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Ribbon Cutting for the South Empire Streetscape project

Pinwheels for Peace events coming Sept. 21

COOS BAY - Human Rights Advocates of Coos County will take part in an International art and literacy project, Pinwheels for Peace, by supporting local schools to “plant” pinwheels with messages of peace on Sept. 21.

Locally, Bittin Duggan with other HRACC members are coordinating the Pinwheels for Peace project this year. They are inviting local Elementary Schools in Coos County to engage directly to make their own events on campus. The Lighthouse School has been participating in this event for 10 years. HRACC will walk with Pinwheels for Peace in this years Bay Area Fun Festival parade on Sept. 16. All are welcome to join to walk in unity for peace. Find HRACC's place in line by asking the coordinators at Second and Golden Street between 12:30-12:50 p.m. on Sept. 16.

Pinwheels for Peace is an art installation project started in 2005 by two art teachers, Ann Ayers and Ellen McMillan, of Coconut Creek, FL, as a way for students to express their feelings about what’s going on in the world and in their lives. In the first year, groups in over 1,325 locations throughout the world were spinning pinwheels on Sept. 21 - there were approximately 500,000 pinwheels spinning throughout the world. Last year (year 11), 2016, over 4.5 million pinwheels were spinning in over 3,500 locations, including the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada, the Middle East, Africa and South America.

Students will create pinwheels of all shapes and sizes as part of the creation process. They will write personal thoughts about "war and peace/tolerance/living in harmony with others" on one side and on the other side, they will draw, paint, collage, etc. to visually express their feelings. The students will assemble these pinwheels and on International Day of Peace they will "plant" their pinwheels outside their schools as a public statement and art exhibit/installation.

This project is non-political – peace doesn’t necessarily have to be associated with the conflict of war, it can be related to violence/intolerance in daily lives, to peace of mind. Peace can take on a different meaning for everyone, but, in the end, it all comes down to a simple definition: “a state of calm and serenity, with no anxiety, the absence of violence, freedom from conflict or disagreement among people or groups of people.”

On Sept. 21, keep a lookout for the pinwheels – the spinning of the pinwheels in the wind will spread thoughts and feelings about peace throughout the country and the world. 

Zinke directs more aggressive approach to prevent wildfires
Zinke directs more aggressive approach to prevent wildfires

WASHINGTON (AP) — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Tuesday directed all land managers and park superintendents to be more aggressive in cutting down small trees and underbrush to prevent wildfires as the smoke-choked West faces one of the worst fire seasons in a decade.

In a memo, Zinke said the Trump administration will take a new approach and work proactively to prevent fires "through aggressive and scientific fuels reduction management" to save lives, homes and wildlife habitat.

Wildfires are chewing across dried-out Western forests and grassland. To date, 47,700 wildfires have burned more than 8 million acres across the country, with much of the devastation in California, Oregon and Montana, Zinke said.

As of Tuesday, 62 large fires were burning across nine Western states, with 20 fires in Montana and 17 in Oregon, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Nearly half the large fires in the West reported zero acreage gains on Monday, helping firefighters across the West make progress toward containing them, the agency said.

The Forest Service and Interior Department have spent more $2.1 billion so far this year fighting fires — about the same as in all of 2015, the most expensive wildfire season on record.

Those figures do not include individual state spending. In Montana, where more than 90 percent of the state is in drought, the state has spent more than $50 million on fire suppression since June, with fires likely to burn well into the fall.

Oregon has spent $28 million, but expects to be reimbursed for part of that by the federal government and others.

Exacerbated by drought and thick vegetation, wildfires are "more damaging, more costly and threaten the safety and security of both the public and firefighters," Zinke said. "I have heard this described as 'a new normal.' It is unacceptable that we should be satisfied with the status quo."

Zinke's memo did not call for new spending, but he said federal officials "must be innovative" and use all tools available to prevent and fight fires. "Where new authorities are needed," he added, "we will work with our colleagues in Congress to craft management solutions that will benefit our public lands for generations to come."

The Interior Department oversees more than 500 million acres supervised by the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies. The Forest Service, a unit of the Agriculture Department, is the nation's largest firefighting agency, with more than half its budget devoted to wildfires.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Western lawmakers have complained that the current funding mechanism — tied to 10-year averages for wildfire — makes it hard to budget for wildfires, even as fires burn longer and hotter each year.

"I believe that we have the right processes and the right procedures of attacking and fighting fires," Perdue said in a speech last week. "But if you don't have the resources and the means of dependable funding, that's an issue."

Perdue called on Congress "to fix the fire-borrowing problem once and for all" so that officials are not repeatedly forced to tap money meant for prevention programs to fight wildfires.

"Fires will always be with us. But when we leave a fuel load out there because we have not been able to get to it because of a lack of funding, or dependable funding, we're asking for trouble," Perdue said.

"If we don't start managing our forests, the forests are going to start managing us," said Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont. "The fires burning across Montana are a catastrophe, and we need all available resources to combat this threat."

Police: Oregon State trooper shot during traffic stop

CRESWELL, Ore. (AP) — Authorities say an Oregon State trooper was shot in the chest south of Eugene in Creswell during a traffic stop and that a person of interest is in custody.

Oregon State Police say the trooper was shot at 1:20 p.m. Tuesday at Oregon 99 and England Road after the trooper tried to contact the occupant of a stolen vehicle.

Police say after a brief encounter the suspect shot and hit the trooper, who suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Police say the trooper returned fire and investigators don't believe the suspect was hit.

The suspect fled and police reported later Tuesday afternoon that someone was in custody.

Authorities say shooter's car was found not far from the scene of the shooting.

Police say they don't believe there is a further threat to the community.

The Lane County Sheriff's Office is leading the investigation.

Utah man accused of setting several wildland fires in Oregon

BEND, Ore. (AP) — Police say a man from Salt Lake City, Utah, has been accused of intentionally starting three wildland fires in central Oregon.

The Bulletin reports 37-year-old Christopher Glen Wilson was indicted Friday by a Deschutes County grand jury on three counts of arson and reckless endangerment.

Court records say the indictment involves three fires started in August; two along U.S. 97, and one east of La Pine, Oregon.

Oregon State Police Capt. Bill Fugate says authorities believe Wilson, of Salt Lake City, is also responsible for a fourth fire in south central Oregon.

Fugate says state troopers arrested Wilson Sept. 3 as he entered Oregon on Interstate 84 driving a stolen car.

Wilson was booked into jail on suspicion of unauthorized use of a vehicle and will be transferred to Bend, Oregon for arraignment.

It wasn't immediately clear if Wilson had an attorney.