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North Bend High School mourns recent graduate
Students and staff who knew Candelario Rincon-Hamm will honor him in Celebration of Life ceremony next week

NORTH BEND — A former North Bend High School student, killed in an accident on Highway 38 Saturday, was remembered Tuesday by faculty and students.

“We’re all devastated,” said Principal Bill Lucero.

Cadnelario "Junior" Rincon-Hamm, 18, of Coos Bay, was killed in a vehicle accident on Highway 38 in Douglas County. The World previously reported the fatal wreck Sunday based on a press release from the Oregon State Police. 

The release stated that Rincon-Hamm left the roadway for unknown reasons and collided with a tree, rolled multiple times down a 100-foot embankment and overturned in the North Umpqua River. Rincon-Hamm suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Fatigue and weather conditions are being looked at by investigators as possible contributing factors of the crash.

“He was in our PEAK Program,” Lucero said, referencing one of the North Bend School District’s alternative programs. “He went from struggling to work super hard and accomplished great things.”

Rincon-Hamm graduated early, but later walked with the rest of his class last spring.

“He was in our PEAK program for two years, which has around 20 students, so he was close with the people there from teachers to students,” Lucero said.

Those who knew him will honor him during a Celebration of Life ceremony next week, which will only be open to those who either work or attend the school.

“There they will talk about him, get food and drinks, and celebrate the good things he accomplished, which was a lot,” Lucero said. “He had a lot of challenges and overcame all of them. He was in a good place and everything he did was to help other people. When you saw him, he was always smiling.”

Tuesday was the first day back to school after the holiday vacation and, according to Lucero, PEAK teachers took time to address the loss and make sure students were okay.

“The whole staff was notified and if any kid needs someone to talk to, they can come down to the counseling office,” Lucero said.

For high school counselor Heidi Roe, she knew Rincon-Hamm as a young man who set goals for himself and met them.

“He is an attribute to why you have an alternative program, to give people a fresh start,” she said. “He took his credit seriously and even his physical appearance changed, how he walked. It had that self-pride. I was shocked when Mr. Lucero told me about this loss because it’s huge. You’re talking about someone who deserves to have life before him, so it doesn’t make sense.”

OSP is continuing its investigation into the accident.

The first Coos County baby of 2018 has arrived
Baby Carpenter born at 4:46 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 2

COOS BAY— The first Coos County baby of 2018 was born at 4:46 a.m. on Tuesday, according to Bay Area Hospital.

Baby Carpenter doesn’t have a first name just yet, but his parents are trying to decide between Henry or name him after his father, Johnathan Carpenter.

“I knew my due date was going to be on the first of the year, but usually you get induced a week early,” said mother Lauren Ham. “The hospital was so full, that didn’t happen. I had the baby on New Year’s instead. I’m just surprised we’re the only ones here having a baby.”

Ham arrived at Bay Area Hospital at 7:30 a.m. on Monday and she endured nearly 24 hours of labor before Baby Carpenter arrived.

“This is my fourth baby,” she said. “The oldest is 12.”

Both Ham and Baby Carpenter are healthy and expected to return home on Thursday.

Ham and Carpenter received a gift basket from Bay Area Hospital’s volunteer auxiliary, a tradition that goes back as far as 32 years.

“We do this for the first baby of the year,” said volunteer Virginia Stackpole. “It’s all the things volunteers at the hospital have donated, including blankets, toys, T-shirts, diapers, and homemade quilts.”

Ham was surprised by the basket, but said it will help.

Aside from celebrating the first baby of 2018, Ham will also get help from the hospital’s Mom’s Program.

“They do home visits and help with breastfeeding,” Ham said. “They help you before you leave the hospital and check up on you at home.”

The hospital also gifted Ham and Carpenter a baby box, something that will now be given to any newborn delivered at Bay Area Hospital.  

“This box promotes a safe sleeping environment for babies, educating parents not to co-sleep with infants, that babies need to be in an environment without pillows or stuffed animals or bumper pads,” said hospital day shift charge nurse, Denise Partney. “Babies should be swaddled in a single blanket and placed in an environment without anything else.”

As for the first baby, the delivery saw some complications.

“His heart rate kept going down, but we’re both doing good now,” Ham said.

Coos County gets two new judges

COQUILLE — Coos County’s new Superior Court judges Andrew Combs and Brett Pruess were sworn in Tuesday morning, with enough time to don their robes and get to work.

It’s not often that two judges are sworn in at the same time. Retired Judge Paula Bechtold believes it might be the first time in Coos County’s history.

The need for these judges was made apparent by their almost immediate introduction to the bench. Just two hours after being sworn in Combs and Pruess were hearing arraignments and cases. After the long appointment process, the two new judges didn’t mind getting thrown into the fire. Both expressed nothing but excitement for the new challenges ahead.

“Right now, I’m just excited about getting to work. The process has been about six-months long, and now that it’s over I’m ready to get to work,” Combs said.

The two will be filling very different roles in Oregon’s 15th Judicial District. Combs will be hearing criminal trials, while Pruess will deal more with civil cases.

“I think it’s historic to have two new judges sworn in at the same time, I suspect that’s never occurred before in the history of the 15th Judicial District…They are both very bright and experienced in the law and will no doubt make outstanding judges,” Bechtold said.

Combs was born and raised in Myrtle Point. After graduating from the University of Oregon, he returned to his hometown to pursue his legal career, he eventually became a partner at one of the most prestigious law firms in Coos County, Whitty, McDaniel, Bodkin, & Combs, LLP. Combs was appointed by the governor to replace Judge Richard Barron.

To his law partners Combs said, “Thank you guys for training me in how to do all this stuff. I’ve been able to go and be a lawyer and now a judge and you guys have been great to me. I’m going to miss you guys a lot. Thank you for what you’ve done.”

Pruess will be filling the bench seat left open by Judge Bechtold. He moved to the area after finishing law school in Wisconsin. Pruess took a job at Oregon Law Center, a statewide non-profit law firm that specializes in providing legal service to those who can’t afford it. He will be the third judge to work at the North Bend Courthouse Annex.

 “I’m honored, encouraged and humbled to see so many people here that I really respect professionally and personally. It’s tough to leave. I’m looking forward to the challenges and opportunities, but I’ve got some great memories from my time at Oregon Law Center. So, thank you again for being here,” Pruess said.  

Both men gave much thanks and praise to their families in their brief speeches as well.

Having two new judges on the bench will no doubt be difficult. Judge Martin Stone, who performed the swearing in ceremony said along with many other judges in attendance that it took a couple of years to really understand the position.

Judge Baron said, “I think it’s a great day to have two new judges. It’s always good to have new perspective and new blood in the office. I’m sure both of them will do a good job, they’ve been great attorneys in this county. It’ll be an exciting time for them, and a new learning experience for them and I think that’s great for the county.”