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Sturdivant park docks soon to be replaced

COQUILLE — After two years of planning and collecting funds the city the Coquille is waiting to hear back on a grant from the Oregon State Marine Board to replace the docks at Sturdivant Park along the Coquille River.

Ed Glazar, The World 

A dock floats Wednesday in the Coquille River near the boat launch at Sturdivant Park in Coquille

The project, with contingencies, will cost around $600,000. Coquille has already received $93,000 from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and $52,000 from the Port of Bandon. The missing amount of funds the city hopes to get through its grant with OSMB that grant being just over $250,000.

“This is a big ticket for what’s basically a Parks and Rec thing. However, it’s a big deal to Coquille to have that boat ramp and transient dock open and working because it brings a lot of people to town,” Public Works director for Coquille Kevin Urban said.

Oregon State Marine Board brought the project to the attention of the city when it looked into its stability in 2015. It reported back that most of the docks were end of life, end of service.

Urban said he’s not sure exactly how old the docks are, because he can’t find any documentation as to when they were built. However, he suspects they are around 25 years old.

Not all of the parts of the docks are bad. There are some aluminum sections that are still in good shape and will be used with the new docks.

The main issue with the old docks stems from how they were built. They were not built to accommodate rising tides as a result of heavy rains.

“The gangplank was solid at level, in other words t would go down but it wouldn’t go past a level height. So there were a couple of times when the water has gotten higher than that and it’s snapped,” Urban said.

The new plan will place floats under the gangplank so that it rises with the river.

If it elects to help fund the project there are certain things that the OSMB won’t pay for. For example, the new dock plan will have an area where folks can fish off the dock and OSMB is strictly involved with boating. Money donated by ODFW will go toward making the fishing section of the docks.

“Fish and Wildlife came through and said, 'OK here’s that portion for people fishing off the docks'. People always did fish off those docks even though they weren’t supposed to. Every time a sign was put up that said 'no fishing' it disappeared very quickly. There’s probably a dozen of them at the bottom of the river,” Urban said.

OSMB has been working with the city since it first recognized that the docks need to be replaced back in 2015. They helped with planning and profiles as well as conducting surveys and finding cost estimates.

“They also helped put together the joint permit application for the Corps of Engineers and the Department of State Lands which is a huge long permit, it calls for so much technical information. The fella who did it at state marine board, he and his staff are just incredibly knowledgeable,” Urban said.

If all goes well construction on the docks should start this summer.

Aside from being popular place to fish on the Coquille River, the docks at Sturdivant Park are the access point for law enforcement when it needs to patrol the river.

Urban was very grateful for all the support he’s received from both government agencies and the public during the grant witting process.

If for some reason OSMB isn’t able to fund the grant for the docks Urban will be looking for private donations to see the project through.

“It’s all crossed fingers at this point. I think it’s a strong grant, but you never can tell. OSMB has definitely been involved and I think they want to see the project through, but if it doesn’t happen we’ll just have to find another way. I’ve done that before and we’ll find a way to get it done,” Urban said.

The Sturdivant Park docks are currently the largest project Coquille is working on.

 “We have money, we have manpower, and we also have some materials that we can use for putting in the docks … We’re done with our plans, we’re done with our permitting, now we’re just trying t pull together our funding,” Urban said.

Cleaner recycling opens domestic market

COOS COUNTY — Changes in world recycling markets that began in January have caused Coos County to cut down contamination in its recycling by 85 percent.

Cleaner recycling opens domestic markets

“It’s unbelievable. It really is amazing … the residential side of things are totally acceptable at this point. We have a few things that are left in the bins that aren’t recyclable, but people are getting the hint,” Waste Connections site manager Bill Richardson said.

Cleaner recycling materials have opened up new market opportunities in countries like India and Vietnam. In some cases recyclables have become clean enough to be sold in domestic markets.

According to Richardson Waste Connections has started selling corrugated cardboard from Coos County as well as other areas to Georgia Pacific in Toledo, Oregon.

Ed Glazar, The World 

Les' Sanitation employee Scott Weatherby pulls cardboard Thursday from a pile of recyclables at West Coast Recycling & Transfer in Coos Bay.

“They’re still trying to work on domestic markets for the papers and plastics, but that’s kind of in the works so nothing’s really happened with that at this point,” Richardson said.

China announced a few months ago that it would be regulating the amount of contamination allowed in recyclable products starting this year. The initial proposal was that loads could not be over three percent contaminated by garbage. That later fell to 0.3 percent and has since risen to 0.5 percent because China has had trouble finding material clean enough to meet their regulations.

Waste Connections notified all of its customers of the changes through filers in the mail, and began leaving behind contaminated recycling in people’s bins when they went to pick it up.

Folks were unhappy about the changes at first. Waste Connection received many angry phone calls from people whose recycling was not picked up because it didn’t meet new standards.

In just two months of stricter regulations, Coos County has significantly cut the amount of garbage contamination in its recycling.

“The phone calls have gone way down. People are really starting to get it,” Richardson said.

The problem that Waste Connections continues to have is with large commercial recycling bins used by businesses and apartment complexes.

Ed Glazar, The World 

Les' Sanitation employee Scott Weatherby sorts cardboard and garbage out of a pile of recyclables Thursday at West Coast Recycling & Transfer in Coos Bay as his coworker James Brown crushes a load of clean recyclables in a compactor.

“Residential has been going really well. The commercial side of things is not. The commercial front load containers are continuing to have contamination,” Richardson said.

Many local businesses have been complaining to Waste Connections that they are not responsible for the garbage that ends up in their recycle bins. Saying that people often throw bags of garbage in their bins at night when the bins aren’t being monitored.

“People are going either at night or on the weekends and putting their unrecyclable materials into these commercial bins. The other problem we’re having is basically apartment buildings, multifamily residentials, and trailer parks. It’s because there’s nobody watching them,” Richardson said.

According to Richardson these large bins have been relabeled with the new regulations, but that hasn’t helped.

If businesses and apartment buildings can’t comply Waste Connections will begin charging them to pick up the loads as garbage.

“We’re going to give them a few weeks and if they can’t get this any cleaner then we’re going to have to charge it as trash because we’re going to have to throw it away. It’s going to contaminate the whole load and we don’t want that any more than anyone does,” Richardson said.  

Jae C. Hong 

Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson (17), of the United States, celebrates after scoring a goal in the penalty shootout during the women's gold medal hockey game on Thursday.

Lawmakers advance tax proposal after removing breaks

SALEM — The top legislator in Oregon's state Senate said he supports a stripped-down proposal to partially disconnect the state's tax law from last year's federal tax overhaul after legislators increased the amount of money the proposal would raise by removing breaks for individuals and businesses.

Senate President Peter Courtney confirmed his support Wednesday. The proposal would stop a federal deduction on certain types of income from also being automatically deducted from Oregon taxes. Altogether, changes in the federal overhaul law were forecast to cost the state up to $217 million over the next two years, according to a report released by the state economist last week. The bill would reverse that impact, and collect $27.4 million extra in taxes, or about $244.4 million altogether.

The measure's future had been in question after Senate leaders sent the bill back to committee. Concerns had earlier been raised that the bill didn't completely fill the funding hole created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a recent overhaul of federal taxes championed by President Donald Trump.

Oregon uses figures from residents' federal tax forms to calculate state taxes, so changes to federal law automatically carry over to the state's own system. The proposal targets one particular change - a 20 percent deduction on special types of business income, which individuals are able to claim on their personal taxes instead, known as pass-through income. Instead of allowing residents to use the same deduction on their state tax forms, the proposal would require residents to first add the deduction back on, effectively undoing it.

Courtney voted to send the bill back to the Senate floor Tuesday, and said Wednesday that he supported changes made to the bill in the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee.

The committee kept the core element of the bill - blocking the pass-through deduction. But the committee stripped away separate tax breaks, including an increase to a small discount that would have applied to most individual taxpayers and a clause that would have expanded eligibility for a business tax deduction.

Sen. Brian Boquist, a Republican, voted against the bill in its original form and again on Tuesday.

"It's a $1.2 billion tax increase on small businesses," Boquist said Wednesday. Boquist said he thought the bill would be vulnerable to a court challenge if Democratic legislators didn't pass it with a three-fifths majority, which is required for tax increases.

The committee also kept a provision in the bill that would give high earners a way around one new limit set in the federal overhaul. The federal rules set a limit on taxpayers ability to deduct payments to their state from their federal taxes. The bill would allow people with higher state tax bills to buy credits for the portion of their taxes over the limit, with the proceeds going to the Oregon Opportunity Grant Fund and counting as charitable contributions on their federal taxes. The credits would be distributed through a competitive auction held by the state.

Angry teens swarm into Florida Capitol, demand new gun laws

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A week after a shooter slaughtered 17 people in a Florida high school, thousands of protesters, including many angry teenagers, swarmed into the state Capitol on Wednesday, calling for changes to gun laws, a ban on assault-type weapons and improved care for the mentally ill.

The normally staid Florida Statehouse filled with students, among them more than 100 survivors of the Feb. 14 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, on the edge of the Everglades. They held signs, chanted slogans and burst into lawmakers' offices demanding to be heard.

The teens were welcomed into the gun-friendly halls of power, but the students' top goal — a ban on assault-style rifles such as the weapon used in the massacre — was taken off the table a day earlier, although more limited measures are still possible.

Many protesters complained that lawmakers were not serious about reform, and they said they would oppose in future elections any legislator who accepts campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association.

"We've spoke to only a few legislators and ... the most we've gotten out of them is, 'We'll keep you in our thoughts. You are so strong. You are so powerful,'" said Delaney Tarr, a senior at the high school. "We know what we want. We want gun reform. We want commonsense gun laws. ... We want change."

She added: "We've had enough of thoughts and prayers. If you supported us, you would have made a change long ago. So this is to every lawmaker out there: No longer can you take money from the NRA. We are coming after you. We are coming after every single one of you, demanding that you take action."

Outside the building, the crowd burst into chants of "Vote them out!" as speakers called for the removal of Republican lawmakers who refuse to address gun control issues. One sign read, "Remember the men who value the NRA over children's lives" and then listed Republicans in Florida's congressional delegation. Other signs said, "Kill the NRA, not our kids" and "These kids are braver than the GOP."

About 30 people left an anti-gun rally outside Florida's Old Capitol and began a sit-in protest at the office of four House Republican leaders, demanding a conversation about gun legislation.

"They're not speaking to us right now. We only asked for five minutes and so we're just sitting until they speak," Tyrah Williams, a 15-year-old sophomore at Leon High School, which is within walking distance of the Capitol.

In Washington, students and parents delivered emotional appeals to President Donald Trump to act on school safety and guns. The president promised to be "very strong on background checks," adding that "we're going to do plenty of other things."

And at a news conference Wednesday, Broward County, Florida, Sheriff Scott Israel ordered all deputies who qualify to begin carrying rifles on school grounds. The rifles will be locked in patrol cars when not in use until the agency secures gun lockers and lockers, he said.

"We need to be able to defeat any threat that comes into campus," Israel said.

The sheriff said the school superintendent fully supported his decision.

Stoneman Douglas' school resource officer was carrying a weapon when the shooting happened last week, but did not discharge his firearm. It's unclear what role he played in the shooting. The sheriff said those details are still being investigated.

At a town hall held by CNN in Sunrise, Florida, on Wednesday night, thousands of angry students, teachers and parents booed Republican Sen. Marco Rubio when he indicated that he would not support an assault-weapons ban and applauded Dem. Rep. Bill Nelson when he pushed Rubio to work on a bill that they both could support. They also booed a spokeswoman from the NRA when she said the answer was not to ban weapons but to ensure they stay out of the hands of the mentally ill.

Meanwhile, in a wave of demonstrations reaching from Arizona to Maine, students at dozens of U.S. high schools walked out of class Wednesday to protest gun violence and honor the victims of last week's deadly shooting in Florida.

The protests spread from school to school as students shared plans for their demonstrations over social media. Many lasted 17 minutes in honor of the 17 people killed one week earlier at Stoneman Douglas.

Hundreds of students from Maryland schools left class to rally at the U.S. Capitol. Hundreds more filed out of their schools in cities from Chicago to Pittsburgh to Austin, Texas, often at the lunch hour.

The suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, has been jailed on 17 counts of murder. Defense attorneys, state records and people who knew him indicate that he displayed behavioral troubles for years, including getting kicked out of the Parkland school. He owned a collection of weapons.

"How is it possible that this boy that we all knew was clearly disturbed was able to get an assault rifle, military grade, and come to our school and try to kill us?" one 16-year-old student asked the president of the state Senate, Joe Negron.

Negron did not answer directly. "That's an issue that we're reviewing," he said.

When another lawmaker said he supported raising the age to buy assault-style weapons to 21 from 18, the students broke into applause.