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Wildfire Update: The battles continues

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A firefighter Tuesday ignites vegetation to create a containment line ahead of the Collier Butte Fire east of Gold Beach.

About 150 wildland firefighters have been relocated from the Collier Butte Fire east of Gold Beach to other fires throughout the West as fires threaten communities in what many officials are calling the worst wildfire season on record.

Almost 100 uncontained fires rage throughout the nation, stretching thin crews, helicopters and planes, water tenders and support personnel. Other fires are in need of vast numbers of resources to protect lives and homes, and crews and aircraft are being reassigned to protect them.

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King gets 46 years for sexual assault

Lorenzo Ignacio King will be almost 90 years old when he is released from prison, after a judge Monday sentenced him to 46 years in prison, with no chance for early release, for sexually assaulting a Brookings woman in June 2014.

A jury last month found King guilty on three counts of sodomy, two of unlawful penetration, two of sexual abuse, coercion, felon in possession of a firearm, assault, strangulation and menacing, according to Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Victoria Roe.

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Independent Party becomes Oregonís third

SALEM — The Independent Party of Oregon became the state’s newest major political party alongside Democrats and Republicans on Monday and is already generating buzz with at least one potential statewide candidate.

The announcement that the party was certified as the state’s new major party came Monday from Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins after the party’s membership ballooned since its founding in 2007. Voter registration with the two major parties has slowed and many voters have remained unaffiliated with any political party.

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Pair linked to stolen Elks Lodge flags

Flags stolen from the Brookings Elks Lodge were returned safely Tuesday and two people have been arrested for the crime, authorities said.

“It’s amazing. The police were able to find the thieves and the flags within 24 hours of reporting it,” said Robin Holmes, exalted ruler for the Brookings Elks. 

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Wild Rivers Music Festival: Building an event

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Local musicians check the sound equipment Friday evening.

Creating this weekend’s first-ever Wild Rivers Music Festival in Brookings during a lean economy was no easy feat, organizers said.

It has involved a year’s worth of planning and the support of the city, business sponsors and a community willing to invest in an idea dreamed up by a core group of music lovers.

“Initially it was quite an intimidating project to consider doing,” said festival chairman Gordon Later, who was also in charge of setting up the festival site at Azalea Park. 

“As time progressed and the pieces came together, we could see the idea would work. The community was excited from the get-go and has been extremely supportive,” Later said.

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Professionals perform at 2-day event

A year in planning, the Wild Rivers Music Festival kicks off at 10 a.m. today (Aug. 15) and continues through Sunday, bringing an eclectic mix of progressive folk rock, bluegrass and Americana artists to Brookings’ Azalea Park.

Brookings’ first professional music festival — 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday — features headliners Hot Buttered Rum and T Sisters, as well as festival favorites Dead Winter Ramblers, Moon Mountain Ramblers, Achilles Wheel, Supermule and Patchy Sanders. Music starts at 11 a.m. both days.

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Light rain little help for firefighters

The precipitation that misted the southern end of Oregon Thursday night proved to be a double-edged sword for the firefighters battling the Collier Ridge Fire in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.

“It’s helpful,” said U.S. Forest Service public information officer Richard Reuse. “It slows things down. However, the operations people would like to be doing burnout operations, and when you get moisture. … it’s helpful, but it can cause some difficulty for them.”

The fire ignited when a dry lightning storm moved through the area Aug. 2, sparking a wildfire that has burned 5,181 acres in steep, rugged terrain filled with snags left by the Biscuit Fire of 2002. It is 15 percent contained, which means fire crews have put in place 15 percent of the lines in which they hope to hold the fire. 

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Bad water solution: move sandbar

All that stands between Harbor and fresh drinking water is a sandbar.

But moving it could take an act of the governor or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife agency.

“We’ve been working with the city, the county, the governor’s office to rectify this,” Harbor Water Superintendent Dave Van Cleave told the board at its regular meeting Thursday evening, regarding the saltwater intrusion into the community’s water system this summer.

“And we have another high tide at the end of the month,” he added, “so we’re probably looking at it again unless we get rain or get something done with this river.”

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City enters second round of disaster funding competition

Brookings City Manager Gary Milliman announced at a county forum last week that the city has progressed to the second phase of a competition to get emergency funding for natural disasters. 

Oregon was selected earlier this year as a finalist in the National Disaster Resilience Competition, in which cities from all around the United States vie for part of a nearly $1 billion fund to help prepare for natural disasters. After the first round of the competition, in which all U.S. states and several individual communities were invited to participate, the competitors have been narrowed down to 14 municipal and 26 state governments. The remaining applicants will now propose a series of projects to help secure their cities in case of a disaster.

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Vehicle overturns on 101

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A late model Lexus SUV collided with a tree and rolled down the embankment of the southbound lane of Highway 101 near Martin Ranch Road.

A Brookings couple escaped with minor injuries after rolling their vehicle on Highway 101 north of Brookings this afternoon. 
Emergency crews responded to the accident around 1:45 p.m. on Highway 101 at Martin Ranch Road where a car rolled over, trapping two inside. 

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