Port Orford Police Levy

Votes for the Port Orford Police Department levy will be counted today, and if the levy passes, the Port Orford Police Department will continue to operate after the summer.

As of Tuesday evening, the proposal had garnered 466 ballots, more than the 873 necessary for them to be counted. More than 50 percent of eligible voters needed to respond for the votes to be counted.

The proposal reads: “Shall the city replace the expiring police levy with a reduced levy of $1.80 per $1,000 of assessed value? This measure renews current local option taxes.”

The tax rate is 10 cents less per $1,000 assessed valuation than the current rate.

The ballot summary clarifies that the motion must carry with at least 50 percent voter turnout, and if approved, will fund the Port Orford Police Department. If the ballot measure is defeated, the city will eliminate the police department.

Fast food countdown

Work continues on Burger King, which was originally hoped to open at the end of February — and now is slated to open by the end of June.

Gas line and ceiling grid inspections were conducted last week.

Dairy Queen, whose owners are replacing the entire restaurant by building a new one at the corner of Alder and Spruce, is in its final stages of framing. The larger restaurant will also feature more parking to prevent traffic backing up onto Alder Street.

Bus route on schedule

Coastal Express is back to its normal schedule, leaving Brookings from Bankus Park going north at 7:20 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 3 p.m., and returning to the three-times-a-day round trips between North Bend and Smith River.

Routes might be subjects to delays at the newly rebuilt single, graveled lane at Hooskanaden Slide between Brookings and Gold Beach.

Call 541-412-8806 for further information or see the schedule at www.currypublictransit.org.

Land swap planned

Curry County commissioners will discuss a proposal to swap 70 acres of county land south of Floras Lake with about 33 acres of state land at Highway 101 and Airport Road near Port Orford, at its regular meeting today (March 13).

Regular business meetings now begin at 9 a.m., rather than 10 a.m.

The proposal, submitted by the state parks department, would offer more protection to Floras Lake and the state parks department would get more land around Floras Lake Natural Area and the Oregon Coast Trail.

School Resource Officer

Brookings Police Officer Rob Johnson was selected as the School Resource Officer (SRO) for the three schools in the Brookings-Harbor School District.

Johnson has been a full-time officer with the Brookings Police Department for nearly eight years and was a reserve officer prior to that. Last Thursday, Superintendent Sean Gallagher met with him and City Manager Janell Howard to discuss Johnson’s qualifications and his vision to support the identified goals of the program.

Howard said Gallagher was impressed and looks forward to having him in the schools.

“Officer Johnson is the kind of mature officer we are confident will interact well with students, parents and staff and help to achieve the identified goals of the SRO program,” she said. “He is prepared to take on this challenge and is excited to bring his knowledge and interests to the schools.”

Rec salmon season news

The ocean Chinook salmon season will open as scheduled from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain from March 15 to April 30, the National Marine Fisheries Service and Pacific Fishery Management Council announced after a meeting Monday evening.

The bag limit will be two salmon — Coho salmon are not included — with a minimum size of 24 inches for Chinook and a minimum size of 20 inches for steelhead.

The recreational ocean fishery off Oregon in March and April typically has very low effort and Chinook catch, the agencies cited as their rationale in making the decision. Fishery managers and industry representatives agreed this opening would not create any difficulty in developing the remainder of the ocean seasons for the 2019 fishing year.

Seasons from May 1, 2019, to April 30, 2020, are being developed. Season alternatives will be reviewed and a final recommendation made at the Pacific Fishery Management Council public meeting April 9 to 16 in Rohnert Park, California.

Home permit fees up

The city of Brookings will more than double its permit cost for manufactured homes, from $200 to $406, to reflect the actual cost of inspections and reviews, the city council decided Monday night.

The cost of that permit has been the same for at least the past eight years, said Building Official Garrett Thomson.

The city gets about four requests a year for manufactured home construction.

Unemployment still high

The Oregon Coast economy continues to limp along despite the economic recovery elsewhere, boasting less than a 1 percent growth rate, according to the Oregon Employment Department report for December.

The best growth rate in Oregon is in the Bend-Redmond area, at 3.7 percent.

The statistics also show Curry County’s unemployment rate is steady — and among the highest in the state — at 6.5 percent. The only other counties faring worse are Grant, with a 7.4 percent unemployment rate and Klamath at 6.6 percent.

Others that are high include Wallowa and Harney counties at 6.2 percent and Lake County at 6 percent.

The second-highest unemployment rate on the coast is in Lincoln County, which has a rate of 5 percent. Benton County has the lowest unemployment rate in the state, at 3.3 percent.

For the first time since spring of 2016, the number of unemployed people in the state jumped above 100,000, to 103,965.

Brookings Park work

Deputy Director Jay Trost reported this week that staff installed perimeter footing and poured concrete in preparation for a retaining wall and final grading at Salmon Run golf course last week.

Staff also spent several days working on the Azalea Park Natural Trail to connect the trail around Kid Town to the Formal Gardens and along the west side of the park to the Botanical Garden. The work included grading, laying mulch and the installation of a culvert.

The trail now connects every aspect of the park and provides users a nature trail experience not often found in a community park, said City Manager Janell Howard.

Public works crews were busy repairing a broken water pipe that supplied an irrigation meter at the Calvary Church on Fir Street, and spent several days resolving a backed-up private storm drain on Richard Street, said Public Works Supervisor Tim Rettke.

No confidence

The Curry County Board of Commissioners voted late last month to support Jackson County — and possibly Douglas County — and send a letter with with a vote of no confidence to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife for their part in allegedly failing to protect spring Chinook salmon on the Upper Rogue River.

Chinook returns have dropped precipitously since the Lost Creek, Applegate and Elk Creek dams were built in Jackson County. Only Lost Creek still stands, and it is the responsibility of the two agencies to ensure it doesn’t adversely affect fish populations downstream.

Fisheries expert Steve Beyerlin told county commissioners last month that the Cole Rivers Hatchery was built by the Corps in 1973 to mitigate for spawning and rearing areas blocked by the construction of the dams. He also said the two agencies in charge of ensuring a successful fishery have failed to do so.

Federal regulations require that inundation of the river below the dam cause no damage to Chinook populations, but that numbers have plummeted and the agencies have done nothing to address it, he said.