Silver winners

The city of Brookings won a silver award for its employee safety record during the 2017-18 year, it was announced this week. The award was given at the League of Oregon Cities annual conference.

The award, presented by Citycounty Insurance Services, is given to cities that foster employee safety, have a track record related to safely operating equipment and where management has a commitment to a safe working environment.

In 2017-18, Brookings had one time-loss injury that resulted in 32 days of time lost, said City Manager Janell Howard.

Cities in the same size bracket as Brookings that won gold status, with no time lost due to injuries included Bandon, Eagle Point, Estacada, Fairview, independence, Monmouth, Myrtle Creek, Philomath, Scappoose, Tillamook, Troutdale and Vale.

Cities are grouped by the number of full-time employees and the number of injuries and time lost due to those injuries, compared to the number of hours employees worked in a year.

“The city of Brookings has adopted safe work practices — and makes sure those practices are followed, day in and day out,” said CIS Executive Director Lynn McNamara. “Their commitment and vigilance produces results: employees stay on the job, and costs stay down.”

Gold awards go to cities with no time-loss injuries. If no cities had zero time-loss injuries, then it is awarded to the city with the lowest injury ratio.

Medicare enrollment

Annual open enrollment for Medicare started Monday and runs through Dec. 17, and Oregon’s Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) Program is available to help.

Medicare is health insurance for people 65 years or older or younger than 65 with Social Security Disability Income. Medicare covers doctor visits, prescription medications and preventive care, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, diabetes treatment and blood pressure screenings.

Any Medicare Advantage (MA) or prescription drug plan (Part D) changes must be made between these dates so coverage begins without interruption Jan. 1, 2019. Those who are late to enroll could face premium penalties.

“It is important to compare Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans every year,” SHIBA Program Manager Lisa Emerson said. “Plans change year to year, as do people’s individual health care needs. People could potentially save money by shopping for a new plan.”

SHIBA provides free health insurance counseling to explain how the Medicare program works, outline options that work with Medicare and help with reducing out-of-pocket costs.

SHIBA advises enrollees to review their plans and notices, think element about healthcare matters most to them, see if they qualify for assistance paying for Medicare or drug costs and contact physicians, hospitals and pharmacies involved before making changes.

Free assistance is available by calling 800-722-4134 or visiting shiba.oregon.gov.

Milliman appointment

Brookings City Manager emeritus and Area Transportation Commission Chair Gary Milliman has been appointed to a statewide committee to develop grant funding criteria for bicycle and pedestrian projects.

Milliman was appointed by Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Mathew Garrett to serve on the Rulemaking Advisory Committee (RAC) for the bicycle and pedestrian component of the Connect Oregon Program. The committee will advise ODOT and the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) on changes to state rules in the 2017 Keep Oregon Moving Bill.

State law requires 7 percent of Connect Oregon funds — garnered from a new bike excise tax — and other bike and pedestrian in the state parks and recreation department fund grants for bicycle trails, footpaths and multi-use trails.

“Millions of dollars will be available for Connect Oregon projects, including bicycle and pedestrian projects,” Milliman said. “I am pleased to have a voice for rural Oregon in this rulemaking process.”

Milliman has served on the 27-member South West Area Commission on Transportation covering Curry, Coos and Douglas counties, for six years, and is in his second two-year term as chairman.

Paving work

Tidewater will be paving numerous areas of Brookings through Nov. 9, including a portion of Fifth Street damaged by a water main break, resurfacing Hub Street as part of the city’s annual paving projects and paving the Chetco Point Park trail.

Residents in these areas may experience limited access during this period of work.

The Hub Street work is funded through revenue garnered through the city’s fuel tax.

Restrooms closed

The restroom at Mill Beach will be closed until further notice due to severe damage done to septic equipment there in the past few months.

According to Brookings city officials, hypodermic needles, clothing and other material are continually dumped into and clog the system, destroying the septic pump.

“The continual misuse has required numerous call-outs to keep the restrooms open,” officials said in a press release. “However the septic pump that was installed in the last month has now been destroyed again. Restrooms at Azalea Park and others have been experiencing similar damage, but will remain open at this time.”

Employment gains

Unemployment in Curry County continues its steady downward trend, last month settling at 5.5 percent, the Oregon Employment Department announced this week.

The only other counties doing worse are Grant County at 6.3 percent, Klamath at 5.8 percent, and Wallowa and Harney counties at 5.6 percent; Hood River and Benton counties are the lowest in the state at 3 percent.

Statewide, just more than 77,000 people are unemployed. Figures don’t reflect those who have given up looking for work or are working less than they’d like to be.

In Curry County, the state website says, 6,680 people are employed in all sectors; leisure and hospitality has the most employees, at 1,350. Government follows, with 1,340 employees.

Employment growth along the Oregon Coast has only ticked up by 1.7 percent over the last year to date. The largest gains were seen in the Bend and Redmond areas, which experienced an employment growth rate of 5.5 percent.

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