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Two killed in snowy accident on U.S. Highway 101
North Bend School District responds to news that a student died in this morning's accident

HAUSER — A fatal accident led to two deaths and two serious injuries on Monday.

According to a press release from Oregon State Police, troopers and other emergency personnel responded to a two-vehicle, two-person fatal on U.S. Highway 101 near milepost 231.

The accident happened around 9:40 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 4 and the preliminary investigation showed that the roadway was slushy during a snowstorm.

A 1999 Ford F150, driven by Jesse Praus, 36, from North Bend, was northbound in the fast lane when he lost control and crossed the centerline.

Praus struck a southbound 2015 Ford CMAX, driven by Susan Dixon, 58, from North Bend.

Riding with Praus was a 10-year-old and a 7-year-old.

Both Dixon and the 10-year-old were pronounced deceased at the scene.

“Praus and a 7-year-old passenger were transported to Bay Area Hospital with serious injuries,” the release said.

Both children are students at North Bay Elementary, one in 1st grade and one in 5th.

“Due to the road conditions at the time of the crash, speed is being considered as a contributing factor,” the release said.

In response to OSP’s release of this information, the North Bend School District announced that its school community and family are “profoundly saddened by the tragic loss of a 5th grade student at North Bay Elementary and an educator that was employed by South Coast Education District and worked in our schools as a Speech Language Pathologist.”

Earlier that day, the district was the first to notify the public that there had been an accident.

“We are profoundly saddened by a tragic incident that occurred this morning on Coastal Hwy 101,” the district's first release said. “Our first concern is for our students and their well-being. The incident is currently under investigation.”

At North Bay Elementary, Principal Bruce Martin made the announcement about the accident and resulting injuries to students and the crisis response team was activated.

“Students will be in their classroom involved in normal classroom activities,” the release said. “The response team will be available to speak with students and teachers who need additional support.”

The crisis response team and South Coast ESD will also be available for students throughout the rest of the week.

In an interview with The World, the district’s Communication Specialist Brad Bixler added that some parents decided to bring their children home for the day.

The Oregon State Police received assisted by the Hauser Fire Department, North Bay Fire Department, Bay Cities Ambulance, Coos County Sheriff's, North Bend Police Department and Coos County District Attorney's Office.

SWOCC, Bandon and Reedsport schools cancel classes due to freezing conditions
SWOCC, Coquille, and Bandon to delay school by two hours again tomorrow

COOS COUNTY — The Bandon and Reedsport schools, as well as Southwestern Oregon Community College's Coos campus, cancelled all classes today, making the same announcement as the Coos Bay and North Bend school districts as snow continued to fall.

In a press release from the Bandon School District, classes were canceled as freezing conditions persist.

For SWOCC, today's closure includes the Family Center at the Coos campus.

Delaying start times this morning by two-hours is the Coquille School District.

Meanwhile, other districts across the state are also announcing delays, including Elkton where the district also advised parents to wait for further updates.

Yesterday, almost 80 Central Lincoln PUD customers lost power early around 2:09 a.m.

According to Public Information Officer Chris Chandler, the power may or may not have gone off due to the snow, leaving as many as 74 without power. The outage spread through parts of Coos County, and into some of Douglas, Lane and Lincoln counties.

“It sounded like it was snowing good south of Lakeside, so we sent a crew off before 10 a.m.,” Chandler said, though added that power was starting to be restored to homes around noon.

For customers who lose power, she said it is always good to never open the fridge or freezer. Doing so will allow items inside to stay cold or frozen for several hours.

“We tell people if they want to check in to see if they know of the outage, check our Twitter feed and Facebook page,” she said.

Coos County Emergency Manager Michael Murphy wrote to The World on Monday that the initial snow was a dusting and that even Beaver Hill likely only saw less than an inch. However, the bad weather still resulted in one fatal accident that killed a North Bay Elementary student and a speech language pathologist with South Coast ESD, leaving a second child and their parent in serious condition.

Murphy suggested that caution on the roadways will be necessary on Tuesday.

“The problem might be tonight when the skies clear a bit and the temperature drops,” Murphy wrote. “Wet roads may freeze and make a ‘skating rink’ for tomorrow morning’s commute.”

He issued a freeze warning from the National Weather Service, including Coos Bay, North Bend, Bandon, Port Orford, Harbor and Gold Beach.

The freeze warning went into effect from 11 p.m. Monday evening and goes until 8 a.m. this morning.

According to the NWS warning, the temperature is expected to drop to 30 degrees, adding that the freezing temperatures could damage or kill plants and crops sensitive to cold.

In response to the freeze warning, the Nancy Devereux Center opened its doors to local homeless last night.

In a release from the center, it served “hot meal, warm beverages and offering a safe, warm and dry place for individuals to spend the night.”

The warming center is open from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m.

“Last night when we were open, we had a smaller number in the warming center than I expected,” said Tara Johnson, director of the Devereux Center on Monday afternoon.

She said there were anywhere from 25 to 30 people in the warming center last night, but attributed it having a harder time spreading the word on weekends when it is open.

“We can tell them we think we will open, but do they gamble and walk here with the chance that it won’t be?” she asked. “I think there will be more people tonight, but they know we’re open.”

During the day, Johnson saw a larger-than-average group cycle through the Devereux Center as people came in to get food and get warm from the snowy night.

“We had a guy come in who is diabetic and his hands were purple,” she said. “We put his hands in lukewarm water, set him up with a towel and hand warmers. We were able to help him. He wasn’t hypothermic, but his extremities don’t have great circulation.”

As of yesterday, Johnson isn’t sure how many days the warming center will be open this week. She makes that decision before going home in the evenings by checking the National Weather Service, but sometimes predictions aren’t accurate.

“There’s been five to seven nights when we should have been open, but the predictions didn’t say it would go that low in temperature, so we weren’t open,” she said.

The warming center is accepting cash donations to help keep it running, as well as gloves, socks, hot coco, hot apple cider, tea, and canned food.

Donations can be brought to the center between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. at 1200 Newmark Ave. in Coos Bay. Donations can also be mailed to PO Box 3519, Coos Bay, or through its Facebook page and website.

Coos Bay native follows his passion; hopes to blanket a million homeless by 2024

COOS BAY — A simple straightforward question stared Bob Dalton down as he sat leaned back in his car pondering what he was going to do next: "What are you waiting for?"

“I was having this kind of ‘What is the meaning of life moment,’” Dalton said. “My mom was going through this tough time and I was applying for jobs and no one was getting back to me. I look up and on my knee is my coffee cup and on the sleeve it said, ‘What are you waiting for?’”


Coos Bay native Bob Dalton was inspired by his mother's experience with homelessness and founded Sackcloth & Ashes, a company that donates blankets to homeless shelters around the country. 

It was then that Dalton knew he had to make a change and put his ideas and plans into action. In 2014, Dalton learned his mother, who relocated from Coos Bay to Florida, had been living on the streets unexpectedly as she found herself without a place to live.

“My mom is the hardest working person I know,” he said. “She had two college degrees, managed restaurants and raised my sister and I primarily by herself. The fact that she was living homeless taught me that not all people choose to become homeless and that some people just need a second chance.”

Inspired by his mother, Dalton sought to open a company that would not only help the homeless community directly, but also shine a light on those working day-in and day-out to help solve the issue of homelessness around the country.

He soon founded Sackcloth & Ashes, a blanket company that donates a blanket to a local homeless shelter each time a customer places an order. On a mission, Dalton purchased fabric, enlisted the help of his best friend Jordan Tardie and a local seamstress, Tammy Stanton, to help kick start the company.

“I hustled up and down the Oregon coast and got us into 20 shops,” said Dalton. “I hired the best photographers I knew and we launched our website June 2014.”

Since then, Sackcloth & Ashes has donated about 80,000 blankets to over 500 shelters around the country.

“I want to use our platform to highlight and celebrate the people who are helping to change the issue of homelessness,” Dalton said. “The blankets work as our connector to those people and shelters. We’re hoping to shine a light on their work and document what those shelters are doing at the ground level.”

Last year, Dalton’s company launched its “Blanket the United States” campaign, which hopes to donate a million blankets to homeless shelters throughout the U.S. by 2024. Dalton said he plans on achieving this massive goal by strengthening and building new and existing partnerships with an array of companies, customers and social media influencers.

Using the power and reach of social media, Dalton was able to propel his company early on with a feature on Instagram’s official account. From then on, he’s been able to form partnerships with businesses including Capitol Subaru in Salem and nationwide-retailer World Market, which recently ordered 15,000 blankets from them marking his company’s highest order to date.

Dalton, who grew up in the Empire District, credits local ministry group Young Life and its area director Todd Tardie as being a major influence on his life and helping equip him with the skills he needed to succeed.

“Todd became my mentor my junior year at Marshfield High School,” he said. “I grew up without a father and he became that father figure for me. He just taught me so much about leadership, God, family, love and serving others.”

At 19 years old, Dalton said it was Todd who empowered him to follow his dreams and sharpen his entrepreneurial skills by helping him develop a confidence he still carries with him today. Before opening his own business, Dalton worked as a Young Life program leader in Monmouth, Oregon where he helped create a new chapter there.

“It was an honor to sit under his leadership,” Dalton said. “He is still going out the high schools and impacting and influencing hundreds of kids for the better. I went from a kid not knowing what I wanted to do to having the confidence of wanting to change the world and it’s because people like Todd who believed in me.”

As his company continues to grow, so does his commitment with highlighting local homeless shelters. With its blanket drop events, Dalton will travel with a media crew to document blanket handouts and the work local shelters and homeless advocates are doing around the U.S.

While Dalton’s company is based out of Salem and his frequent travels take him outside of Oregon, he will oftentimes schedule multiple trips back to Coos Bay.

“I want everyone that grows up in Coos Bay to know they can change the world,” he said. “If you can dream it then you can do it.”

Trump to call for unity, face skepticism in State of Union

WASHINGTON — The White House says President Donald Trump will call for optimism and unity in today's State of the Union address, using the moment to attempt a reset after two years of bitter partisanship and deeply personal attacks.

But will anyone buy it?

Skepticism will emanate from both sides of the aisle when Trump enters the House chamber for the primetime address to lawmakers and the nation. Democrats, emboldened after the midterm elections and the recent shutdown fight, see little evidence of a president willing to compromise. And even the president's staunchest allies know that bipartisan rhetoric read off a teleprompter is usually undermined by scorching tweets and unpredictable policy maneuvers.

Still, the fact that Trump's advisers feel a need to try a different approach is a tacit acknowledgment that the president's standing is weakened as he begins his third year in office.

The shutdown left some Republicans frustrated over his insistence on a border wall, something they warned him the new Democratic House majority would not bend on. Trump's approval rating during the shutdown dipped to 34 percent, down from 42 percent a month earlier, according to a recent survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said the president would use his address "to call for an end to the politics of resistance, retribution."

"He's calling for cooperation," she said, adding that Trump will point to examples of where this has happened on his watch. Officials said the president also is expected to highlight infrastructure, trade and prescription drug pricing as areas in which the parties could work together.

But Washington's most recent debate offered few signs of cooperation between Trump and Democrats. Under pressure from conservative backers, Trump refused to sign a government funding bill that did not include money for his long-sought border wall. With hundreds of thousands of Americans missing paychecks, Trump ultimately agreed to reopen the government for three weeks to allow negotiations on border security to continue.

With the new Feb. 15 funding deadline looming, Trump is expected to use his address to outline his demands, which still include funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He's teased the possibility of declaring a national emergency to secure wall funding if Congress doesn't act, though it appeared unlikely he would take that step Tuesday night. Advisers also have been reviewing options to secure some funding without making such a declaration.

"You'll hear the State of the Union, and then you'll see what happens right after the State of the Union," Trump told reporters.

The president's address marks the first time he is speaking before a Congress that is not fully under Republican control. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who won plaudits from Democrats for her hard-line negotiating tactics during the shutdown, will be seated behind the president — a visual reminder of Trump's political opposition.

In the audience will be several Democrats running to challenge Trump in 2020, including Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

Another Democratic star, Stacey Abrams, will deliver the party's response to Trump. Abrams narrowly lost her bid in November to become Georgia's first black governor, and party leaders are aggressively recruiting her to run for Senate.

While White House officials cautioned that Trump's remarks were still being finalized, the president was expected to use some of his televised address to showcase a growing economy. Despite the shutdown, the U.S. economy added a robust 304,000 jobs in January, marking 100 straight months of job growth. That's the longest such period on record.

Trump and his top aides also hinted that he is likely to use the address to announce a major milestone in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria. Despite the objections of some advisers, Trump announced in December that he was withdrawing U.S. forces in Syria.

In a weekend interview with CBS, Trump said efforts to defeat the IS group were "at 99 percent right now. We'll be at 100."