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Pesticide movie 'Drift' sparks discussion among Curry County residents

All the residents of Cedar Valley want is buffers from aerial sprays to homes, schools and waterways.

And they just can’t seem to get legislators to realize that human lives are more important than the value of a tree, said Kathryn Rickard, a resident who was severely burned by a chemical herbicide illegally sprayed over her home in October 2013.

She was among 45 people who attended the documentary “Drift: A Community Seeking Justice,” a movie created by a group of University of Oregon environmental law students who spent most of the past year talking with those who fell ill — and in many cases, are still sick — after the spraying.


Scoutís project brings dog park to Brookings

Scouts Spencer Loring, left, and Ethan Warner put the finishing touches on the dog park at Brookings Stout Park last week.

The often-ignored northeast corner of Stout Park will soon be the city’s first dog park — thanks to a little help from Brookings-Harbor High School student Spencer Loring.

Loring, a sophomore at Brookings-Harbor High School, was looking for a project to complete his Eagle Scout requirements, and asked Parks Director Tony Baron if he had any projects that needed work.

“My brother had done his project with the city too,” Loring said. “I talked to the city and Tony suggested this idea.”


Brookings resident Betty Jean Wait is Azalea Festival grand marshal

Betty Jean Waite will be featured during several festival events.

As Brookings’ 76th annual Azalea Festival unfolds this weekend, people find plenty of opportunities to meet this year’s festival grand marshal: Betty Jean Waite.

“I’m not one for the limelight,” Waite admits. “But I’m doing this for all the kids I’ve had in the classroom.”

Community members and former students came together with an overwhelming show of support for Waite as grand marshal.

“We had at least 100 nominations this year for Betty Jean,” said Arlis Steele, CEO of the Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber coordinates the Azalea Festival.


Brookings voters approve gasoline tax

People will pay 4 more cents per gallon of fuel — but drive on well-maintained streets — since Brookings voters approved Measure 8-80 Tuesday night.

The measure won, 1,009 to 582, or 63.7 to 36.6 percent. Voter count totalled 1,591.

“Is this exciting or what?” exclaimed Brookings Councilor Kelly McClain, who with Hedenskog promoted the levy. “I cannot believe. … This shows the people of Brookings are paying attention. Unbelievable. This is awesome. It feels excellent. This is so good for the city — so good for the city. And I’m so glad for the mayor. We worked well together on this one.”

“That’s great; that’s really good news,” said Brookings City Manager Gary Milliman when he heard the news “I’m not good at predicting elections, and it was hard to tell. We put our information out, but we didn’t really receive any inquiries to speak of, so it appears people understood the information we provided and felt it was a good way to go.”


Davis, Thompson win positions on Brookings port commission

The anti-annexation campaign paid off for Roger Thompson, who replaced incumbent Jim Relaford on the Port of Brookings Harbor board of commissioners in Tuesday’s election.

Thompson defeated Relaford by a margin of 29.9 percent while incumbent board members Roy Davis, who also opposes annexation, defeated challenger Skip Watwood by a margin of 28.5 percent. 

Thompson, a Harbor native who spent his career managing sawmills around the Pacific Northwest, made it clear he is against annexation, and that his main interest is developing tourism at the port.

“I think I can help a lot with my background in business and the tourism industry,” Thompson said. “I think I bring a lot to the table with my many years of experience in other places. I understand business and tourism, and I can help with that at the port.” 


Voters reject Sheriff's split-rate tax


Measure 8-81, asking voters to fund the sheriff’s office for the next three years, was defeated by more than 1,000 votes in the May 19 election Tuesday.

Election returns showed it was defeated 3,916 to 2,926, or 57.2 to 42.7 percent. Voter turnout totaled 6,842 out of 13,043.

“It would be an understatement to say we’re disappointed with the results,” said Sheriff John Ward, from a gathering to celebrate proponents’ work on the measure. “I thought it would be a little bit closer. But the majority of citizens who voted have made the decision not to support the level of law enforcement and public safety needed for the safety of our county.”

“It’s pretty somber up here at the sheriff’s party,” said Brookings Mayor Ron Hedenskog, who worked with Ward to promote the measure and was at the party to watch the returns. 


No drought relief in sight

As of Friday, the Chetco River, just east of the bridge, was flowing at a record low for this time of year.

The warmest winter on record in the United States combined with almost no snowpack in Western states will likely result in a summer of early and large fires, low rivers and the continuation of what is now being called a “mega-drought,” officials in various fields agree.

Curry County officials say it’s too early to predict how the drought will impact the region, but they are keeping an eye on local river levels and water supplies.

“We’ll monitor the (river) flow and encourage people to conserve as it declines,” said Brookings City Manager Gary Milliman.


County owns 900 parcels of land

Curry County commissioners agreed last week to create another committee, this one to identify the numerous parcels of land the county owns and decide what to do with them.

According to Economic Development Director Julie Schmelzer, the county has more than 900 parcels of property —  most through foreclosures — that it not only doesn’t know it has, but could sell for much-needed money.

She said a woman had come to her office a few weeks ago to complain that people kept walking on the property adjacent to hers and that she was unable to do anything about. The woman said she was told the land was owned by the Nature Conservancy, but she thought the county owned it.


New hospital hangs on conditions

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given Curry Health District (CHD) 60 days to meet numerous conditions to secure a $19 million loan to make up the $29 million balance to build a new hospital in Gold Beach.

“There were many,” said CHD’s new CEO Ginny Razo. “Some are financially related, some were environmental mitigation conditions. … Others (address) if we uncover a burial ground, sacred ground, contaminated soil.”

She added, “We’re working to meet all the conditions of that letter. We fully expect to get the funding.”


Gold Beach school district begins search for new chief

The Central Curry School District has begun the search for an interim superintendent following the resignation of superintendent Dennis Johnson, effective at the end of the school year.

The school board hopes to have an interim superintendent in place by July 1.

“I could see us interviewing someone as early as next week,” said school board member Greg Marstall. 


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