By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

Outreach Gospel Mission (OGM) Director Craig Graber recently told Port of Brookings Harbor commissioners his group wants to explore purchasing the large vacant building that’s been an eyesore for years at the port.

At the port commission meeting Tuesday, Board President Roy Davis asked Graber to meet with Interim Manager Kathy Lindley Hall during the week so that she could place the group on the next meeting agenda and give the group more time to discuss the purchase than would be allowed in the public comment segment of their meeting.

Commissioner Kenneth Range said he was exploring issues with the building and had set its sale or proper use as a personal goal.

The building, often called The Big Green Building or the Gray Ghost, is an empty 22,000-square-foot, two-story building on Lower Harbor Road in the Port of Brookings Harbor.

According to Davis, it was originally built to hold an upstairs restaurant with shops and offices filling the first floor.

Statements made at port meetings indicate the building has never been opened or sold. It has become a target for vandals and a symbol of things gone wrong at the port.

OGM recently sold its thrift store and mission in Harbor and, according to Graber, is now looking for property in Curry County to house their mission and serve homeless men, women and children.

The previous location could only house 9 men, he said, and he noted a sizable increase in the number of homeless women needing help in the county. The port building would be large enough to divide and house more people with the genders separated.

OGM is a drug-free and alcohol-free mission serving the homeless population, according to Graber, and has worked with local agencies and police to get people off the streets and away from crime.

Brookings Police Lt. Donny Dotson said, “I personally hope they stay local.”

Brookings PD has referred people to them, according to Dotson, and done so with great success.

“Unfortunately, the candidates we sent were not always the best fit,” he added, “because many of the people we interact with are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But they are a great resource.”

Graber said the new program would serve people for 60 days and help to stabilize their lives before they look for work. After that period, they could remain at the shelter and save money until they were ready to live on their own.

OGM is a biblical mission, he added, and residents have to succeed in the biblical program before they can move on to work.

“I have toured the port building, and I know it has a lot of problems,” Graber said. “We are also looking at property in north county; homeless is worse in north county, and we do want to serve all of Curry County.”

The north county property has land as well, he said, and that would allow some animals and gardens. Both things are very beneficial to people in recovery.

Curry Homeless Coalition Director Beth Barker-Hidalgo said it will be interesting to see if Graber can raise the money for this project. “I hear it’s very robust in nature.”

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