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Crime-and-courts
breaking
Suspect indicted in March 18 Powers shooting

COQUILLE — A suspect in a March 18 shooting in Powers was indicted Monday by the Coos County Grand Jury on first degree assault charges.

Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier said Seth Isaac Hamm, 42, of Powers was arrested Monday by Coos County Sheriff's deputies in Powers. He was lodged at the Coos County Jail pending his expected arraignment in Coos County Circuit Court on Tuesday on the assault charge.

The victim in the shooting, Emilio Pina, 30, of Powers, was shot in the neck and has since been released from the hospital, but is dealing with nerve damage in his left arm resulting from the shooting. 

On March 18, at about 5:28 a.m., the Coos County Sheriff's 911 Center received several phone calls indicating a person had been shot on the road in the 400 block of Third Avenue in Powers, Frasier said.

Since Powers does not currently have a paid police officer, police from surrounding areas were called to respond. The closest officer was a Myrtle Point police officer who responded at 5:58 a.m. A Coquille police officer also responded and arrived at the scene at 6: 05 a.m., Frasier said in the release. The closest Coos County Sheriff's deputy responded from Charleston.

Medical personnel from the Powers Fire Department responded and found Pina laying in the street. He was suffering from a gunshot wound to the left neck and shoulder area. He was transported to Coquille Valley Hospital and subsequently transferred to Bay Area Hospital. 

The Coos County Major Crime Team was activated to investigate the shooting. Officers from the North Bend, Coos Bay, Myrtle Point and Coquille police departments, SCINT, the Oregon State Police, the Coos County Sheriff's Office, the Medical Examiner's Office and the District Attorney's Office comprise the team.

Many people were interviewed, according to Frasier, including several eyewitnesses. Police had identified a suspect, but did not release his identity at the time. This suspect and his family cooperated in the investigation, Frasier said, but no arrest had been made immediately after the shooting.


Local
Coos County budget hearing was bittersweet

COQUILLE — Monday’s Coos County budget hearing presented an updated estimate on how close the county is to balancing the 10 percent deficit in the budget.

Out of all the departments they’ve met with thus far the budget committee has been able to cut out around $500,000 of the $2.3 million. However, the county will now be receiving $750,000 from the Secure Rural Schools fund.

Last week, Oregon Representative Greg Walden secured a two-year extension for the Secure Rural Schools Fund for 33 Oregon counties. Many of these counties, including Coos County, have historically depended on these funds.

With the Secure Rural Schools money back in the general fund and the cuts already made, the county is now less than $1 million from a balanced budget.

During the weekend, Commissioner Bob Main and other commissioners throughout the state met with Walden in Medford to thank him for his work on the Secure Rural Schools Fund.

“Some of us commissioners went down there to thank him profusely for getting this extension. It wasn’t easy,” Main said.

Maintenance was the first department to meet with the budget committee on Monday morning. Like many other departments, it found that the only way it could possibly make the 10 percent cuts necessary, it must eliminate a member of staff. The maintenance department currently only has a four- person staff.

Of course, a reduction in staff would impact how quickly maintenance would be able to address any safety concerns with any of the county’s buildings or equipment.

“Our crew takes care of all the daily requests for seven buildings; plus we assist with five other buildings. Work orders range from repairing toilets, fixing leaky roofs, installing new doors, to items as simple as refilling toilet paper rolls.

"We get calls from state courts that say we’ve had a defendant in with MRSA and the court room needs to be sterilized,” Maintenance Director Virginia Harris said.

Maintenance makes several trips each week out to the new Coos Health and Wellness building ... so much so, that it’s being discussed that Coos Health and Wellness pay into the general fund for its own maintenance person. Another alternative is stationing a maintenance worker there at specific times throughout the week.

The committee tentatively approved the cuts made to supplies and materials, but elected not to cut any members of staff.

Next the committee met with the security department, which is also run by the maintenance department. No staffing cuts were made as it was the same staff. Security mostly installs cameras around county buildings and key card locks on the doors.

Security had its budgeted security plan approved by the budget committee.

Next, the committee dealt with miscellaneous funds which, according to county treasurer Megan Simms, could not be cut by 10 percent because the miscellaneous budget is paid into by all departments.  

“There’s a bunch of different money that’s put in here and different people contribute those figures. Some of those figures are directly related to revenue,” Simms said.

The miscellaneous fund houses money for things like unemployment, land sale expenses, and funding for potential settlements.

The budget committee also cut $6,200 from the Board of Commissioner’s budget. Other than the three commissioners, the department has just one employee. The commissioners could not find a way to get its budget cut by 10 percent, without cutting its assistant’s position, which it was not willing to do.

“Getting SRS back has really helped. We’ve resisted cutting personnel, because there’s almost nothing to cut. In fact, if we cut some departments, they may not exist. So were trying to resist that and cut as much out of materials and services as we can,” Main said.

The committee made a point in Monday’s meeting that it would meet to develop some sort of a plan moving forward so that the county is not continually in budget trouble.

The budget committee has been kind by choosing not to cut staff from any department, but with final discussions coming up and the deficit still at $953,000, cuts still may be a possibility.


Lee-wire
AP
US vs. China: a 'slap-fight,' not a trade war. So far (copy)

WASHINGTON — First, the United States imposed a tax on Chinese steel and aluminum. Then, China counterpunched Monday by raising import duties on a $3 billion list of U.S. pork, apples and other products.

The government of President Xi Jinping said it was responding to a U.S. tariff hike on steel and aluminum. But that is just one facet of sprawling tensions with Washington, Europe and Japan over a state-led economic model they complain hampers market access, protects Chinese companies and subsidizes exports in violation of Beijing's free-trade commitments.

Forecasters say the impact of Monday's move should be limited, but investors worry the global recovery might be set back if other governments respond by raising import barriers.

On Wall Street, the stock market buckled on the prospect of an all-out trade war between the world's two biggest economies. But it hasn't come to that — not yet, anyway.

"We're in a trade slap-fight right now," not a trade war, said Derek Scissors, resident scholar and China specialist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

China is a relatively insignificant supplier of steel and aluminum to the United States. And the $3 billion in U.S. products that Beijing targeted Monday amount to barely 2 percent of American goods exported to China.

But the dispute could escalate, and quickly. Already, in a separate move, the United States is drawing up a list of about $50 billion in Chinese imports to tax in an effort to punish Beijing for stealing American technology or forcing U.S. companies to hand over trade secrets.

China could respond by targeting American commercial interests uniquely dependent on the Chinese market: the aircraft giant Boeing, for example, and soybean farmers.

The possibility that the U.S. and China will descend into a full-blown trade war knocked the Dow Jones industrial average down as much as 758 points in afternoon trading. The Dow recovered some ground and finished down 458.92 points, or 1.9 percent, at 23,644.19.

For weeks, in fact, President Donald Trump's aggressive trade actions have depressed the stock market.

But many trade analysts suggested that the Wall Street sell-off may be an overreaction.

China's swift but measured retaliation to the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs is meant to show "that it will not be pushed around but that it does not want a trade war," said Amanda DeBusk, chair of the international trade department at the law firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed. "It is possible for the countries to pull back from the brink."

"It seems to be pretty measured and proportional," agreed Wendy Cutler, a former U.S. trade official who is now vice president at the Asia Society Policy Institute. "They didn't seem to overreach, and they didn't hit our big-ticket items like planes and soybeans."

Even if China's tariffs don't have a huge impact on America's $20 trillion economy, they will bring pain to specific communities.

Take Marathon County in Wisconsin, where 140 local families grow ginseng, a root that is used in herbal remedies and is popular in Asia. Around $30 million — or 85 percent — of the area's ginseng production went to China as exports or gifts. The county, which gave Trump nearly 57 percent of its vote in 2016, holds an international ginseng festival in September, crowning a Ginseng Queen and drawing visitors from China and Taiwan.

China's new 15 percent tariff on ginseng is "definitely going to hit the growers hard if this happens," said Jackie Fett, executive director of the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin. "It is the livelihood of many people. ... We're still holding on to a little bit of hope" that the tariffs can be reversed.

Jim Schumacher, co-owner of Schumacher Ginseng in Marathon, Wisconsin, said the 15 percent tax will hurt: "You've got to be price-competitive, even if you have the top-quality product. We're definitely concerned. We hope something can be resolved."

Trump campaigned on a promise to overhaul American trade policy. In his view, what he calls flawed trade agreements and sharp-elbowed practices by China and other trading partners are in part responsible for America's gaping trade deficit — $566 billion last year. The deficit in the trade of goods with China last year hit a record $375 billion.

In his first year in office, Trump's talk was tougher than his actions on trade. But he has gradually grown more aggressive. In January, he slapped tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines. Last month, he imposed duties on steel and aluminum imports — but spared most major economies except China and Japan.

Now he is moving toward steep tariffs to pressure Beijing into treating U.S. technology companies more fairly. In the meantime, his administration has lost two voices that cautioned against protectionist trade policies: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and White House economic adviser Gary Cohn.


Business
Gas prices on the rise for spring-summer season

Gas prices are still climbing in Southwestern Oregon with some pumps charging $3 or more per gallon, the highest prices statewide in nearly 1,000 days.

Average retail gasoline prices in Oregon have risen 2.1 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.04 per gallon yesterday, according to gasoline technology company GasBuddy's daily survey of 1,307 gas outlets in Oregon. In Coos County, the average prices are $2.98-$3.15 per gallon. This compares with the national average that has increased 4.1 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.65 per gallon, according to GasBuddy.com.

Including the change in gas prices in Oregon during the past week, prices yesterday were 34.3 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 18.5 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 12.6 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 33.1 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

According to GasBuddy historical data, gasoline prices on April 2 in Oregon have ranged widely over the last five years:

$2.69 per gallon in 2017, $2.17 per gallon in 2016, $2.73 per gallon in 2015, $3.66 per gallon in 2014 and $3.71 per gallon in 2013.

Gas prices in other parts of Oregon include:

Eugene- $3.11 per gallon, up 2.3 cents per gallon from last week's $3.08/g.

Salem- $3.04 per gallon, up 0.8 cents per gallon from last week's $3.03 per gallon.

Portland- $3.09 per gallon, up 0.7 cents per gallon from last week's $3.08 per gallon.

Typical reasons for the spring rise in gas prices are that refineries are making summer blends of gasoline, which are more expensive and increased travel due to pleasant temperatures and vacations.

The gas stations The World spoke to were reluctant to speak about the higher prices and would not allow interviews with customers, however, they did say there have been some complaints about the price increase.

"As the basketball version of March Madness wraps up today, its just getting established at gas pumps across the country. This past week has not only brought higher gas prices, but in addition, the national average finds itself mere days away from rising to the highest level seen in nearly 1,000 days," said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. "The usual suspects are at play, leaving little surprise to the higher prices we're facing, but that's little comfort to motorists being hit with gas prices in 17 states that have risen over 15 cents per gallon in the last 30 days alone. Think of the spring surge as a bit of a race - some states will see their price rally early and fast-paced, while others may lag behind - so no matter if prices near you surged or haven't yet, we're all going to eventually feel a similar rise amongst all states."

GasBuddy is a gasoline technology company that examines the way more than 75 million consumers find, purchase, and save money on gasoline.