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Sen. Kruse denounces residents

If the citizens of Cedar Valley — illegally sprayed with herbicides in October of 2013 — felt invalidated and ignored after a settlement with the aerial sprayer was announced last week, they were even more stunned Tuesday when State Sen. Jeff Kruse (R) denounced their characters, as well.

His statement came during the third hearing of House Bill 3549 — the so-called baby buffer bill — that would require pilots to avoid homes and schools when they spray poisonous chemicals.

“Those people of the South Coast who complained,” Kruse said, “I know for a fact that the chemicals sprayed could, in no way, shape or form, could have caused the reactions they (said they) caused.

“I also know, those people have a long history of substances and adult beverages that might have contributed to it,” he added. “The two chemicals sprayed did not cause the reactions they have, could not have killed their dogs. They were herbicides; I know this for an absolute fact.” 

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Schafer sentenced

Marlyn Schafer was sentenced to 20 days under house arrest, two years of probation and fined $4,000 last week after a jury found her guilty of first-degree forgery, second-degree forgery, first-degree theft, second-degree theft and computer crime.

The Wedderburn woman, who served as the treasurer of the Gold Beach Senior Center for six years, stole thousands of dollars from the organization by falsifying computer information and making checks out to herself.

District Attorney Everett Dial said he asked the court to allow her to serve her time under house arrest, wearing an ankle bracelet that monitors her whereabouts. He made the request, taking into consideration Schafer’s poor health.

A hearing will be held in September to determine her restitution.

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Caltrans hones in on options for Last Chance grade bypass

Shedding fully half of the alternate routes initially proposed, Caltrans is left with seven possible solutions to a section of highway that is sloughing off the hillside.

The options put forward by the Last Chance Grade Engineered Feasibility Study, completed last month, to fix the troubled section of U.S. Highway 101 were chosen for having lower financial costs and causing less damage to, or loss of, prized natural and cultural resources.

Options include maintaining the grade in its current position, which saddles 200 active slides between Crescent City and Klamath, and six new routes that would hopefully skirt or bore through the problem zones. 

By law, Caltrans must consider a “no build” option, that is, what it would cost to maintain the highway where it lies. This will be used as a baseline for assessing alternate routes. 

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Volunteers selected for disaster training exercise

Curry County’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) will send three volunteers to a statewide exercise in disaster preparedness next month.

The exercise, called Operation Pathfinder Minutemen 2015, is a chance for volunteers to practice a coordinated, simulated response to a large-scale natural disaster, including an earthquake and tsunami.

Participants include the Oregon National Guard, Oregon Air Guard, Oregon Disaster Medical Team, the State Emergency Registry of Volunteers in Oregon and, this year, Medical Reserve Corps volunteers.

“It’s a ramp-up to Cascadia Rising 2016,” said Beth Barker-Hidalgo, a Curry County MRC unit leader. “In June 2016, we’ll have a four-day FEMA Region 10 exercise to simulate Cascadia rising — but Oregon decided to do a pre-exercise exercise.”

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Honoring the past

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Fred Pate spends hours painstakingly building models and dioramas depicting scenes from various wars. The veteran enlisted with the U.S. Marine Corps at 18 and fought in the Pacific. He was on Iwo Jima. “We lost 5,800 men in 36 days,” he said.

The day before his 91st birthday, Fred Pate walks into his study ready to talk war.

Sitting down in his chair, Pate is surrounded by military memorabilia as well as projects of his own making. His hobby is creating models and dioramas of scenes from various wars. His desk is lined with rows of tiny jars of paint, and cartons full of paintbrushes and tools for carving out fine details.

Pate, a World War II veteran who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1942 to 1946, also creates models of airplanes.

“I started making these when one of my daughters gave me a model set for a gift,” Pate said. “I found it was a great hobby, and then one of my friends gave me a model of a tank. I found it was a nice change of pace, and I’ve been making models ever since.”

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State pulls Druzdzel’s medical license

The Oregon Medical Board (OMB) has placed the license of Dr. Janusz Druzdzel, 63, of Gold Beach, on inactive status to give the state agency time to complete an investigation into his ability to “safely and competently” practice medicine.

The investigation is anticipated to be complete before the end of the year and, in the meantime, the general practitioner is not allowed to practice medicine. 

According to documents from the Oregon Medical Board, the state last year initially received “credible information” regarding Druzdzel’s practice and the distribution of prescribed medicine, and issued an interim stipulated order (ISO) on Dec. 22, 2014 that limited some of his work.

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Residents irked by pesticide ruling

Residents of Cedar Valley said they feel invalidated and ignored after state officials settled a case between the Curry County citizens and pesticide pilot Steve Owen, who illegally sprayed the people then lied to state authorities about it during an investigation.

The agreement reached indicates Owen’s personal pesticide license will be suspended for one year, effective July 1. His business license under Pacific Air Resources will likewise be suspended for one year. He will pay no fines. The Pilot’s attempts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.

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The graying of Oregon

(AP) — The retirement-age boom is well underway in Oregon.

Oregon’s 65-and-older population grew by 18 percent between July 2010 and July 2014, according to newly released population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. That outpaces the country as a whole, which saw its senior population grow by 14.2 percent in the same time period.

Most Oregon counties saw their 65-and-older population grow by more than 10 percent in the same time period. No county saw a decrease.

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Health district annexation proposal progresses

The Curry County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution Wednesday, after much discussion about taxation, representation and equity, to put on the November ballot a question to annex the southern end of the county to Curry Health District (CHD).

The resolution was the first step to getting a question on the ballot; the city of Brookings approved one last month that has been accepted by the state with a few corrections.

This was the second public hearing at the county, as required by law, and gave time to hospital officials to get correct maps of the two areas in question.

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Chalk artists work their magic on Harbor wall

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Others soon join the effort to decorate the wall on Thursday.

On Thursday morning, Melissa Buffa and Tim Dufour Jr. were just beginning the outlines of their mural, sketching out their designs in chalk on the block-long wall.

Drivers, bikers and joggers passed the wall on Benham Lane at the south end of the Port of Brookings Harbor, looking on in curiosity and, once they realized what the artists were doing, appreciation.

By 3 that afternoon, the mural was complete — a six foot-tall recreation of the genie from Disney’s “Aladdin,” with fireworks and the words “Happy 4th of July” arched over the top of the scene.

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