COOS BAY — Supporters of a $59.9 million Coos Bay School District bond initiative can breathe a sigh of relief Wednesday as election results for the Coos Bay BEST Bond were officially certified with the bond winning by 28 votes.
"It's a terrific day, the day before Thanksgiving especially, for the people who worked so hard on this campaign and for all the voters within the district as this will dramatically improve our schools," said BEST Bond Committee Chair James Martin.
Official results from the Nov. 7 election show 50.18 percent of the 7,918 ballots cast were in favor of the bond, while 49.92 percent voted it down, according to the Coos County Elections Office.
Vice Chairman of the Coos County Republican Party Ronald Wiggins, who organized an opposition protest against the bond in October said there are two reasons why the bond passed.
"Only 45 percent of registered voters voted in this off year for an election," said Wiggins. "If more voters had voted, there might have been a different outcome.
"Also, there were registered voters who voted that are exempt from paying any property taxes because they live on the [Coquille] Indian reservation. They get to use our public schools without paying anything toward property taxes. This is not right. It doesn't make sense but it's the law."
Ballot measure 6-166 is intended to improve buildings in the Coos Bay School District.
Most pressingly, the money would be used to rebuild the Eastside Elementary School and provide the district with a safer location to house the 600 children at Blossom Gulch. The elementary was built on fill dirt in a tsunami inundation zone and has been sinking for decades, crushing pipes and separating stairs from doorways.
As previously reported by The World, Blossom Gulch is the most problematic building in the Coos Bay School District. It was built on the former site of “Blossom’s Logging Camp” in 1954, a marsh that was packed with fill dirt. Not only does the building hold 600 children, but because of to failing foundations the hallways don’t sit flat, stairs are separating from the pavement, and pipes are being crushed.
In April, The World followed parent volunteer Kevin Rhoades around Madison Elementary. In the morning on the days he volunteers, as Rhoades parks his van he remembers to send a text to the secretary asking her to open the front door. He has sent that text every day for the past eight years.
Asking the secretary to open the door, before he labors into his wheelchair to head up to the building, is only one of the many obstacles he has adapted to overcome as a parent volunteer for the Coos Bay School District, where none of the buildings are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“I don't want to be the guinea pig anymore,” Rhoades said in a previous interview. “But if I can show you how hard it is for someone in a wheelchair to get around, if that opens doors for other people like me, if that convinces voters that the bond on the ballot needs to be passed, I'll be the guinea pig again.”
Other problems he faces include not being able to get around the school library, where he volunteers much of his time. Not only that, but when he brings bus notes to teachers, he can’t always get into the classroom and relies on students to take the notes to their teachers.
The first step, now that the bond has passed, is the architecture work for final designs. Once the contracts are complete, then the district must obtain building permits. Martin said the district hopes to start construction in the last part of 2018.
When he arrived Santa leapt merrily over the starboard side of the his tugboat for Friday night’s tree lighting, waving and greeting the hundreds of happy children as he made his way forward to light the boardwalk's tree.
As the tree lit up, after the crowd counted down, it was clear to everyone in attendance that the holiday season was here once again. Music rang out, and the crowd swayed along.
Santa quickly realized that his to-do list was far from done, and began leading the community down the streets of Coos Bay to the Egyptian Theatre. Once there he took a seat center stage to hear the wishes of good girls and boys.
“I want two big bears,” said six-year-old Paige Cook.
Four-year-old Kensley Hampton planned on asking Santa for hatchimal. Her sister, nine-year-old Rowen asked Santa for a Lego house play set.
This was the fourth year that Santa headed to the Egyptian Theatre after landing in Coos Bay. After Santa met with the kids, families enjoyed a screening of the movie Elf. After the film the community took part in a sock ball fight.
Egyptian Theatre director Kara Long said “In previous years the Egyptian had Santa. When I came here in 2014 we brought Elf and the sock ball fight. A friend of mine used to rent my theater in Ohio and did this tradition with her friends and family. So I borrowed it and brought it out here.”
Over 3,000 socks were collected for the sock ball fight that followed the movie.
Santa had a special message for the kids, saying “I hope everybody has a merry Christmas this year. Always be nice to your brothers and sisters, stay on that nice list. And always be sure to leave me cookies and milk.”
CAIRO — In the deadliest-ever attack by Islamic extremists in Egypt, militants assaulted a crowded mosque Friday during prayers, blasting helpless worshippers with gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades and blocking their escape routes. At least 235 people were killed before the assailants got away.
The attack in the troubled northern part of the Sinai Peninsula targeted a mosque frequented by Sufis, members of a mystic movement within Islam. Islamic militants, including the local affiliate of the Islamic State group, consider Sufis heretics because of their less literal interpretations of the faith.
President Donald Trump denounced what he called a "horrible and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent and defenseless worshippers."
"The world cannot tolerate terrorism" he said on Twitter, "we must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence!" He later tweeted that the attack showed the need to get "tougher and smarter," including by building the wall he has promised along the U.S. border with Mexico.
The U.N. Security Council and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have condemned the deadly attack on a mosque in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in "the strongest terms" and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
The startling bloodshed in the town of Bir al-Abd also wounded at least 109, according to the state news agency. It offered the latest sign that, despite more than three years of fighting in Sinai, the Egyptian government has failed to deter an IS-led insurgency.
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi vowed that the attack "will not go unpunished" and that Egypt would persevere with its war on terrorism. But he did not specify what new steps might be taken.
The military and security forces have already been waging a tough campaign against militants in the towns, villages and desert mountains of Sinai, and Egypt has been in a state of emergency for months. Across the country, thousands have been arrested in a crackdown on suspected Islamists as well as against other dissenters and critics, raising concern about human rights violations.
Seeking to spread the violence, militants over the past year have carried out deadly bombings on churches in the capital of Cairo and other cities, killing dozens of Christians. The IS affiliate is also believed to be behind the 2016 downing of a Russian passenger jet that killed 226 people.
Friday's assault was the first major militant attack on a Muslim congregation, and it eclipsed past attacks, even dating back to a previous Islamic militant insurgency in the 1990s.
The militants descended on the al-Rouda mosque in four off-road vehicles as hundreds worshipped inside. At least a dozen attackers charged in, opening fire randomly, the main cleric at the mosque, Sheikh Mohamed Abdel Fatah Zowraiq told The Associated Press by phone from a Nile Delta town where he was recuperating from bruises and scratches suffered in the attack.
He said there were explosions as well. Officials cited by the state news agency MENA said the attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades and shot men as they tried to run from the building. The militants blocked off escape routes with burning cars, three police officers on the scene told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.
Abdullah Abdel-Nasser, 14, who was attending prayers with his father, said the shooting began just as the cleric was about to start his sermon, sending panicked worshippers rushing to hide behind concrete columns or whatever shelter they could find. At one point, a militant shouted for children to leave, so Abdel-Nasser said he rushed out, though he was wounded in the shoulder by shrapnel and a bullet.
"I saw many people on the floor, many dead. I don't think anyone survived," he said at a hospital in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, where about 40 of the wounded were taken, including many children.
Mohammed Ali said 18 members of his extended family were killed in the attack. The mosque belonged to a local clan, the Jreer, so many of its members worshipped there.
"Where was the army? It's only a few kilometers away. This is the question we cannot find an answer to," he said.
The attackers escaped, apparently before security forces could confront them.
Afterward, dozens of bloodied bodies wrapped in sheets were laid across the mosque floor, according to images circulating on social media. Relatives lined up outside a nearby hospital as ambulances raced back and forth. The state news agency MENA put the death toll at 235.
Resident Ashraf el-Hefny said many of the victims were workers at a nearby salt mine who had come for Friday services at the mosque.
"Local people brought the wounded to hospital on their own cars and trucks," he said by telephone.
No one claimed immediate responsibility for the attack. But the IS group affiliate has targeted Sufis in the past. Last year, the militants beheaded a leading local Sufi religious figure, the blind sheikh Suleiman Abu Heraz, and posted photos of the killing online.
COOS BAY — While thousands of Americans flocked to super centers and department stores on Friday, many decided instead to show patronage to small local businesses.
Downtown Coos Bay’s Friday foot traffic was heavier than normal, as friends and families were out supporting their local economies this Black Friday.
“It’s so very different than the big stores, a lot of the companies I buy product from don’t sell to the big stores,” Katrina Christensen, owner of Katrina Kathleen’s in downtown Coos Bay said.
Everything in Christensen’s store is 20 percent off through Saturday.
Many folks shop at local businesses because they like to support our local economy, but on top of that many enjoy that many product found in local shops can’t be found anywhere else. For example, the wide variety of soaps, lotions, and candles at Canard Labs are all homemade.
Canard Labs owner Tanya Rasley said “It’s been crazy busy. We had waiting outside our door an hour before we opened, and we opened at 7 a.m. … We’ve been running out things which is a good problem to have.”
Rasley also said that they gave away door prizes for the first 15 people. For the month of November the store is giving customers free products based on how much they spend, including a free bar of soap if you spend $35, free soap and lotion if you spend $70, and free soap lotion and candle if you spend $100 or more. Canard Labs most popular product is its charcoal soap which according to Rasley is great for really oily, acne prone, skin.
“This is the second year we’ve participated in Black Friday, and it’s been good. We try to do what the big stores don’t. It’s definitely a smaller group, but our customers seem to like what we have to offer,” Tru Furniture owner Jed Arrington said.
Tru Furniture Offered a number of black Friday deals, including 15 percent off lighting and furniture products, 30 percent off all of fall and holiday merchandise, and half off on ornaments.
Even the local coffee shop So It Goes Coffee House offered a promotional Coffee membership deal.
“It’s $100, and it comes with either a hoodie or a t-shirt. Then you also get one coffee a week for the next year,” So It Goes barista Dana Salmon said.
Starting on Friday, So it Goes also began selling used CD’s.