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Sause Bros. announce local expansion
Contentions arise between port of Newport and certain shipping companies

SOUTH COAST — Sause Bros. is expanding its business.

The shipping company was recently awarded the ConnectOregon grant of $993,450 to build a new dry dock in Coos Bay. Not only will this allow Sause Bros. to do more business, fix more barges, but also bring in more jobs.

“We're doing a lot of our own ship repair in Coos Bay,” said Caitlin Sause, vice president of government and public affairs. “We're backlogged on other work before we can get to this project, but the state has been working with us to hold the grant while we go through that backlog. It's a good problem to have, but it means we have not been able to get that expansion under way as soon as we would hope.”

The expansion is projected to bring in at least 20 more jobs, but that number may go up depending on the market once the dry dock is finished.

Sause Bros. is also reorganizing parts of the business, which locally will only impact less than 10 of its 400 employees.

“We had employees in Coos Bay doing work and some of our customers moved or grew customers in other ports like San Francisco,” Sause said. “So we were using employees out of Coos Bay who should be based out of San Francisco. We're improving efficiency and, like any company, we have to go where our customers are.”

Expanding and bolstering the business along the west coast has been 10 years in the making. Now the company is increasing its presence in California's bay area, which means some employees will be relocating.

Though this is good news for local economy, Sause Bros. is also motivated to expand its business in places like California and Washington state after the port of Newport rejected a shipping deal for Silvan Bros. and Teevin Bros. contracts were denied.

“We were the barge company to do their work,” Sause said. “We were projecting to do more work on the Oregon coast with those deals and that has significantly decreased with the port commissioner's decision.”

Sause expressed her opinion that the contract rejection wasn't smart, because allowing the two companies in would have increased Newport's economy. Not only that, but she said some of the employees those businesses would have brought in would have been based out of the Coos Bay area.

“This decision is going to greatly reduce revenue to the port and people using the port,” she said. “It's a public port but now a port of exclusivity to one industry . . . the fishing industry.”

Though she said as a fisherman herself, she is sympathetic to the industry, “however ports can handle more than one industry and all along the west and east coasts ports have proven that.”

“It says to me that the port of Newport is saying it is closed for business unless you're one industry they like,” she said.

The World reached out to the port of Newport for comment. The port's general manager pro-tem, Aaron Bretz, explained that the contracts at the center of this dispute had terms within them that the port commission found unacceptable.

“As the port understood it, there was no more negotiating,” Bretz said. “There was disagreement on acceptable lease rates on the property and disagreement in terms of the loan for Silvan, as well as numerous other things.”

There was a group against the contracts, aside from the port commission, many of whom were fishermen.

“Most of the opposition came from users of the terminal,” Bretz said. “The concern was about still having access for the terminal in times of when they needed it the most. Folks need to understand that this is not a step away from shipping, just those deals which were not acceptable to the port.”

However, Sause said the company is going to have to rethink its strategy on the Oregon coast because “if it's not a friendly business environment, why would you want to do business here? The fact that the ports on the Oregon coast are not being friendly to business is disconcerting and it doesn't paint an optimistic picture for the tug industry.”

Through the contention with the port of Newport, Sause excluded the port of Coos Bay.

“I can't speak for other industries, but we haven't had any issues,” she said.

Bretz said the Newport port commission is still working its way through the rest of the deals with Silvan and Teevin Bros.

“The port of Newport is friendly for anyone who would like to do business and we are aware of the fact that there are those out there as they watch the situation who many not understand it, but we are open for business and welcome to as much as we can get,” he said.

Saphara Harrell / SAPHARA HARRELL The World 

Rep. Peter DeFazio hosted a town hall at Southwestern Oregon Community College Monday.

Heavy smoke in Coos County
Smoke coming in from Chetco Bar Fire and new Horse Prairie Fire

SOUTH COAST – Coos County is choked by smoke as wildfires burn an estimated 300,000 acres of Oregon land.

Coos County Sheriff's Office dispatch released a statement on Monday about the smoke.

“The smoke is coming in our area from both south and east of us,” the release read. “We do not have any active fires in Coos County at this time. Please do not call the dispatch center to ask where the smoke is coming from.”

The smoke filling Coos County is coming from the Chetco Bar Fire near Brookings and the Horse Prairie Fire in Douglas County.

“If there was an active fire in Coos County, we would release information as needed,” the release said.

The Chetco Bar Fire

As of Monday, the Chetco Bar Fire stretched across 107,993 acres as near as five miles northeast of Brookings with temperatures in the low 80s according to The Oregonian.

The city of Brookings remains on a level 1 evacuation notice. Since the fire began on July 12 from a lighting strike, 20 structures have been destroyed and one home and eight structures have been damaged.

The fire is also under zero percent containment, though a crew of 1,662 firefighters currently battle the blaze.

Horse Prairie Fire

The Horse Prairie Fire doubled over the weekend on Sunday.

It is now burning 750 acres and is 15 percent contained.

Captain Kelley Andrews with the Coos County Sheriff's Department advised the public that if they have illnesses affected by the heavy smoke, call your primary care physician or local urgent care, walk-in clinic or local emergency room.

“If you develop an emergency, call 911 and ambulance crews will respond,” Andrews said. “The smoke will go away, but it may be a while. Leaving windows open invites the smoke into your home, place of business, or your car. Try and seal it out and use fans or air conditioning to stay cool. Hydrate as much as possible with water to keep your body cool and conditioned.”

This story will be updated as it develops.