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Bethany Baker, The World 

Community members drop off toys and food at the Bus Jam event in the parking lot of the North Bend Bi-Mart on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017.

Charity by the busload

The cold and the rain last Saturday couldn’t stop the warm hearted folks of Coos County from donating thousands of pounds of food and toys to the 16th annual Bus Jam event.

Bus Jam is an event that happens every year on the first Saturday in December, at local Bi-Mart locations. The event is coordinated by local radio station K-DOCK and the Rotary club to provide food and toys to less fortunate families in the area for the holidays.

“I’ve been doing this event with K-DOCK for 10 years and I really enjoy making sure that kids in the area who are in need have a Christmas,” Mike “the Bear” Chavez Operations manager at K-DOCK said.

In its first year the Bus Jam toy and food drive gathered 16,000 pounds of food for the community. Every year since they’ve seen those numbers increase, with last year’s haul being over 60,000 pounds of food and over 15,000 toys.

“We’ve served thousands of children and have collected and distributed back into the community over quarter of a million pounds of food,” K-DOCK general manager Stephanie Kilmer said.

Kilmer has been a part of every Bus Jam event since its inception back in 2001.

“When you have people standing in a torrential downpour and they’re not worried about the rain, they’re just worried about making sure that people feel welcomed and comfortable that’s really special,” Kilmer said.

After the collection event, Rotary Club members unload the busses and sorts out the contents for the distribution event which will be happening this coming Saturday.

“People in need can still sign up through Dec. 6 at … It’s over at the labor center on Newmark. They start lining up at 3 a.m.,” Chavez said. 

Bethany Baker, The World 

Community members drop off toys and food at the Bus Jam event in the parking lot of the North Bend Bi-Mart on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017.

Bethany Baker, The World 

Stephen Hood, center, a teacher for the Resource Link Charter School, meets with eleventh grader Makayla Chase, right, as her sister Makenzie Chase looks on at the Harding Learning Center in Coos Bay on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017.

Coos County inmate from Bandon dies

COQUILLE - An inmate who was found unresponsive Sunday morning, Dec. 3, at the Coos County Jail later died en route to a hospital, according to a press release from Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier.

At approximately 5:27 a.m., the body of 42-year-old Rocky Alan Stewart, of Bandon, was found unresponsive in his cell, according to Frasier. Medical personnel responded and, despite life-saving measures, died en route to Coquille Valley Hospital, according to Frasier. It was unknown what caused Stewart's death Sunday night. He was arrested Saturday night in Bandon on an assault charge following a domestic disturbance at a residence located south of Bandon.

According to Frasier, Stewart had been involved with a fight with another family member. That family member was treated at Southern Coos Hospital and released following treatment for his injuries. Stewart also sustained minor injuries in the fight but refused medical treatment, according to Frasier's release.

"At this time it is unknown why Mr. Stewart died," the release said. "The Coos County Medical Examiner has done an external review of his body and reports that the body of Mr. Stewart, outside of the previously mentioned minor injuries, has no other injury and external examination does not reveal any cause of death," the release said. Frasier said he has ordered an autopsy of Stewart and expects it will be done as soon as a forensic pathologist is available.

The Oregon State Police has been placed in charge of the investigation. The Coos County Major Crime Team was activated and officers from the North Bend Police Department, the Coos Bay Police Department, the Coquille Police Department, the Bandon Police Department, the Oregon State Police, Coos County Community Corrections and the District Attorney's Office have responded. North Bend Police will lead the investigation of the Bandon incident. The Coos County Sheriff's Office has been excluded from the investigation since the death occurred at the jail.

Anyone with additional information is expected to contact the North Bend Police or the Oregon State Police.

UPDATE: An autopsy performed on Stewart on Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 5, revealed that he died from natural causes.

"It was determined that he was suffering from severe coronary artery disease," said Frasier in a press release. "The manner of death will be listed as a natural death and the cause of death will be severe coronary artery disease."

Frasier said there is no evidence of foul play in Stewart's death and that his family has been notified of the findings of the autopsy.

McConnell: No government shutdown this week over immigration

WASHINGTON — Testing the resolve of Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared Sunday there won't be a government shutdown this week over the question of protecting immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, describing it as a "non-emergency" to be addressed next year.

"There's not going to be a government shutdown. It's just not going to happen," said McConnell, R-Ky.

House GOP leaders unveiled a short-term plan over the weekend to avert a shutdown and keep the government open through Dec. 22. The measure would buy time for bipartisan talks on a bigger budget agreement that would give the Pentagon and government agencies significant relief from a pending budget freeze.

Congress faces a Friday deadline to fund the government through the end of next September.

Democrats and a few Republicans have suggested they may not vote for government funding without the protections for tens of thousands of young immigrants, known as "Dreamers," who are currently protected by an Obama administration program. That program is set to expire in March.

Meanwhile, some Republicans are divided over what programs the government should pay for, and how much.

GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida has joined Democrats on the immigration issue, while Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said he received commitments from party leaders and the administration to work with him on restoring "Dreamer" protections in exchange for his vote early Saturday on the tax overhaul bill.

President Donald Trump backs the immigration safeguards despite issuing an executive order reversing the Obama-era protections, officially called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

Talks on a budget agreement are likely to restart this week after a setback last week when top Democrats pulled out of a meeting with Trump after he attacked them on Twitter.

On Sunday, McConnell insisted the GOP-controlled Congress will be able to keep the government running, calling the demand for action on DACA by year's end "ridiculous."

"I don't think the Democrats would be very smart to say they want to shut down the government over a non-emergency that we can address anytime between now and March," McConnell said. "There is no crisis."

Still, Republicans are not entirely unified, with GOP conservatives concerned they are being set up for a massive pre-Christmas spending deal they won't like. That raises the likelihood that some Democratic votes will be needed to approve new funding to keep the government open.

On Sunday, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney was equivocal about shutdown prospects, but said he didn't think it would happen even with a "broken" system of spending.

"It's funny to see now that the Republicans are in charge I think there's a group of right-wingers in the House who say they want to shut the government down. There's a group of Democrats who want to shut the government down over DACA. And there's a group of lawmakers from some of the hurricane states who want to shut the government down until they get what they want," he said.

"This just sheds light on the fact that the appropriations, the spending system is broken when any little group can sort of hold the government hostage. We need to get beyond that," Mulvaney added.

The proposal from House GOP leaders also contains a short-term fix to prevent several states from running out of money to operate a popular program that provides health care to children from low-income families. The Children's Health Insurance Program's authorization ran out Oct. 1 and states have been limping along using carry over funding since then.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., says the new stopgap funding measure "will allow for additional time for a deal to be reached on top-line spending levels for this fiscal year. Once this agreement is made, my committee will rapidly go to work with the Senate to complete the final legislation."

Separately, McConnell expressed confidence that House and Senate negotiators will work out differences on the tax overhaul bill after the Senate approved its version on a narrow 51-49 vote early Saturday. Acknowledging the plan won't provide a tax cut to all middle-class families, McConnell said it was "impossible" to craft legislation that could guarantee that.

"What I can tell you is that every segment of taxpayers, every category of taxpayers on average gets significant relief," McConnell said.

Trump appeared to inject uncertainty into the tax plan over the weekend, when he suggested Saturday he may be willing to negotiate changes to the corporate tax rate, setting it at 22 percent compared with the 20 percent rate that he has pushed for with House and Senate Republicans.

But on Sunday, Mulvaney downplayed Trump's comments, saying he didn't expect "any significant change in our position on the corporate taxes."