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Feds return sequestered timber money

Coos County, along with 18 other Oregon and California counties, will be receiving timber payments that were withheld by the federal government earlier this year.

The Association of Oregon and California Counties recently reached a compromise with the Department of the Interior and the Office of Management and Budget over $1.39 million dollars in withheld money from timber receipts.

The federal government owns timberland in the Oregon and California counties that the selloff was to be logged. Half of the money from the sale is supposed to be given to the county where the timberland lies. However, this year the federal government withheld 6.9 percent of the half they were supposed to give to the county.

“We used to get 75 percent of the O&C receipts,” Coos County Commissioner Bob Main said.

Coos County, which contains approximately 6 percent of these federally owned timber lands, was shorted around $82,000 this year.

“All of the money we’re getting back will go into the general fund,” Main said.

Twenty-five percent of the timber lands are located in Douglas County, so they will be receiving $350,000 in funds sequestered by the government.

The Bureau of Land Management oversees the sales of the 2.1 million acres of Oregon and California timberland.

The AOCC has been working with the Department of the Interior since March to get the withheld funds released to the respective counties.

Funds were withheld as part of a government wide sequestration of 6.9 percent of all spending. Federal statutes require sequestration when total government spending exceeds certain budget caps. The amount of spending is determined by the level of government spending compared to applicable budget caps. The sequestration for the fiscal year of 2016 was 6.9 percent.

AOCC argued that because timber sale receipts are placed in a special account in the U.S. Treasury, which was set up in 1916 for the benefit of the 18 Oregon and California counties, timber payments are not considered ordinary government spending. Therefore they shouldn’t be subject to sequestration in the usual way.

OMB was convinced by AOCC’s argument, and decided last week to release the withheld funds. 

Bethany Baker, The World 

Lilly Kate Beam, of Coquille, looks to John Johnson, of Coos Bay, after presenting him with his uncle's 1950's era military dog tags during the Military Appreciation Ceremony at United Valley Christian Academy in Coquille on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. The Beam family found Clarence Spurgeon's dog tags while doing work in their backyard in Coquille.

A buried treasure sparks veteran appreciation in Coquille

COQUILLE — A Coquille family recently discovered some Army dog tags from a Korean War soldier when removing some shrubbery and their daughter's intrigue helped find the soldier’s family.

Lilly Kate Beam, a student at Coquille’s United Valley Christian Academy, was so excited by the dog tags she brought them to her school for show and tell. Beam’s teacher did a little digging on the Internet and learned that the tags’ owner Clarence Spurgeon had died, but relatives of the veteran were living in Coos Bay.

Spurgeon’s dog tags spurred a military appreciation day at UVCA Wednesday, where the tags were presented to Spurgeon's nephew John Johnson. A plaque with Spurgeon’s name was made to house the tags.

Around 20 veterans showed up to tell their stories, and enjoy patriotic songs sung by UVCA students.

Johnson told stories about his uncle, who according to him, was over 7-feet tall. He looked for pictures to bring to the event, but couldn’t find any.

While it’s unknown how the dog tags ended up buried, they were reasonably in the right place, as Spurgeon’s family used to own the land where the Beam family now lives. 

Bethany Baker, The World 

Lilly Kate Beam presented a set of military dog tags to John Johnson, of Coos Bay, the nephew of U.S. Army veteran Clarence Spurgeon, during the Military Appreciation Ceremony at United Valley Christian Academy in Coquille on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. The Beam family found the 1950's era dog tags while doing work in their backyard in Coquille. 

Bethany Baker, The World 

U.S. Army veteran Clarence Spurgeon's military dog tags sit in a wooden plaque at the Military Appreciation Ceremony at United Valley Christian Academy in Coquille on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. The Beam family of Coquille found the tags while working in their backyard and presented them to Spurgeon's nephew John Johnson during the event.

Amanda Loman, The World 

K2 Exports crews work to load logs onto the Super Sarah, a forest-product carrier vessel bound for China, on Monday, Sept. 21. The Super Sarah, of Hong Kong, is the first ship to be filled solely with logs supplied by K2 Exports.

Coos Bay all-girl robotics team goes to state championships
Team comprised of two girls exceeds at regional robotics competition over weekend

COOS BAY — An all-girl robotics team is moving on to the state championships.

Olive McClusky, fourth grade, and Autumn Cadenhead, fifth grade, are from Sunset Middle School and part of the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Lego League with the Coos Bay School District.

They, along with other teams in the district, participated in a regional competition in Myrtle Creek on Dec. 2.

“Last year we had two teams from Millicoma Middle School make it to the State Tournament, but none went on to nationals from there,” said Adrian DeLeon, district school board chairman and FIRST Lego League coach and mentor.

During the regional competition, the teams went head-to-head in three challenges. The first was the robotic game, which is played on a table with a mat on top. The mat has Lego robots stuck to it. The students have to design and program the robot to move around the table and complete certain missions that involve picking up objects and moving them around, to pushing levers and turning knobs.

“The second part is to solve a project,” DeLeon described. “The teams do a research project based on a real world problem.”

This year’s theme was hydro-dynamics and how people find, transport, use and/or dispose of water.

“Our team took on the issue of finding drinkable water after a natural disaster,” DeLeon said.  “It would become a scarce resource and in our area we couldn’t get to other resource of water.”

The team made a solar still out of household items including a bunt pan, poster board, tape, saran wrap, and a cup.

“It distills water,” he said. “You can put salt water or other unclean water in and get drinkable water out.”

The final part of the competition is to follow the eight core values held by the league throughout the season and during the tournament.

“They stress professionalism and cooperation so they can compete and still be friends at the end of the day,” DeLeon said.

As for McClusky and Cadenhead going on to the state competition, DeLeon said they were excited.

“It’s a great opportunity for our students,” he said. “A couple years ago we had one of our FIRST students recognized because of her participation on the robotics team and she got to introduce the governor at a business conference.”

If anyone is interested in creating a robotics team, DeLeon says he can help.

“These teams aren’t just affiliated with schools,” he said. “Boy Scouts and 4-H and private groups can contact me and I can help them get started.”

To reach DeLeon, email him at