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Longest shutdown over: Trump signs bill to reopen government

WASHINGTON — Submitting to mounting pressure amid growing disruption, President Donald Trump signed a bill Friday to reopen the government for three weeks, backing down from his demand that Congress give him money for his border wall before federal agencies get back to work.

Standing alone in the Rose Garden, Trump said he would sign legislation funding shuttered agencies until Feb. 15 and try again to persuade lawmakers to finance his long-sought wall. The deal he reached with congressional leaders contains no new money for the wall but ends the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

First the Senate, then the House swiftly and unanimously approved the deal. Late Friday, Trump signed it into law. The administration asked federal department heads to reopen offices in a "prompt and orderly manner" and said furloughed employees can return to work.

Trump's retreat came in the 35th day of the partial shutdown as intensifying delays at the nation's airports and another missed payday for hundreds of thousands of federal workers brought new urgency to efforts to resolve the standoff.

"This was in no way a concession," Trump said in a tweet late Friday, fending off critics who wanted him to keep fighting. "It was taking care of millions of people who were getting badly hurt by the Shutdown with the understanding that in 21 days, if no deal is done, it's off to the races!"

The shutdown ended as Democratic leaders had insisted it must — reopen the government first, then talk border security.

"The president thought he could crack Democrats, and he didn't, and I hope it's a lesson for him," said the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of her members: "Our unity is our power. And that is what maybe the president underestimated."

Trump still made the case for a border wall and maintained he might again shut down the government over it. Yet, as negotiations restart, Trump enters them from a weakened position. A strong majority of Americans blamed him for the standoff and rejected his arguments for a border wall, recent polls show.

"If we don't get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb. 15, again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and Constitution of the United States to address this emergency," Trump said.

The president has said he could declare a national emergency to fund the border wall unilaterally if Congress doesn't provide the money. Such a move would almost certainly face legal hurdles.

As part of the deal with congressional leaders, a bipartisan committee of House and Senate lawmakers was being formed to consider border spending as part of the legislative process in the weeks ahead.

"They are willing to put partisanship aside, I think, and put the security of the American people first," Trump said. He asserted that a "barrier or walls will be an important part of the solution."

The deal includes back pay for some 800,000 federal workers who have gone without paychecks. The Trump administration promises to pay them as soon as possible.

Also expected is a new date for the president to deliver his State of the Union address, postponed during the shutdown. But it will not be Jan. 29 as once planned, according to a person familiar with the planning but unauthorized to discuss it.

As border talks resume, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he hopes there will be "good-faith negotiations over the next three weeks to try to resolve our differences."

Schumer said that while Democrats oppose the wall money, they agree on other ways to secure the border "and that bodes well for coming to an eventual agreement."

In striking the accord, Trump risks backlash from conservatives who pushed him to keep fighting for the wall. Some lashed out Friday for his having yielded, for now, on his signature campaign promise.

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter suggested on Twitter that she views Trump as "the biggest wimp" to serve as president.

Money for the wall is not at all guaranteed, as Democrats have held united against building a structure as Trump once envisioned, preferring other types of border technology. Asked about Trump's wall, Pelosi, who has said repeatedly she won't approve money for it, said: "Have I not been clear? No, I have been very clear."

The breakthrough came as LaGuardia Airport in New York and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey both experienced at least 90-minute delays in takeoffs Friday because of the shutdown. And the world's busiest airport — Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — was experiencing long security wait times, a warning sign the week before it expects 150,000 out-of-town visitors for the Super Bowl.

The standoff became so severe that, as the Senate opened with prayer, Chaplain Barry Black called on high powers in the "hour of national turmoil" to help senators do "what is right."


Education
Graduation rate increases across the state
Coos County graduation rate also spikes; Coquille Schools tops the list for highest numbers

(Correction: Coos Bay School District's graduation rate is 65, while Marshfield High School's is 91.4)

COOS COUNTY — Not only has the graduation rate risen across the state, but across Coos County.

The Oregon Department of Education released the graduation rate for 2017-2018 this week, showing the state average at 78.7 percent. That is an increase of two points from the previous year.

“It’s important to remember that we are talking about students, not statistics,” Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill said in the release. “In this case, a two-point increase in graduation means an additional 950 students getting their diplomas within four years of starting high school.”

Though every school in Coos County saw an increase as well, topping the list for the best graduation rate is the Coquille School District at 97.6 percent. That is up from the previous year, which was 92.4 percent.

“A lot of that credit goes to Jeff Philly and the staff at the high school,” said Tim Sweeney, superintendent at the Coquille School District. “They’ve done significant changes to CHS over the years and we’ve focused more on improving elective offerings and keeping kids engaged longer.”

Sweeney also pointed to teachers creating more meaningful programs as a reason for the increased rates, something that he says keeps kids interested in staying in school.

Not only that, but CHS Principal Jeff Philly revised his class offerings for students, according to Sweeney.

“If you’re an incoming freshmen, you have six required classes and those can be overwhelming,” he said. “Instead of forcing these, we spread them out. It allows students to be successful early.”

Across the district, Sweeney said improvement has been seen in graduation since more mental health counseling has been made available for students.

“We’re offering more social and emotional support for students and that will continue to have an impact on our student population as well,” he said. “We’re excited about the graduation rate, we’re proud of the efforts. It’s a good time to be in Coquille.”

Behind the Coquille School District was the Powers School District, with a graduation rate of 92.31 percent.

Though the North Bend School District’s overall number was 55 percent that includes numbers from the Oregon Virtual Academy. For the North Bend High School, Principal Darrell Johnston said it is 87.6 percent.

Johnston attributed that high number to a few efforts, including the high school’s Freshmen Academy that talks about education opportunities. Not only that, but the high school’s Career and Technical Education programs have grown over the last three years which has increased the number of students engaged in education.

High school administration also held individual conferences with students who needed extra help. Not only that, but NBHS hired a new graduation coach.

“We are doubling our efforts,” Johnston said. “Any time we see an increase in graduation rates, it is cause to celebrate, but until it is 100 percent we haven’t achieved our goal.”

At the Bandon School District, its graduation rate was 76.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the Coos Bay Schools is at 65 percent. Though the overall district percentage is still a jump from last year, Marshfield High School made a 10 percent jump, putting its graduation rate at 91.4 percent.

The district's overall percentage is impacted by its alternative schools, such as Destinations Academy.

To get that increase, Marshfield High School Principal Travis Howard attributed it to efforts seen schoolwide.

“It’s something we concentrate on at all five levels,” he said. “We have our 8th grade on-track students, make sure our 9th grade students aren’t falling behind, and target the juniors and seniors who are credit deficient and make sure they are held accountable for credit recovery. We throw a lot of time and energy at them, making sure they are successful.”

Also on the South Coast, the Port Orford-Langlois School District with a graduation rate of 80 percent and the Reedsport Community Charter at 58.7 percent.

In the ODE press release, Gov. Kate Brown proposed a $2 billion investment in education that would dedicate $794 million to reduce class sizes in early grades as well as lengthen the school year.

“How our state provides for the needs of our children is a marker of who we are as a community,” said Gov. Brown in the release. “Every student in Oregon deserves an education that sets them up for success and helps them graduate from high school with a plan for their future. These graduation rates show our work to close opportunity gaps with targeted investments is making a difference in the lives of students. To build on this progress, I am dedicated to re-investing in our schools to bring them back to a level we can be proud of.”


Local
Local entrepreneur teams up with Kevin Bacon to help families affected by California wildfires

SALEM — Coos Bay native Bob Dalton, the founder of Sackcloth & Ashes in Salem, has partnered with actor Kevin Bacon to provide assistance to families impacted by the recent Camp Fire in California.  

For every blanket purchased through Dalton’s company, Sackcloth & Ashes, from now until Jan. 30, a second blanket will be donated to a family or person affected by the fires.

“I was just devastated by how many people had lost their homes in California,” said Dalton. “I know we are not contributing in a major way to these families who have lost everything, but a blanket symbolizes hope and comfort. It’s a small act, but it’s saying we see you and are here with you.”

In addition to the blankets, 20 percent of the proceeds garnered from sales will be donated to Bacon’s charity, Six Degrees. Customers will also receive a 20 percent discount off their entire order. The North Valley Community Foundation in Chico, Calif. will distribute the blankets.

This past holiday season, Dalton said he reached out to Bacon’s charity to see if they would be interested in teaming up help the victims of the fires. The response he got was swift.

“His team got back to me the next day of us pitching this campaign to them,” Dalton said. “They said, ‘Hey, can you get on a plane and fly to California to Kevin’s house to shoot a video?’”

With that, the two collaborated and shot a short video informing people how they could contribute to their cause. Over 11,000 residences were burned during the fires as well as over 3,000 barns/sheds and over 400 businesses.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the final Camp Fire incident report shows the fires caused over 60 deaths, burned more than 150,000 acres and enlisted the aid of over 1,000 firefighters and safety personnel.

“Every time there is a natural disaster or crisis, I try to do everything I can to help,” said Dalton. “During those hard times, it’s bringing some hope to the people who need it most.”

Sackcloth & Ashes, which began in 2014, has been donating blankets as part of its company’s mission to thousands of homeless shelters around the country. For each blanket purchased, one is sent based on a customer’s zip code to their local shelter.

Dalton said he was inspired by his mother, who at one point had experienced homelessness, to donate to shelters. 

“What it made me realize is not all people choose to be homeless," he said. "Some people just need a second chance."

Bacon’s charity, Six Degrees, Dalton said seemed like a good fit being that it supports a wide array of social causes around the country and focuses on promoting local charities.

According to its website SixDegrees.org, part of its mission is to harness the kindness that connects communities together to make the greatest positive impact.

For more information on how to donate to the victims of the California Camp Fire, you can visit Sackcloth & Ashes’ website at https://sackclothandashes.com/blogs/news/sixdegrees. Any blanket online will qualify as long as customers use the code, SIXDEGREES, during checkout.


Ed Glazar, The World 

Marshfield's Alex Locati shoots Friday during a game against Elmira at Marshfield High School.


Local
Jordan Cove officially opens downtown Coos Bay office

COOS BAY — Jordan Cove LNG officially opened up its new Downtown Coos Bay office on the corner of Central Avenue and Second Street on Friday afternoon after months of renovating the space to fit their needs.

Ed Glazar, The World 

Cam Parry with River Docs talks Friday about the Kentuck Mitigation Project during a ribbon cutting ceremony at the newly opened Jordan Cove LNG Company in downtown Coos Bay.

“The idea behind the office is that when Pembina comes in we want to be good neighbors and have a presence so people can come in and talk about what’s on their minds,” Senior Vice President of External Affairs with Pembina Harry Andersen said. “They can look for job opportunities, contracting opportunities, and they can express concerns that they have and we can listen to them generously,” Andersen said.

This new office is just down the road from the Jordan Cove’s old office in the Hub Building one block to the east of the new building.

“I came here and visited our old office in May of last year. I visited our office, which is just in the building over here across from the port, and in four minutes I knew we needed a different space, because it felt like we were hiding and that’s not how Pembina does things,” Andersen said.

Inside of office was packed with folks who attended to show support for the project. People from the Port of Coos Bay, the Coos County Board of Commissioners office, and other local groups met to mingle and celebrate the office opening.

“This is just one more indication that Pembina is serious about being an integral part of this community,” Port of Coos Bay CEO John Burns said. “They’re open, they’re approachable, and they want to have interaction with the community.”

Ed Glazar, The World 

A man walks past 201 Central Ave., in Coos Bay, as contractors prepare the space for the future offices of Jordan Cove LNG in downtown Coos Bay.

Before the ribbon was cut Andersen, along with members of the community, and two scientists behind Jordan Cove’s salmon restoration project spoke about the project. The salmon restoration project planned for the Kentuck Inlet is part of the mitigation plan associated with the Removal Fill permit Jordan Cove has applied for with the Oregon Department of State Land.

Outside the office a group of around 20 protesters gathered, brandishing signs that shared their concerns and discontent with the LNG project.

“I worked on the bay my entire career studying the estuary, and the reason I’m here is because I’m very concerned about the potential this project has to change the way our estuary functions,” protester, and farmer Mike Graybill said. This thing is proposing to dredge 5.7 million cubic yards of sediment out of the bay and that project along with the one the port is working on to dredge 18 million will represent the largest change to this estuary in its history. That should be a deep concern to oyster growers, people involved with fisheries and people involved in navigation.

So It Goes Coffeehouse brought coffee out to protesters while speeches were given inside the office.

Andersen spoke in his speech about the growing number of impacted land owners who have reached agreements with the project and allowing right of way for the project. According to Anderson in the next month or so Jordan Cove hopes to have acquired 70 to 80 percent of the right of way it needs. Four impacted landowners were invited to the office opening.

“Landowners are by far the most directly impacted. We feel that we’re going to be well over 70 and on our way to 80 percent in the next month or so. That’s from our perspective a pretty significant endorsement of those who are most directly impacted.

One impacted landowner, Larry Mangan, was not invited to the opening. Mangan opposes the project and stood outside with protesters.