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Cost of recycling to go up in Coos County

COOS BAY — Coos County Commissioners approved an increase in county garbage collection rates at Tuesday’s Board of Commission meeting, largely in response to more stringent regulations from Chinese markets that buy our recycled material.

As of Jan. 1, 2018, the waste collection companies will be charging an extra eight cents a month for the average 35-gallon residential can. Commercial collection will also be going up 5 percent as of Jan. 1.

Residential recycling service will rise 72 cents in price in July to address cost of living for workers in the sanitation companies.

The need for an increase stems from the need to better sort recycling. The contamination percentage of our county’s recyclables is around 25 percent. The Chinese markets where we sell are demanding loads of recycling we send not be over .03 percent contamination as of 2018.

Many plastics that were once recyclable are no longer and many things that people think are recyclable are actually not. Paper milk cartons, medical waste, diapers, and textile waste are often found by local sanitation companies in recycle bins. The only salable plastics at this point are No. 1, and No. 2 plastics.

“We’ve spent quite a bit of money trying to educate the community about what they can throw in recycling. We sent out fliers. We try to clean up this material that’s been coming in, the packaging and plastics. It’s really been a struggle with the new standards that have been set by the Chinese market,” Bill Richardson of Waste Connections said.

The recycling industry faces a trying time, as market restrictions make it difficult for recyclers to make a profit on recyclable materials.  

“It gets to the point where the cost of recycling exceeds value of the material you’re recycling … We’re a small county with relatively few people, miles away from where recyclables are used. It’s really a challenge to figure out what to do with this. I think as responsible citizens we already pay to dispose of our garbage, we already pay to dispose of our sewage. I think we're going to have to accept that we may have to pay for disposing of what we have considered to be recyclables up to now,” Coos County commissioner John Sweet said. 

Bandon Dunes will host 2019 USGA event

BANDON — National championship golf is returning to Bandon Dunes a year sooner than expected.

The United States Golf Association announced Tuesday that the resort will host the 2019 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. The event had been scheduled for Chambers Bay in Washington, but was moved because that course is going through a project to change the type of grass on its greens.

The Four-Ball Championship will be the sixth USGA event contested at Bandon Dunes, which also will host the 2020 U.S. Amateur.

“We’re super pumped,” said Michael Chupka, the resort’s director of communications, adding discussion about hosting the event came up recently. “It hasn’t been in the works for very long at all.”

It will provide a challenge, with Bandon Dunes now hosting major events in consecutive years, but Chupka said he is confident in the resort’s staff.

“Even with it being the winter of 2017, hosting a championship in May of 2019 still leaves us ample time to plan for everything,” Chupka said. “We’re beyond excited. It’s going to be a crazy couple of years gearing up for this. It’s so much fun to be a part of them.”

Bandon Dunes previously hosted the Curtis Cup in 2005, the U.S. Mid-Amateur in 2006, the 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links (held concurrently), and the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship in 2015.

USGA officials praised the resort and owner Mike Keiser while announcing the tournament Tuesday.

“The USGA is extremely grateful to owner Mike Keiser and Bandon Dunes, a trusted supporter of amateur golf, for agreeing to host the 2019 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball while this work occurs at Chambers Bay,” said John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships and governance. “We also acknowledge the foresight and initiative of everyone at Chambers Bay in undertaking this work.”

Chambers Bay is converting its putting surfaces from fescue to poa annua grass, which should provide long-range benefits to that course, Bodenhamer said. It will now host the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championships in 2021.

Both Bandon Dunes and Chambers Bay are managed by Kemper Sports. Matt Allen, the general manager, worked at Bandon Dunes before moving to the Washington course when it was built. Director of Agronomy Eric Johnson is a North Bend graduate and a former superintendent of the Old Macdonald course at Bandon Dunes.

The 2019 Amateur Four-Ball Championship will be held from May 25-29, a Saturday through Wednesday. It will start with 128 two-player teams, or sides in four-ball lingo, selected at qualifiers held throughout the country.

Chupka said he could envision a number of the resort’s caddies trying to qualify. Caddies Kyle Crawford and Tim Tucker played in the inaugural tournament in 2015.

“Knowing the quality of golfers and players that we have down here, I’m sure that we’re going to see at least one, if not two, teams, and they would have a real fighting chance of being the home team,” Chupka said.

In four-ball, both players on a team play each hole and they count the better score.

“It’s a format that our guests love and play a lot here,” Chupka said.

The first two days of the tournament will be qualifying, with the top 64 teams advancing to the match play portion of the event.

Two of the resort’s four courses will be used for the qualifying portion of the tournament, and will be selected at a later date.

“USGA has been out to discuss possible logistics,” Chupka said. “Hopefully, we will get a better feel for it later this year.”

As with the previous events, the resort will rely on volunteers from the community to help with the event.

“That’s something the USGA has commented on numerous times, just how welcoming the community has been,” Chupka said. “We certainly look forward to working with the community, for not only the 2020 U.S. Am but the 2019 Four Ball as well.”

Chambers Bay previously hosted the 2010 U.S. Amateur and the 2015 U.S. Open.

“Both of these sites are excellent championship venues and are unwavering in their support of amateur golf,” Bodenhamer said. “They offer the USGA an opportunity to continue to conduct exemplary four-ball championships while providing an ultimate test for the players.

“In addition, both of these Pacific Northwest communities have always offered a warm welcome to the USGA, its championships and its competitors.”

Trump forges ahead on Jerusalem-as-capital despite warnings

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital today despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that would upend decades of U.S. policy and risk potentially violent protests.

Trump will instruct the State Department to begin the multi-year process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, U.S. officials said Tuesday. It remains unclear, however, when he might take that physical step, which is required by U.S. law but has been waived on national security grounds for more than two decades.

The officials said numerous logistical and security details, as well as site determination and construction, will need to be finalized first. Because of those issues, the embassy is not likely to move for at least 3 or 4 years, presuming there is no future change in U.S. policy.

To that end, the officials said Trump will sign a waiver delaying the embassy move, which is required by U.S. law every six months. He will continue to sign the waiver until preparations for the embassy move are complete.

The officials said recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital will be an acknowledgement of "historical and current reality" rather than a political statement and said the city's physical and political borders will not be compromised. They noted that almost all of Israel's government agencies and parliament are in Jerusalem, rather than Tel Aviv, where the U.S. and other countries maintain embassies.

The U.S. officials spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity Tuesday because they were not authorized to publicly preview Trump's Wednesday announcement. Their comments mirrored those of officials who spoke on the issue last week.

The declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital is a rhetorical volley that could have its own dangerous consequences. The United States has never endorsed the Jewish state's claim of sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem and has insisted its status be resolved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiation.

The mere consideration of Trump changing the status quo sparked a renewed U.S. security warning on Tuesday. America's consulate in Jerusalem ordered U.S. personnel and their families to avoid visiting Jerusalem's Old City or the West Bank, and urged American citizens in general to avoid places with increased police or military presence.

Trump, as a presidential candidate, repeatedly promised to move the U.S. embassy. However, U.S. leaders have routinely and unceremoniously delayed such a move since President Bill Clinton signed a law in 1995 stipulating that the United States must relocate its diplomatic presence to Jerusalem unless the commander in chief issues a waiver on national security grounds.

Key national security advisers — including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — have urged caution, according to the officials, who said Trump has been receptive to some of their concerns.

The concerns are real: Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital could be viewed as America discarding its longstanding neutrality and siding with Israel at a time that the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been trying to midwife a new peace process into existence. Trump, too, has spoken of his desire for a "deal of the century" that would end Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

U.S. officials, along with an outside adviser to the administration, said they expected a broad statement from Trump about Jerusalem's status as the "capital of Israel." The president isn't planning to use the phrase "undivided capital," according to the officials. Such terminology is favored by Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and would imply Israel's sovereignty over east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians seek for their own future capital.

Jerusalem includes the holiest ground in Judaism. But it's also home to Islam's third-holiest shrine and major Christian sites, and forms the combustible center of the Israeli-Arab conflict. Any perceived harm to Muslim claims to the city has triggered volatile protests in the past, both in the Holy Land and across the Muslim world.

Within the Trump administration, officials on Tuesday fielded a flood of warnings from allied governments.

The Jerusalem declaration notwithstanding, one official said Trump would insist that issues of sovereignty and borders must be negotiated by Israel and the Palestinians. The official said Trump would call for Jordan to maintain its role as the legal guardian of Jerusalem's Muslim holy places, and reflect Israel and Palestinian wishes for a two-state peace solution.

Still, any U.S. declaration on Jerusalem's status ahead of a peace deal "would harm peace negotiation process and escalate tension in the region," Saudi Arabia's King Salman told Trump Tuesday, according to a Saudi readout of their telephone conversation. Declaring Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the king said, "would constitute a flagrant provocation to all Muslims, all over the world."

In his calls to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah II, Trump delivered what appeared to be identical messages of intent. Both leaders warned Trump that moving the embassy would threaten Mideast peace efforts and security and stability in the Middle East and the world, according to statements from their offices.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his Parliament such recognition was a "red line" and that Turkey could respond by cutting diplomatic ties with Israel.

Most county services leave North Bend Annex

NORTH BEND — Soon the North Bend Coos County Courthouse Annex will be the only office in operation at the large county owned building on McPherson Avenue.

State and federal funds have given Coos Health and Wellness the opportunity to leave the building on McPherson, and move into a brand new, state of the art, medical facility. The new Coos Health and Wellness facility is scheduled to open Jan. 15, and will be located near the Western Oregon Advanced Health building on Laclair Street.

As the Coos Health and Wellness move approaches, other services have decided to move from the annex building. Services moving out include Community Corrections, the Assessor’s office, and Juvenile Services. These services will be moving to a satellite office located near the airport.

“Courts will stay there as far as we know,” county commissioner Bob Main said.

The courthouse annex, which only takes up the northwest corner of McPherson building will be the only office operating in the former hospital. The county is interested in relocating the courthouse annex, but State Courts has not approved any sort of relocation at this time.

“Years ago, the state provided the county money to fix up the wing of the annex that’s being used as a courthouse. With accepting that money we also committed to maintaining that courthouse there for a rather long period of time.  I can’t remember off the top of my head, but it’s something like 10 or 15 years we’re obligated to keep the courthouse there,” Commissioner John Sweet said.

If the state courts wish to let the county out of their obligation to the current annex building they could, but they haven’t decided to do so yet.

“We’ve asked them to consider it and they would like to leave the court house there at this point in time,” Sweet said.

It is convenient for many folks in Coos County to have the annex in North Bend, allowing the county to split up court functions between the annex and the main courthouse in Coquille. Currently the annex deals mostly with traffic violations and small claims court cases.

“I think it would be advantageeous to move the annex out of that building. However, that decision has to be made by state courts,” Sweet said.

According to Main, the city of North Bend has shown some slight interest in the using the building, but nothing is certain.

“From the county’s perspective we would save at least $150,000 a year by eliminating that building,” commissioner Melissa Cribbins said.  

As of the mid-January, the county is responsible for maintaining and securing a building which they will use very little of.

“We’re going to have to secure it from people getting in to areas they're not supposed to be in, other than going to court,” Main said.

Lou Sennick, The World  

In North Bend, the former Keiser Hospital will be nearly empty after the Coos Health and Wellness moves to a new facility on LeClair Street. The Coos County Courthouse Annex will remain in the building.