Fire Awareness

As we approach the remainder of our summer, all should be reminded of wise awareness and how exposed we often are to fire. Our forests produce some of the highest quality, fastest growing trees in the world, providing clear water, clean air and tremendous fish and wildlife habitat.

Add the recreational and timber harvest value to our rural Oregon and local economy and all combined it’s a large part of the reason we live here. Most of us feel pretty fortunate to reside in such a great place and want to do our part to protect it.

As I write, there are presently 37 wildfires in the Western U.S. The fire prevention meeting I called in Gold Beach on July 6 is a good example of the level of preparedness we need to maintain. I would like to thank all of the fire personnel and citizens who took their time to share information and take part in that important discussion. We all need to take personal responsibility by maintaining our properties in a fire safe manner. I attended the Whaleshead neighborhood meeting Monday night and m happy to report those folks are well on their way to improved planning, organizing, and preparation.

People need to ensure their defensible space around buildings through mowing, brushing, cutting overhanging branches, and keeping roofs free of debris. Maintain roads to allow for unobstructed access for incoming fire resources, using fire-resistant vegetation and even considering an emergency water source for fire suppression.

An important part of the wise management formula here remains the need to assist all service groups, but especially our small rural volunteer fire departments. Many simply do not have enough people, and needless to say, operate on very limited budgets.

In all of our circles, we should each reach out to find those who could be a part of our RVFD’S, share the need and encourage them to join. While the work is hard, the benefits of community service and the training received are rewarding. And for those who aren’t able to do this work, there are numerous ways to support those who do.

For more information, please contact my office and I can get you in touch with your local fire department. We’ve already had small fires countywide, and we’re only one errant spark, accident or lightning storm away from more. Please be safe, prepared and help where you can.

Court Boice

Curry County commissioner

County Issues

As I press on with the issues facing the county, and the many financial shortfalls we face, I am encountering many things that are accepted as status quo but really need to be addressed.

One thing I have found that needs to be dealt with in the very near future is some of the special districts we have in Curry County.

Curry County has roughly 23,000 people and 42 special districts. These districts absorb a whopping 93.48 percent of the property taxes paid by our property owners. Looking for ways to pay the bills without raising property taxes, these districts have been voted in by the people of Curry over the decades. Sometimes it is necessary to revisit them to see if there is room for consolidation, reduction of or simply dissolution of the district.

Currently, I am looking into the Southwestern Oregon Community College better known as SWOCC in Brookings. The amount of money the taxpayers give to the college is staggering compared to the services we receive. Curry County currently gives 38.8 percent of the tax base to the SWOCC College District. We give $2,137,803 to the district while Coos County, which is the partner county in the SWOCC Campus in Coos Bay, only gives $3,360,196. With Coos County having almost three times the population they pay little more than we do. On a cost per person basis, Coos County pays $.5693 per person while Curry County pays $.9559 per person, a huge disparity. Simply, Curry Citizens pay 168 percent more per person for the SWOCC Campus.

Most of the classes for the college have been moved to Coos Bay with online classes being offered to Curry’s students. With the dwindling educational curriculum given at the campus and the burden to this county, the SWOCC special district needs to be looked at for a reduction or dissolution. At a minimum, Curry County needs equal seats on the board of directors as well as decisions the college is making on the kind of classes offered, whether they be academic or vocational.

Think about this: Southwestern Oregon Community College receives more money annually than the entire general fund for Curry County to pay our bills… is something wrong here?

Christopher Paasch

Curry County commissioner

Heard among fleeing senators

Your article “Senator threatens violence” carefully neglects to point out that Curry County’s State Sen. Dallas Heard is among the cowards who ran rather than do the jobs they were hired to do, which is to represent us in Salem, Oregon, not Idaho. Heard has also made no statement decrying the threats made by Sen. Brian Boquist, who has publicly threatened to kill Oregon State troopers, thereby choosing to align himself with a declared terrorist.

Commissioner Court Boice has also chosen to align himself with these terrorists, unless he can show that Boquist notified him, before making his threats, that they were not to be taken verbatim.

This is how the Oregon Republican Party now behaves, a party too inept and distasteful to most Oregonians to be able to win statewide elections for nearly two decades — except when the Democratic candidate was so disliked by Democrats that many of them chose to elect the Republican candidate for secretary of state. A party slipping into obscurity, according to voter registration, and willing to resort to terrorism in a futile attempt to slow that decline.

This is not the Grand Old Party, respecting law, order, and the Constitution of the United States of America in which I was raised. This party is more reminiscent of the brown-and black-shirted thugs of the 1930’s. Make no mistake, Boquist has declared himself to be a terrorist, and Heard and Boice are enabling him, at the very least.

Michael R. Pitts-Campbell