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State mulls idea of free community college

SALEM — Lawmakers hoping to make community college free for most students got a resounding message from the higher education community during a hearing on the matter Thursday: The proposal isn’t ready for prime time.

Senate Bill 81 was proposed as a way to create a free college degree for low- and middle-income students. The cost to the state is estimated at around $20 million every two years, and aspects of the proposed law could bring in a rush of federal student aid to help carry the program.

But representatives from community colleges and Oregon’s university system said the bipartisan group of legislators proposing the bill still isn’t taking into account the cost of an unexpected rush of students hopeful to take advantage of the free program.


Disc golf, new trails planned for Azalea Park

Changes are coming to Brookings Azalea Park — the addition of an 18-hole disc golf course and a new set of trails — made possible not only by the city of Brookings, but with help from volunteers from the local high school and the community.


Memorial Day ceremony

Brookings Veteran Larry Smith, who has fought in three wars, gives a thumbs up to people applauding him during Monday’s Memorial Day Ceremony at the Port of Brookings Harbor.

Struggling to write a speech for Monday’s annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Port of Brookings Harbor, U.S. Marine Sgt. Chris Crawford decided to tell a story — his story — about battling Saddam Hussein and serving in Afghanistan. 

He stood tall at the podium in full military dress, speaking to the dozens of veterans in a crowd of more than 100 people who filled the port boardwalk.

“Because of you,” he said, “I stand here today, doing what you did many years ago. We eliminated a dictator in Iraq who killed thousands of his own people — he was no better than Hitler.”


Local fire departments recruiting volunteers

The fire departments of the south end of Curry County are looking for volunteers and plan to put on a big party to show how much fun it is — and how valuable such services are to the community.

The four — Cape Ferrelo, Winchuck, Harbor and Brookings — along with Cal-Ore Life Flight, will hold a recruitment event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 7 on the frontage road in front of Spotlight Video in Brookings.


Fishing poundage fees will fund port projects

 Starting in July, the Port of Brookings Harbor will charge commercial fishermen a poundage fee for unloading product at the docks, and use the money to finance various projects and infrastructure improvements at the port.

The decision has drawn mixed reactions.


Group continues without sheriff

Curry County Sheriff John Ward’s Citizens Advisory Committee will continue without him.

The CAC, which was formed shortly after he was elected in November, sought to gain voter approval for a property tax increase to fund law enforcement in the county. It failed, as did two of three others in the state, at the polls May 19.


Woman burned in attempted suicide

A woman was listed in “fair” condition Tuesday after she was severely burned in what officials believe was a suicide attempt near Loeb State Park, eight miles up the north bank of the Chetco River.

Curry County District Attorney Everett Dial summoned the Major Crimes Team last Friday to suspicious conditions near the popular park, and by the end of the day, authorities were investigating an attempted suicide, a burned-out vehicle and drops of blood next to a pile of personal belongings on a river bar.


Huxley's management style questioned

Curry County Commissioner David Brock Smith took fellow Commission Tom Huxley to task during a regular board meeting May 20, accusing him of intimidating and harassing employees, threatening lawsuits against the county and generally wasting staff time in his numerous requests for trivial chores.

Frustration between county employees and Huxley began shortly after he was sworn into office and he refused to accept his pay or health care benefits, potentially throwing about half the county’s employees into risk of losing their health insurance benefits. He cited his campaign promise to make more cuts in the county budget, which is facing a financial meltdown.


Solemn observance

A Brookings World War II veteran drops flowers on a symbolic grave during a Memorial Day ceremony Monday at the Port of Brookings Harbor.

The annual Memorial Day Ceremony at the Port of Brookings Harbor Monday drew a  crowd of more than 100 people who gathered to hear speeches and comments honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. armed services. They also honored those still serving the country today. 

Dozens of people — retired and active soldiers, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons and grandchildren — took turns placing flowers on the symbolic grave of the fallen soldier. Some took a moment to announce who they were honoring and why.

Look for a full story in Wednesday’s Curry Coastal Pilot.

Record low Chetco River level may threaten habitats

The Chetco River Tuesday afternoon continued it slow, steady fall, to 161 cubic feet per second, almost half of the lowest recorded level in 45 years of reporting.

The mean for May 19 is 1,300 cfs. 

Rain forecast for last week didn’t transpire, and overcast skies this week have yet to let loose any moisture, either. Brookings has seen no rainfall in May, compared to a 3.6-inch average over the past four and a half decades.

And low water levels mean warmer water — which might be nice for people playing in the river, but can spell death for fish.


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