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Board rejects annexation idea

The Port of Brookings Harbor Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted 3-2 to reject a motion to apply for annexation to the city of Brookings.

The decision came after the board took questions and heard concerns from a packed — and often emotionally charged — audience of more than 80 people.

Port Commissioner Jim Relaford, who first proposed the idea of annexation at the board’s October’s meeting, voted in favor of the application, along with Commissioner Tim Patterson. However, commissioners Sue Gold, Roy Davis and Mike Manning all voted against it.


For the birds

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter delivers a tote to Goat Island Monday to collect research gear.

 Wildlife officials conducting a summertime bird study off the coast of Brookings wrapped up their project with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard and one its helicopters.

The activity Monday afternoon at Goat Island, located just off Harris Beach State Park, caught the attention of keen observers who spotted the orange H-65 Dolphin helicopter hovering above its rocky surface.

Starting around 11 a.m., the helicopter transported four Coast Guardsmen and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist from the Brookings airport to the island. Once there, they packed up several deep-cycle batteries that had powered research gear. 


Brookings’ Petersen dies in fiery crash

Brookings resident Kathleen Petersen died in a fiery crash on Interstate 5 near Grants Pass Nov. 13 when the car she was driving the wrong way on the freeway hit a semi-truck head on, according to the Oregon State Police.

The semi-truck caught fire and burned at the scene, blocking the freeway for several hours. The driver, Jose Garcia, 41 of Compton, California, escaped with a broken arm and other unknown injuries.

Petersen, 64, was pronounced dead at the scene, OSP reported.


Drought blamed for bear activity

This summer’s drought has resulted in a widespread failure in the acorn crop which in turn has bears rummaging for food in residential garbage cans.

“We were getting calls from people who had them in the apple trees, and now the apples are over and they’re into garbage,” said Curtis Edwards, assistant wildlife biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Usually this time of year, I don’t get that many calls, but this year, they’re everywhere.”

The agency has been receiving numerous calls in the past month — five alone, on one day — from people spotting bears near their homes or in their garbage.


Passage of bill paves way for vote on timber management

WASHINGTON — The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as approved Sen. Ron Wyden’s O&C lands bill, opening the door for a possible vote on the new timber management plan for a huge swath of Western Oregon before a new Congress is sworn in January.

Wyden’s plan for the 2-million plus acres of forestland once slated for the development of an interstate railroad between Oregon and California — known as the O&C lands — would divide the area into two sections. One, roughly 1.6 million acres, would be set aside for conservation of old growth forests, while the remaining 1.2 million acres would be open to logging under an “ecological forestry” model designed for sustainability.


Bear Camp: Road of opportunity for Curry?

Julie Schmelzer is thinking big — really big.

The county’s new economic development director recently took a tour of the Rogue River Valley, all the while wondering if the narrow, dirt Bear Camp Road could someday, somehow become a highway, opening up the coast to economic growth.

Commissioner David Itzen had approached her with the idea as part of his original plans to make emergency access from the coast to the inland valleys a top priority had he been re-elected in the November election.


Salmon spawning: A November tradition

ODFW Salmon/Trout Enhancement Program Biologist John Weber sends a Chinook on its way after it’s released from the spawning program. The public is invited to stop by the Indian Creek Fish Hatchery to observe spawning activity.

Every year in early November, officials and volunteers at the Indian Creek Fish Hatchery begin a lengthy 10-month process of spawning approximately 100,000 king salmon that will eventually be released into the Rogue River.

The hatchery, which is one of the few all volunteer hatcheries remaining in the United States, kicked off it’s spawning season on Wednesday with what they dubbed as, “The largest birthday party in Curry County,” where upwards of 35,000 salmon eggs began the spawning process. 

In addition to Wednesday’s opening of the spawning season, the hatchery plans to process another 35,000 eggs starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, and again at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 25. The public is welcome to observe. The hatchery’s goal is to bring the total number of spawned eggs to well over 100,000 to replenish and maintain king salmon populations along the Rogue River and surrounding creeks. 


Sheriff pursues public safety tax district

Sheriff John Ward

Sheriff John Ward is only a month on the job, and already he’s crafting plans to help the sheriff’s office survive the county’s fiscal crisis.

Top of his list is the possible formation of a special tax district — much like libraries, fire, cemetery and sanitation districts — to support the sheriff’s office, jail and patrol services.

“Public safety has to be the No. 1 priority in the county,” Ward said. “It has to be at the forefront. And the hub of public safety is our jail. Without a jail, you just cite them, and out the door they go.”

In response to the county’s dwindling funds, he’s reduced the number of jail beds to 25 by closing a women’s cell in the basement of the Gold Beach facility.


Funds for damaged port unlikely

The Oct. 25 storm that generated 80- to 100-mph winds and 28-foot-tall waves caused about $170,000 in damage to Port of Port Orford dock and buildings, said Port Commissioner Sam Scaffo.

The storm also caused an estimated $7 million damage to a seawall protecting the dock, and filled in much of the recently dredged area around it, Scaffo said. 

Even so, the $170,000 damage estimate, when combined with storm damage reported in other Oregon counties ($700,000), falls short of the $5.4 million threshold necessary to trigger state emergency funding. 

Port and Curry County officials gathered Tuesday to review the damage and plan for repairs caused by the storm, described by Port Commissioner Dave Bassett as “a low pressure system that parked itself right on top of us.”


Residents protest impending closure of post office

At 8:45 a.m. on Monday, Barbara Van Cleave set up a small table outside the Harbor post office with a petition form and a handwritten sign saying “Save Our Post Office.”

“I don’t know how much good it will do,” Van Cleave said. “But I’m trying to be the squeaky wheel.”

By 3 p.m., she had collected more than 350 signatures, and almost every person exiting the post office stopped to sign the petition.

Upon hearing that the Harbor post office would close come January 23, a group of 15 citizens gathered quickly this week at the Sea View Retirement Community.


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