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Power Squadron's lease to end after 50 years

CHARLESTON — After almost 50 years of providing Charleston with boating safety and education courses from its building on the southeast corner of Boat Basin Road and Guano Lane, the Coos Bay Power Squadron will have to find a new home.

Power Squadron is a national organization that offers basic boating classes to the public. Coos Bay Power Squadron was formed in 1959.

In 1969, the Port of Coos Bay offered Power Squadron the lot on the marina  and Power Squadron built their meeting hall on that lot. The lease was a $100 a year for 25 years with the option to renew at the same price. Their current lease will expire this coming November.

According to Power Squadron member Alan Swanson, the Port offered to let the organization stay at the current property for $1,000 in rent each month. Unfortunately Power Squadron can’t afford that high of rent.

 “From what I understand at the end of the lease, the building reverts to the Port, and they deemed that that property was worth $1,000 a month. We can’t afford that. Like most nonprofits we’re usually just lucky to keep the light on,” Swanson said.

The Port also offered to let Power squadron use a building on the marina that was formerly Basin Café. However, the building is not up to code and requires around $24,000 to update the building to code.

“That’s out of our reach entirely and I don’t think it should be the responsibility of the people moving in,” Power Squadron member Mike Gibbons said.

Power Squadron has reached out to local property management companies to help the find a place to hold classes, but haven’t heard anything yet.

“We’re looking around right now. We have a place that we can have meetings. Fisherman’s Grotto was kind enough to offer us their room, but we really can’t have a class in there. So we’re still looking for that,” Gibbons said.  

Art Schult is one of the founding members of Coos Bay Power Squadron, he said that when the building opened, the first basic boating class had over 200 people in it.

“There were so many people in that first basic boating class that we had to split the class into two separate nights. The class at that time was 13 weeks and it was free. Of course that was 50 years ago. Now the class has been modified and reduced to eight hours to meet Oregon Boater’s Association education requirements,” Schult said.

Schult said he’s not sure how many people have taken classes with Power Squadron over the years, but since computer records began in the 1990’s he’s aware of over 500 people who have taken different boating classes.

Before the port leased them the property on the marina, Power Squadron used to hold its meetings wherever it could find a space, mostly in high school gymnasiums. If the group can’t find a home before November they may have to go back to holding classes in community spaces.

Power Squadron offers six main boating classes including basic boating, advanced boating, piloting, navigation, and celestial navigation.

Coos Bay Power Squadron is the only non-profit boating school in Southern Oregon.

“We have members from Brookings to Newport, We’re the only squadron on the South Central Oregon Coast. The next squadron south of us is in California somewhere,” Schult said.

Coos Bay URA teams up with building owner to turn around Front Street

COOS BAY — In an attempt to revitalize business on the bayfront, Urban Renewal Agency façade grants have helped attract a new business on North Front Street in Coos Bay.

Several months ago Heidi Sause applied for $25,000 grant with the city’s Urban Renewal Agency to renovate the outside of her building on 737 N. Front St.

“We’re hoping this project will serve as a catalyst to more creativity and enterprise down here,” Sause said.  

Her hope was to make the old rundown warehouse look nice enough to bring in a new business.

“It was bad before. Our goal was to get the building and fix it up. We think this is a really vibrant area, and we’d like to provide something wonderful for our community. We live here too,” Sause said.

The grant allowed Sause to make the front of the building look like new. This week work on the façade entered its second phase. City Council members voted unanimously to help Sause complete the façade project at last Tuesday’s meeting to provide another $25,000 grant.

“I’m excited to see it all come together, the fact that you have a formerly underutilized building being made use of again is great," Coos Bay City Manager Rodger Craddock said.

The new grant will fund the renovations and repairs to the remaining sides of the building.

“The building just attracts people they come by and they look in the door,” Sause said.

Soon after the first phase of Sause’s project was completed, she was approached by different businesses looking to rent out the large open space. She decided to rent the building to a group of local women that plan to use the building for a myriad of things.

Kaisa Bourgidu, Liz Kinzie, and De Dee Peterson call their business Front Street Provisioners, and they plan on making it a community space for events, classes, workshops, and retreats. Front Street Provisioners will also be a café, and a retail space and wine shop.

Each of the three women bring a unique background to the business.

Kinze has worked in the restaurant business as a chef. She used to own Elizabeth’s Restaurant in downtown Coos Bay, where EZ Thai is currently located.

Bourgidu has extensive wine knowledge. She has a level three qualification from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust in Portland, and is working toward the highest qualification of level four. She has been working in the wine industry since 2004.

Peterson is a labor and delivery nurse who started the local charity Girls Fight Like Girls, that help women deal with the financial hardships of battling breast cancer.

“We’re three mature women who are friends and have some history and we have an opportunity to bring something forward where the three things we’ve been doing all these years can kind of work together,” Bourgidu said.

Front Street Provisioners expects to be open later this spring. 

“Part of what’s so exciting about Heidi Sause’s façade project is that it really sort of sets a tone for the other projects we’re trying to do on Front Street,” Craddock said.

The city has a number of plans for North Front Street including a kayak launch and a new parking lot.

“The city’s goal is to stop people who are driving on (U.S. Highway) 101 because there is something interesting to do and look at. That’s a goal that when I read about I knew I wanted to try and help them accomplish that goal,” Sause said.

DHS raid leads to arrest of man on weapons, drug charges in Hauser

HAUSER — A joint law enforcement investigation into child pornography led to the arrest of a Hauser man Wednesday on multiple counts of illegal possession of firearms and a possession of methamphetamine charge, according to the Coos County Sheriff's Office.

Eric W. Johnson, 40, was arrested on the said charges after investigators from the Department of Homeland Security, Oregon State Police, North Bend Police Department and Coos County Sheriff's Office served a search warrant at a residence located at 69261 Wildwood Road in Hauser.

The Homeland Security Investigators were seeking evidence in relation to an ongoing child pornography investigation.

While assisting the Homeland Security investigators, Coos County deputies took the lead in crimes against the State of Oregon. As a result of this investigation, the deputies seized a number of items from the home to include two firearms, ammunition for each, items used to manufacture firearms, items related to the use of methamphetamine and 30 pounds of marijuana and marijuana products. Eric Johnson is prohibited by law from possessing firearms.

Eric Johnson was arrested on four counts of possession of firearm or ammunition by certain persons prohibited and one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine. After his arrest, he was transported to the Coos County Jail where he was lodged. The investigation is continuing on the State of Oregon charges as items are sent for analysis.

No information is available regarding any federal violations at this time as the investigation is ongoing and those charges are pending. 

Curry County authorities arrest two Coos County fugitives

Michael Bowman

Christine Bush

COOS BAY — Coos Bay police sought the assistance of Curry County law enforcement Thursday, March 24, in attempting to locate two wanted subjects from the Coos County area that were possibly in the Brookings/Harbor area.

Coos Bay police sent information regarding 46-year-old Michael Bowman and 42-year-old Christine Bush, both wanted on charges of manslaughter I, assault I and criminal mistreatment I. Local law enforcement agencies were provided with photos, descriptions and possible vehicle information.

At about 2:53 p.m., a Curry County Sheriff’s detective located the vehicle associated with both Bowman and Bush at a residence in Harbor. Sheriff’s deputies, assisted by Oregon State Police troopers, contacted both Bowman and Bush at the residence and took them into custody on the felony warrants without incident. Oregon State Troopers assisted in transporting Bowman and Bush to the Curry County Jail where the Sheriff’s Office then transported them to the Coos County Jail.

No further information is available at this time. Check back with for further updates to this story.