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Loan delay may benefit hospital

Curry Health Network officials continue to work closely with the USDA to obtain a $10 million loan to build a new hospital in Gold Beach.

The process is taking longer than originally expected, but hospital officials hope to get final approval by the end of February or mid-March.

“We’ve had to jump through a few more hoops, and we’re expecting a final list of questions from the USDA later this week, but everything looks good,” said health network interim CEO Wayne Hellerstedt.

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Bill could affect Curry land use rules

A bill to be proposed in the next state legislative session could give Curry County more local control in its business development plans by allowing it and other counties to opt out of the statewide land-use planning system in 2015.

The proposal would allow counties with populations of less than 50,000 that experienced little to no growth since the last census to opt out of state land use regulations. The theory is that other uses could be put on lands for which that use might not otherwise be designated. 

Some zoning, for instance, mandates that farm land with even one water right can only be used for farmland, thus removing all other uses on the land — and any possible financial benefit to the landowner.

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Outreach store, shelter closes

The Shabby to Chic thrift store in Brookings has been sold after doing business there for about six years.

The closing was expected to take place last week. It is unknown who the new owners are or what plans they might have for the building at the corner of Center and Chetco avenues.

The two-story building featured a thrift store downstairs that helped fund Outreach Gospel Mission in Harbor; upstairs had three bedrooms available for women seeking temporary housing.

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Funds from New Year’s Eve dance will help fix fairground’s leaky roof

Ron Crook hopes the public wants to cut a rug for a new roof.

And with that thought in mind, the manager of the Curry County fairgrounds is inviting everyone to the annual New Year’s Eve Dance Party featuring the Ferguson Brothers, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Dec. 31.

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Another round of tsunami debris

Scientists are preparing for another onslaught of debris washing ashore this winter from Japan — almost four years after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the island.

And this time, researchers are treating the debris as a concern; it’s one thing to have, say, a refrigerator bob in the waves and make it onto the beach. It’s quite another to see what’s clinging to it, in the form of invasive mussels and other critters native to Asian waters, said John Chapman, a marine invasive species specialist at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

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Residents brainstorm rec center ideas

A group of about 40 citizens Wednesday night brainstormed ideas for a proposed community recreation center, where it could be located and, arguably most importantly, how it would be funded.

The group broke into five groups to discuss the idea: they included Stakeholders, Funding, Programming, Outreach and Sites.

“This is a community project,” said Juliane Leighton, a local physician and chairman of Friends of Brookings Harbor Aquatic Center (FBHAC). “The more involvement we have with the community, the more successful we’ll be.”

FBHAC members have been toying with the idea of a community swimming pool for about five years.

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Grant helps deputies target drunk motorists

The Curry County Sheriff’s Office has received a $10,000 grant to increase its visibility and reduce the number of drunk and distracted drivers on the road.

The grant, awarded by the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association, the Oregon Department of Transportation and the National Highway Transportation Administration, started today (Dec. 13). It will be applied for extra coverage on holidays, holiday weekends and other dates when high traffic is anticipated throughout 2015.

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Tax drop for Brookings property owners

Property owners in Brookings will see their taxes go down next year since the city paid off its last General Obligation bond, it was announced in a city council meeting Monday night.

The owner of a home assessed at $200,000 will see a $52.70 reduction on this year’s taxes, said Mayor Ron Hedenskog. It is the first time in more than 40 years that the city has had no property tax rate for bonded indebtedness. The last payment was made this month.

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Gold Beach mulls marijuana issues

After the November election, in which Oregon voted to legalize recreational marijuana, the city of Gold Beach will have to two topics to revisit: medical marijuana dispensaries, and the sale of recreational marijuana.

As of now, Gold Beach has a moratorium on medicinal marijuana, which ends on May 1. The state of Oregon allowed cities to pass a temporary moratorium on regulating dispensaries in their areas in order to give them time to determine whether they wanted to regulate the distribution of medical marijuana. 

During the moratorium period, cities can either take no action, and continue to enforce state rules within the city, or begin to regulate sales of medical marijuana through dispensaries. At the end of the period, the city has to pass an ordinance on whether to regulate sales of medical marijuana.

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Storm thrashes coast with high winds, power outages

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High tide and large storm waves attract visitors to Lone Ranch Beach north of Brookings on Thursday.
 

By this morning, the storm clouds have likely parted, the sun is shining and Curry County residents are breathing a sign of relief that the storm didn’t turn out as badly as originally forecast.

“Your area kind of dodged a bullet. It’s a bit of a mystery as to why the winds were not a high at the coast as they were inland,” said National Weather Service (NWS) Meteorologist Ryan Sandler.

The cities of Medford and Ashland reported major wind damage and up to 16,000 people without power at the height of the storm early Thursday morning. Winds gusts of up to 80 mph were reported in Ashland. Grants Pass, which is nestled against the mountains, escaped major damage, Sandler said. 

For reasons yet to be determined, Sandler said Curry County escaped the brunt of the wind — the NWS had initially forecast winds of 50 to 60 mphs with gusts of more than 100 mph along the headlands.

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