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County running out of money

The county has scrimped and saved enough money that, with taxes and other revenue, it might be able to eke its way to June 30, 2016.

But then it’s over, County Accountant Gary Short told Curry County commissioners in an overview of the county’s fiscal status Wednesday morning.

Budget talks have begun throughout the state, and Curry County is particularly challenged, Short noted during the workshop. There is little revenue, many unknowns — and a May tax question that could at least save public safety in the county.

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Volunteers help with taxes

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Submitted photo State AARP Tax Aide coordinator Bill Ensign, middle, honors two Brookings volunteers for their many years of service. Joanne Wasbauer, right, has been in the program for 20 years; Barbara Wright for 24 years.

Doing taxes — with the myriad of forms and complex questions — can be a major source of stress for many people, but a small group of volunteers at the Chetco Activity Center are ready to help — for free.

The AARP Foundation’s Tax Aide program, which is run out of the Chetco Activity Center, provides tax aid service for low- to medium-income people. The number of clients helped last year was 860, officials said.

The Activity Center has provided this service to the Brookings area since the late 1980s, and trains volunteers to assist citizens in preparing their tax returns. The program, which operates by appointment only, begins accepting clients in mid-January, and volunteers begin working on tax returns the first weekend in February through April 15. Open Tuesday through Friday from 1 to 4 p.m. and every other Saturday, the program is busy and appointments fill up quickly.

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Changes for Hospice, rummage activities

For at least a decade, bargain hunters have flocked to the super-sized, semi-annual rummage sales in Gold Beach presented by the Curry Home Health and Hospice.

That’s all about to change.

The building on the north bank of the Rogue River that Hospice traditionally uses for the rummage sales is going to be sold (the hospice leases the building), and the nonprofit is looking for a new location, said Hospice Executive Director Ed Charlton.

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Group busy on special district for public safety

Curry County Sheriff John Ward’s Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) regrouped Wednesday in Gold Beach, this time to start the process of creating a special district for county public safety.

Discussion is based on the assumption that voters will approve Measure 8-81 on May 19, which asks to increase property taxes for three years to provide law enforcement in Curry county and give the CAC enough time to create the special taxing district separate from county operations.

Ideally, they’d like to have the district — operations, a board overseeing it and numerous other elements — crafted by October, so a measure to make it official can be put on a ballot next May.

Ward’s department and the jail are the major players affected by the county’s revenue shortfall that came to a head last year when timber revenues were discontinued. In recent years, voters have rejected every property tax ballot measure to fill that shortfall, which in 2012 forced county commissioners to spin off entire departments to nonprofit organizations.

The CAC first met late last year to determine how to create a special district, but immediately learned it would need much more time to do so.

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Manhunt suspect: I’m not the guy

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A law officer stands guard outside Smith River School Tuesday as a precaution while other authorities search for a suspect in the surrounding neighborhood.

A man who was the target of an ongoing Smith River manhunt stemming from a high speed car chase contacted authorities Tuesday evening to tell them that he’s not the man they’re looking for.

Daniel Buchert, 41, of Crescent City, got in touch with the Del Norte Sheriff’s Office after seeing his name pop up on social media, to tell them that he wasn’t involved in Monday’s car chase and manhunt nor the subsequent search Tuesday afternoon that briefly caused the lockdown of Smith River School.

According to Sheriff’s Commander Tim Athey, Buchert came to the station voluntarily and was being interviewed by sheriff’s investigators. 

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Brookings PD officer injured in car chase

A 29-year-old Crescent City man faces charges of attempted aggravated murder after he allegedly hit a Brookings Police officer with his car, breaking his leg, during a car chase Sunday night.

According to Oregon State Police (OSP) reports, officers Zane Van Zelf and Gavin McVay were each trying to pull over a vehicle driven by Marshall B. Randall on a traffic infraction at 11 p.m. Sunday when he led them on a chase north through Brookings to House Rock Road.

The officers were forced to fire at Randall when he backtracked on the dead-end road, striking Van Zelf with his silver 1982 Honda en route.

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PenAir is sole air carrier

CRESCENT CITY — Crescent City travelers will soon be Portland-bound. 

Having pitched two northbound flights a day out of Crescent City, PenAir won the approval of the local airport authority this week and stands to be the only carrier considered by the U.S. Department of Transportation to take over area skies. 

The Border Coast Regional Airport Authority Board reached a unanimous decision at its Thursday meeting to back PenAir’s proposal as the airport’s best fit. 

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A hitch in Huxley’s campaign pledge

Curry County Commissioner Tom Huxley’s effort to keep a campaign promise could result in the elimination of medical insurance for about half the county’s employees, it was learned in a workshop Tuesday morning.

Huxley, who swept Commissioner David Itzen out of office last November, stumped on the campaign trail that he would take only a $10,000 salary and opt out of health insurance and retirement benefits.

But doing so, he learned in January, proved to be much more difficult than expected, he said.

“In my wildest dreams, I never imagined it would be so difficult to not accept wages and benefits totaling approximately $350,000 over a period of four years from a county teetering on financial collapse,” Huxley said. 

He added that he thinks a “creative solution” can be found, although he didn’t expand on that idea.

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Suspect seen on foot with rifle in Smith River

The armed subject from yesterday’s Smith River police search was spotted at 11:55 a.m. this morning walking in the area of Java Hut Express and the First Baptist Church near Highway 101 in Smith River. He was believed to be carrying a long rifle and wearing a red sweatshirt, according to police scanner reports.

Authorities are responding and Smith River school was placed on lockdown at approximately noon.

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Chase and shooting under investigation

Shots were fired by Brookings Police officers and an officer was struck by a fleeing car during an incident north of Brookings overnight.

Oregon State Police issued the following statement Monday morning:

The Curry County Major Crimes Team is investigating a pursuit which included an officer involved shooting last night on House Rock View Point Road, north of Brookings in Curry County. 
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