By BILL LUNQUIST, Staff Writer

GOLD BEACH - A family nurse practitioner with 28 years nursing experience began seeing patients at Curry Family Medical, announced Ginny Hochberg, chief executive officer of the Curry Health District.

Carol Milne, FNP-PP, has worked throughout the Pacific Northwest region in a variety of medical health care settings.

Her early years as a registered nurse included stints at private clinics, including the Long Beach (Wash.) Clinic and the Brookings Medical Center in Curry County.

Hospital nursing included the intensive care unit at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco; Providence Medical Center in Medford; and recently in 2001, Portland Providence Medical Center's orthopedic surgical unit.

Following her husband and his military career has provided her with a rich background in nursing and medical health care. After his military retirement, the family moved from Brookings to the Grants Pass area to be closer to her parents.

Since the 1980s, Milne has served as director of nursing in the Laurel Hill Nursing Home in Grants Pass, private nurse for a Grants Pass oncologist and oncology practitioner II RN, in research and HIV AIDS at University of Washington Hospital in Seattle. She also worked in the home health and hospice settings in Grants Pass for several years.

Milne received her associate degree in nursing in 1974, and her bachelor of science in nursing in 1997 at Oregon Health Science University. She said she has andquot;always wanted to be a doctor, but raising her children and other commitments did not provide the opportunity.andquot;

After receiving her bachelor's degree in 1997 andquot;and much thought,andquot; the decision was to return for further education for the master's degree in nursing education from Clarkson College in Omaha, and the completion of her post-masters certificate for the family nurse practitioner from University of Portland.

Milne has a strong interest in preventive medicine, health promotion and screening, Hochberg says. andquot;She has a very easy, relaxed manner, and when she's not practicing medicine, she loves to work with her horses.andquot; Other interests include gardening, sewing and needlework of all kinds and reading.

Milne and her husband, James, a retired U.S. Coast Guardsman, are currently seeking a permanent home in the Port Orford area to live with their three dogs, four cats and many horses.

To get acquainted with the health district and Curry County, Milne will begin this week staffing the Curry General Hospital emergency room on Mondays and Wednesdays, and Curry Family Medical on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Beginning May 7, she will staff Curry Family Medical every weekday. Milne will participate in the clinic's free women's screening day scheduled Wednesday, May 8.

Commissioner Marlyn Schafer instructed the department heads to remove those charges during the budget hearings.

Budget Committee member Linda Brown believed they were removing revenue from the general fund and putting the budget back out of balance.

New Accounting Manager Rene Sinclair scrambled Wednesday afternoon to reconstruct what Buchheim had done.

No one was certain of the figures, but the committee finally agreed that relieving the departments of those charges had cost the general fund about $9,000.

Fortunately, the budget was $33,624 in the black at the beginning of Wednesday's proceedings, so the surplus easily absorbed the cost.

The commissioners still had a $24,624 surplus and agreed to work during the fiscal year to fine-tune the indirect charges to departments outside the general fund.

Ironically, the county saved another $90,141 by deciding not to close the Curry County Public Health Department at this time.

That was the estimated cost of unemployment for those who would have been laid-off had the department been turned over to the state.

To remain within the county without taking money from the general fund, however, Public Health will have to cut hours by the equivalent of nearly five full-time employees.

The unemployment costs for those cuts may eat up about $50,000 of the $90,000 saved.

When the dust finally settled, the Budget Committee found it had a $64,591 surplus, and the ability to restore some of the cuts it had proposed earlier.

Committee members first voted to restore $15,000 to Veteran's Services.

Commissioner Rachelle Schaaf had earlier volunteered to work with Veteran's Services Officer Mike McGuiness on fund-raising activities for the department. She said after the hearings that she would still like to do so, if he is game.

The committee then voted to restore $21,852 in funding to keep the county's offices in the North and South county open and operating.

Members gave the county assessor $3,401 back for an irregular employee.

They also voted to put $12,000 more in a fund to offer a contractor to take over the county's janitorial services.

They approved $8,500 so the district attorney could archive records on CDs. The remaining $3,838 surplus was put into the county's unappropriated balance.

The big losers were once again the elected officials, who were denied a proposed 2.3 percent cost of living increased.

Most make less now than they did a decade ago, and some are paid less than several of their employees.

Schafer said she didn't care about her salary, but felt bad for many of the other elected officials.

The Juvenile Department's request for $15,796 to raise an employee from sixth-tenths time to full-time was also denied.

Finally, the county surveyor was denied $1,006 for an irregular employee.

The Budget Committee wrapped up its official duties for the week by adopting the county's total ad-valorum property tax at $919,000 for fiscal year 2002-03.