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Curry Health District annexation talks begin

The county’s first public hearing regarding a resolution determining whether to annex southern Curry County into the existing Curry Health District stirred up some confusion about who gets to vote about what on a proposed Nov. 3 ballot measure.

At Wednesday’s Curry County commissioners hearing, the first of at least two required to be held, was continued until July 1, at which time accurate district boundaries will be outlined, and a second hearing will be held July 8 to take public input.

The Curry Health District, which operates Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach and the Curry Medical Center in Brookings, wants to put on the November ballot a question asking residents in the south end of the county to join the district.

If voters approve the question, it will expand health services to the most populous part of the county and spread the expense of doing so among all Curry County property owners.

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County could sell unused properties

County commissioners Wednesday appointed a committee of five to evaluate the 900 or so county-owned properties — about 95 percent of them near Floras Lake and almost all acquired through tax foreclosures decades ago — to determine what can be done with the parcels.

The County Real Property Task Force includes Realtor Barb Ciramella, Julie Schmelzer, county economic development director; Trudy Spanier, a Langlois resident who lives adjacent to the properties; and at-large members William Douglas who served on the first committee in 1989, and Chris Hawthorne, owner of Redfish and Hawthorne Gallery in Port Orford.

The topic was broached when Schmelzer noted that there are numerous parcels around the county that the county could either sell, put to use as a park or otherwise use.

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Public radio station receives $8,547 grant

Brookings nonprofit radio station KCIW has received a grant that takes it a lot closer to achieving its goal: getting on the air.

The station, founded by Brookings residents Tom and Linda Bozack in late 2013, will receive a $8,547 grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust, which will contribute to the station’s purchase of sound equipment.

“It’s a big deal to be able to apply for a radio station license,” said Candice Michel, treasurer of KCIW. 

The group applied for a license with the FCC, and was given 18 months to organize itself for broadcast.

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Public radio station receives $8,547 grant

Brookings nonprofit radio station KCIW has received a grant that takes it a lot closer to achieving its goal: getting on the air.

The station, founded by Brookings residents Tom and Linda Bozack in late 2013, will receive a $8,547 grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust, which will contribute to the station’s purchase of sound equipment.

“It’s a big deal to be able to apply for a radio station license,” said Candice Michel, treasurer of KCIW. 

The group applied for a license with the FCC, and was given 18 months to organize itself for broadcast.

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Brookings commercial fishermen protest poundage fee

The Port of Brookings Harbor Board of Commissioners decided this week to postpone their implementation of a poundage fee after hearing protests from several commercial fishermen.

The poundage fee, which the board approved at last month’s meeting, would add an additional charge per pound for different species unloaded at the Brookings-Harbor docks. The fee ranges from .025 cents for Pacific whiting to 3 cents for salmon. 

That cost is directly imposed on buyers, not commercial fishermen. However, fishermen are concerned the implementation of a poundage fee at the port puts them at a competitive disadvantage, and will discourage buyers from doing business at the Port of Brookings Harbor.

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Buckskin Fire update

Fire officials in Oregon are bringing planes with fire retardant to the Illinois Valley area today in preparation for a burnout on Thursday to reduce the fuel load and control the eastern flank of the Buckskin Fire near the Curry and Josephine County line.

An increase in smoke may be visible in the Illinois Valley during the burnout on Thursday, Incident Commander Doug Johnson told Cave Junction residents at a community meeting Tuesday.

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Battling the Buckskin Fire

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Smoke from the Buckskin Fire can be seen from Lake Selmac near Highway 199 in Selma. Smoke has also been spotted from mountain tops along the Southern Oregon Coast. The fire has burned more than 2,000 acres as of Tuesday.

Drivers are still urged to take extra caution if they plan to travel Highway 199 toward Grants Pass this week, as fire trucks and thick smoke are likely to slow traffic along the narrow, winding road, particularly in the Illinois Valley.

The Buckskin Fire, caused by lightning strikes June 11, has burned 2,220 acres as of Tuesday afternoon. It spread little overnight after winds died down and gave firefighters the opportunity to put water on the conflagration. The fire is located about 34 miles east of Brookings. 

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Rental shortage grips area

Curry County is experiencing a growing pain it hasn’t experienced in quite some time: New jobs drawing people to the area — and nowhere to house them.

And the rental shortage might not ease until at least December, according to one source.

“Suddenly, there’s a housing shortage in Brookings,” said Brookings City Manager Gary Milliman in his weekly report. “We have received numerous reports of people looking for both owner and rental housing units in town and can’t find the housing they want.”

Want, afford or can’t even find, seems to be the problem.

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Oregon agencies work on marijuana rules

Just because recreational marijuana becomes legal in Oregon on July 1, state officials said people should not expect to see fields of pot growing across Oregon any time soon.

Where and how recreational marijuana will be grown, and how the operations will relate to existing medical pot growing, are among the bevy of questions being tackled by Oregon lawmakers and agencies.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission is heading up licensing and regulation of recreational marijuana, while the Oregon Health Authority has been overseeing medical marijuana.

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Lawmaker calls for statewide $13 minimum wage

SALEM (AP) — House Speaker Tina Kotek unveiled a proposal Monday to gradually raise Oregon’s statewide minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2018 and give local governments the right to go higher if they choose.

The change would give Oregon the nation’s highest minimum wage Jan. 1, when all workers would have to be paid at least $11 an hour, up from the current $9.25. The wage floor would go up $1 a year until it hits $13 an hour in 2018.

Coming less than a month before lawmakers must wrap up the legislative session, Kotek’s proposal is a long shot. 

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