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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Relentless rains wreak havoc on county roads

As darkness fell Friday afternoon, torrential rains had stopped short of flooding major rivers but left numerous roads and highways undermined and blocked entirely by tons of saturated, sliding soil, rocks and trees.
The latest winter storm dumped nearly 5 inches of rain on downtown Brookings and up to 6 inches in other areas of the county on Thursday and Friday. The forecast called for 100 percent rain through Sunday.
Rain-soaked hillsides began to collapse Thursday evening, starting with the complete blockage of Highway 101 at milepost 310, south of Humbug Mountain. The highway remained closed until Friday afternoon, when one lane of traffic was opened. Oregon Department of Transportation officials at the scene could not guarantee the one lane would remain open as the hillside above and below the narrow section of highway continued to move.
On Friday, a slide closed Highway 197 in northern California, that links Highway 101 and Highway 199, and many Curry County roads were closed by high water Friday afternoon.
Also on Friday, access to the small, rural town of Agness, 35 miles east of Gold Beach, was blocked on both sides due to slides on Forest Road 33. Carpenterville Road, about 10 miles north of Brookings, remained closed in some areas because of slides.
County and state road crews struggled to keep up with the failing roads as rains kept falling.
“We are working closely with the Curry County Sheriff’s office to address public health and safety needs for the community of Agness,” Gold Beach District Ranger Alan Vandiver said. “Our forest road engineers are working diligently to open the road as quickly as possible. However, with the predicted continued precipitation, there is potential for additional slides and road closures.”
FR33 was blocked in the vicinities of China Flat at milepost 53 and Quosatana Campground at milepost 15. Between the two blockages, approximately 5,000 cubic yards of material sloughed off nearby mountain slopes and onto the roadway.
A road maintenance contractor worked to clean up the slide near Quosatana, but there was no estimate on when FR 33 would be open for public use. Road engineers were posting “road closed ahead” signs to warn motorists of the blocked locations.
The slide on Highway 101 near Humbug Mountain affected Curry County Circuit Court Friday morning, as Curry County District Attorney Everett Dial was unable to make the drive from his home, and attorney Rick Inokuchi, who commutes from Coos County, was stuck on the north side of the slide.
Deputy DA Jake Conde handled court sessions and Inokuchi made appearances by telephone. However at least one sentencing was delayed for a week and other defendants, awaiting arraignment, were not brought in from the jail.
Southbound traffic on Highway 101 was stopped at Port Orford and northbound traffic at Nesika Beach north of Gold Beach. The Curry Coastal Pilot sent News Alert emails about the slide to 2,400 readers late Thursday night; the Curry County Sheriff’s Office made recorded message calls to everyone signed up for its emergency warning notifications.
ODOT advised drivers to use alternate routes, in this case via Interstate 5 through Roseburg and Grants Pass – a detour of more than 250 miles.
“An estimated 400 yards of rocky debris make up the slide,” ODOT reported.
Crews held off repair because it remained active due to the saturated soils and, for safety reasons, they could not begin the cleanup until it became stable.
In addition, some lanes of Highway 101 were closed between Brookings and Gold Beach because of slumping roadbeds. Traffic was still moving through those areas, however.
As heavy rains continued Friday morning, Curry County reported several road closures, and the U.S. Coast Guard closed the Chetco River Bar to all marine traffic. A North Bank Chetco River resident whose home was surrounded by flood waters in January reported that the river had come up around her home again Friday.
The storms are forecast to continue through the day on Saturday, slacking off to showers. The Pilot’s weather station recorded 2.65 inches on Thursday, the heaviest daily total so far in March.
The Curry County Road Department reported that current slide areas caused by previous January storms on or along county roads seemed to being holding steady with the exception of Old County Road outside Brookings. It was down to one lane, with another lane collapsing downhill into a nearby driveway.
Also affected was Carpenterville Road with landslides at two locations, near its intersections with Pistol River Road and Cape Ferrelo Road.  
Additionally, Euchre Creek Road, 1.5 miles past the end of the county road, was closed with 400 cubic yards of slide debris.
Other affected roads included Cedar Valley Road with a new small slide north of Hendricks, Floras Creek had pipes and culverts plugged, Hunter Creek Loop was closed at the north entrance by a slide just north of the bridge.
Hunter Creek Road had water encroaching road sides, Langlois Mountain Road had pipes plugged, Little South Fork was closed a half mile from Hunter Creek Road, North Bank Rogue River Road was closed at Rogue River Park and Lobster Creek Bridge, with water 2 to 3 feet over the road.
Pistol River Loop Road had high water signs placed at intersections, had water over the road. Sixes River Road had a hillside slumping into the road. North Bank Pistol River Road had water over the road at mile post 1.5 and the South Bank Chetco River Road had a slide. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mega Millions at $975 Million for tuesday?


Someone may be $640 million richer Friday night.
The Mega Millions lottery was conducted and the winning numbers are: 46, 23, 38, 4, 2 and Mega Ball 23.
Before Friday night's drawing, lottery ticket lines swelled as the record Mega Millions jackpot grew to $640 million, thanks greatly to players who opened their wallets despite long odds of success. Across the country, Americans plunked down an estimated $1.5 billion on the longest of long shots: an infinitesimally small chance to win what could end up being the single biggest lottery payout the world has ever seen.
A cafe worker in Arizona reported selling $2,600 worth of tickets to one buyer, while a retired soldier in Wisconsin doubled his regular weekly ticket spending to $55. But each would have to put down millions more to guarantee winning what could be the biggest single lotto payout in the world.
"I feel like a fool throwing that kind of money away," said Jesse Carter, who spent the $55 and donated the last two tickets he bought at a Milwaukee store Friday to a charity. "But it's a chance you take in life, with anything you do."
The jackpot, if taken as a $462 million lump sum and after federal tax withholding, works out to about $347 million. With the jackpot odds at 1 in 176 million, it would cost $176 million to buy up every combination. Under that scenario, the strategy would win $171 million less if your state also withholds taxes.
Laura Horsley, who does communications and marketing for a trade association, bought $20 worth of Quick Pick tickets at a downtown Washington, D.C., liquor store Friday. But Horsley, who said she won't buy a lottery ticket unless the jackpot tops $100 million, remained realistic.
"I don't actually think I'm going to win, and I don't believe in superstitions or numbers or anything like that," she said. "I just figured it's right around the corner. I'd be crazy not at least to give it a shot."
Thousands of players -- who converged on convenience stores in 42 states and Washington, D.C., where Mega Millions tickets are sold -- agreed.
Kelly Cripe, a spokeswoman for the Texas Lottery Commission, said that as of Tuesday, nationwide sales for the Mega Millions drawing totaled more than $839 million. Officials projected an additional $618.5 million in sales ahead of Friday's drawing, however, for a projected total sales figure of more than $1.46 billion.
"This is unprecedented," Cripe said Friday by e-mail.
Some Indiana players managed to get freebies, as Hoosier Lottery officials gave away one free Mega Millions ticket to each of the first 540 players at several outlets around the state Friday -- a plan announced before the jackpot grew by $100 million.
In Indianapolis, college student Chris Stewart said he showed up at the lottery's headquarters at 6:30 a.m. to be first in a line.
"I've never seen a jackpot like this before," said Stewart, who bought five additional tickets. "If I won -- I mean wow! I just don't know what I'd do. I'd really have to think what I could do with it."
The lines were out the door at Rosie's Den cafe in the rural northwestern Arizona community of White Hills, 72 miles southeast of Las Vegas and one of the closest points to Nevada -- which doesn't offer Mega Millions -- for buyers to get in the game.
Rosie's worker Christine Millim said it's been nonstop for four days.
"In one step I sold $2,600 worth so, that was one person," she said.
Mike Catalano, chairman of the mathematics department at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D., concedes the math is clear: The more tickets you buy, the better chances you have of winning. Better long-shot chances, of course.
"You are about 50 times as likely to get struck by lightning as to win the lottery, based on the 90 people a year getting struck by lightning," Catalano said. "Of course, if you buy 50 tickets, you've equalized your chances of winning the jackpot with getting struck by lightning."
Based on other U.S. averages, you're about 8,000 times more likely to be murdered than to win the lottery, and about 20,000 times more likely to die in a car crash than hit the lucky numbers, Catalano said.
For David Kramer, a lawyer in Lincoln, Neb., buying his Mega Millions ticket wasn't about "the realistic opportunity to win."
"It's the fact that for three days, the daydreaming time about what I would do if I won is great entertainment and, frankly, a very nice release from a normal day," he said.
In Armen Keteyian's report for "CBS Evening News", the revenue from that jackpot pie is divided in three ways: About 60 percent goes to prize winners; 15 percent to retailers, marketing and operations; and 25 percent, or about $14 billion, goes back to the states for government services.
And while states earmark that money for education programs, state lotteries covered only a fraction of state education spending," according to a CBS News investigation.
Everett Eahmer, 80, of St. Paul, Minn., said he's been playing the lottery "since the beginning."
"If I win, the first thing I'm going to do is buy a (Tim) Tebow football shirt, and I'm going to do the Tebow pose," said Eahmer, who bought five tickets Thursday. "I'm with him in honoring a higher power."
Lottery officials are happy to have Friday's record Mega Millions jackpot fueling ticket sales, but even they caution against overspending.
"When people ask me, I just tell them that the odds of a lottery game make it a game of fate," said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Urbandale, Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association that oversees the Mega Millions, Powerball and other lotteries. "Just buy a ticket, sit back and see if fate points a finger at you for that day."
And what happens if you win? CBS MoneyWatch's Jill Schlesinger has some recommendations -- among them 1) Read the rules on the back of the lottery ticket and the lottery web site; 2) Assemble a team that would include interviewing attorneys and financial advisors; and 3) Allow yourself to spend a little money, but don't go crazy.

Slide closes 101 south of Port Orford


A landslide blocking U.S. Highway 101 since Thursday night continues to move this morning, keeping highway crews from attacking the blockage, according to a 7:45 a.m. update from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).
The slide is located about 11 miles south of Port Orford, at milepost  310, south of Humbug Mountain.
"An estimated 400 yards of rocky debris make up the slide," according to the latest ODOT update. "It is still active due to the saturated soils. Crews are assessing this morning. Because of safety concerns, they won't begin clean up until it becomes more stable."
Southbound traffic is being stopped at Port Orford and northbound traffic at Nesika Beach north of Gold Beach. The Curry Coastal Pilot sent News Alert emails about the slide to 2,400 readers late Thursday night; the Curry County Sheriff's Office made recorded messages calls to everyone signed up for its emergency warning list.
ODOT advised drivers to use alternate routes, in this case via Interstate 5 through Roseburg and Grants Pass - a detour of more than 250 miles.
In addition, some lanes of Highway 101 are closed between Brookings and Gold Beach because of slumping roadbeds. Traffic is still moving through those areas, however.
Watch for updates about the Highway 101 Friday on this website, and in the Saturday, March 31, edition of the Curry Coastal Pilot.
The National Weather Service has been warning all week that heavy rains and high winds could cause land movements along the Curry County coastline. Thursday's rain was the heaviest so far this week, dropping more than 2.3 inches at the Pilot's weather station in downtown Brookings.
You can find links to the latest forecasts, weather conditions at road reports at www. CurryPilot.com/weather .
 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Commercial salmon season outlook grim


All signs point to a robust recreational salmon season on the ocean this summer, but commercial salmon fishing is likely to remain severely restricted on the Del Norte coast.
The closest opportunity for Del Norters to make public comments on the salmon season alternatives is tonight at 7 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel in Eureka.
The Pacific Fisheries Management Council, which crafts season alternatives to be adopted by the  federal government, is hosting the public hearing in Eureka. A week-long PFMC meeting to hammer out the final season recommendations on a range of fisheries on the West Coast starts Sunday in Seattle.
The PFMC’s 2012 salmon season alternatives for Crescent City, Brookings and Eureka outline a sport season that could be as long as May 1 to Sept. 9. The shortest adopted alternative would still allow sport fishing from May 26 to Sept. 3.
But commercial salmon fishing remains virtually non-existent for the boats that remain in the Crescent City Harbor’s fleet. Harbormaster Richard Young said 20–25 vessels still have commercial salmon licenses in the harbor, although their crews haven’t been able to fish much in recent years with restrictions.
The best-case season alternative recommended by the council for the California Klamath Management Zone (KMZ), which runs from the Oregon/California border to Horse Mountain in Humboldt, would only allow for commercial salmon fishing Sept. 16-30, or until 6,000 Chinooks are caught.  
In that alternative, all salmon except coho would be fair game, with a minimum size limit of 27 inches and a possession limit of 15 Chinooks per vessel per day.
The two other alternatives don’t allow for any commercial salmon fishing.
In Oregon, the alternatives are more promising. The council’s commercial season recommendations for the Oregon KMZ (California border to Humbug Mountain) outline a more spread out season, and every alternative includes at least a 1,400-Chinook quota in June, a 1,100-Chinook quota in July and an 800-Chinook quota in August.
The KMZs in Oregon and California were established due to poor conditions on the Klamath River.
This season, however, 1.6 million adult Klamath River fall Chinooks are estimated to be in the ocean — four times the amount last year (371,100) and 15 times the amount in 2006. The estimates are based on the 85,840 2-year-old salmon (jacks) that returned to the Klamath last year — the highest amount since record-keeping began in 1978.
The Del Norte County Board of Supervisors penned a letter to the PFMC (expected to be approved at today’s supervisor meeting) that calls for more commercial salmon fishing on the North Coast.
“The small fleet of commercial salmon trawlers that make their home in Crescent City do not feel the restrictions have been applied in a manner that allows the commercial trawlers in Crescent City the ability to sustain,” the letter states. “The primary issue is providing a real commercial season in the KMZ.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Harbor businesses fed up with homeless


GOLD BEACH – A delegation from businesses have asked the county’s help in keeping homeless people from congregating at the South Coast Shopping Center in Harbor, bothering customers and creating problems for the businesses.
“This is an ongoing problem for years,” Sheriff John Bishop told the Curry County commissioners at a recent meeting. “We’re running into various roadblocks.”
The sheriff said that laws formerly used to move panhandlers and loiterers off such property have been declared unconstitutional.
 He said the homeless had previously made camps and congregated near the Chetco River bridge until the Juvenile Department cleaned up the area and removed brush.
“When you get one area cleared, they just move over,” Bishop said. “With the climate we have here, they come for the winter and stay for the summer. The problem is in Harbor.”
Commissioner Bill Waddle said these people cause problems when shoppers enter and exit the property.
“They do things to hassle customers when they visit the shops,” he said.
Commissioner David Itzen asked why they are concentrated in Harbor and not in Brookings.
“They tend to get checked on more in the city limits,” Bishop said. “There’s more brush for them to make camp sites in the Harbor area. It seems if we push to the front, they go to the back.”
Commissioner George Rhodes said there’s no easy solution.
“We don’t have the resources or can’t afford to put them in jail. There are places for them to stay, but those places have rules. They don’t want to follow the rules,” Rhodes said.
“We’re dealing with mental health issues, drug and alcohol issues. It’s not an easy fix,” Bishop said.
Bishop said his officers would work with the merchants and the state police.
County Counsel Jerry Herbage said he would be happy to work with the sheriff to see what ordinances might be needed.
“Our county ordinances are based on the fine system, not based on jail,” Herbage said. “I question how effective it would be to fine a homeless person. It’s not an easy situation.”
Tom Schoppert, property supervisor for the shopping center, said the situation is affecting the businesses.
“What it comes down to is egress and ingress,” Schoppert said. “It’s the same group of people at the entrance. They’ll get in the way. They sit with their feet in the entrance.”
Schoppert said he had worked with ODOT and attempted to get things installed so they can’t get close to the curb. He said there is a liability issue.
“The worst part of all is the litter. We have to constantly clean up after them,” Schoppert said.
Tim McKirgan, a Rite Aid supervisor, said there’s not only the problem with panhandling, but there are problems with dogs the homeless have.
“Most recently, a customer wanted to pet a dog. The dog growled at him,” McKirgan said.
He said there have been problems with the homeless threatening to stab people in the parking lot.
“We’ve had lot of different issues at the store. One guy was washing clothes in a bucket by the entrance, standing in his underwear. They’ll come in and steal from us, a 30-pack of beer. It’s spooky there. It has a lot of influence on our business,” McKirgan said.
“People don’t want to come there. They run the gantlet,” he said.
Rhodes said the sheriff can no longer enforce a public intoxication ordinance.
“There is no public intoxication law now. It was struck down by the courts,” Bishop said. “The only thing we can do is prove that they are a threat to themselves or others. What you may feel is harassment may be on two different levels. It is an issue. We have looked at this. Every time we seem to have a fix, there’s a roadblock there.”
Bishop said that sometimes the homeless may do something that gets them taken to jail, “and they’re out in hours.”
“We’ll work with the merchants. We’ll do whatever we can with what the law will allow,” Bishop said.
He said it is not a new issue, that it just seems to get bigger.
“What we try to tell property owners is, ‘If you clean the brush, they have no place to stay at night and they tend to move on.’” Bishop said. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bi-Marts Biggest Day!

More than 5,000 people walked through the doors of the Brookings Bi-Mart during the first day of operations Thursday.
“We had the best day of any store in the history of Bi-Mart,” said store manager Ty Schmidt. “I didn’t expect quite this big of a turnout, and so far it has been nothing but positive.”
The customer crush continued Friday, with customers, such as Jerry and Darlene Freamon of Brookings, looking for good deals on canned food and sporting goods.

“We’re here for their grand opening,” Jerry said.
“That and their great prices,” Darlene added.
The two plan on shopping at Bi-Mart weekly at least.
“I think they’ll have a better stock of outdoor stuff,” Jerry said. “I think it is good that they opened a store here.”
On Thursday, about 45 minutes before the store opened to the public at 9 a.m., a Bi-Mart executive gathered employees around and asked, “Are you ready to own it?”
The response was cheers and applause from the staff of the employee-owned company, most of whom have spent four weeks stocking the discount chain’s 73rd store. 
Just minutes later – after Schmidt cut two ceremonial ribbons – the new Bi-Mart workers were helping customers find bargains.
The first sale went to Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce President Les Cohen, who bought a 32-inch LCD TV for the Chamber office.
Bi-Mart President Rich Truett told the crew he was proud of the chain’s newest store and the work they had done to get it open. 
“Now,” he told them, “we want to hear the cash registers ring, because there’s nothing wrong with making money.”
Board Chairman Marty Smith told the new store crew they are now part of the 57-year legacy of Bi-Mart, founded with a store that opened in 1955 in Yakima, Wash. Bi-Mart became a chain in 1962 with its second store in Eugene, where company headquarters are today.
The Eugene location is evident in part of this week’s grand opening gifts. The first 500 people entering the store this week get University of Oregon Ducks shirts or hats.
Smith also reminded the crowd that Bi-Mart tried to come to Brookings nearly 20 years ago, but the property being considered was sold to Fred Meyer instead. 
“It’s taken 20 years, but we finally have a store in Brookings.”
For his part, Schmidt thanked “everyone I’ve had to deal with” in getting the store up and running. A Bi-Mart employee since he was 18, Schmidt is now 26, and comes to Brookings from the Grants Pass store.
Director of Marketing Don Leber also thanked and introduced many of the city officials and contractors who have worked on the project. The location was put together with the help of the city in securing a parcel large enough for the store.
On Friday afternoon, customer Melissa Campbell, of  Crescent City, said it was the prices that convinced her to make the drive to Brookings.
“I drove up for the prices,” Campbell said. “I actually drive to Medford once a month for the better prices, and that is in a Ford F250 diesel that doesn’t get good gas mileage. That tells you how much better the prices are outside of California.”
“We love Bi-Mart,” she added. “We go to the one in Grants Pass every month. Now it will be nice that we don’t have to drive so far.”
The store had approximately 4,000 members living in Curry County as of January 2012, and those numbers have swelled, according to store systems manager Kathy Marsh.
“We have about 6,000 memberships that have either sold or transfered now,” Marsh said.

The Hunger Games!

So I went to watch the hunger games last night.  I have never read the book before, I was wondering if i should go out and buy the book? Is it worth it? The move was amazing. Here is a recent review: Hunger Games. Let me know what you guys think I should do. If you haven't seen it i would recommend it.  Feel free to comment.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Whale Watching week!

Dress in layers, carve out  an hour of time and head to the beach to see the record numbers of gray whales and calves that have already been spotted migrating north. It’s Spring whale watch Week along the Wild Rivers Coast
 “You’re looking (for) an animal that’s as big as a school bus ... and when you finally see one, it’s exciting,” Harris Beach State Park Interpretive Ranger Angela Stewart said. “It’s just something magical. I can’t put it any other way. It still excites me after 26 years.”
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 24 through 31 trained volunteers will be at 24 spots along the Oregon Coast ready to share their knowledge about gray whales with visitors and help watchers spot the whales.
  The local viewing points are Battle Rock Wayfinding Point, Port Orford; Cape Ferrelo; Harris Beach State Park and Brother Jonathan Point at the west end of Ninth Street in Crescent City. 
“But you can often see whales very clearly from the Port and any of our higher headlands,” Stewart said. “The higher up you get, it’s almost like being in an airplane. You can see the whales really well.”
Chetco Point is a good viewing location as well, Stewart added. 
The whale watch week is coordinated by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) and is part of its Whale Watching Spoken Here program.
If the weather cooperates,  around 200 whales will be seen from Harris Beach State Park and Cape Ferrelo, Stewart said. 
A total of about 18,000 whales are headed to their summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea this time of year. The whales can usually be spotted one to three miles offshore. 
Gray whales are the main attraction, but  whale watchers might also be able to see smaller porpoises and dolphins, orca whales and Aleutian geese, Stewart said.
For more information about the program and for a map with all 24 viewpoints, please visit www.whalespoken.org.

You lose and you win!


Changes to superannuation laws can end up with many winners and losers.
For instance, someone who had worked for half of their working lives without compulsory super may consider themselves unfortunate next to younger people who will benefit from the Superannuation Guarantee system for all of their working lives. 
And take a person over 50 who was in the fortunate position of being able to make maximum concessional superannuation contributions in recent years before the Government’s next halving of the standard contributions cap* from 2012-13.
Yet many other fund members – including those who happen to turn 50 after June 30 this year – may not have the opportunity to make such large concessional contributions – even if they can afford it.
And hundreds of thousands of baby boomers will gain little or no benefit from the measure to progressively increase compulsory contributions from 9 to 12 per cent by July 2019, which was passed by Federal Parliament this week.
Older fund members, in particular, may remember the tax surcharge that the Howard Government once applied to the deductible contributions for middle and higher-income fund members. The surcharge had an impact on the retirement savings of those who happened to be liable for the few years before the impost was dropped from July 2005.
Informed fund members typically would try to understand the effect that any significant change to superannuation laws may have on their savings – and then they would consider whether to adjust their strategies in response. 
For example, many fund members who will be affected by the imminent halving of the standard concessional contributions cap will no doubt be considering increasing their non-concessional contributions.
*The Government has proposed keeping the current concessional contributions cap of $50,000 for those over 50 with less than $500,000 in super.

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