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County lodging tax on hold

Curry County commissioners agreed Wednesday to research more information about transient lodging taxes, discuss their findings at a later workshop and postpone any idea of trying to get a question on the May 19 ballot.

Commissioner Susan Brown has been trying since she was sworn onto the board in 2014 to examine implementing a transient lodging tax (TLT) on hotels, inns and other places to help offset some of the $3.5 million shortfall the county faces since timber subsidies ended last year.

The state charges a 1 percent lodging tax, and with numbers from 2013, and using a hypothetical 6 percent tax, Brown determined the county could gross $613,000. By state law, 70 percent of that goes to tourism efforts, 25 percent goes to the county’s general fund and the remaining 5 percent reimburses lodge owners for collecting the tax.

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Oregon Governor Kitzhaber resigns

 

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Gov. John Kitzhaber

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber today announced his resignation, effective next Wednesday, Feb. 18, amid a growing ethics scandal involving his fiancee, a green-energy consultant suspected of using their relationship to land contracts for her business.

“I am announcing today that I will resign as Governor of the State of Oregon,” he wrote in a statement released today.

The Pilot will report more details as they come in. Meanwhile, here is a copy of Kitzhaber’s resignation letter:

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Thousand redwoods headed to southern Oregon Coast

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David Milarch holds one of 250 clone saplings that were planted in 2012 in Port Orford.

A thousand redwood saplings are headed from Michigan to the southern Oregon coast in hopes of staying a step ahead of climate change and keeping the species alive.

These aren’t your average redwood trees. They’re clones from 50 different champion 2,000-3,000-year-old coastal redwood trees that David Milarch, co-founder of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, propagated from the tips of branches, including sprouts growing from the stump of a tree cut down 123 years ago.

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Sheriff’s law levy ready for review

Curry County Attorney Jerry Herbage has drafted wording for a tax measure that commissioners will consider placing on the May 19 ballot to increase property taxes to pay for the financially-strapped sheriff’s department.

The proposed tax rate increases, crafted by a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) under the direction of Sheriff John Ward, would be $1.34 per $1,000 assessed valuation for those living in the cities and $2.52 per $1,000 valuation for those living in unincorporated Curry County.

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New digs for online program students

For the last year and a half, students in the Brookings-Harbor School District have had the choice of taking some or all of their classes through an online program called OPTIONS. Now, students of the program have a newly remodeled building in which they can work. 

The public will have a chance to view the students at work and tour the new facility, located at 564 Fern St during an open house at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Refreshments will be provided, and visitors can park in the lot near the high school track.

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GB voters to decide fire truck levy

Gold Beach city councilors decided Monday to ask voters again to decide a fire truck levy to be placed on the city’s May 19 ballot.

In November 2014, voters rejected a similar levy to purchase a new fire truck 427 to 382. 

If the latest levy passes, the city would allot $60,000 per year from taxes for the next seven years toward a new fire truck. New trucks usually cost between $400,000 and $700,000. 

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Lessons in environmental justice

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University students visiting Curry County film and interview Cedar Valley resident Katheryn Rickard for a documentary about the chemical spraying of herbicides in the residential area near Gold Beach.

Nick Sanchez is on a mission — and he’s ready to fight the state to accomplish it.

The University of Oregon student came to Curry County last year to hear the stories of Cedar Creek residents who were sprayed by herbicides in a timber operation in October 2013 — and he came away determined to spread the word and help change state law that seemingly turns a blind eye.

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Sheriff’s tax proposal on hold

Curry County commissioners postponed a decision to place a law enforcement tax hike on the May 19 ballot Wednesday, citing their need for more time to discuss the issue. 

But Sheriff John Ward doesn’t have more time, he said.

His Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) has held five public meetings in which they debated at length a realistic level of law enforcement Ward needs to keep his community safe. In the end, they recommended Ward ask the Curry County Board of Commissioners to place on the ballot a question asking voters for a property tax increase of $1.34 per $1,000 assessed valuation for those living in the cities and $2.52 per $1,000 for those in unincorporated Curry County. The three-year tax is the first step toward the creation of a special district for law enforcement.

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No sign of measles in Curry County

Oregon has been host to only one person with the measles — a Lane County man who was among those who caught it at Disneyland last month — and health officials want it to stay that way.

In recent years, the virus has taken its toll across the United States as parents have opted out of vaccinations for their children, citing philosophical and religious reasons.

In Oregon, a total of 17 people were diagnosed with measles from 2000 to 2012, but there were six in 2013 and five last year.

Nationwide, 644 people contracted the disease last year — the largest single-year count since 1994. This year, 68 cases have been reported nationwide.

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Jail decision has GB manager fuming

Gold Beach residents and officials are seeing first-hand the impacts of the county’s financial problems in that a jail with a reduced number of beds is resulting in an increased number of released prisoners on the streets.

City Administrator Jodi Fritts is angry that Sheriff John Ward created a matrix by which his deputies determine who will be held in the county jail and who will be released. Ward implemented the matrix, which keeps the worst offenders in jail but releases the least dangerous, in an attempt to stretch his limited dollars to the end of the fiscal year, June 30.

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