Ports get money

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has allocated an additional $34.5 million to its 2019 fiscal year budget to fund critical maintenance and safety projects at ports along the Oregon coast.

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure ranking member announced last week that work on the Chetco River will receive $45,000 and work in Gold Beach will get $963,000.

Alaska earthquake

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake about 10 miles north of Anchorage, Alaska, Friday morning did “serious, considerable” damage when it struck destroying offices, buckling roads, cutting off the electricity and triggering a tsunami warning, but the West Coast was not affected.

Numerous aftershocks, ranging up to 5.0 magnitude, followed. As of Friday, there were no lives lost.

Tsunami warnings were issued early on for Homer, Kodiak and Seward and canceled at about 11:30 a.m. Pacific Coast Time.

Residents along the West Coast of the U.S. are acutely aware of the damage an earthquake in Alaska can do. A 9.0-magnitude temblor in 1964 wiped out the port and seriously damaged the downtown area in Crescent City.

Friday, Alaskan residents were urged to head to higher ground and avoid beaches, bays, inlets and marinas — and reminded that the first tsunami wave is usually followed by others.

Those at sea were urged to head out to sea to an ocean depth of at least 180 feet.

Smokin’ slash

Citizens called into 911 Thursday morning expressing their concern about a large “unusual” cloud of smoke hovering over the north end of town.

The smoke was created by a slash burn being conducted by Borax, which is clearing land in hopes of developing a multi-home neighborhood in the area.

People in Curry County are on tenterhooks after the Chetco Bar Fire of 2017, and then last year’s Klondike Fire, which burned a collective 360,000 acres in the backcountry east of Brookings and Gold Beach.

Slash burning is permitted now that drenching rains have arrived.

Azalea Park update

The Brookings Parks and Recreation Commission will ask the city to allow Nature’s Coastal Holidays to apply for a state parks grant to add landscaping, a shelter, picnic tables and pave the Capela by the Sea parking lot next summer.

Paving the lot — including building storm drains, curbs and sidewalks — is expected to cost $365,832, and the landscaping and picnic gazebo by KidTown another $90,000. Of that, $182,332 would be required for the grant match.

Nature’s Coastal Holidays, the group responsible for putting on the elaborate holiday lighting display in Azalea Park each December, proposes to raise the 40 percent match city Deputy Public Works and Development Director Jay Trost told the city parks commission Thursday.

“That’s a tremendous part of this entire grant,” he said. “And they’ve been instrumental in developing lots of areas in the park.”

The group recently paid $13,060 to install eight light poles in the park, including five at the Capella parking lot and three at the southern lot near Fir Street.

If the city pursues the grant this spring, work could begin next August and be complete by the next holiday lighting display.

The work is part of a master plan to develop the park for visitors and residents.

“The next part is a recreation program,” Trost announced. “We have a beautiful facility. We have a soccer field with lights. We have a softball field. We could have kids kickball, adult kickball — leagues.”

Park closures

Brookings Parks and Recreation Commission will present to the city council a proposed policy that will enable the city to shut down the skate park for up to two weeks — and longer, if needed — when users vandalize it.

The skate park and the restroom at Mill Beach are continually being vandalized, prompting the city to request staff to develop a park facility policy.

The pump at the restroom at Mill Beach has had to be replaced twice in two months.

“It’s become extremely expensive,” said Jay Trost, deputy public works and development director. “Basically, you just can’t keep up with it.”

He noted it would be impossible to shut down, for example, Azalea Park, “but if the Kidtown restrooms were absolutely destroyed, we need to shut it down.”

Trost said the city will erect signs at the skatepark as part of a campaign to deter vandalism and encourage policing by its users.