NORTH BEND — Former North Bend High School Principal Bill Lucero is to receive $50,000 in a settlement agreement with the North Bend School District, the district’s board of directors, and former Superintendent Bill Yester. In addition, he is set to receive an undisclosed sum of money from a secondary settlement.
“There were two settlement agreements as a result of litigation,” said Roland Iparraguirre, Lucero’s attorney. “One was a general settlement with the school district and a second settlement, the terms of which I cannot discuss, entered into with Rebekah Jacobson and Garrett Hemann Robertson law firm.”
Lucero initially filed a lawsuit for $2 million last year to void the settlement agreements between the district and the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.
As The World previously reported, “(the ACLU of Oregon) settlements were made a year ago after two students, Olivia Funk and Hailey Smith, came forward … and alleged that Lucero forced another student to read the Bible as punishment ….”
Lucero filed the lawsuit against not just the district, the board of directors and Yester, but also School District attorney Rebekah Jacobson who represented the district throughout the ACLU of Oregon settlement in 2018.
Lucero’s attorneys, Roland Iparraguirre and Shannon Rickard, filed the lawsuit arguing that the ACLU of Oregon settlements signed with the district were invalid because “there was no legal authority for such settlements.”
Lucero asked for economic compensation “no greater than” $1 million because he is “now unemployable in any profession and by any employer except for the School District,” the lawsuit read.
He also asked for non-economic damage compensation “no greater than” $1 million after suffering emotional distress, mental suffering, anxiety, humiliation, increased stress and damage to his reputation, the lawsuit said.
The school district lawsuit was officially settled on Thursday, Feb. 20, with a general settlement payment of $50,000.
According to the Feb. 20 settlement between Lucero, the district, board of directors and Yester, the settlement includes agreements for non-admission of liability. This means the district should not in any way “be construed as an admission by employer that it has acted wrongfully with respect to the employee or any other person.”
To read the full settlement, click here.
Through Iparraguirre, Lucero said he is “very pleased” with the outcome of the settlements.
More details will be published next week.
COOS BAY — With the rainy winter months tearing up Coos Bay’s roads, the city was happy to find a stretch of sunshine to address some problem potholes.
“The problem with the winter is having all this wet weather, and then you have freezing weather, and when it heats it up, the contraction and expansion is what causes asphalt to pop,” Coos Bay city manager Rodger Craddock said.
According to Craddock, the reason the city was able to get some pothole projects out of the way before the spring and summer months is that the weather has been nice enough for the asphalt plant to open up and produce.
“We’re subject to when that asphalt plant is open,” Craddock said.
Last spring, the city took an inventory of its potholes and Craddock said the number was over 1,000. During the spring and summer months the city was able to fill over 600 of those potholes. The city doesn’t know yet how many new potholes have been created over the last year.
“We addressed over 50 percent of our potholes last year, and we have a number of projects online to address more this coming spring,” Craddock said.
In recent years, the City of Coos Bay has made road work one of its priorities and has begun to address years of neglect. Most notably, the city implemented a Transportation User Fee last year to help pay for road maintenance. The fee is collected through the citizens’ water bills, and charges $10 to residential rate payers, and $20 to businesses.
“We’re roughly receiving somewhere in the neighborhood of $80,000 a month from that. Those funds are dedicated to go into our streets, and that’s how they’ve been spent," Craddock said.
The city has upgraded its methodology for filing potholes. Last year, a patch grinder was purchased with the intent of no longer using a hot mixture to fill potholes. The machine grinds out the holes that were already there, and an overlay is placed over the top. Using a patch grinder allows for a longer lasting pothole patch.
“We’re grinding out the bad asphalt and replacing it with a new layer of asphalt that’s rolled in,” Craddock said.
A number of roadwork projects will be coming up in spring and summer months, the largest of which being the repaving of Fourth Street.
"We're excited that we're making some meaningful progress on our streets. Unfortunately, we've had years of deferred maintenance to catch up on, but we are making progress," Craddock said.
CHARLESTON — The Surfman is an elite group in the U.S. Coast Guard and BM2 Rachel LaFevre just became the 14th woman to receive the designation.
“There are 14 women as Surfman in the Coast Guard now,” LaFevre said. “It has been traditionally seen as a more attractive job for males in the past, but that is rapidly changing. As women remain in the military longer, they are interested in moving up.”
LaFevre is the second woman on the Oregon coast to receive the promotion to Surfman in recent months, a position described in a press release from the U.S. Coast Guard as being qualified to operate a 47-foot motor lifeboat in 20-foot breaking surf, 30-foot seas and 50-knot winds. The release defined Surfman as being able to function under extreme weather and sea conditions.
“I’m proud,” LaFevre said of the promotion. “It was a long process to get to this point.”
LaFevre, who grew up in Astoria watching the Coast Guard, decided to join its ranks as a way to do something active on the water.
“It looked like something I wanted to be involved in,” LaFevre remembered. “But to become a Surfman, it is a three-tier process ... Everything has prepared you for it. Every qualification prepares you for the next qualification.”
LaFevre started out her Coast Guard career in North Carolina where the water was calmer, but once she came back to the Oregon coast and began operations on the rough surf, she was surprised by the challenge and enjoyed it. During her years of service, making her way to the Surfman designation was always in the back of her mind. Though she admitted that early on she considered aviation, she decided to keep on track to make Surfman instead.
“If I was going to be in the Coast Guard, this is what I wanted to do,” she said.
When asked what she would say to other women in the Coast Guard, her advice was, “You can do it.”
“It is not an automatic certification,” LaFevre said. “You won’t have anything handed to you. The moment you walk in the door, you’re evaluated in how you treat people in the station and how you do during the certification process. But you can do it.”
NORTH BEND — With help from U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport secured a federal grant for $750,000 from the Department of Transportation this week, which will go toward opening up a flight service to Portland from North Bend.
“With this award of $750,000, it allows us to sit down with the airline and negotiate our best process," said Theresa Cook, executive director for the Coos County Airport District. "We’re very grateful to Congressman DeFazio for helping make this happen. Without his support I don’t think we would have seen that grant,”
The grant, which is part of the 2019 Small Community Air Service Development Program, will help the airport in its efforts to attract new service to Portland on Contour Airlines, a regional company. The funds will cover a revenue guarantee, marketing program and start-up cost rebates for the airport district.
“Small community airports like the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport are a vital part of keeping Oregon’s rural communities connected,” DeFazio said in a press release. “A well-funded effort to attract new service will bring both business and tourism alike to coastal Oregon and help to keep the local economy moving."
The airport will be looking into a number of airline service providers to find the best possible service to Portland. According to Cook, the airport plans to first sit down with Contour Airlines. Contour Airlines provides services to several places across the country. Its closest service is in Crescent City.
“Contour has a great track record and we hope to negotiate something with them," Cook said. "That said, there are other airline providers that we would negotiate with if that didn’t work out."
The contract that the airport hopes to secure is a twice-daily service to Portland, so passengers can get there and back in the same day if necessary.
Cook said that depending on how negotiations work out, there could be airline service to Portland as soon as this summer. However, if it doesn't work out for this summer, it could be as far out as spring of 2021 before services to Portland begin.
“We originally wanted to do it this spring, and we might have been able to do that if the Department of Transportation grant had come out last fall, but we missed the window where the airlines are doing their planning," Cook said.
"It’s not in the community’s best interest to start it during the winter, because then our first showing with the airline would be a low demand. We want to start off strong and then look at the pricing for winter services the following year to make sure it’s amicable to the community," she added. "We would like to have it start this summer, but realistically I would say next spring so we don’t get anyone’s hopes up."
OREGON — On Wednesday the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development chose to deny the Jordan Cove Energy Project’s Federal Consistency application.
In a letter to Mike Koski with the Jordan Cove Energy Project, DLCD wrote: "After careful review of the proposed project, in conjunction with receiving extensive public comment, and coordination with coastal partners, DLCD has determined that the coastal adverse effects from the project will be significant and undermine the vision set forth by the OCMP and its enforceable policies.
"Coastal effects analyses show that the project will negatively impact Oregon’s coastal scenic and aesthetic resources, a variety of endangered and threatened species, critical habitat and ecosystem services, fisheries resources, commercial and recreational fishing and boating, and commercial shipping and transportation, among other sectors critical to the state.
"CZMA section 307(c)(3)(A) requires DLCD to notify the federal agencies concerned that the state objects to the certification 'at the earliest practicable time.' As a result of this objection, neither FERC nor the Corps can grant a license or permit for this project unless the U.S. Secretary of Commerce overrides this objection on appeal."
In response to the DLCD’s federal consistency denial, the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission has decided to push off making a final decision on federal permits for the JCEP until after it has a chance to review the decision by the DLCD.
"We watched with interest the Commission’s actions at today’s meeting. We also just received Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development's letter late last night and like the FERC, we are taking our time to review it now," Jordan Cove spokesperson Paul Vogel said. "We respect the Commissioner’s thoughtful consideration and look forward to their final decision at their next opportunity."
At Thursday's meeting, FERC commissioner Bernard L. McNamee said that he needed time to review information sent to FERC before making a decision.
“I want to see what the State of Oregon said, and I need that information to inform my decision, whether I’m ultimately going to vote for or against Jordan Cove," McNamee said.
An applicant for any federally permitted project must obtain a Coastal Zone Management Act consistency concurrence for the federal permit or license to be granted in Oregon’s coastal zone. DLCD has completed its evaluation of the Federal Consistency Application and Joint CZMA Certifications submitted by JCEP and has determined the proposed project has not established consistency with multiple enforceable policies of the Oregon Costal Management Program.
The DLCD decision to deny comes weeks after the JCEP decided to withdraw its application from for a Removal-Fill Permit with the Department of State Lands a day ahead of DSL’s decision on that permit. The JCEP has also yet to reapply for its 401 Water Quality certification with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.