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Surprise winds damage Brookings buildings


A sudden, high blast of wind shattered windows at The Market Place in downtown Brookings.

Several local businesses experienced property damage Thursday afternoon as a strong gust of wind — possibly a microburst — touched down in downtown Brookings, breaking store windows, knocking over dumpsters and fences and bringing down trees.

A microburst is a small column of exceptionally intense and localized sinking air that results in a violent outrush of air at the ground. It is capable of producing damaging straight-line winds of more than 100 mph that are similar to that in some tornadoes, but without the tornado’s rotation.


Emergency facility delayed

Cash flow problems at Curry Health Network means the health district will not open its promised Emergency Department in Brookings in the immediate future, officials said Tuesday.

At the same time, Chief Financial Officer Ken Landau has agreed to step down, and 18 to 20 people will be laid off, among other cost-reduction measures.

CHN’s Chief Executive Officer Ginny Razo is a anxious these days.

“Ken and I have had multiple conversations,” Razo said Tuesday afternoon. “And I really began to grow concerned when I saw the September financials and that we had 11 days of cash on hand. That was the beginning. According to Mr. Landau, this organization would have been insolvent by the end of the year.


It’s a surfing thing

Photo by Agatha Conrad

One of the appeals of the surfing lifestyle is the relaxed atmosphere and the shared experiences of riding waves. Two surfers celebrate a recent surf session at Sporthaven Beach, where large winter waves present a challenge to even the most skilled surfers. 

Student project helps fight hunger

Learn a craft, donate some money, feed a community — it’s all happening with the Brookings-Harbor National Honor Society’s upcoming fundraiser for grassroots organization Empty Bowls, which fights hunger around the globe. 

Students and community members will have the chance to make ceramic bowls, with profits going to fight hunger.


Oregon first for birth control via pharmacy

SALEM — Pharmacists in Oregon are already taking a training course and preparing to roll out the nation’s first system where women can receive birth control without needing to see a physician first.

Two landmarks of the last legislative session came when lawmakers passed laws requiring insurance companies to cover an entire year’s supply of birth control and that allowed pharmacists to dispense birth control without requiring a doctor’s prescription. Advocates said the laws would work together, meaning insurance companies would cover a full year of contraceptives that are essentially prescribed by pharmacists.

Before women in Oregon could get birth control from a pharmacist under the legislation, the state first needed to quickly draft rules and pick a training program. The system is scheduled to take effect in Oregon on Jan. 1.


Brookings library offers streaming service

In addition to its many existing literary and media services, the Chetco Community Public Library now offers  a new Netflix-like streaming service for books, movies and music. 

The service, Hoopla, will give library patrons access to more than 400,000 items — all for free with a library membership.

Accessible by smartphone, tablet or computer, the mobile app can be downloaded  on an Android or IOS device, or at hoopladigital.com.


County hopes to hire new attorney within a week

Curry County commissioners interviewed three candidates and plan to call references on one of them in a fairly rapid attempt to replace county attorney Jerry Herbage, whose first day of retirement was Tuesday.

Commissioner David Brock Smith said Herbage participated in the closed session interviews Monday.

“We had three really excellent candidates,” Smith said Tuesday. “Interviews went really well.”

He declined to name the three candidates, citing confidentiality and to protect the current job of one applicant. The board hopes to make an offer to one within a week.


Hollywood legend, community hero: Elmo Williams

Brookings resident Elmo Williams poses for a promotional photo for a community parade and party held in 2013 to celebrate his 100th birthday. He and his wife, Lorraine, contributed much to Brookings. Photo by The Pilot / Bill Schlichting

A man of stories. A man of humor. A man of love. A man of family. A man of philanthropy.

Elmo Williams was a classic — in every sense of the word.

The longtime Brookings resident and Academy Award-winning Hollywood director, died peacefully early Wednesday morning at the age of 102.

Williams, who slipped into unconsciousness on Friday, spent his final days surrounded by family and friends at his oceanfront home. 


Trying to find a local home for blue whale

A dead blue whale that washed ashore north of Gold Beach at the beginning of November attracted hundreds of curious people. Photo by Randy Robbins.

When County Commissioner David Brock Smith learned about the blue whale that washed ashore near Ophir Nov. 2, among his first thoughts was “economic development.”

“The whale,” he said, “is a crazy story.”

The whale, later measured at 82 feet in length and severely emaciated, is believed to have starved after being unable to find food in the algae-heavy conditions currently affecting the ocean here. It is believed, too, that the behemoth was ultimately killed by orcas — killer whales — that will attack blue whales.


Section of Chetco River awaits new status

A section of the Chetco River — and a stretch of the Molalla River in Clackamas County — merely await the swipe of the governor’s pen before being designated as Wild and Scenic Rivers on the state’s Scenic Waterways list, it was learned this week.

The designation of those two portions of rivers was recommended by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission, which would protect them and their banks from damage that can occur with development. The state Water Resources Committee agreed.

It would only affect a 14-mile portion of the Chetco River, from Loeb State Park to the Steel Bridge. The river is unique in that it is the only river in the state that begins and ends in the same county. Locally, rivers with Scenic Waterways status include the Elk, Illinois and sections of the Rogue.

Property owners along the banks of that section of the Chetco River would have to abide by only a few of the rules for such rivers, and proponents of the designation have said they wouldn’t be affected much, if all, here, said Steve Kay, the state parks recreation grants division manager told citizens in September.


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