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Coos Bay School District to use Camp Gray for outdoor education
All 6th graders to leave for two nights and three days before and after spring break

COOS BAY — Oregon voters want kids to spend more time outside. The solution? Outdoor education.

Measure 99 requires all school districts to provide outdoor school experiences for fifth or sixth grade students. Once the measure was passed, it was decided that funding would come through state lottery money as well as Measure 99 funds.

“Initially it was required that students spend five consecutive days and four nights outside, but then backed off when they realized funding would not be what they expected,” said Coos Bay School District Superintendent Bryan Trendell. “The state put out the recommendation for two nights and three days, which is what we are doing.”

The Coos Bay School District has chosen to send its 6th graders from Sunset and Millicoma middle schools to the new outdoor science camp in Newport. The OMSI Coastal Discovery Center at Camp Gray opened in 2016, boasting of being the largest outdoor science camp in the country.

To send its 235 students to Camp Gray, it will cost the district almost $44,000.

“We didn’t know what funding was going to look like at the time, but knew there would be some from Measure 99 so went ahead and booked some dates at the facility,” Trendell said.

The district planned if Measure 99 funds only covered a portion of the cost to turn to fundraising to cover the rest of the expense.

However, over winter break the district was notified that the cost would be fully covered.

“We submitted the request to the Oregon State University Extension Program that monitors the funding for outdoor education throughout the state and they told us over the break that they would fund all of it,” he said. “The great thing is that the total cost takes care of transportation, meals, and the facility, everything to do with Camp Gray.”

Camp Gray is complete with dormitories, cafeteria, three classrooms, but focuses mainly on getting kids outside. The OMSI staff teaches at various stations spread across the three days. Coos Bay School staff that will join the students will help but mainly monitor the kids.

Students will be broken into groups of 12 and rotated through the stations. Staff and parent volunteers will chaperone them overnight.

“The folks that sponsored the outdoor education ballot measure felt the kids weren’t getting an opportunity to be outside,” Trendell explained. “I personally think it was geared more toward the metropolitan areas because here in rural districts our kids get a good taste of the outdoors.”

In fact, students at the Coos Bay School District often go on field trips to fisheries, the marsh, and at least two buildings have gardens tended by classes.

“We actually used to do outdoor school when I was still teaching at Sunset Middle School,” Trendell said. “We took our seventh graders every year for two nights and three days to Camp Baker, a Boy Scout camp in Florence. We put on our outdoor school program with science and had lots of activities for the kids that you don’t always get in a general classroom.”

However, the program died off shortly after Trendell moved up in his career and seventh graders were moved to the high school campus.

“To have it overnight gives these kids the experience to be away from home,” Trendell said. “When we did the outdoor school program at Sunset, we had kids who hadn’t been across the McCullough Bridge or out of town. I think that’s part of what goes along with the overnight piece because they can have activities like skits. I anticipate this will be the same, just in a confined and newer location.”

The sixth graders from Millicoma Middle School will leave for Camp Gray in March just before spring break, while those at Sunset will go the first week of April.

“I think it’s great where you can get them out of town, they are old enough to do that, and it’s an age where they don’t necessarily get the rich science curriculum that our high schoolers do,” Trendell said. “I’m excited, our staff is excited. This will be a requirement for students and it’s going to be a very rich program.”

Age of city storm drains in Coos Bay is unknown

COOS BAY — Construction sites correcting old or damaged storm drains throughout the city of Coos Bay are partially the result of poorly kept records.

“The trouble with our storm drain is that we don’t have a lot of historical data on it like we do with sanitary sewer... When they were exactly constructed that’s the missing piece. We know where every single foot of pipe is, we know where storm drain manholes and inlets are, it’s just the age,” Coos Bay City Engineer Jennifer Wirsing said.

Of the three storm-drain projects currently underway two are preventative and part of the city’s master plan, the other was unexpected.

“With the sewer it’s a little bit easier to go in and identify the age of the system and be able to target projects. With storm drains it’s a little harder. We almost have to go off of what type of material it is and then base that material back to the time it was readily used,” Wirsing said.

The first drainage replacement is along Sixth Avenue in Eastside, where a wooden box culvert is being replaced. The city is not certain how old the culvert being replaced is, but they suspect it was installed in the 1920s sometime, as that was the time period when wood was used for such parts.

Located along Golden Avenue next to the post office and down the street from Marshfield High School, the next construction project is replacing both storm drains and sewage drains.

The last project was an unexpected sinkhole on Ocean Boulevard and Newmark Street, which formed due to worn storm drains and was financed by emergency planning funds.

“Anything engineered has a useful life. Nothing lasts forever. These pipes are underground, and with soils conditions, there is a limit to how long some of this infrastructure is lasting,” Wirsing said.

Drains are tested for deficiencies by smoke testing. When conducting a smoke test both ends of a section of pipe are plugged and fill the section with smoke. If the smoke rises from underground through to the surface, that indicates a deficiency in the pipe.

“We do have the ability to televise both of these systems, but we just don’t have the crew or the man power to constantly be looking for deficiencies. We do have a master plan where a lot of the storm drain system has been catalogued,” Wirsing said.  

In regards to replacement of old sections of pipe the master plan is broken up into high priority, medium priority, and low priority cases. The county is currently working through all of its high priority replacements.

Water collected by the 40 miles of storm drains flows straight into the bay. The water is not treated before it makes its way into the bay.

“Some people think they go to our sanitary sewer system, but they don’t. In some cities they do, but not here in Coos Bay,” Wirsing said.

Wirsing is actively trying keep better records on new systems, including in drainage plans when sections of pipe were changed, so that future city officials know how old the each section of the system might be. 

Coos Bay School District is searching for a project manager
Superintendent Bryan Trendell gave a BEST Bond update during Monday meeting

COOS BAY — The Coos Bay School District has begun its search for a project manager and architect firm.

Since the Coos Bay BEST Bond was approved by voters in November 2017, the district laid out its timeline to get its new buildings and renovations completed. The first step has now been taken by going out to bid for project manager and architect firm.

“We put that information out Monday and that will stay out for two weeks,” said district Superintendent Bryan Trendell. “After that we will hold a general meeting for folks to bid and get the details of what we are looking for as a district, and then it goes two more weeks for them to submit bids. We will go through those and then award the bids. In total, it’s about a six week process.”

Trendell announced the update during Monday night’s regular school board meeting. He told The World that though the district has a rough plan in place for where it wants to begin with the $59.9 million project, once it fills those positions more details will come together.

“The community and staff are all going to have an opportunity for input for building designs between now and the end of the school year for a lot of what we’re doing,” Trendell said. “It’s exciting, we’re moving forward. When you look out and still see the old Eastside and Harding buildings, we haven’t torn them down yet, but we are moving forward.”

In February, the school board is expected to pass a resolution stating that the district will sell the bonds sometime in spring.

Trump suggests 2-phase immigration deal; judge blocks DACA decision

WASHINGTON — Searching for a bipartisan deal to avoid a government shutdown, President Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that an immigration agreement could be reached in two phases — first by addressing young immigrants and border security with what he called a "bill of love," then by making comprehensive changes that have long eluded Congress.

Trump presided over a lengthy meeting with Republican and Democratic lawmakers seeking a solution for hundreds of thousands of young people who were brought to the U.S. as children and living here illegally. Trump last year ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which shielded more than 700,000 people from deportation and gave them the right to work legally. He gave Congress until March to find a fix.

Negotiations over the DACA program may be more complicated in light of a federal judge's ruling Tuesday to block temporarily the administration's decision to end the program. In doing so, U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco granted a request by California and other plaintiffs to let lawsuits over the administration's decision play out in court.

Alsup said lawyers in favor of DACA clearly demonstrated that the young immigrants "were likely to suffer serious, irreparable harm" without court action. The judge also said the lawyers have a strong chance of succeeding at trial.

The president, congressional Republicans and Democrats expressed optimism for a deal just 10 days before a government shutdown deadline. Trump said he was willing to be flexible in finding an agreement as Democrats warned that the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrants hung in the balance.

"I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with," Trump said during a Cabinet Room meeting with a bipartisan group of nearly two dozen lawmakers, adding, "I am very much reliant upon the people in this room." A group of journalists observed the meandering meeting for an extraordinary length of time — about 55 minutes — that involved Trump seeking input from Democrats and Republicans alike in a freewheeling exchange on the contentious issue.

"My head is spinning from all the things that were said by the president and others in that room in the course of an hour and a half," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. "But the sense of urgency, the commitment to DACA, the fact that the president said to me privately as well as publicly, 'I want to get this done,' I'm going to take him as his word."

The head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Michelle Grisham Lujan, D-N.M., said late Tuesday she was "encouraged" by Trump's words and would work "in good faith" toward a deal. Some of the group's members have taken a hard line against surrendering too much in a compromise with Trump.

The White House said after the meeting that lawmakers had agreed to narrow the scope of the negotiations to four areas: border security, family-based "chain migration," the visa lottery and the DACA policy. Democrats and Republicans are set to resume negotiations Wednesday.

But the exchange raised questions about how far Trump would push for his high-profile border wall.

In describing the need for a wall, the president said it didn't need to be a "2,000-mile wall. We don't need a wall where you have rivers and mountains and everything else protecting it. But we do need a wall for a fairly good portion."

Trump has long made that case, saying even during his campaign that his border wall didn't need to be continuous, thanks to natural barriers in the landscape. And he has said he would be open to using fencing for some portions as well.

The unusually public meeting laid bare a back-and-forth between the parties more typically confined to closed-door negotiations. At one point, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, asked Trump if he would support a "clean" DACA bill now with a commitment to pursue a comprehensive immigration overhaul later.

Trump responded, "I would like it. ... I think a lot of people would like to see that but I think we have to do DACA first." House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., interjected, saying, "Mr. President, you need to be clear though," that legislation involving the so-called Dreamers would need to include border security.

The president said he would insist on construction of a border security wall as part of an agreement involving young immigrants, but he said Congress could then pursue a comprehensive immigration overhaul in a second phase of talks.

House Republicans said they planned to soon introduce legislation to address border security and the young immigrants. Trump said, "it should be a bill of love."

Trump's embrace of a "bill of love" brought to mind his past criticism of former GOP presidential rival Jeb Bush, who said many people come to the U.S. illegally as an "act of love." Trump's campaign posted a video at the time with a tagline that read, "Forget love, it's time to get tough!"

Conservatives quickly sounded alarms about a process that would lead to a comprehensive agreement on immigration, a path that has long been anathema to many rank-and-file Republicans.

"Nothing Michael Wolff could say about @realDonaldTrump has hurt him as much as the DACA lovefest right now," tweeted conservative commentator Ann Coulter, referencing Trump's recent portrayal in the book, "Fire and Fury."