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East Beaver Hill reroute opens

COOS COUNTY — The Coos County Road Department opened the reroute of Beaver Hill Road on Friday, much to the relief of regular users of the road that provides an alternate to the curvy and narrow state Highway 42S between Bandon and Coquille.

East Beaver Hill Road intersects with U.S. Highway 101 near the Beaver Hill Disposal site. The new road is about one-quarter mile to the north of the previous one. The mile-long re-route connects with the former East Beaver Hill Road, then follows it down to North Bank Road. 

Heavy rains last winter caused a massive landslide on parts of the road in January. That portion of Beaver Hill was considered a total loss by the Coos County Road Department. Officials decided to reroute about a mile of the road using a former logging road.

Originally a reroute for the road was estimated to be completed by March, but that deadline was then pushed to October.

Coos County Roadmaster John Rowe said construction was pushed back because the county qualified for Federal Emergency Relief Funding administered by the Federal Highway Department and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Both East Beaver Hill and the South Coos River slide projects needed to meet certain requirements to get funding, which can be time consuming.

David Evans and Associates was responsible for the project design. Rowe said previously that the county is footing the bill for the engineering design. That money is reimbursable.

Knife River was the contractor for the road. ODOT paid for the construction costs.

Combined, the projects were estimated to cost $4.4 million, with the design portion of that costing $300,000.

While the road is now accessible to traffic, work on the road will continue for some time, said Coos County Commissioner John Sweet. The county is expected to seed the sides of the road soon.

Since it was awarded the job, Knife River put in 12-hour shifts, six days a week, Sweet said. Anticipating the contract, Knife River had equipment out on the construction site before it was awarded to them.

“They have been working really hard at it. It’s turning out to be a great project and we’re very proud of John Rowe for seeking out and getting emergency funds to do this,” Sweet said.

When the original road was built, land was filled in on the hillside to make the path, Sweet explained. After years of use and heavy rains, the land gave way.

Motorists who use the passage as a shortcut across from State Highway 42 to U.S. Highway 101, and vice versa, are upset that it took so long for construction on the reroute to begin.

The use of federal grants may not be as timely of a process, but ultimately will give residents a better built road, Sweet said. Federal funds are accompanied by federal oversight, which has a higher standard of engineering than the county.

“If we had of done the work ourselves we could have started in June or so. They didn’t get started until Oct. 1, but it saved the county well over $1.5 million,” Sweet said.

Rerouting the road to an old logging road proved to be cheaper than repairing the old damaged road. The logging road lies within Coos County Forest land. The 40 acres along north of the logging road were sold prior to the slide to Roseburg Forest Products, who planned to log the area within the next couple years.

“One of the things we had to do to put the road through there was get the sale area with Roseburg logged. Roseburg planned to log it two years from now, but they moved their plans forward and did the logging this year. With their cooperation we were able to get the route cleared,” Sweet said.

After the landslide, some county residents believed that recent logging in the valley underneath the road might have contributed to the landslide.

“Upon further inspection, it showed that logging had nothing to do with it. It was only the fill parts that slid out, because we had an inordinate amount of rain. That type of slide activity was pretty prevalent up and down the West Coast,” Sweet said.

Bethany Baker, The World 

Don Blom, the president of the Marshfield Sun Printing Museum, works on a timeline for the newspaper repository at the Harding Building on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017.

Bethany Baker, The World 

Lionel Yost sits in the newspaper repository at the Harding Building on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017.

FCC chairman sets out to scrap open internet access rules

MENLO PARK, Calif. — The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission set out Tuesday to scrap rules around open internet access, a move that would allow giant cable and telecom companies to throttle broadband speeds and favor their own services if they wish.

Ajit Pai followed through on a pledge to try to repeal "net neutrality" regulations enacted under the Obama administration. The current rules treat internet service providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon as if they were utility companies that provide essential services, like electricity. The rules mandate that they give equal access to all online content and apps.

Pai said those rules discourage investments that could provide even better and faster online access. Instead, he said new rules would force ISPs to be transparent about their services and management policies, and then would let the market decide.

"Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet," Pai said in a statement.

Pai distributed his alternative plan to other FCC commissioners Tuesday in preparation for a Dec. 14 vote. Pai promised to release his entire proposal today. Although the FCC's two Democrats said they will oppose the proposal, the repeal is likely to prevail as Republicans dominate 3-2. The vote for net neutrality in 2015 also was along party lines, but Democrats dominated then.

Equal treatment for all web traffic has been a fundamental principle of the internet since its creation, but companies have increasingly put their thumb on the scales of access. AT&T, for example, doesn't count use of its streaming service DirecTV Now against wireless data caps, potentially making it seem cheaper to its cellphone customers than rival TV services. Rivals would have to pay AT&T for that privilege.

Regulators, consumer advocates and some tech companies are concerned that repealing net neutrality will give ISPs even more power to block or slow down rival offerings.

A repeal also opens the ability for ISPs to charge a company like Netflix for a faster path to its customers. Allowing this paid-priority market to exist could skew prices and create winners and losers among fledgling companies that require a high-speed connection to reach their users.

Pai, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, said in an interview on Fox News Radio that Trump did not have any input on his proposal. Asked whether deregulation would result in higher prices and put speedy internet access out of the reach of blue-collar Americans, Pai said "it's going to mean exactly the opposite."

"These heavy-handed regulations have made it harder for the private sector to build out the networks especially in rural America," Pai said.

In a Wall Street Journal editorial published Tuesday, Pai cited a report by a nonprofit think tank, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, that said investment by the dozen largest ISPs fell about 2 percent from 2015 to 2016, to $61 billion. The group didn't link the drop solely to the stiffer rules introduced in 2015.

The attempt to repeal net neutrality has triggered protests from consumer groups and internet companies. A data firm called Emprata that was backed by a telecom industry group found in August that after filtering out form letters, the overwhelming majority of comments to the FCC — about 1.8 million — favored net neutrality, compared with just 24,000 who supported its repeal.

Carmen Scurato, director of policy and legal affairs for the National Hispanic Media Coalition, said ISPs' ability to impose monthly caps on data use already act to raise prices and limit access. Repealing net neutrality, she said, "is just erecting more barriers."

Among those that will be hit hardest are startups that depend on high-speed internet connections for growth, said Colin Angle, co-founder and CEO of iRobot, maker of the Roomba robot vacuum cleaners. He said his own company wouldn't be dramatically affected in the near term, but the nascent robotics industry overall might.

"The need for these robots to consume bandwidth is certainly on the rise," Angle said.

Google said in a statement that net neutrality rules "are working well for consumers and we're disappointed in the proposal announced today."

Other tech companies were more muted, with some referring instead to their trade group, the Internet Association. Netflix, which had been vocal in support of the rules in 2015, tweeted that it "supports strong #NetNeutrality" and opposes the rules rollback.

But the streaming-video company said in January that weaker net neutrality wouldn't hurt it because it's now too popular with users for broadband providers to interfere.

AT&T executive vice president Joan Marsh said new rules requiring ISPs to disclose their management practices will keep them honest. "Any ISP that is so foolish as to seek to engage in gatekeeping will be quickly and decisively called out," she said in a statement.

Comcast said its commitment to consumers will remain the same. "We do not and will not block, throttle, or discriminate against lawful content," Comcast's senior executive vice president David Cohen said.

Pai's plan also restores the Federal Trade Commission as the main watchdog to protect consumers and promote competition.

But Democratic Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn said the proposal was "a giveaway to the nation's largest communications companies."

Pai's proposal on net neutrality comes after the Republican-dominated commission voted 3-2 last week to weaken rules meant to support independent local media, undoing a ban on companies owning newspapers and broadcast stations in a single market.

Bethany Baker, The World 

Volunteers add a timeline in the newspaper repository at the Harding Building on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017.

Coos County Sheriff's Office K-9 Odin meets his fans

COOS BAY — On Wednesday, the public was given an update on the Coos County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Odin, who has become a local celebrity since his bout with a bacterial infection.

Odin and his partner Sgt. Adam Slater were the guests of honor at a local gathering held by the Furry Friends Therapy Dogs of Coos County. Furry Friends was a major contributor to the GoFundMe social media campaign that started to help pay for Odin’s medical costs when he fell ill a few months ago.

“We had a really good turnout. They were great, just wanted to know about Odin and his story, and how we got him. They had a lot of questions about the bacterial infection and how he was doing … Just a great day where they got to thank Odin for being part of the community, and we got to thank them for their donations,” Slater said.

The event was a meet and greet which allowed several community members who have closely followed Odin’s story the opportunity ask questions about Odin and his recovery process.

“Puppy Dog is doing a lot better. He’s actually got another appointment on Nov. 28, hopefully his last appointment … Last time we had him in he was 98 percent clear, but there was still like a thumbnail piece of infection in there. If that’s still there they will have to do a minor surgery,” Slater said.

This isn’t Odin’s first event since he’s been back on the job, back in October, he attended the coffee with a cop event at Bayside Coffee in Charleston. In the near future, the sheriff’s office plans on holding more community events with Odin to strengthen ties with the community. Slater would like to take Odin around to the local schools and do some demonstrations for the kids.  

“It’s horrible that this happened, but in the process of this happening we’ve been able to bridge the gap between the sheriff’s office and the community. We’ve really been able to get to know a lot of people through Odin and through law enforcement. The outpouring of support from everybody in the community has just been great,” Slater said.

Odin has his own Facebook page called “Odin Coos County Sheriff's Office K9,” which is run with the approval of the sheriff’s office. On his Facebook page, Odin will respond to comments and questions left by the public.

“People seem to have a lot of fun with it. They send a lot of message asking ‘hey how’s he doing.’ Some people write in as dogs and play into the game, so it’s been fun,” Slater said.

Slater and Odin have recently gotten some new equipment on their vehicle, including a new kennel for Odin, which in the event of a crash will keep him safer than his previous kennel. Soon, Slater and Odin’s patrol vehicle will be updated with a remote release for Odin.  Slater was recently attacked while serving a warrant by a subject resisting arrest and it was determined that if a situation like that were to arise again he should be able to release Odin remotely to assist in the situation.