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Coos County is 10 percent over budget heading into official hearings

COQUILLE — At a special work session late Friday morning, the Coos County Board of Commissioners announced that they are $2.3 million over budget heading into negotiations with the budget committee next week.

A very rough and early estimate made by Coos County Treasurer Megan Simms after preliminary budget hearings previously estimated the shortfall would be around $1.5 million.

After further examination, it was found that the county’s proposals are 10 percent, or $2.3 million over its total budget.

Discussion at the meeting boiled down to how the commissioners should advise county agencies to present their budgets to the budget committee.

“That 10 percent may mean people, which we’re down already there’s no room to cut people anymore,” Coos County Commissioner Bob Main said.

According to Main the county has only added two employee salaries to the general fund since 2010.

Commissioners discussed a 10 percent cut across all county agencies to balance the budget. However, there are certain agencies like the County Clerk’s office that could no longer continue operations with such a drastic cut.

“I think it would be constructive for us to see what the departments might look like were we to balance the budget by just making cuts in the department. I think we have other alternatives, but I think this will be very instructive in deciding if we’re going to just do an across the board 10 percent cut, or do we not like the way the county looks after we do that,” Commissioner John Sweet said.

Commissioner Melissa Cribbins offered the idea that when county agencies present in front of the budget committee next week, they have a prepared narrative that describes how a 10 percent cut of their budget would change the departments ability to operate.

“It’s easy to write a narrative that says if I have to cut 10 percent, then I’m not going to be able to perform this function. If it’s going to render departments dysfunctional then the budget committee needs to see that,” Cribbins said.

County departments were instructed to prepare for hearings with the budget committee by having a copy of their initial proposal, a budget proposal with a 10 percent cut, and a written narrative of how exactly those budget cuts would affect the department’s ability to function.

County Assessor Steve Jansen who attended the work session, proposed presenting three budgets to the upcoming hearings the initial proposal, a budget with a 10 percent cut, and a budget where departments make as many cuts as possible while still being able to function.

“We’ve already gone through again and found some items we could cut and probably other departments could do the same thing,” Jansen said.

Commissioners appreciated Jansen’s idea, but thought it might be a little much to ask to the departments to develop two new budgets to present to the committee.

The commissioner’s plan on presenting the overall budget, as well as presenting their 10 percent across the board cut, just as they’ve instructed all departments to do.

“With the 10 percent budget cut we can say, 'listen we’re 10 percent over and here’s what it looks like if we just do a straight across the board cut.' That’s not unusual for people to balance their budget by doing a 10 percent cut. I agree that it’s kind of lazy and nonsurgical, but it is not uncommon. I think it’s instructive for the budget committee to see what those cuts would be,” Cribbins said.

According to Cribbins the commissioners have been criticized in the past for how they’ve gone about balancing the budget. She said that there are some people who have thought that they should have cut everyone's budget in a more equal fashion.

“I think we need to show them what happens if we take a 10 percent cut across the board. We’re not saying that’s the budget you’re going to live with. We’re not saying that that is the budget that the budget committee is going to approve. We’re saying let’s be able to show them what that budget looks like,” Cribbins said.

The first budget hearing in front of the budget committee is going to be March 15.

“Some way or another we’re going to have to find $2.3 million worth of cuts or $2.3 million worth of new revenue,” Sweet said.

WOAH celebrates new administrative facility, new name

Western Oregon Advanced Health has made some changes for the better — including a new administrative facility  located on the same campus as its partner Coos Health and Wellness and a new brand.

WOAH, which connects more than 18,000 Coos and Curry County residents on the Oregon Health Plan to local physical, mental and dental care, will now be known as Advanced Health.

"Our new Advanced Health name carries on a spirit of our former name, Western Oregon Advanced Health, with greater simplicity that is easier to grasp and remember, said Advanced Health CEO, Phill Greenhill. "Advanced Health well-reflects the collective commitment we share with all our partner health care providers and community organizations to advance the quality and accessibility of health care  for our members and to improve community health."

Greenhill added, "Shortening our name also ties into our ongoing efforts to make health care more accessible for our members. Our health care system can be complicated, let alone navigate. We work to break it down for our members so that it is easier to understand and access."

Advanced Health celebrated its changes Friday with the unveiling of its new 14,000 square-foot administrative facility on LeClair Street, which is located across the parking lot from Coos Health and Wellness' new 23,000 square-foot facility and another partner, Oregon Coast Community Action, which provides housing assistance, a food bank, veterans services and counseling services for those in need.

Advanced Health also assists members in overcoming a variety of barriers faced in accessing health care and improving health. For example, members often do not have access to transportation so free rides to medical appointments and the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions are made available. Additionally, Advanced Health also works with community organizations to provide a variety of programs aimed at improving both member and community health. These programs range from expert-led tobacco cessation classes and weight management sessions with nutritionists to equipping providers, educators and others with training to aid children in overcoming trauma. 

As part of its rebranding efforts, Advanced Health has redesigned its website to enable visitors to better access information and connect with the organization online. Included is an enhanced Find a Provider search tool that provides detailed listings of healthcare providers, ranging from doctors and nurses to dental, vision and mental health care specialists, so members can access care close to home. Additionally, the site includes detailed program information and healthy living tips on timely topics. The new website address is

With the administrative facility complete, Advanced Health hopes to improve efficiency in its services since it now can work directly with Coos Health and Wellness and ORCA on the same campus. Prior to the new campus, Advanced Health was spread out at four separate facilities around town. With the facilities working together, Greenhill said Advanced Health and its partners are able to provide Asservive Community Treatment (ACT). What this means is that together the facilities link people to resources, whether it be physical, dental or mental health treatment.

"We're excited to continue forward under the Advanced Health name," said Greenhill. "Together, with our partner providers and community organizations, we are bridging the future of health care for our members and the communities we serve today."

Several community dignitaries attended the opening including, Senator Arnie Roblan, Arlene Roblan, Tracy Muday, MD (Advanced Health), Representative Caddy McKeown, Ginger Swan (Director of Coos Health and Wellness), Coos County Commissioner Bob Main, Phil Greenhill (CEO Advanced Health), Coos Commissioner Melissa Cribbins, and Ben Messener (Advanced Health).

A lunch was provided by local vendors to employees and guests.

Advanced Health handles the administrative and casework functions for its clients and works in conjunction with Coos Health and Wellness and ORCA to integrate mental health services, physical and dental needs for children, adolescents and adults for Oregon Health Plan clients.

Coos Heath and Wellness also celebrated the opening of its new 23,000- square foot facility. Its new facility provides for separate entrances and waiting rooms for youth and adults to fight the stigma that sometimes comes with seeking proper health care. Coos Health and Wellness also provides a place to enroll in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) that provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Jail deputy runs for county sheriff

Jail Deputy Michael A. Kinnaird announced that he would be running for Coos County Sheriff in the upcoming May 15 election.

Kinnaird will be running against two-term incumbent Sheriff Craig Zanni. He feels that Zanni does not do a good job overseeing the operation of the jail.

“I feel like the administration in place is not working in the best interest at times to retain its deputies  and unfortunately I feel like it’s putting the citizens of the county in jeopardy. It’s awesome that we’ve got these new beds opened up, but my belief is that it’s going to be very difficult to maintain them,” Kinnaird said.

One thing that Kinnaird would like to look into is implementing 12-hour shifts for jail workers. Currently deputies operating the jail only work eight hour shifts, but according to Kinnaird they often end up working more than eight hours because of bare-bones staffing. He feels that raising the shifts to 12 hours would allow for a more consistent schedule that deputies can plan their lives around.

“I think the jail is in a really critical state right now and I think my knowledge of it would be helpful in making sure it got to a non-critical state,” Kinnaird said.

For the past 14 years Kinnaird has worked the graveyard shift at the Coos County Jail. His family moved to Bandon in 1977. His father was a preacher. He graduated from Bandon High School in 1983.

After school, Kinnaird spent five years in the Navy and had three kids with his first wife. He moved back to Coos County in 1997. He met his second wife shortly after returning home and they raised their combined five kids in Coquille. Unfortunately Kinnaird’s wife passed away a year ago last December.

Kinnaird is an avid cyclist, and rides his bike to work almost every day. On his days off he rides out to Bandon along North Bank Road to visit his father.

Kinnaird has been thinking about running for sheriff for years. At first he’d hoped that someone with more experience than him would step up and run for the position. When no one did, Kinnaird decided to run.

“I haven’t liked what I’ve seen and I feel powerless to change it. So I felt like the only way to make change was from the outside not from the inside,”

Currently Kinnaird is working on setting up his campaign fund and Facebook page.

Kinnaird met with the Coos Curry Farm Bureau this past week  and received some individual support from of the bureau’s members. He also said he’s gained some support from local businessmen in Coquille.

“Their big problem is the fact that people are being brought to this city and then immediately released  and then causing havoc around here,” Kinnaird said.

According to Kinnaird there are only six jail deputies on the floor that have been working with the jail over 10 years, himself included.

“I feel like the administration is not really good at building people up. They actually really seem good at running people off. We need to encourage people that have been there to stay there. Their experience is so valuable and I don’t want to see them go out the window,” Kinnaird said.

Florida governor signs gun restrictions 3 weeks after attack

‌TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Weeks after their children were gunned down in the worst high school shooting since Columbine, parents of the victims stood in the Florida Capitol and watched Gov. Rick Scott sign a far-reaching bill that places new restrictions on guns.

Hours later, the National Rifle Association filed a federal lawsuit to block it.

The new law capped an extraordinary three weeks of lobbying that followed the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, with student survivors and grieving families working to persuade a Republican-run state government that had shunned gun control measures.

Surrounded by family members of the 17 people killed in the Valentine's Day shooting, the GOP governor said the bill balances "our individual rights with need for public safety."

"It's an example to the entire country that government can and has moved fast," said Scott, whose state has been ruled for 20 years by gun-friendly Republican lawmakers.

Tony Montalto, whose daughter Gina was killed in the shooting, read a statement from victims' families: "When it comes to preventing future acts of horrific school violence, this is the beginning of the journey. We have paid a terrible price for this progress."

The bill fell short of achieving the ban on assault-style weapons sought by survivors. The gunman who opened fire at the school used such a weapon, an AR-15 rifle.

Nevertheless, the bill raises the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21, extends a three-day waiting period for handgun purchases to include long guns and bans bump stocks, which allow guns to mimic fully automatic fire. It also creates a so-called guardian program enabling some teachers and other school employees to carry guns.

The NRA insisted that the measure "punishes law-abiding gun owners for the criminal acts of a deranged individual." The group promptly filed a lawsuit to block the provision that raises the age to buy guns, arguing that it violates the Second Amendment.

The Parkland gunman "gave repeated warning signs that were ignored by federal and state officials. If we want to prevent future atrocities, we must look for solutions that keep guns out of the hands of those who are a danger to themselves or others, while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans," Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement.

The signing marked a major victory for the teens who lived through the attack and swiftly became the public faces of a renewed gun-control movement. Just days after the shooting, they began holding rallies, lobbying lawmakers and harnessing the power of social media in support of reform.

The governor told the students: "You helped change our state. You made a difference. You should be proud."

Scott, who said he is an NRA member and will continue to be one, said he is still "not persuaded" about the guardian program that will let districts authorize staff members to carry handguns if they complete law enforcement training. It is not mandatory.

"If counties don't want to do this, they can simply say no," he said.

Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow died, called the new law "a start for us."

His teenage son Hunter added: "Let's get the rest of the country to follow our lead and let's make schools safe. Let's harden the schools and make sure this never happens again."

The governor singled out two fathers whose children were killed, saying that they walked the halls of the Legislature since the shooting seeking change.

"I know the debate on all these issues will continue. And that's healthy in our democracy," he said. "This is a time for all of us to come together, roll up our sleeves and get it done."

Student activists from the school called it "a baby step."

"Obviously, this is what we've been fighting for. It's nowhere near the long-term solution," said Chris Grady, a senior at Stoneman Douglas High. "It's a baby step but a huge step at the same time. Florida hasn't passed any legislation like this in God knows how long."

The bill narrowly passed the House and Senate, which formally delivered the reform package on Thursday.

In schools, the measure creates new mental health programs and establishes an anonymous tip line for reporting threats. It also seeks to improve communication between schools, law enforcement and state agencies.

Broward County teachers union President Anna Fusco said teachers supported the bill but not the provision that allows them to carry guns.

She said she wants Scott to veto the money for the guardian program when he receives the budget. The governor cannot veto individual items in the bill itself, but he does have line-item veto power with the budget.

The Broward County school superintendent has already said he does not want to participate in the program.

Meanwhile, the 19-year-old former student accused of assaulting the school went before a judge. Nikolas Cruz faces 17 counts of murder and attempted murder. In a brief hearing Friday, he stood with his head bowed as he appeared via video conference.

Cruz's public defender has said he will plead guilty if prosecutors take the death penalty off the table and sentence him to life in prison instead. Prosecutors have not announced a decision.

Photo by Lou Sennick 

Pirate head coach Bruce Bryant and the bench celebrate another two points on the board Friday afternoon during their game against Banks. The Pirates came out on top 61-50 to advance to the championship game Saturday afternoon against Cascade.