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Most read stories of 2017 mixed bag of crime, tragedy

SOUTH COAST — When we look back on news stories of 2017, without doubt, crime, heartbreak and tragedy were the unifying themes for the most-read stories in The World.

1. Protesters choked out

Coos Bay police cited a Lakeside man in January who admitted to intentionally driving by protesters at the women's march on Saturday and choking them with thick, black diesel smoke, a practice referred to as "rolling coal."

Steven A. Bishop was cited Monday for unlawful visible emissions, after he admitted his actions to police, Coos Bay Police Captain Chris Chapanar said. 

Bishop wrote on his Facebook page the night before Saturday's planned women's march in Coos Bay that, "There's supposed to be a riot in downtown Coos Bay tomorrow I hope all you diesel guys are ready to go blow black smoke."

The story garnered 134,919 page views read by 56,384 users.

2. SCINT seizes more than 10 pounds of meth

A South Coast Interagency Narcotics Team (SCINT) led task force confiscated more than 10 pounds of crystal methamphetamine in May 2017. Law enforcement officials say it is the largest such seizure in Coos County history.

“It’s the largest to my knowledge,” SCINT Director Capt. Cal Mitts said, adding that fifteen firearms, $46,000 in cash and a power generator had also been recovered during the search. 

He said one of the firearms was stolen. 

In total, five people were arrested: four men and one woman.

The story earned 31,898 page views and was read by 12,874 users.

3. Man killed after jumping off bridge

In September, a Bandon man committed suicide Tuesday night by jumping off the McCullough Bridge in North Bend, according to North Bend Police.

The man was identified as 55-year-old James Wise. According to police, at 7:30 p.m. officers received a report of an adult male that was observed walking on the bridge when he suddenly stepped up and over the bridge railing.

Officers from the NBPD, North Bend Water Rescue and U.S. Coast Guard personnel were alerted to this and responded immediately. Police discovered footwear and a bag of belongings and later discovered a submerged body in the water below.

Wise's body was recovered by boat rescue personnel and he was transported to Bay Area Hospital where he was declared dead.

4. Deputy charged with assault

In August, a Coos County Sheriff’s Office deputy was arrested on suspicion of assault after allegedly beating his wife.

39-year-old Klayton Charles Wilson is charged with menacing, harassment and assault in the fourth degree, a felony charge.

On Aug. 6 at 4:33 a.m. an officer with the Bandon Police Department was dispatched to the defendant’s Bandon residence because of a report of a disturbance.

The victim was standing in the front yard, shaking, with her hands and face covered in blood.

Earlier, Wilson had been drinking, according to the victim. She said she had to go into the bedroom several times to put Wilson back to bed after he had fallen out.

The victim said she went into the room again because Wilson “started tearing up the bedroom.”

According to the victim, Wilson started swinging at her and grabbing her by her hair.

5. Tucker Sherman

January brought the death of Tucker Kobe-Joseph "Tucker Joe" Sherman was the dearly-loved son of Joe Sherman of Prineville and Kristi and Brison Stocker of Coos Bay, born July 31, 1996, in Coos Bay. He died Jan. 28, 2017, in North Bend.

6. Bandon Dunes golf pro killed in accident

Family, friends and co-workers are mourning the death of Robert McVicker, 28, an assistant golf pro at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, who was killed in an accident on U.S. Highway 101 between Bandon and Coos Bay the morning of Saturday, Feb. 25.

Oregon State Police said the crash occurred about 8:30 a.m. at milepost 249, about 12 miles south of Coos Bay and was likely caused by icy roads.

According to police, McVicker was driving a 2004 Nissan Xterra south on the highway when it began fishtailing. The Nissan crossed into the northbound lane, directly in the path of a 2010 Ford Taurus.

The Taurus smashed into the right side of the Nissan, pushing it off the highway into the road bank. The Nissan then burst into flames that killed McVicker and destroyed his vehicle.

The driver and a passenger in the Taurus suffered non-life threatening injuries.

According to a Bandon Dunes Golf Resort blog, McVicker was an integral Bandon Dunes family member since 2010 and was soon to become the next Head Golf Professional at Old Macdonald.

7. 'Leaven No Trace' founder arrested for squatting

Also in January, Coos County Sheriff's deputies arrested Raymond Furr, who also goes as Raymond Block, on charges that he was illegally squatting on private property.

Furr is the founder of the group Leaven No Trace, which has a mission of picking up garbage on Coos County's back roads, but which has frequently run afoul of county officials for illegal roadside dumping.

On the afternoon of Jan. 13, the owners of a West Fork Millicoma Road home said they found an unwelcome surprise — 36-year-old Raymond Furr and 52-year-old Christy Furr, occupying the house which had sat empty for the last two years. When the owners confronted the Furrs, they later told police that the Furrs "claimed squatters rights and refused to leave when asked," according to the sheriff's office. 

Oregon does not have or recognize any rights for squatters," the office added. The story garnered 13,180 page views and 7,502 users.

8. Athletic club slapped with OSHA fine

COOS BAY — Bay Area Athletic Club has been fined nearly $200,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), according to documents obtained by The World.

The $195,300 failure-to-abate penalty brings the total violations for the Coos Bay-based gym to $574,110.

The most recent fine stemmed from a failure to provide proper emergency eyewash and shower facilities, with the original violation dating back to Sept. 14 of 2015.

9. Mexican cartel operation thwarted

“This is an operation. It just doesn’t have a name.”

Capt. Kelley Andrews with the Coos County Sheriff’s Office said that in the early, dark hours of a November morning as a convoy of white vehicles snaked through Myrtle Point and Powers.

The Emergency Response Team, also known as the county’s SWAT team, headed through worsening rains to clean out an illegal marijuana grow operated by one of the Mexican cartels. The article was one of the most read with 17,683 page views and 6,992 users.

10. Man charged with 14 counts of sex abuse

A 34-year-old Coos Bay man was charged last September with 14 counts of sex abuse charges spanning six years.

Raylee Benjamin Lincoln was charged with unlawful sexual penetration in the first degree and second degree, sexual abuse in the first degree and second degree and sodomy in the third degree.

The first 12 counts stem from one victim and the last two counts are in regards to a separate victim who was under the age of 14.

The first victim was under the age of 12 when the abuse allegedly started happening in 2011.

This article rounds out the Top 10 News Stories of 2017 with 13,375 page views and 6,781 users.


Spencer Cole / SPENCER COLE The World  

North Bend Police Chief Robert Kappelman, second from left, looks on at three individuals arrested in a SCINT-led drug seizure Thursday morning. The operation was one of three major seizures initiated by the narcotics team since December. 


Lionel Youst explains how a steam donkey operates on Thursday afternoon at the Coos County History Museum. The machine was used to drag fallen logs out of logging sites around the turn of the 20th century. Youst demonstrated how loggers used to leverage logs into position.

Unstable recycling market has no clear resolution

COOS COUNTY — Changing market regulations in the recycling industry have caused drastic changes to the items disposed in recycle bins, as well as raised the price of garbage services.

Members of the public have made many calls to the Coos Bay garbage service Les’ Sanitary Services in response to the changes. Some are upset with the price increase, some are upset with the lack of marketplace for previously recyclable material and others are wondering why their plastic bags of recycling are being left on their curb instead of being picked up on trash day.

Les’ offers a simple solution to those who have recently had plastic bags pulled from their bins and left on their curbs and that’s to stop putting recyclables in plastic bags.

“Stuff that is in plastic bags we can’t accept because we know there may be some good recycling in it, but for the most part we find a lot of contaminates in these plastic bags,” Les’ Sanitary Service Site Manager Bill Richardson said. “We don’t know what’s in them and we don’t have the time to sort through every plastic bag. My driver has 1,100 stops a day. Since this cleanup effort started he’s been exceeding 12 hours a day.”

Richardson proved his point by grabbing a random plastic bag from a residential recycling load to reveal bits of food in the bag with the materials.

“The more hands that have to touch this material before it’s able to go anywhere, the higher the price is going to be to take care of it,” Richardson said.

Garbage prices have increased five percent countywide, because more time is spent sorting materials brought in to the West Coast Recycling and Transfer Center. Starting Jan. 1, loads of recyclable material being shipped to the Chinese market must first be inspected and have a contamination rate of 0.3 percent.

It’s important to note that our local garbage service does not take these materials to market directly. Les’ brings our county’s materials to a Material Recovery Facility in Vancouver, Wash., called Columbia Resource Company. Material Recovery Facilities have drastically raised their prices because of the extra sorting they have to do to make the materials marketable. The less contaminated our recyclables are the less our garbage service will have to pay to deliver our materials.

“Everybody thinks we’re getting rich off recycling, but that’s a misconception. It’s a cost, and we have to provide it to any city with a population over 4,000 by state law. This material has to get cleaned up otherwise it’s going to end up in a landfill and we do not want that. We want to be good stewards of our customers and of the earth,” Richardson said.

According to Richardson it takes three workers eight hours to sort through one truck full of recycling.

Many are arguing that new markets for these materials must be found, and material recovery facilities are searching are searching desperately for them.

“They’re constantly looking for new markets and starting up new systems somewhere, but all of that stuff is going to take time. You don’t just build a factory overnight. They’re looking into different countries, like Vietnam. They’re looking into building facilities on the east coast, but all that stuff is going to take time,” Richardson said.

Coos County doesn’t have the resources or the materials to find their own markets and sell off the materials used.

“The amount of material our county produces is small compared to the big picture. If we tried to sort every piece of material that comes here and find a market for it ourselves we wouldn't produce enough material to market. For example if we said we wanted to take all the milk jugs out and separate those, it would take us a year to collect enough milk jugs to make one truck load. So, it’s really not feasible to do,” Richardson said.

According to Richardson, Jackson and Josephine County have shut down all recycling operations as a response to the market change.

Les’ has made an effort to educate the community, by sending out fliers to all its customers and advertising on the radio.

“If we leave it in your bin, it’s either bagged or contaminated,” Richardson said. 

Contributed photo 

This year's commercial Dungeness crab season has been delayed to at least Dec. 16.

The future of mental health is here
The successful crisis intervention training conference is returning in March

COOS COUNTY — Ever since institutions were shut down, the nation has grappled with trying to find the right way to care for the mentally ill.

In Coos County, there may finally be an answer.

“It’s kind of the future of mental health care,” said Ross Acker with Coos Health and Wellness.

He is talking about the Assertive Community Treatment team, better known as ACT. The team was assembled nearly two years ago and presents a brand new philosophy to mental health care and support in cities.

“It is what the Department of Justice wants us to be pursuing,” Acker said. “It’s an evidence-based program that’s actually been around for a number of years and a lot of success stories come out of ACT treatment. It is more of an assertive approach where we’re on the street seeing the clients. It is about actively trying to keep people out of jail and out of the system. Instead of people coming to our office, we are going to them.”

The team includes a nurse, alcohol and drug specialist, and a peer support specialist. The unique part of having a peer support specialist onboard is that they have lived with a mental health problem in their past, underwent treatment and are now doing better.

“We have all these different specialties to serve the client,” Acker said.

To help the team succeed, Acker has strived over the last few years to develop partnerships with local law enforcement agencies and Bay Area Hospital.

“We have those partnerships in tact so we are able to provide a service like this,” Acker said.

In fact, one of ACT’s clients was recommended to them by law enforcement. At the time, this person had over 150 police contacts. Since ACT stepped into his life, those police encounters have plummeted.

“It is still a pilot project and we are still in the testing ground, but things are going well,” Acker said.

Brandy Davenport is a certified addiction professional with the state, as well as the substance abuse counselor on the team. As she described it, not only does ACT serve to decrease police contacts, but to also help clients have less hospitalization time.

“They found with this kind of a program that clients have a lot more success with keeping on medications, staying clean and sober, and have better relations with their families and the community as a whole,” she said.

Right now the team has nine clients, who they meet with at least four times a week. Peer support specialist Heather Hernandez explained that ACT also tends to have more contact with their clients than most other kinds of teams.

The other part of the solution to bettering mental health care is the crisis intervention training, which first started in March of 2017.

“CIT is more of a networking event where we all get to know each other,” Acker said. “It is a conference but ACT has a key part in it because we’re all serving the same clients. After we get to know each other at the conference, it’s much easier to work together.”

During the first CIT conference earlier this year, The World reported that local agencies had a breakdown of communications dating back to 1996 when Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, otherwise known as HIPAA, was enacted into law.

“Sgt. Kelley Andrews with the Coos County Sheriff's Department remembered when HIPAA came along because beforehand departments and agencies would talk,” The World reported.

“Once HIPAA came along though, agencies in the mental health world couldn't talk to us about specifics anymore, and before they could,” Andrews said in a previous interview. “When that law came down it had such large ramifications that I don't think were intended that stymied necessary communication. It took us to step forward and say we can talk about this again, but we need to be careful with what we can talk about, to get things rolling again.”

To help recreate those bridges, Acker has been part of the once-a-month meetings between law enforcement, Bay Area Hospital, and other local agencies.

“On a larger scale, when I went to a CIT coordinators conference, they had teams from Seattle and Portland that are five or 10 years ahead of what we can do here,” Acker said. “They have more money and personnel. They do a lot of preventative work because the whole goal here is to divert these people from the system and ACT is one of the ways to do that.”

The next CIT conference is the first week of March 2018 and this time it’s not just focused on networking and training law enforcement on mental health.

“We’re looking to train the next batch of first responders,” Acker said. “We are including a firefighter and a paramedic, so it’s not just law enforcement. We really concentrated on police the first time, but there’s been so much positive feedback that we’re going to expand.”