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Bethany Baker, The World 

Tommy Brown, 4, holds a fire hose with a Coos Bay firefighter to simulate extinguishing a house fire during the open house to celebrate Fire Prevention Week at Station #1 in Coos Bay on Wednesday.

Bethany Baker, The World 

Coos Bay Fire Chief Mark Anderson poses with his grandson Kaiden Welch during the open house to celebrate Fire Prevention Week at Station #1 in Coos Bay on Wednesday.

Kids are getting smarter through SMART
Statewide program now reaches 26 counties and 270 schools
 Jillian Ward  / 

COOS COUNTY – Business communities in Oregon want children to learn how to read.

Twenty six years ago in Portland and Bend, businesses established the Start Making A Reader Today (SMART) Program after noticing that Oregon students were struggling to read.

Now that program has reached 26 counties and 270 schools across the state. In Coos and Curry counties, there are close to 500 students in the program, according to SMART communications specialist Phoebe Petersen.

In Coos County, the program’s goal is to serve 245 students.

“This is a statewide organization, where we pair adult volunteers with pre-K and third grade children,” Petersen said. “We’re focused on building reading engagement motivation and fostering a love of books and reading, so our volunteers read one-on-one with students for one hour a week, on average.”

Not only that, but the program gives away two books a month to its students so kids can read on their own and build their libraries.

Because Coos County will serve 345 students this school year, the program is planning to give away a total of 4,800 books.

“Teachers select students to participate in the program,” Petersen said. “They make that selection for a variety of reasons.”

With pre-kindergarten students, the program often serves entire classrooms. However, for older kids, students are selected by teachers because they struggle with reading, need more one-on-one time, could benefit from having an adult focus on them, or benefit from having books they can keep.

“In some cases, students are chosen because they are already reading on their grade level but could use a push to get to the next level,” Petersen said.

Every year, teachers with students in the program are surveyed to evaluate how effective the extra reading time has been. On average, students are showing a 95 percent improvement in their literacy development because of SMART.

“Our research shows that really focusing on reading motivation and engagement is critical for kids to foster a love of reading,” Petersen said. “If they love something they are more likely to want to do it and do it well, so we focus on having fun with books and helping kids to see reading as something enjoyable.”

To volunteer or make a monetary donation, call the South Coast SMART office at 541-266-7476.

“We buy our own books because we are specific about which ones we use,” said South Coast SMART area manager, Cheryl Brown. “Any monetary donations made locally stays local.”

For more information, visit

Bethany Baker, The World 

Jasper Krug, 2, of Coos Bay, holds a water hose with a Coos Bay firefighter to simulate extinguishing a house fire during the open house at the Coos Bay Fire Department Station #1 to celebrate Fire Prevention Week in Coos Bay on Wednesday.

The Associated Press 

A San Diego Cal Fire firefighter monitors a flare up on a the head of a wildfire, off of High Road above the Sonoma Valley, Wednesday. A wind shift caused flames to move quickly up hill and threaten homes in the area. 

Miss Oregon USA 2018's residency called into question
 A Moss-Strong  / 

COQUILLE — Less than 48 hours after being crowned Miss Oregon USA 2018, Toneata Morgan’s residency in Oregon was called into question by a group of people, allegedly including former title holders, who started a petition to have Morgan’s title removed.

But Miss Oregon USA Pageants NW co-executive producer Maureen Francisco, said Morgan has followed the rules of residency required by the pageant.

“Please help demand a redo of the Miss Oregon USA 2018 pageant, so that a true Oregonian can represent our beautiful state,” said the online petition at, which has since been removed.

An unsigned online message to The World on Tuesday, following the publication of a story about Morgan being crowned, indicated that there was an “ongoing scandal” pertaining to Miss Oregon USA.

“This past weekend, Toneata Morgan, a California resident, was crowned Miss Oregon USA,” the person wrote.

The writer goes on to say that the rules indicate a contestant must have lived in the state they are competing in for at least six months prior to the pageant. The writer then claims that Morgan has been living in and going to school and even competing in pageants in California but stating that she is living in Coquille with her grandmother.

In her interview with The World, Morgan said she’s been living in Coquille with her grandmother for a year but would not give her grandmother’s name, saying she didn’t want to invade her privacy.

Morgan said her roots in Oregon run deep, and that she has relatives who have worked as loggers, fishermen and dairy farmers, with many of them living in the Coos Bay area. As a lover of the outdoors, Morgan said one of her favorite place to spend time is Sunset Bay in Charleston.

Morgan is in her senior year at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, studying communications.

And according to the stated rules of the Miss USA pageant, she is allowed to do that and still claim residency in another state.

“Toneata Morgan, a contestant in the 2018 Miss Oregon USA competition who then went on to win the title, has fully complied with all requirements as listed in the rules and regulations of the Miss USA pageant system,” Francisco wrote in an email to The World on Wednesday.

“The rule in question is proof of residency in which she provided the necessary documents (as required by all contestants) to make her eligible for the state of Oregon,” Francisco added.

To prove residency, according to the 2018 Miss Oregon USA rules, a contestant needs to provide at least two pieces of documents that showed date, name and Oregon address at least six months immediately prior to the commencement of the state pageant.

“Toneata fulfilled those requirements,” Francisco said.

Any two of the following documents fulfill the requirements: Driver's license, voter identification card, voter history provided by state, tax return from most recent year, lease or deed for a dwelling, employment documents, telephone or utility bill, etc., and bank or credit card statement.

The rules further state that the "permanent and primary residence" means the state in which one is competing in for a period of at least six months immediately prior to the commencement of the state pageant (although one may attend school, college or university on a full-time basis elsewhere) and employment may sometimes include travel outside of the primary state of residency. "Permanent and primary residence" means a contestant's "true, fixed and permanent domicile" which they intend to make their permanent home. 

In Oregon, the Miss USA pageant has been held since 1951. For many years, Miss USA pageant contestants have been able to choose where they compete, as long as they meet the eligibility rules. 

Sometimes, the motive is to face less competition. Other times, contestants relocate for school, family or work reasons. But if they establish permanent residency or attend school in a particular state and can provide the required documentation, they are eligible to compete in that state’s Miss USA pageant.

Morgan, who is open about the fact that she grew up in California, has competed in several Miss USA Teen and Miss USA pageants in that state, the most recent in November, 2016, but has never won the state title.

Fransicso said Morgan is passionate to educate youths about online bullying and about supporting veterans and the military. She looks forward to speaking at schools and other organizations where positive role models are needed to encourage young people to go after their dreams and goals.

“Throughout her reign, Toneata will talk about her platforms dear to her heart: Cyberbullying, spreading kindness and supporting our veterans,” Francisco said.

“She was just crowned on Sunday,” Francisco added. “Already, she has talked to at least five media outlets regarding her platforms. She has written a blog, which will be posted in the next few weeks. It has only been 72 hours since she's been crowned. She is hitting the ground running.”