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Marshfield forensics team tops competition over weekend
Senior teammates write speech underlining the problem of rape culture

COOS BAY — The Marshfield High School forensics team is dominating its competition again this year.

Over the weekend, the team went to Ashland for its third meet of the season and placed first overall and second in individual events.

Senior Jorda Harlow placed in all four of her events, landing first place in Varsity Dual Interpretation with her partner Bella Sperling.

“All season, our coach has told us that preparation breeds confidence and confidence breeds success,” Harlow said. “Before going into these tournaments, we talk about that being our goal and our coach gives us a pep talk beforehand.”

Harlow was proud that her team placed first overall with 1A through 6A schools because “it’s harder for smaller schools to do that, but it’s nice to see us dominate the competition because we had the accumulative points of second and third,” she said.

The Marshfield team had 116 points, while second place had 54 and third place had 52 points.

“These students have worked very hard on their speeches,” said Coach Kayla Crook, who earned her diamond award last year, which takes five years of coaching and 1,500 points. “This tournament in Ashland is our last for the fall and we won’t have another one again until January. Those will be the national and state qualifying tournaments.”

Last year, seven of Crook’s students qualified for the national tournament in Alabama, which took place over the summer. Of the experience, Crook said her students learned a lot.

“They performed with people from across the U.S. and with some international teams,” she said. “They learned skills that they can take with them on to college. One is back for her senior year and placed in all of her events this last tournament in Ashland.”

That student was Harlow, who placed first with Sperling in the Varsity Dual Interpretation event with a piece entitled “Good Kids.”

“It’s about what happens in a small town when there is an incident of sexual assault in a high school,” Crook said. “It’s a very powerful piece.”

Harlow was inspired to work on “Good Kids” after seeing the rape culture in high school and across the country through the news. She hoped that with a piece like this, she could educate people on what consent means.

“Consent is when someone gives you permission to do something and when you’re under the influence you can’t give that consent,” Harlow said. “In the piece, the girl goes to a party and gets really messed up. She finds a video online of boys sexually assaulting and raping her.”

According to Harlow, she and Sperling hope to use the piece in more tournaments this winter.

“We will keep practicing and working on it, but it’s going good so far,” she said.

Crook explained that her students do as well as they have year after year because she holds high standards, but Harlow said it’s not just that.

“She says if it doesn’t compel you to speak about it, then there’s no point for you to do it,” she said.

The Associated Press 

In this Sept. 19, 2017 photo, a person sleeps next to a wheelchair on a park bench in downtown Portland, Ore., not far from the city's trendy Pearl District. A few years ago, a large influx of homeless people camping in the park led to the closure of at least one business and complaints about public drug use. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Tech, housing boom creates homeless crisis on West Coast

SEATTLE — In a park in the middle of a leafy, bohemian neighborhood where homes list for close to $1 million, a tractor's massive claw scooped up the refuse of the homeless - mattresses, tents, wooden frames, a wicker chair, an outdoor propane heater. Workers in masks and steel-shanked boots plucked used needles and mounds of waste from the underbrush.

Just a day before, this corner of Ravenna Park was an illegal home for the down and out, one of 400 such encampments that have popped up in Seattle's parks, under bridges, on freeway medians and along busy sidewalks. Now, as police and social workers approached, some of the dispossessed scurried away, vanishing into a metropolis that is struggling to cope with an enormous wave of homelessness.

That struggle is not Seattle's alone. A homeless crisis of unprecedented proportions is rocking the West Coast, and its victims are being left behind by the very things that mark the region's success: soaring housing costs, rock-bottom vacancy rates and a roaring economy that waits for no one. All along the coast, elected officials are scrambling for solutions.

"I've got economically zero unemployment in my city, and I've got thousands of homeless people that actually are working and just can't afford housing," said Seattle City Councilman Mike O'Brien. "There's nowhere for these folks to move to. Every time we open up a new place, it fills up."

The rising numbers of homeless people have pushed abject poverty into the open like never before and have overwhelmed cities and nonprofits. The surge in people living on the streets has put public health at risk, led several cities to declare states of emergency and forced cities and counties to spend millions - in some cases billions - in a search for solutions.

San Diego now scrubs its sidewalks with bleach to counter a deadly hepatitis A outbreak that has spread to other cities and forced California to declare a state of emergency last month. In Anaheim, home to Disneyland, 400 people sleep along a bike path in the shadow of Angel Stadium. Organizers in Portland lit incense at a recent outdoor food festival to cover up the stench of urine in a parking lot where vendors set up shop.

Homelessness is not new on the West Coast. But interviews with local officials and those who serve the homeless in California, Oregon and Washington - coupled with an Associated Press review of preliminary homeless data - confirm it's getting worse. People who were once able to get by, even if they suffered a setback, are now pushed to the streets because housing has become so expensive.

All it takes is a prolonged illness, a lost job, a broken limb, a family crisis. What was once a blip in fortunes now seems a life sentence.

"Most homeless people I know aren't homeless because they're addicts," said Tammy Stephen, 54, who lives at a homeless encampment in Seattle. "Most people are homeless because they can't afford a place to live."

Among the AP's findings:

— Official counts taken earlier this year in California, Oregon and Washington show 168,000 homeless people in the three states, according to an AP tally of every jurisdiction in those states that reports homeless numbers to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That is 19,000 more than were counted two years ago, although the numbers may not be directly comparable because of factors ranging from the weather to new counting methods.

During the same period, the number of unsheltered people in the three states - defined as someone sleeping outside, in a bus or train station, abandoned building or vehicle - has climbed 18 percent to 105,000.

Rising rents are the main culprit. The median one-bedroom apartment in the San Francisco Bay Area is significantly more expensive than it is in the New York City metro area, and apartments in San Francisco are listed at a higher price than those in Manhattan.

Since 2015, at least 10 cities or municipal regions in California, Oregon and Washington - and Honolulu, as well - have declared states of emergency due to the rise of homelessness, a designation usually reserved for natural disasters.

"What do we want as a city to look like? That's what the citizens here need to decide," said Gordon Walker, head of the regional task force for the homeless in San Diego, where the unsheltered homeless population has spiked by 18 percent in the past year. "What are we going to allow? Are we willing to have people die on the streets?"

Texas church gunman sent hostile text messages before attack

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas — The gunman who killed 26 people at a small-town Texas church had a history of domestic violence and sent threatening text messages to his mother-in-law, a member of First Baptist, before the attack in which he fired at least 450 rounds at helpless worshippers, authorities said Monday.

A day after the deadliest mass shooting in state history, the military acknowledged that it did not submit the shooter's criminal history to the FBI, as required by the Pentagon. If his past offenses had been properly shared, they would have prevented him from buying a gun.

Investigators also revealed that sheriff's deputies had responded to a domestic violence call in 2014 at Devin Patrick Kelley's home involving a girlfriend who became his second wife. Later that year, he was formally ousted from the Air Force for a 2012 assault on his ex-wife in which he choked her and struck her son hard enough to fracture his skull.

In the tiny town of Sutherland Springs, population 400, grieving townspeople were reeling from their losses. The dead ranged from 18 months to 77 years old and included multiple members of some families.

"Our church was not comprised of members or parishioners. We were a very close family," said the pastor's wife Sherri Pomeroy, who, like her husband, was out of town when the attack happened. "Now most of our church family is gone."

The couple's 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle Pomeroy, was among those killed.

Kelley's mother-in-law sometimes attended services there, but the sheriff said she was not at church Sunday.

The massacre appeared to stem from a domestic situation and was not racially or religiously motivated, Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin said. He did not elaborate.

Based on evidence at the scene, investigators believe Kelley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he was chased by bystanders, one of whom was armed, and crashed his car.

The 26-year-old shooter also used his cellphone to tell his father he had been shot and did not think he would survive, authorities said.

While in the military, Kelley served in Logistics Readiness at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his 2014 discharge, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said.

He was discharged for the assault involving his previous wife and her child and had served a year of confinement after a court-martial. Under Pentagon rules, information about convictions of military personnel for crimes such as assault should be submitted to the FBI's Criminal Justice Investigation Services Division.

Stefanek said the service is launching a review of its handling of the case and taking a comprehensive look at its databases to ensure other cases have been reported correctly.

"This was a very — based on preliminary reports — a very deranged individual. A lot of problems over a long period of time," President Donald Trump said when asked about the shooting as he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a joint news conference.

Once the shooting started, there was probably "no way" for congregants to escape, Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. said.

The gunman, dressed in black tactical gear, fired an assault rifle as he walked down the center aisle during worship services. He turned around and continued shooting on his way out of the building, Tackitt said.

About 20 other people were wounded. Ten of them still were hospitalized Monday in critical condition.

Investigators collected hundreds of shell casings from the church, along with 15 empty magazines that held 30 rounds each.

Kelley lived in New Braunfels, about 35 miles north of the church, authorities said. Investigators were reviewing social media posts he made in the days before the attack, including one that appeared to show an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon.

On Sunday, the attacker pulled into a gas station across from the church, about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio. He crossed the street and started firing the rifle at the church, then continued firing after entering the white wood-frame building, Martin said.

As he left, the shooter was confronted by an armed resident who had grabbed his own rifle and exchanged fire with Kelley.

The armed man who confronted Kelley had help from another local resident, Johnnie Langendorff, who said he was driving past the church as the shooting happened. The armed man asked to get in Langendorff's truck, and the pair followed as the gunman drove away.

"He jumped in my truck and said, 'He just shot up the church. We need to go get him.' And I said 'Let's go,'" Langendorff said.

The pursuit reached speeds up to 90 mph. The gunman eventually lost control of his vehicle and crashed. The armed man walked up to the vehicle with his gun drawn, and the attacker did not move. Police arrived about five minutes later, Langendorff said.

The assailant was dead in his vehicle. He had three gunshot wounds — two from where the armed man hit him in the leg and the torso and the third self-inflicted wound to the head, authorities said.

"There was no thinking about it. There was just doing. That was the key to all this. Act now. Ask questions later," he said.

Three weapons were recovered. A Ruger AR-556 rifle was found at the church, and two handguns were recovered from the gunman's vehicle, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The assailant did not have a license to carry a concealed handgun, Martin said.

Oregon State Police is looking for poachers
Doe found dead and wasting near North Bend

COOS COUNTY — Oregon State Police are asking for the public’s help.

According to an OSP press release, OSP asked for people to help them identify poachers responsible for “the unlawful taking and wasting of a yearling doe deer in Coos County.”

The corpse was discovered the morning of Oct. 23 when OSP Fish and Wildlife troopers responded to a call of a doe that had been shot and left to waste off Willanch Lane just outside of North Bend.

“The investigation revealed the doe had been killed the day before, and no effort had been made to salvage any of the meat from the animal,” the release stated. “The vehicle pictured was seen in the area at the time of the incident, and is believed to be associated with the person(s) involved.”

The release went on to state that poaching wildlife and damaging habitats “affects present and future generations of wildlife, impacts communities and the economy, and creates enforcement challenges.”

There is a Turn-In-Poachers (TIP) reward offered in exchange for information leading to the arrest and conviction of people in illegal possession, killing, taking, and/or waste of deer, elk, antelope, bear, cougar, wolf, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose, furbearers and/or game birds.

“TIP rewards can also be given for the illegal taking, netting, snagging, and/or dynamiting of salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, and/or large numbers of any fish listed in Oregon statue as a game fish,” the release stated.

TIP rewards pay for the following:

  • $1,000 Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat and Moose
  • $500 Elk, Deer and Antelope
  • $300 Bear, Cougar and Wolf
  • $300 Habitat Destruction
  • $100 Game Fish and Shellfish
  • $100 Upland Birds and Waterfowl
  • $100 Furbearers

To report on the hotline, call 1-800-452-7888.

According to the press release, the public is urged to call Oregon State Police Trooper Brian Koell through the Turn in Poachers (TIP) hotline at 1-800-452-7888 or 541-888-2677 ext 244.

Jae C. Hong 

Barry Warren, 52, poses for a photo Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, in Seattle. Warren says he has been homeless his entire adult life. After about 20 years without a home in California, he moved to Seattle, where he says the benefits are better and life on the street is safer. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)