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Coos Bay Public Works official warns public to avoid U.S. Highway 101

COOS COUNTY – Portions of U.S. Highway 101 were under 12 inches of water Tuesday.

Coos Bay Public Works Operations Administrator Randy Dixon recommended Tuesday that the public avoid U.S. Highway 101.

“The most critical areas in Coos Bay is from Curtis to Golden and as far as Johnson because the elevation drops back in the southern part of town,” Dixon said. “There are storm pumps working, they keep up to 250 gallons per minute, but when it’s impacting as heavy as it is now, it’s hard to keep up.”

First and Second Street, U.S. Highway 101 going north and south, were flooded. Earlier Tuesday afternoon, a vehicle stalled and had to be towed.

Bethany Baker, The World 

Jaime Thurbur of North Bend Towing hooks up the vehicle of Joan Granum of North Bend in several inches of standing water on Hwy. 101 near The Mill Casino in North Bend on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017. Heavy rainfall caused flooding throughout the region. 

“Pretty much the corridor all the way down from Coos Bay and into North Bend is under water,” he said Tuesday. “When the tide is high like this and we’re getting a lot of inches in rain in short order, it’s hard for water to exit the streets.”

Dixon’s worry now is about the dike that is next to U.S. Highway 101 which is owned by The Port of Coos Bay. It is the most critical asset being used to keep the roads from getting worse, but is in need of repairs.

“We have permits to do repairs on the dike,” Dixon said. “As long as our storms don’t get too much more involved than what we’re getting now, we should be okay, but if we get serious downpours on a repeated basis we will need to look at those issues.”

Bethany Baker, The World 

Vehicles travel through several inches of standing water on Hwy. 101 near The Mill Casino in North Bend after heavy rains on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017.

Parts of North Bend were also reported to be without power.

If you find yourself on U.S. Highway 101 and in an emergency, call 911. If you’re in the flooded zone but not experiencing immediate danger, call the Coos Bay Police Department at 541-269-8911 or Public Works at 541-269-1189 to report the problem.

“Be patient with us as we jump around and put out these fires,” Dixon said Tuesday.

The total precipitation for Coos Bay and North Bend Tuesday was .88 of an inch, according to the National Weather Service. More rain will continue to fall throughout most of the day today with a predicted high of 48 degrees and a low of 32 degrees.

Fishing families get holiday relief

CHARLESTON — Charleston Fishing Families is a community nonprofit organization that has been collecting food and toys this holiday season to provide a happy holiday for the families of fishermen who have had trouble making ends meet.  

Because of the late start of crabbing season the past couple of years, many fishermen with families have been left without any source of income over the holiday season.

“The fishing industry is very sporadic, one day you could be fishing and the next the weather is bad, and you don’t get a check,” Jackie Chambers, a fisherman’s wife and a representative of Charleston Fishing Families, said.

Last year’s crabbing season delay was due to high levels of demoic acid in the crab. This year, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife delayed the season because the crab were not full of enough meat for the season to begin.

Charleston Fishing Families are providing 10 local families with a food basket and gifts for all the kids of these families, as well as something warm for the kids to wear this winter. The food basket contains both a breakfast and a dinner.

Last year 15 families applied to take part in Charleston Fishing Families holiday program. The application process for this year has closed, but if a family is really in need they are willing to take late applicants.

“If there’s a family that really needs help last minute we could probably accommodate them, at this point though, we really hope the community will donate if they’re able to,” Chambers said.

Charleston Fishing families are asking the community for nonperishable food items, warm clothing for kids, unwrapped gifts for all ages, and stocking-stuffer items.

Donation bins can be found at several locations, including Davey Jones Locker, South Slough, Millers at the Cove, McKay’s in Empire, and Grocery Outlet.

“I’ve been a fisherman’s wife for five years and we have two small children, so I know the struggle. It’s just nice to fill a gap in services. I know there are a lot of programs in our area, which is amazing, but there’s nothing geared toward these fishing families specifically. It’s good to be able to fill that gap,” Chambers said. 

Oregon schools grapple with medical marijuana
This issue arose as the North Bend School District updates its prescription policy

NORTH BEND — Oregon schools are getting caught between the state and the federal government over medical marijuana.

The problem began when medical marijuana became legal in Oregon in 1998. The legalization allowed small home-grown doses for certain medical conditions. Then in 2012 voters approved a medical marijuana dispensary registry to regulate the retail market. Even after all these years, it is still illegal at the federal level.

In fact, it is categorized by the Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule I, which prohibits drugs with, “no currently accepted medical use.” Marijuana appears on the list next to heroin, LSD, meth, and ecstasy.

Schools are caught in the middle because individuals under 21 can hold a medical marijuana card in Oregon. The danger for schools is if the marijuana makes it onto campus, then they stand to lose out on federal revenue.

“This is a problem for schools,” said Brad Bixler, communications specialist with the North Bend School District. “What we’re finding is that some kids have a need and families have reached outside of the traditional realms of medicine for products derived from the cannabis plant, which are showing to have benefits for some things these kids deal with.”

One of the main uses of medical marijuana is to treat epilepsy. After it was legalized in Colorado, the state saw people move in just for access to the drug for their children.

“For schools, these situations don’t come with prescriptions from doctors,” Bixler explained. “They are more like medical notes.”

Medical notes are actually handed out by companies such as Left Coast, but only after symptoms are confirmed by a doctor. The notes also cost $400 to obtain, making them the most expensive in any state.

“We’re in the process of evaluating our policies regarding prescription and non-prescription medication,” Bixler said. “This is one that recently came up for review. We have a policy for both of those, but are combining them under one umbrella called ‘medications,’ so this won’t change what we do in terms of services for students and families.”

However, Bixler pointed to other districts that have bumped into situations regarding medical marijuana because of the card-carrying ability for younger individuals.

“These kids could have an identified need to access some of the cannabis plant during the school day,” he said. “Because it’s not a prescription from a doctor, we can’t handle it through our prescription medication policy and it isn’t something we can sign off on because it’s not an over-the-counter medication. We’re really restricted on what we can do. We have to be very careful and be aware of what may be coming onto our campuses and how to handle it.”

Bixler gave the school board a heads up on the issue during last week’s regular meeting. He has researched different protocols that other school districts have taken to avoid breaking federal law.

“What we’re finding is often the child is picked up for lunch or during break and leaves with the family off campus,” Bixler said. “Then after they have what they need, they are brought back. The point is, because it’s still listed as a Schedule I, it is still a very big deal for us.”

He said that many schools in larger communities around the state are starting to deal with this problem already. Though there are currently no students at the North Bend School District with a medical marijuana card, “it’s just a matter of time.”

“We’re not changing our policy per se, but are certainly ready to make an adjustment,” Bixler said.

The World reached out to the Oregon Department of Education for comment, but didn't receive a response by the deadline for this story.