely and some rivers after 2 p.m. starting today (July 18).

Low stream flows and high water temperatures due in part to a record-low winter snowpack have already led to fish deaths, leading the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to announce the closures this week.


CHN awaits decision on ER for Brookings

Curry Health Network CEO Ginny Razo is crossing her fingers until next Tuesday, when the Oregon Health Authority is expected to make permanent the rule allowing Curry General Hospital to split its license so its clinic in Brookings can have an emergency room.

“It’ll be a huge relief to get that signed,” Razo said during an update of construction projects the hospital district is undertaking. “It paves the path for other counties. And right now, we’ve invested a lot of (money) in hopes this will pass.”

The temporary rule change allows hospitals in rural areas to have free-standing emergency departments in cities within their own county. Currently, state law says hospitals and their ERs in rural areas cannot be situated within 30 miles of one another. 


Weekend kite festival returns

File photo

This weekend marks the 23rd anniversary of a Brookings-Harbor tradition: the Southern Oregon Kite Festival, which draws thousands of visitors each year, some traveling from as far as Grants Pass, Medford and Humboldt County. 

The highlight of the free event features performances by skilled kite flyers, demonstrating choreographed routines set to music. There will also be food and product vendors, and children’s activities.

Most of the activities will happen from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, when hundreds of people are expected to bring their lawn chairs and blankets to the kite field at the Port of Brookings Harbor, adjacent to the Beachfront RV Park.

Activities on Friday include a public kite-flying class at the kite field from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Participants can learn how to fly single, dual and quad-line kites.

At 7:30 p.m. Friday, an indoor kite-flying demonstration is schedule at the Brookings-Harbor High School gym.  

“People always think you need wind to fly kites, but that’s not the case,” said Emily Grimes, media liaison for the festival. 


Brookings considers 3 percent pot tax

The Brookings City Council might put a question on next May’s ballot asking voters to implement a 3 percent tax on the sale of recreational marijuana, it decided in a meeting Monday night.

But first, it needs a reason for the revenue it would generate, said Mayor Ron Hedenskog.

“I don’t see anything wrong (with a tax),” he said. “But we need a plan. I can’t just take money, throw it in the general fund and have a party.”

He suggested any tax money fund the numerous parks and recreation projects the city would like to pursue.

“This is a slippery slope,” said Councilor Brent Hodges. “If we start over-taxing things, it’s just going to push it into the black market. It would be ironic if we could fund our Sheriff’s Office with tax revenue from recreational marijuana.”


Study: County population to remain stagnant

The number of residents in Curry County is likely to remain the same for the next 50 years, if a forecast by Portland State University’s Population Research Center is accurate. 

The university recently released its Coordinated Population Forecast for 2015-2065, including birth and death trends, population age trends and immigration trends.

Brookings Mayor Ron Hedenskog doesn’t think that’s a bad thing.

“We always talk about being pro-growth and getting more people and more everything,” he said. “But some studies say growth in a community might cost you more than it gets you. I think the ideal way would be very slow, methodical and well-planned growth. That’s healthiest. This will satisfy people who want to see growth and people who don’t want to see growth.”


Water thefts spike as drought continues

Chetco River flow have remained steady around 56 cubic feet per second this month — still the lowest in the history of record-keeping — but wells outside of water districts are starting to dry up — and people have been reported to be stealing water from city facilities and other customers.

“We have two locations on our distribution system where we have authorized ODOT, the county road department and individual contractors to draw water through a hydrant-mounted meter,” said City Manager Gary Milliman. “It is a violation of the Brookings Municipal Code for any unauthorized person to access a city-owned fire hydrant. Drought conditions may be pressing some unincorporated area-residents who rely upon well water to seek emergency water supply alternatives.”

He said he has received calls from county residents fearing their wells will run dry; he refers them to County Emergency Services Director Don Kendall — or to a bulk water delivery service in Bandon.

Wells don’t usually start to go dry — if at all — until September or October, and then the rainy season usually begins and replenishes them.


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