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Fisherman's memorial damaged by vehicle in Charleston

CHARLESTON — The Charleston Fishermen’s Memorial sits closed off by caution tape after an uninsured and unlicensed motorist damaged the front gate. Now, a couple of months after the accident the Charleston Fisherman’s Memorial Committee is calling on the community to help the restore the memorial.

“The driver came through here and he didn’t negotiate the turn correctly. He went through the wooden fence and the metal fence and mowed it over,” Vice President of Charleston Fishermen’s Memorial Committee Knute Nemeth said.

Some speculate that the man had been drinking, but Nemeth said he was uncertain of whether or not that’s true.

The memorial has been on the marina since the early 1990s and serves as a shrine to the many fishermen who lost their lives at sea fishing out of the port of Charleston.

“It’s a very respectful place over there, so we as a community would like to get the fencing fixed up and replaced.”

The memorial is insured through the Port of Charleston with a $5,000 deductible. Damage to the fence is going to cost around $3,800. The port has decided that it will pay to have the wooden parts of the fence replaced.  

“The port’s deductible is $5,000 and the estimate is less than that so we would like to ask the community to come forward to assist us in funding the repair,” Nemeth said.

Nemeth said there are at least 20 people whose names are immortalized on the stones of the memorial that he knew personally.

“On the Fisherman’s memorial there’s the name of somebody who was on a boat with me when we were hit broadside by a 30-foot wave about 20 miles off shore. The boat went turtle and three of us made it out of the wreck and the fourth person went down with the boat. I’ve got a personal attachment to the Fisherman’s Memorial, a whole lot of my friends are on there,” Nemeth said.

The memorial includes a small well-kept garden as well as three separate memorial plaques. One for those who passed away while working in the fishing industry, another for long time Charleston fishermen who died of natural causes, and one for fishermen who were lost at sea. A bell was donate to the memorial last year by the Coast Guard’s Chief Association.

“I wanted that bell so family members could come up and ring it as a salute to their loved ones,” Nemeth said.

It’s the hope of Nemeth and the Fisherman’s Memorial Committee that the repairs to the memorial will be complete by May, 28. When a ceremony will be held in conjunction with Memorial Day.

“We would like to have it done for the May 28 ceremony for the blessing of the fleet here in Charleston,” Nemeth said.

Nemeth understands the hardship that the fishing industry in Charleston is currently facing, but feels that the memorial is important enough to folks in the community that they will donate to the restoration.

 “It means a lot to the people in the fishing community stop in there and read the names of the friends you had in the past,” Nementh said.

Those interested n donating to restore the Charleston Fishermas Memorial can send donations to Fisherman's Memorial, Inc. O. O. Box 5882 Charleston, Oregon 97420

Measure 101 is a temporary solution for health care
Western Oregon Advanced Health's CEO Phil Greenhill seeks a more permanent solution to Oregon's Medicaid funding

COOS COUNTY — Even though Measure 101 passed on Tuesday, the fight for health care is far from over.

Early numbers from the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office showed that the measure passed at 61.60 percent “yes” with only 38.40 percent “no.” However, Coos County voters rejected the measure with 9,305 voters, or 50.77 percent “no” over 9,021 voters or 49.23 percent “yes.”

“One in four Oregonians retain health coverage now,” said Phil Greenhill, CEO at Western Oregon Advanced Health after the numbers started rolling in on Tuesday. “We progress forward to transform health care from access to everyone in our state with quality and cost effective delivery.”

Of course, this also means that the Bay Area Hospital will now be hit with a new .7 percent “true tax,” or a tax that will not be returned to the hospital. Previously, the hospital paid a 5.3 percent assessment, which brought down federal matching funds.

“A lot of this bill will be advocated, asking that the .7 percent true tax be done away with and have a 6 percent assessment with funds returned to the hospital,” Greenhill said on Wednesday. “Though that will be fought for, passing this measure is good for the hospital because it means that 6,000 people that a few years ago did not have insurance now have insurance so they aren’t showing up in the ER and being admitted with no way to pay the bill, which reduces the bad debt and charity care the hospital has to provide and frees resources to do other things.”

The .7 percent true tax will cost Bay Area Hospital $1.4 million. According to Greenhill, if the Measure 101 had failed it would have cost the hospital over $10 million.

“It was vital for the hospital that the ‘yes’ vote prevail,” he said.

Bay Area Hospital released a statement on Wednesday about the measure passing.

“Bay Area Hospital is extremely pleased that the Oregon voters said yes on ballot measure 101,” said Barbara Bauder to The World, the hospital’s chief development officer. “It provides health coverage for those who need it the most.”

However, passing Measure 101 is just a short-term fix for health care funding, meaning that a more permanent solution will be fought for during the short legislative session next month.

“We still have to go back and craft a better solution to finance Medicaid, which is about 25 percent of Oregon residents,” Greenhill said.

To advocate for better, more secured funding, Greenhill will testify in front of the legislature throughout the rest of this year. He has worked closely with Representative Caddy McKeown and State Senator Arnie Roblan on the issue.

“We will work directly with the governor’s office,” he said. “The importance of this measure is it doesn’t make our lower income citizens have to choose between buying groceries and health care. There are challenges we have to face because the (Affordable Care Act) expansion was paid 100 percent and gradually phases down, so there will be budget challenges in the future we have to address.”

Some of these solutions can be seen in other states where assessments were placed on other health care providers.

As for the voting results from Tuesday night, Greenhill was heartened to see that an overwhelming majority of Oregonians turned out to say they care about health care.

“It shows our citizens want health care, know they need it and they want the accessibility for it,” he said.

When asked what he thought of Coos County voter results, he was not surprised.

“We tend to be a county split between highly conservative views and middle-of-the-road views,” he said. “People want to know that their tax dollars are used wisely and there was resentment shown that this may not be the case and took it out on this measure. Many individuals on the Oregon Health Plan are working in our community on lower wages, some without any insurance programs, and this allows them access to health care coverage.

“Otherwise all of us will pay the bill eventually. We have got to find an ultimate final solution as to permanent funding for Medicaid in Oregon. The story is not over.”

Trump: Would 'love to' face Mueller questions — under oath

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared late Wednesday he's "looking forward" to being questioned — under oath — in the special counsel's probe of Russian election interference and possible Trump obstruction in the firing of the FBI director.

Trump said he would be willing to answer questions under oath in the interview, which special counsel Robert Mueller has been seeking but which White House officials had not previously said the president would grant.

"I'm looking forward to it, actually," Trump said when asked by reporters at the White House. As for timing, he said, "I guess they're talking about two or three weeks, but I'd love to do it."

He said, as he has repeatedly, that "there's no collusion whatsoever" with the Russians, and he added, "There's no obstruction whatsoever."

The full scope of Mueller's investigation, which involves hundreds of thousands of documents and dozens of witness interviews, is unknown. And there have been no signs that agents aren't continuing to work on ties between Trump's campaign and a Russian effort to tip the 2016 election.

But now that Mueller's team has all but concluded its interviews with current and former Trump officials, and expressed interest in speaking with the president himself, the focus seems to be on the post-inauguration White House. That includes the firing of FBI Director James Comey and discussions preceding the ouster of White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The timing and circumstances of a Trump interview are still being ironed out. But soon it will probably be the president himself who will have to explain to Mueller how his actions don't add up to obstruction of justice. And that conversation will be dominated by questions tied whether he took steps to thwart an FBI investigation.

So far, witness interviews and the special counsel's document requests make clear Mueller has a keen interest in Comey's May 9 firing and the contents of Comey's private conversations with the president, as well as the ouster months earlier of Flynn and the weeks of conversations leading up to it.

A focus on potential obstruction has been evident almost since Mueller's appointment as special counsel. And recent interviews with administration officials, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have shown that Trump is dealing with prosecutors who already have amassed a wealth of knowledge about the events he'll be questioned about.

Prosecutors have interviewed numerous White House aides including Trump's closest confidants such as Counsel Don McGahn, former chief of staff Reince Priebus and the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Sessions, who had urged Comey's firing, was interviewed for hours, becoming the highest-ranking Trump administration official known to have submitted to questioning. Mueller also wants to interview former adviser Steve Bannon, who has called Comey's firing perhaps the biggest mistake in "modern political history."

The White House initially said the firing was based on the Justice Department's recommendation and cited as justification a memo that faulted Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But Trump himself said later he was thinking of this "Russia thing" and had intended to fire Comey anyway.

Sessions, the target of the president's ire since he stepped aside last March from the Russia investigation, would have been able to offer close-up insight into the president's thinking ahead of the termination. He also could have been able to speak to the president's relationship with Comey, which Comey documented in a series of memos about conversations with Trump that bothered him.

In one memo, Comey described a January 2017 meeting over dinner at which he said the president asked him to pledge his loyalty. Separately, a person familiar with the conversation said this week that Trump in a meeting last year with Deputy Director Andrew McCabe brought up McCabe's wife's political background following the revelation that she had accepted campaign contributions during a state Senate run from the political action committee of then-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close Clinton ally.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday night that Trump had also asked McCabe whom he voted for in the presidential race. McCabe replied that he did not vote. Trump said Wednesday he did not recall asking that question.

Another of Comey's memos centered on a February conversation at the White House in which he said Trump told him he believed Flynn, the fired national security adviser, was a "good guy" and encouraged Comey to drop an investigation into him. The FBI had interviewed Flynn weeks earlier about whether he had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador during the transition period between the election and the inauguration. Flynn pleaded guilty in December to lying to the FBI during that interview.

Mueller has been investigating the events leading up to Flynn's dismissal from the White House, including how officials responded to information from former acting Attorney General Sally Yates that Flynn had misled them by saying that he had not discussed sanctions. Despite that warning, and despite an FBI interview days after Trump's inauguration, Flynn was not forced to resign until Feb. 13 — the night of media reports about Yates' conversation with McGahn.

Mueller will likely want to know what Trump understood, before asking Comey to let the Flynn investigation go, about Flynn's interview with the FBI — and whether he had made false statements — and about his conversation with the Russian ambassador.

Bandon juvenile in custody after allegedly stabbing student

BANDON — A 14-year-old boy is in custody after allegedly stabbing a 16-year-old boy a few blocks away from the high school late Wednesday afternoon.

According to Police Chief Bob Webb, Bandon police responded at 3:58 p.m. to Bandon High School, 550 Ninth St. SW. to a report that a student had been stabbed. When police arrived at the high school, they learned that the incident had occurred near Ninth Street and Harrison Avenue, a few blocks away. 

Webb said the injured 16-year-old, who had allegedly been stabbed in the hand, ran to the high school asking for help. That prompted the school district to put all three schools into a temporary modified lockdown until they could establish what had happened because staff and some students were still at the facilities.

The 14-year-old suspect was at large when police arrived, Webb said. He and two other officers apprehended the boy a short time later and took him into custody without incident. The boy was charged with third-degree assault and taken to the Coos County juvenile detention facility.

The injured student was taken by Bay Cities Ambulance to Southern Coos Hospital, where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries and released. Both boys are students at Bandon High School and were acquainted, but the 14-year-old was not currently attending school, according to Webb. The World does not release the names of juveniles involved in crimes.

The public was never in any danger and the temporary school lockdown was a precautionary measure until the school district had more information, Webb said. The incident is still under investigation.