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Study backs reroute of 101 in Del Norte

CRESCENT CITY —Sea level rise and more intense storms could exacerbate coastal erosion, flooding and landslides on Del Norte County’s coastal roads — particularly at Last Chance Grade, according to a federally-funded study on climate change impacts to North Coast roads.

Using public input and direction from a technical advisory group, the study concluded that rerouting U.S. Highway 101 around the active slide was the most desirable of two adaptation strategies to cope with climate change.

But even though the study focused on Last Chance Grade as one of four areas in Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino and Lake counties that were the most vulnerable to climate change effects, the data can be applied to roads throughout Del Norte, said Tamera Leighton, executive director of the Del Norte Local Transportation Commission.

“It’s not a key decision-making tool for a specific project,” Leighton said of the climate change study. “It’s providing a baseline guidance for how to consider climate change in transportation planning.”


Principals encouraging higher graduation rates

Alex Merritt, the vice principal of Brookings-Harbor High School, stood in front of a crowd of 120 freshmen earlier this month and smiled at the students. 

“Since day one, one of Ms. Dion and my goals has been to have your class be one of the most successful graduating classes in BHHS history,” he said. “We hope it’s one of your goals too. And we expect every single one of you to put forth your best effort because we know you can do it.”

At a school assembly on Dec. 16, Merritt and BHHS principal Lisa Dion invited Jay Trost, director of the Curry County Juvenile Department, to speak to the freshman class.


Educators seek strategic plan for Gold Beach schools

A distinguished blue ribbon panel of educators, civic leaders, students and administrators gathered together Dec. 17 at the Gold Beach Union High School library with one mission: Find a way to a consensus.

The group assembled in front of a blank, white board with the task of developing a 5-year strategic plan for Central Curry District School District. The members included Barbara Gaston, Jackie Crook, Jeremy Skinner, Superintendent Dennis Johnson, Riley Creek Elementary Principal Tom Denning, Krystal Carpenter, Greg Brown, Scott McNair, Lonnie Martin and Simone Landue.

They broke into three subgroups to develop four to six topics that they collectively thought were of the greatest importance in terms of which direction the school district should go.


Washout closes highway

Construction is underway to repair a washout along the Ophir dike.

Traffic will be detoured for the rest of the week on Highway 101 after a portion of the roadway washed out when a culvert failed near Ophir.

Ophir is about 10 miles north of Gold Beach; drivers are being detoured to an existing county road paralleling the highway.

The washout occurred about 4 p.m. Sunday, after days of steady rain saturated the ground throughout Curry County. Apparently, the culvert failed in the center, creating a giant hole in the center of the roadway. The sides were hanging, somewhat intact, when an Oregon State Patrol trooper arrived on the scene, said ODOT Region 3 Project Manager Chris Hunter.


Food bank manager Davis dies

Julie Davis will always be remembered as a vivacious fireball whose actions touched just about everyone in the community.

She died last Thursday after a battle with cancer.

“I come fairly well qualified to make a judgement like this,” her husband Tom said. “Julie Davis has done more for the people of this community than anyone, more than all the mayors, all the councils, all the commissioners, all put together. That’s because she was real, and she helped real people with real needs.”


Winter whale watching week begins Saturday

A whale makes a dive off Pebble Beach in Crescent City.

The best time of year to watch whales migrate is Dec. 27 to 31 — and the best place to see the vast majority of them is in Curry County.

According to Oregon Parks and Recreation statistics, more than 500 whales were spotted along the Oregon coast during the week-long period last year – and nearly 300 of them were seen in the ocean off Cape Ferrelo and Harris Beach, north of Brookings.

The Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay — home of the Whale Watching Spoken Here program — trains volunteers each season to help visitors spot whales and to answer questions about them.


SkyWest ringing in the new year with flight cuts

’Tis the season of travel, though unless you’re a magic reindeer with a fog-piercing nose, flying has not been the most reliable way in and out of Del Norte this December.

Just over a month since it announced plans to drop commercial air service to the area, Crescent City’s only carrier, SkyWest Airlines, is ringing in the new year with widespread cancellations and delays primarily due to weather in San Francisco, airline officials say.

Meanwhile, other air carriers with hubs in Portland and Seattle are considering taking over Crescent City flights in 2015, a move that may shift connections to the north and cut Bay Area fog out of the picture, according to local airport officials this week. 


Early Christmas presents

Photo submitted by Andy Martin

Jordan and Ryan Vernand, of Ventura, California, catch a pair of king salmon while fishing the Sixes River on Dec. 16 with guide Andy Martin. The father and son fished four rivers in four days catching salmon and steelhead on the Smith, Chetco, Elk and Sixes rivers. For more fishing news, see Page 6A.

Public health agency on a roll

Ken Dukek, CEO of Curry Community Health, tours an exam room inside the new Brookings facility this week.

Ken Dukek has taken what was once the county’s public health system and, within a couple of years, transformed it from a top-heavy, money-losing proposition into first-class, nonprofit medical facility for everyone.

While many physicians’ offices are turning away new patients these days, Curry Community Health’s Integrated Community Services is taking anyone who needs medical, mental health or addictions assistance. 


Efforts to save post office continues

Harbor resident Barbara VanCleave wants the U.S. Postal Service to know what it might be getting itself into if it closes the door of the little facility in the Brookings Harbor Shopping Center next month.

In one day, VanCleave counted more than 300 customers who walked through the door there.

She wonders how many additional people the post office in Brookings would have to hire if it were forced to accommodate all the Harbor post office box holders.

And she can’t even imagine how long the wait would be to conduct transactions at the already-busy windows at the Brookings post office.


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