Brookings voters choose incorporation
July 06, 2001 11:00 pm
By the 1940s, Brookings residents were beginning to face "urban" problems. ().
By the 1940s, Brookings residents were beginning to face "urban" problems. ().

Albert Hooten provided some of the data about the city's municipal government, from 1951 to 1979, when Then Till Now was first published.

Since Hooten's data, there have been further improvements in city government and its operations. They have also been included.

Brookings was growing steadily. By the 1940s, the residents were increasingly beset by urban problems. They were watched carefully by their independent neighbors on the Harbor side of the Chetco River. They began to ask the big question: Would incorporation of the town help them solve those problems?

In 1947 Dewey Akers, publisher of The Pilot newspaper, ran a front page editorial listing the probable benefits of municipal incorporation as he saw them. He began by sketching the possible budget:

A budget for the City of Brookings for its first year should not exceed $7,500. Such an amount would be sufficient to employ two policemen; build additional fire hydrants and construct necessary street lights. With the exception of a small per diem expense for a recorder or clerk, there should be no city salaries.

WHAT THE MONEY BUYS

1. With the exception of amounts paid for equipment, all of the money paid out for the city would remain in Brookings.

2. The city would have police protection, better fire equipment and street lights. As a result, fire insurance would be substantially reduced.

3. Zones would be created for residential, business and farming districts. This would preserve the status between these groups and keep each in its appropriate place.

4. Brookings would cease to be a country crossroads and become a city.

5. The selling price of real estate would increase because real estate always brings a higher price in a city than in the country.

6. Business returns and wages are always greater in a city than in the country.

7. New business, new people, new capital and larger payrolls always appear in a community that gives notice that it is progressive, that it is working to improve its conditions and which prepares for the future.

8. Civic pride would be created. Civic pride prompts people of goodwill to work as a unit for better and happier living conditions for the community as a whole. The Pilot, Feb. 20, 1947

One community leader, Elmer Bankus, however, held a different view. He took a third of a page advertisement in The Pilot to explain his opposition, saying in part:

I am the sole owner of the Brookings Water Company and the sewer system. THE WATER COMPANY IS NOT FOR SALE, and I do not intend to GIVE the sewer system to the city of Brookings should we incorporate. The Pilot, Nov. 11, 1948

Some others also opposed incorporation, but public sentiment in favor of it grew. The city population was 1,518. On July 10, 1951, with two-thirds of the registered voters going to the polls, incorporation won with 153 YES votes against 85 NO. The town thus became a city. (Editors note: For more from The Pilot during the incorporation debate, see a special section scheduled for the July 11, 2001, edition.)

The first baby born in the newly incorporated city was Rebecca Ann White. She was born on July 22, 1951, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Floyd White, and the granddaughter of Mrs. Lilly Myers.

The first City Council members were Fred Fox, Pete Lesmeister, Warren Smith, Charles Young and Mayor Robert C. Dimmick, with Recorder, Charles H. Grayshel, and Attorney, Sam Hall.

On Oct. 19, 1952, the City Council enacted the first of eight ordinances. Ordinance No. 1 defined the procedure for passing ordinances. The other seven set forth the various positions in city government such as Municipal Court Judge, Recorder, Chief of Police, Police Officers, Fire Department, Fire Chief, Planning Commission, City Attorney, City Engineer and Sanitary Inspector.

In the meantime, street lighting had been assured by a 1948 plan to form a lighting district. This would light Highway 101 from a street near the old Templar Hotel at the corner of Chetco Avenue and Hillside Street to the fire guard station at the other end of the city. Thirty light poles were "staggered" on the opposite sides of the avenue every 125 feet.

During the next few years, the City Hall was moved three times: first to the Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative building in the rear of Pete Lesmeister's office; then to the basement of the Manley Building; and finally to a second story added to the City Fire and Ambulance Building. Not until 1967 was the present City Hall constructed to house the city offices, a courtroom, police station and fire department and council chambers.

In 1952, parking meters were installed along Chetco Avenue. Some people found the meters disconcerting, and the police issued warnings to those not familiar with the system. For many years merchants and shoppers opposed the meters and they were removed, 16 years later, by a vote of 473 to 423.

Charter Time

Every city must have a charter to define its legality and describe its purpose. In the fall of 1953, the City Council appointed a committee of citizens to draft a charter for the city. According to The Pilot, C. Edward Dempsey was elected chairman, and the other members were Dora Beaulieu, Hugh Bronson, Merrill Bulloch, W.S. Chadwick, Mrs. Cordeman, Paul Davis, Archie Hendricks, Arthur Knox, Estes Morton, Fred Moore, Ken Osborne, Bill Phelps, Glenn Rogers, Frank Tygart and Lilian Weideman. Attorney John Ebinger, then living in Klamath Falls, was hired by the council to prepare the final draft of the document. His document was submitted to the council by City Attorney Ed Ackley. The council approved.

That following summer, the charter was presented to the 600 eligible voters. Only 122 of them voted, with a majority of 94 for and 28 against. Since then, the City of Brookings has operated under self-ruling provisions rather than under the general laws of the State of Oregon. The federal and state constitutions, of course, continue to protect the rights of citizens.

Ten-Man Committee

heads drive for Chetco Road

A 10-man committee was chosen to head Southern Curry County's campaign for an all-Oregon road to the interior.

Art Knox, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce's Road Committee, was elected temporary chairman. A crowd of about 200 people were present to hear local leaders state the reasons they believe a road up the Chetco is feasible, and to pledge their support.

Members of the 10-man board who will direct the campaign are Art Knox, Archie Anderson, Elmer Bankus, C. Ed Dempsey, Estes Morton, Harvey Foster, Henry Kerr, Ray Streubing, Warren Smith and Wilson Freeman. The Pilot, April 1, 1954

In 1954 the council proposed to obtain easements in order to construct sidewalks along Chetco Avenue from the Chetco Bridge to Easy Street. The Pilot editorialized its support: Already hampered by poor streets off the highways, we have been in danger of growing into a scattering of little settlements along the highway, with no pedestrian traffic between them.

The council also approved the planning commission's proposal to number the houses along streets in Brookings

In 1963, Marjorie B. McKernan was hired as a secretary to the City Recorder. A year later, she became Acting City Recorder and the first Matron for the Police department. She later served as Municipal Judge, and became City Recorder.