Fourth time’s a charm
County commissioners voted 2-1 to approve a resolution denigrating the U.S. Forest Service’s work on the Chetco Bar Fire last summer and demanding fires be extinguished before they get out of control.
The resolution, proposed by Commissioner Court Boice, was tempered from the original, which cited a lack of faith in the federal agency in that its “let it burn” policy allowed the wildfire to jump fire lines and the Chetco River, burned 20 buildings, forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents and came within 5 miles of the city of Brookings.
Huxley voted against the resolution saying many of the allegations have not yet been proven.
“I have problems with the innuendos and insinuations or applying something if you don’t have proof to back it up,” he said. “Without proof, it’s just poor practice, poor ethics, if you make accusations you can’t back up.”
Boice said circumstantial evidence points to the forest service’s failure to fight the fire early on and has led to a situation that endangers citizens in Curry County even more as the fire season nears.
“This should be our number one concern as we move into 2018,” Boice said. “We need to pressure the forest service. They have the responsibility ... to use every possible opportunity to put any fire out, whether it’s in the wilderness or not.”
Commissioner Sue Gold struggled to retain order as the two men segued into a spat about Huxley allegedly rolling his eyes in a previous meeting when Boice said Brookings had been in danger of burning.
“Certainly there were a lot of people who had problems with the way things were handled,” she said. “We signed a letter (to the forest service) to that effect. When you talk about errors in judgement, there were errors in judgement. We provided lots of facts in our letter.”
Pot grower tax
Curry County commissioners Wednesday voted 2-1 to support the Association of Oregon County’s idea to tax marijuana growers, in part as a means by which to keep track of them.
The idea is being bandied about at the state Legislature, but has yet to be crafted into a bill.
Interim County Administrator John Hitt said that, after numerous phone calls and emails to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, he learned that Curry County is home to 36 licensees for retail, production and processing marijuana.
Of those, 15 are in the county, and of those, only four are growers.
If the legislative concept becomes a bill, the question would ultimately go to the voters.
Commissioner Tom Huxley, who voted against the letter of support, said it was not a good use of staff time and that he saw no sense of urgency.
“I don’t think the AOC will pursue this unless they get support from the counties,” Commissioner Court Boice said. “It’s a way to get the county educated, to get it under control. I don’t know why we wouldn’t encourage the AOC to pursue this.”
The U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded Brookings $50,000 for a study into how the Chetco Bar Fire last summer affected the economy and how the area can recover.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley secured the award as part of his work to get short- and long-term fixes for repercussions from the 191,125-acre wildfire.
“This is at least one success in that effort,” said spokeswoman Sara Hottman. “This will help Curry County on its road to recovery.”
The total cost of the study is estimated at $100,000.
The study will bring together the public and private sectors to build an economic development plan to strengthen the economy, support private capital investment and create jobs.
House at auction
The Curry County Board of Commissioners agreed Wednesday to sell at auction a home on Pine Street in Brookings with a starting bid of $185,000.
Commissioner Sue Gold thought the asking price was too much; Commissioner Court Boice said he thought it could garner more. If the house fails to sell at auction — on the front steps of the county courthouse in Gold Beach — the board can sell it as it wishes.
The house, at 438 Pine St., is a two-bedroom, one-bath home with a garage. It is dated, and has had some damage done as it sat vacant, but has a good roof and an oversized lot.
The county owned the house until about four years ago, when it included it in the spin-off of its public health department to Curry Community Health (CCH). The new nonprofit tried to sell it but learned it couldn’t until it had owned it for several years.
In the interim, CCH officials evaluated the residence to see if it would be a good office location for its new psychiatrist, or if it could be used for something else; all to no avail. The only other option was to get it back to the county, which could, in turn, sell it.
Interim County Administrator John Hitt noted it could be perfect for a small family.
“The lot is exceptionally large,” he said. “Those oversized lots in the city limits are kind of rare. And the housing market is strong; we’ve had lots and lots of phone calls.”
Boice said he thought the asking price was a steal, and suggested they increase it to $205,000.